TEN RELIGIONS OF THE EAST by Edward Rice

TEN RELIGIONS OF THE EAST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Though not an immersing experience, like the chapters on Buddhism and Hinduism in Rice's The Five Great Religions (1973), this is nevertheless a full and sympathetic treatment of religions ranging from the ancient Zoroastrianism and Janism (""possibly the only faith in the world to take seriously the injunction not to kill"") to the relatively new, eclectic Cao Dai and the Western favorites Bahai and theosophy. Rice traces the origins and history of each faith and relates it to the social and cultural context in which it developed, noting how some became intertwined with Hinduism or Buddhism as they evolved, and he reports at length on the lives of the founders ""without making judgments about the truth or accuracy"" of the legends. He details the demands made on daily life, though observing that in all religions ""rituals and ceremonies are often followed scrupulously while. . . the more important teachings about. . . morality, self-analysis and meditation are ignored."" Rice is especially successful at presenting the teachings of each religion from a believer's viewpoint, an open, receptive approach--neither gullible, inconsistent, nor merely broad-minded--which is most notable in his handling of the opposing Tao and Confucian traditions. Students seeking nutshell concision will do far better with encyclopedia entries; yet despite some murky and even inaccurate phrasing (""enlightened self-interest"" is defined, apropos Janism, as ""being free from emotions and dependence on others. . . having no desires or possessions, spurning pleasures""), Rice is a knowledgeable and empathic guide.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1978
Publisher: Four Winds