Enlightened Contemporaries

Enlightened Contemporaries

Francis, Dōgen, and Rūmī: Three Great Mystics of the Thirteenth Century and Why They Matter Today

Steve Kanji Ruhl


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Enlightened Contemporaries is the first book to compare the lives and teachings of three of the world's most admired spiritual masters: Francis of Assisi, the Christian saint; Dogen, the great Zen Buddhist teacher; and Rumi, the Islamic Sufi master. They lived during the same turbulent century. They integrated mystical experiences of the sacred into their lives, and they can inspire us to do the same.

Enlightened Contemporaries combines robust scholarship with brisk, engaging, lyrical prose. Offering a thorough introduction for the general reader as well as specialists, it will appeal to those who enjoy an interfaith approach to spiritual exploration, one that links Christian, Buddhist, and Islamic mystical teachings within a vibrant historical context and shows how they not only complement each other but remain profoundly relevant in the twenty-first century.

Bringing Saint Francis, Dogen, and Rumi vividly to life as complex and compelling human beings, Enlightened Contemporaries lucidly explains their spiritual paths, explores the dynamic age in which these three pioneering teachers struggled and triumphed, and investigates their remarkable poetry. It also deftly examines how Francis, Dogen, and Rumi engaged the world in the context of five shared themes: spiritual love, nature, the body, the role of women, and balancing retreat from society with active involvement. By interweaving the spiritual lives of these Christian, Buddhist, and Muslim teachers, Enlightened Contemporaries will help readers enhance their own lives and find new paths of spiritual understanding.


Steve Kanji Ruhl:
Steve Kanji Ruhl received his Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University and his B.A. in Religious Studies with high honors from Pennsylvania State University. An ordained Zen Buddhist minister, Reverend Kanji has served as a Buddhist adviser at Yale University and is a core faculty member in the Shogaku Zen Institute and in the multi-faith Spiritual Guidance Certificate Training Program at the Rowe Center in Massachusetts. He also works in private practice one-on-one with spiritual guidance clients. Reverend Kanji has been a guest speaker or workshop facilitator at Harvard’s Center for World Religions, Yale Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School, the International Conference on Socially Engaged Buddhism, the Omega Institute, and elsewhere. He is a contributing author to the book The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work and author of The Constant Yes of Things: Selected Poems 1973-2018. Visit www.stevekanjiruhl.com