Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions (formerly titled The Religions of Man) is familiar to at least a generation of college students. It is surely a classic, in view of its widespread fame and its use as a textbook in universities around the world.
Why should Vedantists want to read a book by a self-proclaimed Buddhist atheist? In this case, the answer is that Stephen Batchelor has encountered challenges similar to those sometimes experienced by other Westerners who embrace Eastern religions. We can learn from him.
According to Pillai Lokacharya (1264-1327 CE), a renowned teacher of the Srivaishnava tradition of South India, the Lord manifests four special qualities to help devotees take refuge in Him. These are: affection (vatsalya); lordliness, or ownership (svamitva); friendship, or affability (saushilya); and accessibility (saulabhya).
On November 30th, 1962, Christopher Isherwood spent several turbulent hours at the bedside of actor Charles Laughton, his friend and neighbor, who was dying slowly of cancer. Laughton himself was uncharacteristically at peace; it was Isherwood who fought noisily with his own mind, tormented by his own egotistical ramblings, unsure of how to pray or to whom.