3.8.2: On the Way of Right Action

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Recommended articles in the Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Mircea Eliade (New York: Macmillan, 1987) include: Morality and Religion; Orthopraxy, Community, Politics and Religion; Law and Religion; Legalism; Merit; Religious Communities; Conscience; Cosmic Law, Dharma; Ahimsa; Buddhist Ethics; Christian Ethics; Hindu Dharma; Islamic Law, Israelite Law, Halakhah; and articles on specific religious traditions exemplifying the way of right action..

Though many studies of religious ethics in various traditions exist, not many explore the pursuit of right action as a way of being religious, that is, the spirituality of right action as a way of approach to "ultimate reality." One of the best attempts in this direction is Frederick]. Streng, Understanding Religious Life, 3rd ed., Ch. 4, "Living in Harmony with Cosmic Law" (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1985). His bibliographical suggestions are very helpful. See also Frederick]. Streng, Charles L. Lloyd, Jr., and Jay T. Allen, eds., Ways ofBeing Religious: Readings for a New Approach to Religion. part 3: "Living Harmoniously through Conformity to the Cosmic Law" (Englewood Cliffs, N]: PrenticeHall, 1973). Although Streng treats them as a different category altogether, some nontraditional religious phenomena akin to the way of right action are covered in Ch. 7 of Understanding Religious Life, "The Religious Significance of Social Responsibility," and Parts 6 and 7 of Ways ofBeing Religious; "Achievement of Human Rights through Political and Economic Action" and "The New Life through Technocracy."

A useful survey of manifestations of certain aspects of the way of right action in the religious traditions of the world is Denise L. Carmody and John T. Carmody, Shamans, Prophets, and Sages: A Concise Introduction to World Religions, Part 2: "Prophets." (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1985). The categories of "prophet" and "prophecy" these authors use, tend to be slanted by taking their model from the role of prophet and prophecy from the Bible.

Other helpful studies include David Chidester, Patterns ofAction: Religion and Ethics in a Comparative Perspective (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1987); David Little and Sumner B. Twiss, Comparative Religious Ethics (New York: Harper & Row, 1978); Ronald M. Green, Religion and Moral Reason: A New Method for Comparative Study (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); and Meredith B. McGuire, Religion: Tbe Social Context, 2nd ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1987).

For examples of the way of right action in Buddhism and in Christianity, see Chapter 11, below.

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