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Eastern religions: term applied primarily to Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto.

eclectic: bringing together various ideas, practices, styles, or aesthetics from diverse sources.

empirical: dealing with evidence gathered by the senses, as through experimental observation; often set in contrast with knowledge obtained through theorizing.

Enlightenment, the: 18th century intellectual movement in the West that emphasized the use of reason in the pursuit of truth, as it critiqued irrational beliefs and practices.

enlightenment: term used as equivalent to the Hindu concept of moksha, or the Buddhist notion of nirvana, and referring to freedom from ignorance or illusions concerning the nature of the self and reality.

epiphany:sudden revelation or understanding; originates with the sense of the sudden appearance of a god (see theophany) or muse, which is both startling and inspiring; now used more for any sudden insight or comprehension; there is also a Christian festival of this name.

epistemology: branch of philosophy and subset of metaphysics concerning the source and nature of knowledge.

epoché: phenomenological bracketing where suspension of one’s own beliefs and an openness that neither confirms nor denies truth claims assists one in empathetically engaging with another’s worldview.

eschatology: the study of conceptions of end-times (eschaton); also used to refer to the end-time doctrines in particular religious traditions.

esoteric: inner or secret religious knowledge or rites reserved for initiated groups; meaning hidden from or dangerous to the non-initiate; rituals and readings requires guidance from a master; counter to exoteric.

ethics: branch of philosophy dealing with evaluating behaviour on a scale based on conceptions of right and wrong and the application of ethical theories to moral problems.

evangelical: pertaining to the spreading of the Christian gospel; often characterized by fervent zeal.

evolution:development and diversification through time; especially of living organisms—see biological evolution—but also applied to societies, etc.

excommunication: a punishment in which a member is excluded from a religious community and some of its privileges.

exegesis: explanation and interpretation of a text; especially the scholarly and critical explication of scripture.

existentialism: philosophical approach that is grounded in the experience of the individual human being’s encounter with reality, which is ultimately governed by personally meaningful choices made in the face of a fundamentally meaningless or irrational world.

exorcism: religious ritual to expel demons or spirits from a person or place.

exoteric: outer religious rites, readings, and knowledge accessible to all.

extant: still in existence, surviving; remaining (e.g. most monks argue that there is no extant lineage of fully ordained Theravada nuns).




  1. (C)Hillary Rodrigues and John S. Harding 2008; Courtesy Routledge


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