The Heart of Buddhist Philosophy

The Heart of Buddhist Philosophy

The Heart of Buddhist Philosophy

The Heart of Buddhist Philosophy


Kenneth Inada calls this last book in Nolan Pliny Jacobson's trilogy on Buddhist philosophy and process thought "not only timely, but urgent. The message contained in the book," he notes, "should be released immediately."

Seizo Ohe, Japan's most distinguished philosopher of science, captures the essence of that message when he cites Jacobson's understanding that Buddhism is "a new global cultural movement in which Japan and America are going to have a common world-historical mission- respectively as the eastern and western ends of the eastern and western branches of human civilization."

Jacobson convincingly demonstrates that Buddhism (particularly as expressed in the thought of Nagajuna, the Plato of the Buddhist tradition) and the Western philosophies of Heraclitus and of modern thinkers such as Dewey, Whitehead, and Hartshorne have developed a reason truer to authentic experience than the reason so prevalent in traditionally dominant Western philosophy.


When it comes to understanding the philosophies of a people across the barriers of radically different linguistic and cultural systems, a bit of common street knowledge is the best advice: "It takes one to know one." Throughout its long history, Buddhism has been one of the world's systematic formulations of reality as a social process, with everyone and everything being related to everyone and everything else in what Hajime Nakamura and Daisetz Suzuki call "the interrelatedness of existence." Until the present century, efforts in the West to understand the world with the same intensity and depth as Buddhism were all dominated by Plato's "accent on form," the substance-and being-centered thinking of the Greek tradition. Heraclitus had carried out a brief revolution against such thinking, but his exalting of change was smothered until some of his insights were resurrected by Charles Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, Gustav Theodor Fechner, Étienne Boutroux, Henri Bergson, and Charles Renouvier, all of whom returned us to what James Wayne Dye terms "preanalytic modes of awareness." Systematic elaboration of this process orientation was achieved by Charles Peirce, William James, John Dewey, Alfred North Whitehead, and Charles Hartshorne, providing for the first time in the history of Western philosophy insights giving us direct access to the Buddhist Way.

One of the leading physicists of our time, furthermore, indicates how fundamental the perspectives stemming from high- energy quantum physics can be in establishing a new way of thinking about our experience in the world. "If we think of the totality," David Bohm, writes . . .

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