The tradition of agape, or unconditional love, is not exclusive to any one religion. Actually, it is a major underlying principle found in religions worldwide. The concept of altruistic love is one that challenges the spiritual person to "love your enemies," or to "love without thought of return." It is a love that flows out to others in the form of compassion, kindness, tenderness, and charitable giving.
Buddhists have a path of compassion, where caring for others becomes the motivating force behind existence. Hindus have a branch of yoga, the heart-centered path, that leads to enlightenment through an overwhelming love for God that takes the form of loving all of humanity. Eastern religions, such as Taoism and Confucianism, see transcendent love as essential part of true wisdom.
The universal theme of love is found in all religious traditions, Buddhist, Christian, Islam, or others. As we begin realize that all religions have at their core this spiritual principle of love, we can develop a sense of common humanity. The religious tradition of agape love examined in this book will serve as an inspiration for those who are learning to grow in compassion and love for all people.
Table of Contents
Introduction / 1
Judaism / 11
Christianity / 23
Islam / 35
Hinduism / 45
Buddhism / 59
Taoism / 69
Confucianism / 81
Native American Spirituality / 89
Concluding Thoughts / 99
References and Further Reading / 103
About the Author / 105
Scientific and Medical Network, The—Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
A gem of a book explaining how this principle of agape love is to be found in all the major traditions, including in this case Confucianism and Native American Spirituality. Each tradition is clearly set out in a few simple pages with special quotations interspersed on alternate pages. Inspiring bedtime reading.
"Author finds love in everything, former financier preaches universal goodwill in new book" By William R. Macklin
Sir John Templeton cares so much about agape love that he’s even written a book about it. But when he’s asked to define it, he pauses, lets a few reflective moments waft by, then almost cryptically, says, "It’s not Eros love. It is not filial love. It is not tribal love," Templeton says. The onetime financier appears to reach into the recesses of the complex mind that helped conceive the rudiments of global investment and finds a definition that seems to belie all the hardnosed tactics associates with the business world in which Templeton made millions. "It’s pure love for every human being without any exception," he says. Love, boundless and all encompassing, a concept the ancient Greeks termed "agape." Templeton says it exists everywhere. "I might even say that the universe is an expression of God’s love," he says. Templeton, 87, a lifelong Presbyterian, expounds the prevalence of universal goodwill in his recently published book, Agape Love: A Tradition Found in Eight World Religions. The founder chairman and chief donor of an eponymous foundation that pays upwards of $35 millions a year for the scientific study of spiritual faith, Templeton is a forceful, sometimes controversial figure in ecumenical theology. Before remaking himself as a sort of Indiana Jones in
search of lost spiritual virtues, Templeton made a fortune in international finance as the founder of the Templeton Groups of Mutual Funds. But while he once commanded the forces of global capitalism, he now seeks to understand the vast, "mysterious force" of agape. Its disparate strands are evident in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism and Native American religions, Templeton maintains. Agape is the charity, kindness, forgiveness and compassion expressed by believers everywhere, he says. At least everywhere that human ego has been brought into check.
In Agape Love, Sir John Templeton explores the varied concepts of love set forth in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Native American spirituality through passages from sacred texts and noting common threads. His commentaries are brief, yet insightful. At first, I was leery of this book. Noting the publisher, I wondered if it might be a vanity offering. But I have enjoyed reading it many times. Its message is simple, yet it has profound implications on the interrelatedness of all spiritual endeavors.
Whatever happiness in the world has arisen from a wish for the welfare of others, says Buddhist proverb. Whatever misery there is has arisen from indulging selfishness, it continues. Love is all-important and its own reward goes a Tamil proverb. "Those who say, ’I love God’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars." 1 John 4:20. These bits of wisdom are from Agape Love: A Tradition Found in Eight World Religions, by Sir John Templeton.
Overall, this compact book offers the reader insights into love and the commonality and thread by which all religions are united. Sir John Templeton offers a unique look into what all religions have to offer in agape. Sir John is a well-known figure in the financial world and has written and edited numerous books on science and religion and is a beginner in the research and practice of agape love.