22 July 2009

Tenets or actions, which come first?

I've started reading Karen Armstrong's book The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions. Armstrong's writing about the remarkable period she calls the Axial Age (900 and 200 B.C.E) in which most of our major religious traditions began: Confucianism and Taoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, monotheism in Israel, and philosophical rationalism in Greece. Just a few quotes from the introduction:
"It is common to call religious people 'believers.' as though assenting to the articles of faith were their chief activity. But most of the Axial philosophers had no interest whatever in doctrine or metaphysics... All the traditions that were developed during the Axial Age...discovered a transcendent dimension in the core of their being, but..most of them refused to discuss it."
Armstrong says the essential spirit of the Axial Age was this:
"What mattered was not what you believed but how you behaved."

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm interested in any and all comments although it may take me a while to post them.