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Spirituality without God: A Global History of Thought and Practice

Spirituality without God: A Global History of Thought and Practice

by Peter Heehs


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Spirituality without God is the first global survey of “godless” spirituality. Long before “spiritual but not religious” became the catchphrase of the day, there were religious and spiritual traditions in India, China, and the West that denied the existence of God.

Peter Heehs begins by looking at godless traditions in the ancient world. Indian religions such as Jainism and Buddhism showed the way to liberation through individual effort. In China, Confucians and Daoists taught how to live in harmony with nature and society. Philosophies of the Greco-Roman world, such as Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Skepticism, focused on enhancing the quality of life rather than buying the favor of the gods through sacrifice or worship. Heehs shows how these traditions, rediscovered during the Renaissance, helped jump-start the European Enlightenment and opened the way to the atheism and agnosticism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The personal, inner, approach to religion became known as "spirituality.”

Spirituality without God is a counterbalance to theistic narratives that have dominated the field, as well as an introduction to modes of spiritual thought and practice that may appeal to people who have no interest in God.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781350056190
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 11/01/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Peter Heehs is an independent scholar based in India. His publications include Writing the Self (Bloomsbury, 2013) and The Lives of Sri Aurobindo (2008). His books have been translated into Russian, Dutch, French and Japanese.

Table of Contents

Prologue: A Religion is Born
1. Religion and Spirituality, Gods and Godlessness
2. Theistic and Nontheistic Religions in the Ancient World
3. Defending and Debating Tradition
4. The Triumph of Theism
5. The Dawn of Modernity and the Decline of God
6. Secularizing the Sacred
7. The Death and Afterlife of God Epilogue: Spiritual but Still Religious?

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