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Extra resources for The age of the sages : the Axial Age in Asia and the Near East
In response to this novel predicament, religion began to facilitate personal transformation by helping people understand the nature and cause of their problems and providing innovative ways to solve them. Jaspers was certainly correct in his contention that the Axial Age laid contemporary humanity’s spiritual foundations. In this book, we will probe this idea in much greater detail by carefully examining the specific and distinctive developments within the axial centers of Asia. To that study we now turn.
470–390 bce Mozi (East Asia) 470–399 bceSocrates of Athens (Greece) c. 427–347 bcePlato (Greece) c. 385–312 bce Mencius (East Asia) c. 384–322 bce Aristotle (Greece) 369–286 bce Zhuangzi (East Asia) 327–325 bceCampaign of Alexander the Great in India c. 310–219 bce Xunzi (East Asia) 273–232 bce Reign of Ashoka (South Asia) c. 250 bce Composition of the book of Ecclesiastes (Judah) 221–206 bce Qin Dynasty (East Asia) 206 bce–220 ce Han Dynasty (East Asia) c. 200 bce–100 ceComposition of the Bhagavad Gita(South Asia) c.
Little wonder that Soma was so highly prized and zealously protected. Its chief downside, however, was that it provided only temporary ecstasy. Eventually, the effects would wear off, and ordinary life would reassert itself. But the experience of divine communion was important in confirming the existence of the gods and expanding the mind to consider the deepest possibilities of human life. Soma allowed the Indo-Iranians to imagine a life devoid of pain and anxiety. In the centuries to come, the heirs of this tradition would seek similar experiences through the techniques of introspection and ascetic practice, rather than botanical substances.