Beside Still Waters - Praise

Jews, Christians, and the Way of the Buddha


288 pages, 6 x 9 inches


ISBN 9780861713363

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eBook Bundle (PDF, epub, mobi)


ISBN 9780861719037

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Winner of the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies’ Frederick J. Streng Book of the Year Award, 2004

“An excellent anthology of personal essays, describes how Judaism and Christianity have influenced Western Buddhism and, in turn, been influenced by it. Its authors are committed to their different traditions, yet open about borrowing language and techniques from others.”—ForeWord

“A very good book... shows how crossing over to a non-tradition-specific Buddhist practice can enliven one’s own roots. All of the essays are rooted in personal experience, and each is well done. Their autobiographical style brings home the spiritual potential of cross-traditional study and practice.”—The Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies

“In wide-ranging and deeply personal ways, fourteen Jewish and Christian authors narrate how their spirituality has been profoundly awakened through immersion into Buddhist wisdom and practices. Beside Still Waters will richly reward religious study groups and readers interested in spirituality who are looking for role-models on their quest to become authentic human beings. More specifically, it will be very useful for undergraduate professors of comparative religion who are not content with mere historical and philosophical approaches, but who aim to help student consciousness acquire a vibrancy and radiance that keep the experience of Mystery alive and fresh, and move them to live with more awareness and compassion, more wisdom and love.”—Horizons

Beside Still Waters provides vivid stories of Jews and Christians who have gone east for spiritual study and then returned to their respective faiths much richer for the experience. The stories in the book reveal a pattern: the loss of an early religious dream, the finding of a new one, and a return to the childhood tradition with a reawakening of wonder and spiritual power. Alan Lew, who calls himself a Zen rabbi, believes that his Zen years taught him ‘the value of disciplined spiritual practice.’... From these and other insights in the probing, thoughtful collection, we discover that through the exploration of other practices, we can find a mirror to reflect the lost (or forgotten) elements of our own traditions.”—Matthew Fox, in Yoga Journal

“Presented with honesty, intellectual integrity, and humor, the stories in this wonderfully assembled collection will surely encourage those who grapple with divergent perspectives and seek meaning from multiple sources.”—Marcia Falk, author of The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival

“This book heralds an important new age in interreligious relations, and more than ever it is needed and welcome.”—Brother Wayne Teasdale, author of The Mystic Heart, and A Monk in the World.

“Intimate, moving, and delightful.”—Tom Chetwynd, author of Zen and the Kingdom of Heaven

“These remarkable stories each share a common theme, the transformative value Buddhist practice can have in the lives of Christians and Jews, and a common conviction: that one can be a member of one religion and be enriched by encountering Buddhist spirituality. This is, I think, the way forward for interfaith dialogue and the enlightening of the planet—the walls of religions become more permeable to the waters of the spirit.”—Deacon Ken Arnold, author of Night Fishing in Galilee

“Drawing from the perspective of spiritual practice, Beside Still Waters is an essential complement to the literature of interreligious dialogue. This wonderful book puts a shining light on the value of an emerging world spirituality. I believe it should be required reading in universities and seminaries.”—James Ishmael Ford, author of In This Very Moment: A Simple Guide to Zen Buddhism and If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

“This is a rich collection of personal and philosophical reflections by leading religious practitioners, teachers and scholars, all of whom attribute their encounters with and immersion in Buddhism and Hinduism as resulting in a deepening of their Jewish and Christian practices and beliefs. In these interviews and essays you will find a treasure of insights into spirituality that speak from the depth of experience and knowledge inspired by a committed examination of eastern and western religious paths transcending dogmatic and cultural boundaries for the sake of understanding, dialogue and personal growth. As Arthur Green states: ‘The purpose of dialogue in this post-triumphalist context is mutual edification. We wish to learn and to teach... and share what we think is wise and universally applicable from within the storehouse of our own traditional wisdom.’”—Yehudit Kornberg Greenberg, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Director of Jewish Studies Program, Rollins College

