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The Buddha Eye
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Buddha Eye, The: An Anthology of the Kyoto School
Buddha Eye, The: An Anthology of the Kyoto School
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Price:  $19.95

ISBN:  0-941532-59-3
Book Size:  6" x 9"
# of Pages:  288
Language:  English


The Buddha Eye is an anthology of significant writings by the major figures of the Kyoto School, many of whom must be considered as among the most important 20th century exponents of Zen. Frederick Franck's expressive “Prologue” and his prefaces to each essay allows this volume to serve as a basic introduction to this vibrant current of contemporary Buddhism.

The Buddha Eye also contains a foreword by Joan Stambaugh .

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Detailed Description of The Buddha Eye

The Buddha Eye is an anthology of significant writings by the major figures of the Kyoto School, many of whom must be considered as among the most important 20th century exponents of Zen. Frederick Franck's expressive “Prologue” and his prefaces to each essay allows this volume to serve as a basic introduction to this vibrant current of contemporary Buddhism.

The Buddha Eye also contains a foreword by Joan Stambaugh .

About the Author(s)

Frederick Franck

Frederick Franck was a man of many talents: surgeon, philosopher, author, translator, artist, and, above all, activist for peace and humanity and critic of modern barbarisms. Internationally acclaimed for his many accomplishments, Dr. Franck blended art and spirituality into all that he produced, helping people see the humanity in others and God's Spirit in its many manifestations in the world. His classic book The Buddha Eye was reissued by World Wisdom, with some new additions, in 2004. He was also the editor of The Messenger of the Heart, a beautiful book featuring poems of Angelus Silesius, complemened by Franck's own drawings and select sayings of Zen masters.

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Joan Stambaugh

Joan Stambaugh is Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York. She is the author of several works dealing with Buddhist and Existentialist topics, including Impermanence is Buddha-Nature: Dogen’s Understanding of Temporality (1990), The Other Nietzsche (1994), and The Formless Self (1999). She also contributed a foreword to The Buddha Eye: An Anthology of the Kyoto School and its Contemporaries edited by Frederick Franck .

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Reviews of The Buddha Eye

"Fredrick Franck has done us all a wonderful service in culling the pages of the Eastern Buddhist for these gem-like essays by the profoundest thinkers of the Kyoto school… This book is a very precious gift to us in that it allows us a sojourn in the Buddha eye… It is joyfully recommended to all."

Robert Thurman, Columbia University, and author of Essential Tibetan Buddhism

"With the appearance of The Buddha Eye…a new era in Buddhist thought has been launched."

Taitetsu Unno, Smith College, and author of Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn into Gold

"The Buddha Eye, one of a new series of works on contemporary Japanese thought…is an important and interesting collection…”

Philosophy East and West

"This anthology serves as an excellent introduction to the Suzuki version of Zen.”

Journal of Asian Studies

“The juxtaposition of essays is provocative in eliciting a Western response. Some of the essays are already recognized as classics and some of the others should be…This book provides a service to Western students of religion who wish to broaden their understanding of cross-cultural religious and philosophical dialogue."

The Eastern Buddhist

"This new edition of Frederick Franck's "The Buddha Eye" is to be welcomed by students of Japanese and Buddhist thought. This anthology contains an excellent selection of writings on issues such as self and other, emptiness and God, suchness and reality in Zen and Shin Buddhism by leading members of the Kyoto School, especially Keiji Nishitani, and associated figures such as Daisetz Suzuki, who helped popularize Zen in the West. It also includes essays on the reception of the Kyoto school and its further development by “second-generation” thinkers such as Masao Abe. The essays discuss basic philosophical and religious issues from Buddhist and comparative perspectives. This text will serve as a fine and lucid introduction in courses on Zen Buddhism, Japanese thought, and comparative and cross-cultural philosophy and religion."."

Eric Sean Nelson, University of Toledo

"The nuances of thought and understanding become clear through the use of thoughtful prose and moving poetry; the ability of outstanding individual contributors to explain Zen in a manner that makes sense to Western ears is almost unparalleled in Buddhist literature today.…"


Table of Contents for The Buddha Eye

Publisher’s Note

PART I. Essays on the Self

1. Self the Unattainable

2. The Awakening of Self in Buddhism

3. What Is the “I”?

4. The I-Thou Relation in Zen Buddhism

5. God, Emptiness, and the True Self

6. Ikkyu’s Skeletons

PART II. The Structure of Reality

7. The Buddhist Conception of Reality

8. Science and Zen

9. A Dialogue: A Discussion Between One and Zero

10. Man and Nature in Christianity and Buddhism

11. “Nothingness” in Meister Eckhart and Zen Buddhism

12. Zen as the Negation of Holiness

13. The Philosophy of Nishida

14. Emptiness Is Suchness

PART III. What is Shin Buddhism?

15. Apropos of Shin

16. Dharmþkara Bodhisattva

17. The Great Path of Absolute Other-Power

Biographical Notes

Excerpts from The Buddha Eye

Excerpted from the second page of Franck’s Prologue:

Since the subtitle of the book mentions the Kyoto School, let me attempt a brief explanation.

