Over the years, we have kept a "commonplace book" or "annotated personal anthology," as poet W. H. Auden called these collections of meaningful writings. Ours is spread out in journals, binders filled with pages copied out of books, and our computerized quotes database. In these ways, we have noted and saved the kinds of things that appeal to us from spiritual teachings read in books, to scenes fron movies, to song lyrics or snatches of humor. For our book Spiritual Literacy we drew on a lot of this collected material. In fact, in its introduction, Thomas Moore suggested that readers follow our lead and assemble their own sacred texts from the wisdom sources that have spoken to them.
Wisdom from World Religions: Pathways Toward Heaven on Earth is an edifying and wide-ranging paperback that could be described as Sir John Templeton's own sacred book filled with material from Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Persian sources, Native American teachings, Sikhism, Taoism, Zen, and Zoroastrianism. He founded the John Templeton Foundation in 1987. It supports more than 60 programs in the fields of science and religion, spirituality and health, and moral education. He is the author and editor of numerous books that encourage humility, optimism, scientific research of spiritual principles, and the study of spirituality.
This volume is set up as a curriculum for schools with its 40-week format, but it can also be easily adapted for use by religious study circles, individuals, families, and business or professional organizations. Templeton presents 200 laws of life that stem from the religions of the world. Each law is presented in an essay format with a potpourri of quotations, stories, opinions, and ideals. Although this material is inspirational, its primary purpose is to encourage spiritual practice in the midst of everyday life.
We all yearn for encouragement from teachers and fellow travelers on the spiritual path. We were especially impressed with the ample material on enthusiasm, one of the practices in our Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy (with an area devoted to it on this website). It means "one with the energy of God" and has always been the mark of extraordinary human beings. Templeton notes that enthusiasm is contagious. He quotes Rebecca Clark: "The most severe bankruptcy is the soul that has lost its enthusiasm."
Here's an imaginative suggestion from Templeton: "Staggering amounts of manpower and money are devoted each year to discovering, understanding, and harnessing the forces of nature. Almost everyone agrees, however, that one of the greatest forces on earth is love. Should churches finance research into this elemental force? Should schools offer courses for credit, with homework, examinations, and grades? The real wealth of a nation does not come from mineral resources, but from what lies in the minds and heart of its people . . . This love force can be harnessed if we listen to our hearts and minds, and follow its laws of life that lead to a joyous existence."
Yes, those on spiritual journeys should be constantly coming up with fresh ways to teach children and adults about the renovation of reality through love. Here at SpiritualityandPractice.com, we'll do our part by contributing quotes, reviews, and articles on the love force and suggesting spiritual practices that can be used in the home and at work to harness this untapped energy source that is capable of transforming our lives.