“Six aspects of religion surface so regularly as to suggest that their seeds are in the human makeup.” (Chapter III, p. 92 50th Anniversary Edition)
I actually found that sentence buried in the chapter on Buddhism, as a short setup for a line of reasoning much less important than I thought such a statement merited. There’s so much to unpack in such a short sentence like that one that it’s hard to move past it and keep reading. An assertion like that really needs its own chapter.
So there are two elements to this statement. The first is the six aspects, and that is fairly straight forward (although the author goes on to assert that Buddhism is a rarity in that it doesn’t initially embrace such concepts).
These are the six aspects of religion that surface regularly, according to Huston Smith:
I’ll accept the six aspects as they are so we can move to the second element of the assertion. These six key aspects “surface so regularly as to suggest that their seeds are in the human makeup.” This second element is where it really gets interesting for me. In other words, the implication is that we come right out of the package psychologically pre-programmed with these archetypal ideas. This a concept that I’ve been looking into for a number of months now while reading Carl Jung and Jordan B. Peterson and I’ve come to accept it as the truth. In fact, Huston Smith cites Jung several times throughout the book, so it’s not surprising that he’d been reading some of Jung’s work to come to a conclusion like that.
Look for other flashes of brilliance like that throughout the book.
Just in case you read this in hopes of an actual book review, I guess I can do that, too:
The World’s Religions by Huston Smith is considered a classic in the genre by many. It’s such a respected book that it’s often used as a university textbook in World Religion classes. But this book does more than present the history and spirit of the major religions as you might expect from the title and some of the reviews. There are some very sophisticated and thoughtful parts of the book, too.
I want to quickly address a criticism I’ve seen while looking through reviews: If you have a version that contains pictures and only a couple hundred pages, you have the abridged, illustrated version instead of the full book. I haven’t seen inside of that one but no wonder you have complaints about the sections being too brief. Do yourself a favor and go buy the genuine article. It’s over four-hundred pages and it’s quite thorough.
Final say: Overall, I don’t see how you could pass on this book if you’re the least bit interested in religion or philosophy.
RIP Huston Smith
Born: May 31, 1919
Died: December 30, 2016
Thanks for reading! If you are so inclined, go pick up my book (available on Kindle or paperback) at Amazon. It’s called “Jamey Jones and the Sons of Noah.” It’s a fun science fiction book about a group of teenagers living on a planet called Kepler 438b. It’s seventy pages long, inexpensive, and it’s kinda good, even if I say so myself.