Kyoto Journal Issue 35
An Interview with a Chinese Dissident
Illuminating Atrocities: Nobel Prize Winner, Jose Ramos Horta
Concretizing the Japanese Dream: An Interview with Alex Kerr
Toynbee and Buddhism
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The question that Toynbee had posed himself, and which occupied his mind throughout his life, was why and how civilized societies have come into existence. Like the Buddha, Toynbee believed that it was life, not death, that had to be explained. Indeed death at all levels, including that of social systems, was merely a reversion back to the more natural state of unity, perfection and inactivity. As both Greek and Indian sages had pointed out for centuries, the greatest punishment is to be born and the most precious gift is to return from whence we have come. Kalidasa, the Sanskrit poet, once observed that if we gather a few drops of water from the sea and place them in a pot, surely that is what is unusual. And when the pot breaks, and the water returns to its source, what could be more normal than that? — Philip Grant, Toynbee & Buddhism
Japan’s culture, if you don’t come at it with any preconception, if you come at it completely fresh, if you land off the boat from America you will fall in love. It has an absolutely invincible beauty of its own. But it’s the older-generation Japanese who associate their traditional culture with being cold and poor and dirty and old-fashioned and all of that stuff. They can’t just see their culture for what it is, they associate it with those things and therefore they have very mixed feelings. They can’t wait to get rid of it and be free of it and so on. The younger generation, they are foreigners like us. They might as well be Americans off the boat and that means that they can more easily fall in love with it. And I have young Japanese come out and visit me at my house and they love it. They’re perfectly happy out there in a way that their parents, who actually know more about these things, could never be. —Alex Kerr, Concretizing the Japanese Dream
Zen Words for the Heart: Hakuin’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra, Trans. by Norman Waddell — Preston L. Houser
The World of Rozome: Wax-Resist Textiles of Japan, by Betsy Stirling Benjamin — Judith Clancy
Sado: Japan’s Island in Exile, by Angus Waycott — William Corr
Unit 733 Testimony, by Hal Gold— William Corr
Cover Image by Ann Henderson
published July 1, 1997
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