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Thread: Wanted: Book Recommendations for Eastern Philosophy

  1. #1
    F.A.R.T. Lab Tech RevolverRob's Avatar
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    Wanted: Book Recommendations for Eastern Philosophy

    I've lately gotten very much into consideration of Eastern philosophy, not just historical, but also modern philosophy. I'd like to read more broadly about both philosophical traditions and practice from an Eastern perspective. Right now I'm reading a translation of the Hagakure; a blend of history and samurai philosophy from the 18th century, but I want to extend beyond the sort of well known texts (i.e., military texts) and into more deep reading.

    I would welcome suggestions broadly within the category of "Eastern Philosophy" and be especially grateful for recommendations that address Japanese philosophy of the Way of Bodymind.

    Thanks folks!

  2. #2
    banana republican blues's Avatar
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    May not be what you are looking for, but "The Three Pillars of Zen" by Philip Kapleau is a book that had great influence on me decades ago. I've read many others, but that one still resonates.
    There's nothing civil about this war.

  3. #3
    Tactical Nobody Guerrero's Avatar
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    See if any colleges near you have a "comparative religions" class and use their text.
    Oversimplification is a very efficient way to make yourself stupid.

  4. #4
    Site Supporter JHC's Avatar
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    Zen Mind Beginner's Mind is one of my all time favorites.

    https://www.amazon.com/Zen-Mind-Begi.../dp/1590308492

    The old Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita are probably worthwhile foundational texts.

    As well as the Tao Te Ching
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    Site Supporter feudist's Avatar
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    I recommend William Scott Wilson's translation of Ideals of the Samurai for a look at Warring States period Samurai thought. Also Budoshoshinshu, written in the same period as Hagakure, is a more balanced and less radical view of Bushido.
    Hagakure is, to my mind, almost a parody of Bushido, and more or less enabled the perversion of ethics embodied by the IJA in WW2.
    Also recommend The Historian's Craft channel on YouTube. He has some recent uploads on Japan of the Sengoku period, including an interesting one on what he convincingly terms the "Ninja Myth".

  6. #6
    Smoke Bomb / Ninja Vanish Chance's Avatar
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    "No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners" and "The Tao of Pooh" come to mind immediately, though neither is what I would call "deep reading".
    "Trying is the first step toward irritating those around you who know better." - @angry_prof

  7. #7
    Second the Tao of Pooh. Definitely skip his second, the Te of Piglet.

    Anything from Thich Nhat Nanh is worth reading for a deep but clear take on Zen Buddhism. Just pick a title that seems interesting. I have a copy of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones By Paul Reps that someone gave me as a kid, probably 3 decades ago, that did a lot for me. I also like Alan Watts' works, but there is debate about that.

    I would avoid the stuff written/translated by Cleary.

    I found Tokitsu's bio and translations of Musashi to be profound.
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  8. #8
    The process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead is a real mind-blower.

    This isn't exactly traditional Eastern philosophy, but the Chinese have recently picked it up and started to run with it (very interesting story). I think Whitehead was well versed in many Eastern philosophical texts, and they influenced his ideas.

    Whitehead was a big deal mathematician, logician, and worked in physics. He was Bertrand Russel's teacher, and together they wrote the Principia Mathematica. He was a contemporary of Einstein and Schopenhauer, and was perhaps the first philosopher to truly understand both relativity and quantum mechanics at the most fundamental mathematical levels. He switched fully to philosophy only very late in life after Harvard invited him to become a professor of philosophy, and he made a separate career out of it. He remained vital and active in old age.

    I'm going to summon a great deal of hubris and attempt to summarize process philosophy. Whitehead tried to integrate the implications of relativity and quantum mechanics into a coherent process relational ontology that could remediate Cartesian dualism. The world isn't made out of "particles", but is better understood as a collection of processes (perhaps fields, or waves) that necessarily take place in time, and can only be understood in context of duration and relationality. A relation can perhaps be understood to be as "real" or primary as the "things" related.

    I suppose a useful heuristic mental image is that the universe should be related to more primarily in terms of electromagnetism and fields as opposed to billiard ball like particles colliding against each other in space. Processes in time, not marbles in a clothes dryer.

    Sorry, I've probably done a crappy job here. The main text of Process philosophy is Process and Reality. It's really hard to read. This guy teaches about Whitehead and is probably the place to start if interested:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDrlzo9_3c8

    It's always amazing to me that this man's generation started life around the time of the American civil war and often ended it after Hiroshima was bombed. What a paradigm shift! The individuals who performed the heavy intellectual lifting during this transformational period have such interesting life's stories.

  9. #9

    The heart of the Buddha's teachings by Thich Nhat Hanh covers the basics of Buddhism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe S View Post
    Second the Tao of Pooh. Definitely skip his second, the Te of Piglet.

    Anything from Thich Nhat Nanh is worth reading for a deep but clear take on Zen Buddhism. Just pick a title that seems interesting. I have a copy of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones By Paul Reps that someone gave me as a kid, probably 3 decades ago, that did a lot for me. I also like Alan Watts' works, but there is debate about that.

    I would avoid the stuff written/translated by Cleary.

    I found Tokitsu's bio and translations of Musashi to be profound.

  10. #10

    Transformations of Myth Through Time by Joesph Campbell provides a good overview

    Quote Originally Posted by RevolverRob View Post
    I've lately gotten very much into consideration of Eastern philosophy, not just historical, but also modern philosophy. I'd like to read more broadly about both philosophical traditions and practice from an Eastern perspective. Right now I'm reading a translation of the Hagakure; a blend of history and samurai philosophy from the 18th century, but I want to extend beyond the sort of well known texts (i.e., military texts) and into more deep reading.

    I would welcome suggestions broadly within the category of "Eastern Philosophy" and be especially grateful for recommendations that address Japanese philosophy of the Way of Bodymind.

    Thanks folks!

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