This fascinating volume provides a concise, illustrated introduction to five of the great religious traditions of the world--Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto. Buddhism, one of the world's great religious traditions, attracts millions of modern-day followers. Hinduism, one of the most ancient of all belief systems, is increasingly well known in the West through expatriate Indian communities. Taoism has been an important influence on Western thinking, especially through the impact of the Tao Te Ching. Confucianism, less metaphysical in its principles, emphasizes family values and the role of the individual within the state. And Shinto, distinctively Japanese in character, is the most animistic of the great religions, based on a belief in numerous individual spirits. The contributors explore a great variety of topics within these religions, including: the life of the Buddha; karma and rebirth; inspiring teachers and gurus; the life of Confucius; sacred Taoist texts; the epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata; holy landscapes, shrines, and festivals; enlightenment; and--for all the faiths--the spiritual and ethical teachings, art and architecture, sacred writings, ritual and ceremony, and death and the afterlife. Also included are extracts from or summaries of historical texts, with author commentaries that explain the significance of each piece and place in its full context. Authoritative and accessible, Eastern Religions provides a gateway for all those in the West who wish to move one step closer to the spirit of the East.Coogan, Michael D. is the author of 'Eastern Religions Origins - Beliefs - Practices - Holy Texts - Sacred Places', published 2005 under ISBN 9780195221916 and ISBN 0195221915.