The Harvard scholar of religion Diana Eck has written a couple of marvellous books on aspects of Hinduism, including Darsan: Seeing The Divine Image in India (1981) and Banaras (1998). Her most compelling book, however, is Encountering God (1993), an attempt to get the world’s major religions to speak to each other in order to resolve issues of “difference, the most inescapable question of our world today”.
More than ever before, Eck argues, at the beginning of the third millennium we live in a world where we share neighbourhoods, work and public spaces, and cities and nations with people of widely varying religious beliefs, or those who do not believe – India is perhaps the paradigmatic example of this. But where, in the fields of science and technology, economics, and politics there is a great deal of discussion, cooperation and exchange, “only religions are not on speaking terms”.
Drawing on the literature and practices of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, and avoiding the temptation to be either simplistic or fanciful, Eck beautifully draws out and illumines the experience of encountering god within and across the great religious traditions of the world. The grace and sagacity of her writing means that this is a book even nonbelievers would profit from reading.