Jewish parents and grandparents who have wrung their hands over their progenys ostensible defection to Buddhism can now take heart. And JUBUs (Jewish-Buddhists) can find their own hyphenated spirituality validated. Beside Still Waters offers and intimate look into the lives of Jews and Christians who have engaged in Buddhist practice without giving up their birth religion. In fact, this carefully organized and well-written collection counters Jewish fears. In many cases, Buddhist meditation has actually deepened commitment to Judaism. Bay area residents will recognize local stars among the nine Jewish contributors (Sylvia Boorstein, Alan Lew, Norman Fischer, and more) and readers of The Jew in the Lotus will be familiar with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Although almost half of the writers are academics, their accounts are not at all dry, but juicy in the details and variety of experiences and feelings. Each Jew in Beside Still Waters started with a different version of Judaism, and each encounter with Buddhism has a unique flavor as well. And through openness to the teachings and practices of Buddhism, they have gained renewed appreciation for the riches of their own faith. This unique collection of personal accounts reveals that authentic interfaith dialogue is not necessarily the kind that occurs around a conference table, but inside our own body, heart, and mind as we try to make sense of what different traditions teach and apply that to how we live each day.Jewish Bulletin of Northern California

“Easy to read, perfect ‘before-turning-out-the-light’ reading. I agree with the book’s foreword by Jack Miles: ‘Open anywhere. You will not be disappointed.’”—Des Moines Register

“Important and worthwhile. Beside Still Waters is a watershed work in the increasingly important area of multifaith studies.”—Spirituality and Health 

“A remarkable, powerful collection. Beside Still Waters opens a series of windows that provide us with an insider’s view of a range of beautiful journeys as well as insight into broad contemporary religious currents. It will continue to inspire and to occasion reflection for many years to come.”—Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein, Director of the Elijah School for the Study of Wisdom in World Religions.

“Sublime. Beside Still Waters should be required reading for anyone of any faith. At a point in time when too many people seem to be speaking at each other without listening or respecting different points of view, this book is truly heaven-sent.”—New York Resident

“Readers will undoubtedly find spiritual nourishment in this excellent collection of personal testimonies. Beside Still Waters speaks directly and eloquently to so many people in our contemporary world who find themselves straying beyond their parochial religious boundaries to draw on other traditions, while still maintaining their identity within their communities of origin. Fresh winds are blowing in this book and it presages a pluralistic world of deep dialogue and enriched religious practice. These are not empty promises of what can happen but testimonies to what has happened, to the way lives have been transformed. There is a great deal here both to challenge and encourage the attentive reader.”—Interreligious Insight: A Journal of Dialogue and Engagement

“An intimate glimpse into the lives of Jews and Christians engaged in Buddhist practice without giving up their birth religion. These accounts are not at all, dry but juicy in their details and variety of experiences and feelings. They reveal that authentic interfaith dialogue is not necessarily the kind that takes place around a conference table but inside our bodies, hearts, and minds.”—Inquiring Mind

Beside Still Waters wears its tremendous significance lightly. This readable volume provides a unique combination of reflection on the transformative power of inter-faith encounter and documentation of that encounter in the lives of committed Christians and Jews. The bulk of the book consists of a collection of remarkably candid, autobiographically driven essays by seven Jewish and seven Christian scholars and religious leaders. Though the form is personal testimony, taken as a whole these essays present an argument for the value of the inter-faith encounter in conscious opposition to those who fear its effects. A stimulating final section consists of four essays respectively written from a sociological, Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist perspective by authors who have read the fourteen primary essays and are reflecting on the inter-faith encounter more broadly in light of their own experience and research. This final section is implicitly a model of the sort of discussion the book hopes to stimulate; indeed, providing a platform for further reflection and analysis— and getting that process started— is the great merit of this volume. [ . . . ] The book is unsurpassed as a vehicle for engaging the question of how the encounter with Buddhism may transform Jews and Christians without pulling them from their roots. Most of all, it shows us how the inter-faith encounter has deepened Jewish and Christian religious practice.”—Shofar