This book brings together scholars of a variety of the world's major civilizations to focus on the universal theme of inner transformation. The idea of the "self" is a cultural formation like any other, and models and conceptions of the inner world of the person vary widely from one civilization to another. Nonetheless, all the world's great religions insist on the need to transform this inner world, however it is understood, in highly expressive and specific ways. Such transformations, often ritually enacted, reveal the primary intuitions, drives, and conflicts active within the culture. The individual essays - by such distinguished scholars as Wai-yee Li, Janet Gyatso, Wendy Doniger, Christiano Grottanelli, Charles Malamoud, Margalit Finkelberg, and Moshe Idel - study dramatic examples of these processes in a wide range of cultures, including China, India, Tibet, Greece and Rome, Late Antiquity, Islam, Judaism, and medieval and early-modern Christian Europe.

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