Theosophical Society of Detroit – Friday, December 7, 2018. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Q&A. 27745 Woodward Avenue, Berkley, MI 48072.
Frederick Glaysher spoke about the long journey of modernity during the last 130 to 150 years in search of a universal conception of spirituality. Glaysher discusses the book The World’s Parliament of Religions, 1893, and key influential speakers and groups represented at The Parliament in Chicago, including Vivekananda, Brahmo Samaj, the Unitarian Church, and the Theosophical Society, highlighting and surveying Madame Blavatsky’s emphasis on Universal Brotherhood and the study of comparative religion. Further currents include Dara Shikoh, Rammohan Roy, Rabindranath Tagore, Abdul-Baha, Rumi, Kabir, poets and mystics, Emerson. Among other seeking souls touched on, Evelyn Underhill, Arnold Toynbee, Micea Eliade, Joseph Campbell, and Huston Smith.
In 1673, a year before his death, John Milton published a pamphlet entitled “Of True Religion, Heresy, Schism, Toleration, and what the best means may be used against the Growth of Popery.” His great poems were all behind him, death before him. Oddly, this pamphlet is little known to the general reader of Milton. After looking through a number of textbook collections of Milton for university courses, published during the last several decades, I was surprised to discover none of them contained “Of True Religion,” yet it was the last piece the man ever wrote. All the more startling is that “Of True Religion” presents a portrait of John Milton significantly at variance with the Puritan caricature of him that is often promoted by scholars in the university. All too often Milton is torn out of his historical time and not seen to be in fact the liberal that he was, clearly headed toward the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which further limited the monarchy and prepared the way for the modern efflorescence of individual liberty and freedom. To distort Milton into a one-dimensional Puritan suppresses the complexity of his actual thinking and life….
Now available in
The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Forthcoming, September, 2014.
It was as a young student in high school that I first encountered the scriptures of other peoples, in a class on world religions, which used The Portable World Bible. Instead of historicism, I believe I got the real message, since I did the reading, of the writings themselves, the universalism at their core. And it may have been that I was fortunate in the teacher of the class, who may have introduced me to a new style and way of manhood. Looking back, I see an intellectual man, more sophisticated and nuanced in sensibility.
And then, a year or two later, after more and wider reading, I took a college class that included Huston Smith’s The Religions of Man. That book opened new vistas, ordered things in a new way for me, even as I couldn’t really relate to the instructor, dropping the course before the end. But I had the book. And read it. And re-read it. It was true to my experience. For soon, I had “gone off hiking into Baha’i.” But it was not “too quickly” of a decision. I had spent a few years reading and thinking about virtually every Baha’i book that had been published up until that time, 1976. I searched through several libraries from the suburbs to downtown Detroit to find them, and thought and prayed, prayed and thought, while continuing to read widely in the poets and literature.
It was more than a decade later that I heard of Joseph Campbell, through Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth on PBS, another powerful influence, one I immediately recognized as true to my experience, re-watching it many times, reading some of his books. By 1982, while I was still in Japan, I had already begun to make notes for The Parliament of Poets. Campbell’s work was startlingly congruent with where I already found myself to be, confirmed me in the direction I would take. But it wasn’t until about 1993 that I had written down, perhaps, I think now, as a result of his interview with Moyers, where I would travel.
Apollo calls all the poets of the nations, ancient and modern, East and West, to assemble on the moon to consult on the meaning of modern life. The Parliament of Poets sends the main character, the Poet of the Moon, on a Journey to the seven continents to learn from all of the spiritual and […]