Mahatma Ghandi once said that every person has a sacred responsibility to respectfully study all the religions of the world. The key word there may be “respectfully.” I agree with him. Oddly enough, or perhaps not so oddly, what I’ve found in my own studies is that the esoteric core of all religions is very similar.
Several years ago, my life-long interest in comparative religions led me to accept an invitation to teach Eastern Philosophies — Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism — as a college-level continuing education class. Most of the students were retirees with better things to do than wade through a lot of scholarly books, but no single book existed that cogently presented what I was teaching. So I wrote my own. I wanted to include the essence of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana — Little Joe and Hoss in “Bonanza” were bound to be based on the brothers in the Mahabharata, and those flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz are right out of the Ramayana! — but all the existing translations were too archaic. So I wrote my own.
The book began as class hand-outs, then expanded over the years into a real book. In The Beginning: An Introduction to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism is available on Amazon as a digital book. It can be read on a Kindle or on a PC or Mac, as well as some other digital platforms. It’s meant for easy digestion, but for people who want to explore more deeply, references are included, along with a glossary of terms that may mean different things in different cultures. It won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you’re like me and like looking into why people believe what they believe, you might like In the Beginning.