Cover image for The fifth dimension : an exploration of the spiritual realm
The fifth dimension : an exploration of the spiritual realm
Hick, John, 1922-2012.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford : Oneworld, [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 274 pages ; 23 cm

Format :


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BV4501.2 .H43 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Tackling head on such timeless and fundamental issues as the meaning of life, nature of religious experience and science versus religion debate, this is a summary of John Hick's life's work and a unique exploration into the spiritual dimension of the universe.

Author Notes

John Hick, a world renowned theologian and philosopher of religion, is the author of numerous books, many of which have become classics in their field. He is currently a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham. Educated at Edinburgh and Oxford, he delivered the Gifford Lectures in 1986-7 and received the Grawemeyer Award for significant new thinking in religion in 1991.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Noted theologian Hick believes that humans are living in such a highly technological "Western" culture that we have accepted an exclusively humanistic/scientific account of our existence and ignored the importance of the "fifth dimension"Äour spirituality and its influences upon our lives. To this end, Hick's long, rambling book, borrowing liberally and heavily from all world religions, considers our spiritual nature and its importance to our well-being. Deeply, intelligently, and passionately, he explores the meaning of life as stated by different faiths, the nature and validity of religious experiences, and the necessary influence of the spiritual over the physical. His general premise leaves little room for argument, though, which makes for a less engaging book. He is preaching to the converted, giving them arguments to use against those who raise the scientific over the religious. Yet the book does a good job of reiterating its major theme and can be read for enjoyment by those interested in spirituality. Marginally recommended for all libraries.ÄGlenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. of Honolulu (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgementsp. viii
Introduction: The Big Picturep. 1
Alternative pictures
The fifth dimension of our nature
The axial age
Sin or false consciousness?
Guilt or dukkha as the problem?
Transcategorial reality
Part 1 Drawing the Picture
1. Where We Start Today: the Naturalistic Assumptionp. 13
An ambiguous universe
Science versus religion: a false opposition
2. Naturalism as Bad News for the Manyp. 20
Hard and soft naturalism
No hope for the many
3. Windows on the Transcendentp. 26
Windows in the physical sciences
Windows in the social sciences
Windows in the natural world
Windows in human life
4. The Key to Understandingp. 32
Perception as interpretation
Cognitive freedom ...
... in religious awareness
5. Turning the Critical Realist Keyp. 39
The transformation of information
Critical realism
Part II The Meaning of Life
6. The Religious Meaning of Lifep. 47
Practical meaning
Religious meaning
Cosmic optimism
7. Cosmic Optimism in the Eastp. 55
In Hinduism
In Buddhism
8. And in the Westp. 64
In Judaism
In Christianity
In Islam
Part III The Gods and Absolutes as Manifestations of the Real
9. The Real Experienced as Godp. 77
The pluralist hypothesis
Dionysius' dilemma
Meister Eckhart and others
10. The Real Experienced as the Absolutep. 91
In Hinduism
In Buddhism
Part IV Religious Experience and Mysticism
11. Altered States of Consciousnessp. 99
Some distinctions
Altered states
Drugs and altered states
The influence of set and setting
12. Religious Experiencep. 110
Preliminary distinctions
The sense of presence
Some examples
13. Visions - A Case Study of Julian of Norwichp. 118
The emergence of women visionaries
Julian herself
The historical setting
The visions
14. Lady Julian's Fruitful Heresiesp. 129
The fall-redemption model
The lord-servant parable
The godly will within us
Universal salvation?
15. Unitive Mysticism: Literal Unityp. 136
Literal or metaphorical?
Advaita Vedanta
An epistemological problem
16. Unitive Mysticism: Metaphorical Unityp. 144
Christian Neoplatonism
The love poetry of the mystics
The Jewish Kabbala
The Sufis of Islam
17. The Dark Sidep. 155
The dark side of the cults
The dark side of the great religions
Harmless eccentricities
18. The Criterionp. 163
The fruits in human life
Operating the criterion
Trusting religious experience
Part V The Saints Come Marching in
19. One Living Saint is Worth Ten Dead Onesp. 173
Saints, mahatmas and others
The founders
Living saints
The profile of the saint
Modern political saints
20. Gandhi: A Case Studyp. 180
My life is my message
A very human saint
A rock-like integrity
21. The Politics of Truthp. 191
God is Truth, Truth is God
A Hindu critic of Hinduism
22. Gandhi's Truth for us Todayp. 199
Non-violent conflict resolution
Green thinking
The position of women
Religious pluralism
23. An Activist and a Contemplativep. 205
Kushdeva Singh
Nyanaponika Mahathera
Part VI Time Present and Time Future
24. What We Don't Need to Knowp. 219
The beginning and the end
The Buddha's 'unanswered questions'
Living on a need-to-know basis
What then do we need to know?
25. Living within a True Mythp. 229
Myth and metaphor
The use and misuse of myths
The Jewish myth
The Christian myth
Living consciously within a true myth
26. Death and Beyondp. 241
Our contemporary confusion
Traditional possibilities
Many lives
What reincarnates?
Conclusionp. 253
Bibliographyp. 255
Indexp. 268