My encounter with individuals like Swami Chidananda, in Hinduism and in other faiths – certainly within Judaism as well, has informed my view of what religion is. It has led me to consider how to present what I consider the finest aspects of the religious life, as these come to expression in the lives of great individuals, and how to make these speak to the world at large, even beyond the boundaries of their native tradition. This has led to the thinking expressed in my recently published Religious Genius: Appreciating Exemplary Individuals Across Religious Traditions. Individuals such as Swami Chidananda have the capacity to touch others because they themselves have touched a plane of existence that gives meaning to their religion, while also transcending it and making something of it available to others. It is such individuals who not only represent the spirit of a religion; they also have the capacity to awaken the power of spirit in those who are in contact with them and are exposed to their person and teachings.
Alon Goshen-Gottstein — Tablet