What to Read – List 3
Wisdom Literature (List compiled by Cop Macdonald)
The following information is reproduced from the web site www.cop.com – it is not an official list of any kind, but it contains some important works from what is usually referred to as Wisdom Literature.
The scientific literature was written to help us understand the laws of nature. The traditional Wisdom Literature was written to help us understand the laws of life and our place in the universe. Some of this literature dates from 3000 years ago, or before, and includes works from India, China, Greece, the Middle East and Europe.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition we have the teachings of Moses, The Book of Job, The Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, the teachings of Jesus, and later, those of Meister Eckhart, St. John of the Cross, and other Christian Mystics. In the Hindu tradition we find The Upanishads, and The Bhagavad Gita. In Taoism the Tao Teh Ching and the I Ching. In Buddhism we have teachings of the Gautama Buddha embodied in the Sutras, and elaborated upon in a myriad of later works. From the Greeks we have the works of Aristotle, Plato, and Plotinus.
To get a taste of this literature, compilations can be helpful. Among my (Cop Macdonald’s) favorites are:
- UNIVERSAL WISDOM: A Journey Through The Sacred Wisdom of the World by Bede Griffiths, Editor, Harper San Francisco, 1994
- THE ENLIGHTENED HEART: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, Stephen Mitchell, Editor, New York: Harper and Row, 1989
- THE ENLIGHTENED MIND: An Anthology of Sacred Prose, Stephen Mitchell, Editor, New York: Harper and Row, 1991
- A MANUAL OF ZEN BUDDHISM, D.T. Suzuki, Editor, London: Hutchinson (Rider), 1983
- THE ESSENTIAL TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM: Daily Readings from the Sacred Texts, Kerry and Joanne O’Brien, Editors, London: Hutchinson (Rider), 1989
- THE COMPLETE WORKS OF LAO TZU: Tao Teh Ching and Hua Hu Ching, Ni Hua Ching, Translator, Malibu, CA: Shrine of the Eternal Breath of Tao
Larry Kahaner noticed that I hadn’t mentioned the TALMUD. I should have. The Talmud is a major work in the wisdom literature, and has a central place in Jewish culture. He notes that “the Talmud is not a sacred work, a mystical work or a religious document. The Talmud is a guidebook for life that contains everything from how to raise children, grow crops, and heal the sick, to how to run your business. Most important, the Talmud teaches ethics. It offers precise instruction on how to handle everyday matters in a fair and just manner.”
Continue to List 1 – The BBC Big Read Book List