Recovering Human Wisdom in
a Time of Violence
Michael N. Nagler
With a Commentary by Lewis S. Mudge
The Fourth Master
Hsüan Hua Memorial Lecture
The crisis through which we are
passing is a spiritual crisis, a paradigm shift, a painful stage of
growth like a snake shedding its skin. Michael Nagler
proclaims that the violence and dehumanization of our culture spring
from spiritual impoverishment.
Between the arrogance of scientism and the irresponsibility of
commercial advertising, we are conditioned to believe that the
fundamental reality is matter. Yet according to many leading
scientists, the basic stuff of the cosmos is consciousness: quantum
jumps are the events that ultimately constitute reality.
Humans are not deterministically controlled cogs in a giant machine.
Much traditional religion, religion-without-spirituality, turns out
to be ineffective in combating the forces of manipulation and
control which lead us into mindless hatred and pointless wars.
Nagler contends that the great spiritual mission of our time is the
transition from a religion based on sacrifice to one based on
meditation or “concentrated prayer,” interior practice directed
toward the more-than-human Reality within us. And as we
cultivate this meditative practice, we also need to become literate
in nonviolence, learning the lessons taught by Gandhi before it is
“In a world
where wisdom is in short supply, Michael Nagler pours it forth. This
book provides amazing insights for all of us who are trying so hard
to transform ourselves and transform the world.”
Author of A Return to Love
“This is a
deep, insightful, hard-hitting yet compassionate analysis of and
prescription for the spiritual crisis through which we are passing.
I would urge everyone I can think of, whether they consider
themselves religious or not, to read it with the care it deserves.”
Author of The World’s Religions
“It’s a short
read, intense, moving, engaging, and important. I think every
college student should be asked to read it at the beginning and
middle of their college career, and every graduate student also!
But this is not just for academics—it’s for anyone who wants to see
how the wisdom of the ages is the most needed wisdom for our time.”
—Rabbi Michael Lerner
Author of The Left Hand of God
Nagler’s insights, humor, and passion make this little book a joy to
read, and everyone should—teachers and parents, conservatives and
Author of Coming Back to Life
Michael N. Nagler,
one of the world’s most widely respected peace scholars and
activists, is Professor Emeritus of Classics and Comparative
Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and founder of
the University’s Peace and Conflict Studies program. Among his
many writings, he is the author of The Search for a Nonviolent
America Without Violence, and Spontaneity and Tradition,
and editor of Gandhi on Islam.