With very few exceptions the essays in this book have appeared in the highly esteemed, but all too little known journal The Eastern Buddhist, It was founded in 1921 by Suzuki Teitaro Daisetz, that Francis Xavier of Zen to the Western world, and published by Otani University, Kyoto, which is a Buddhist but not a Zen institution. Otani is the highly reputed university sponsored by the Higashi Honganji branch of Jodo-Shinshu-Buddhism. D. T. Suzuki, who taught at Otani University, edited The Eastern Buddhist, and it was not until after World War II that he was joined by Nishitani Keiji as coeditor. The latter was then a professor at Kyoto University, which—along with Tokyo University—is generally regarded as Japan’s most prestigious institution of higher learning. What was to become known as the Kyoto School of philosophy, is the school of thought, the way of practicing philosophy, of which the main characteristics are: its staunch faithfulness to, and rootedness in, the Mahâyâna Buddhist tradition, coupled with a complete openness to Western thought and a commitment to bring about a meeting of East and West, a “unity beyond differences.” The Kyoto School has initiated an existential dialogue with the modern world in its aspects of science, secularization, and its operational, be it not usually formal, atheism.

The foundation of the Kyoto School was laid by Nishida Kitarô (1870-1945), who is generally regarded as the father of modern Japanese philosophy. To quote Professor Takeuchi Yoshinori, one of the highly respected protagonists of the Kyoto School: “It is no exaggeration to say that in him Japan had the philosophical genius who was the first to know how to build a system permeated with the spirit of Buddhist meditation by fully employing Western methods of thinking.” Nishida took up the challenge of seeking a synthesis between traditional oriental, especially Japanese, modes of thought, first with French positivism, later with German idealism. His lifework as a philosopher consisted of the continuous struggle with the relationship between religion and philosophy, East and West, a struggle in which his Zen insights remained the unwavering basis. His labors were to be continued by his disciples at Kyoto University and this became known as the Kyoto School. Its principal exponents are such thinkers as Tanabe Hajime, Nishitani Keiji, Hisamatsu Shin’ichi, Takeuchi Yoshinori, Abe Masao, and Ueda Shizuteru. Its influence has far exceeded the borders of Japan, for it has provided the solid ground on which the dialogue between Mahâyâna Buddhism and the other world religions became possible.

From later in the Prologue:

So much has been written about Zen that it is not surprising that in the minds of many people the words Buddhism and Zen have somehow become synonymous. Some may have a vague notion of the division between Theravâda, Mahâyâna, and perhaps—since Tibetan Buddhism became popular—Vajra-yâna. But even then, the impression may prevail that Zen and Mahâyâna are more or less the same. It is rarely realized that according to a recent census in Japan of the eighty-one million who described themselves as Buddhists, ten million claimed adherence to Zen and fifty million to other Mahâyâna Buddhist sects, of whom twenty-one million mentioned Shin Buddhism. After it was introduced in Japan in the sixth century, Buddhism adapted itself to widely varying historical and social situations and became differentiated into many schools. Of these survive Tendai, Shingon, the Rinzai School of Zen introduced by Eisai (1141-1251), and the Sôtô School of Zen, founded by Dôgen (1200-1253). But there is also the numerically stronger Jôdo School of Pure Land Buddhism founded by Hônen (1133-1212) and Jôdo- Shinshú, which originated with Hônen’s disciple Shinran (1173- 1262), as well as the activist Nichiren School founded by Nichiren (1222-1282), with its various subschools, of which contemporary Sôka Gakkai has recently exerted considerable influence in Japanese society and has come to play a powerful role in national politics.

Since Shin is practically unknown as compared to Zen, yet is deeply rooted in Japanese religiosity and to a great extent integrated in the world of ideas presented by the Kyoto School, I have added an article on Shin by D. T. Suzuki and another one by a distinguished thinker of the Shin faith, Soga Ryôjin, which I found not only exceptionally informative, but a movingly personal witness to the Shin faith.

May this book fulfill its function to add to, and strengthen, the many profound contacts in which East and West have recently become awakened to their complementarity. May it give some delight to those who rejoice in the treasure-house they share and in which the roots of all religions and cultures fuse.

Excerpted from the article by D.T. Suzuki, “Self the Unattainable”:

This self, therefore, emptied of all its so-called psychological contents is not an “emptiness,” as that word is generally understood. No such empty self exists. The emptied self is simply the psychological self cleansed of its egocentric imagination. It is just as rich in content as before; indeed it is richer than before, because it now contains the whole world in itself instead of having the world stand opposed to it. Not only that, it enjoys the state of being true to itself. It is free in the real sense of the word because it is master of itself, absolutely independent, self-reliant, authentic, and autonomous. This Self—with a capital S—is the Buddha who declared at his birth: “I alone am the most honored one in heaven and on earth.”

This way of understanding the self, that is, the Self, requires a great deal of explanation. When left to itself, Zen explains itself and no words are needed. But I have already committed myself to talking about it and hence have to do my best, however briefly, to make my description more comprehensible for the reader.

We all know that the self we ordinarily talk about is psychological, or rather logical and dualistic. It is set against a not-self; it is a subject opposing an object or objects. It is full of contents and very complex. Therefore, when this complexity is dissected and its component factors are set aside as not belonging to it, it is reduced, we think, to a nothing or an emptiness. And it is for this reason that Buddhism upholds the doctrine of anâtman, egolessness, which means that there is no psychological substratum corresponding to the word self (âtman), as there is, for example, when we say “table” and have something substantial answering to this sound, “table.” “Ego,” in other words, useful as it may be for our daily intercourse as social beings, is an empty phonetic symbol.

We refer to the ego or self by using the pronoun I when we are introspective and bifurcate ourselves into subject and object. But this process of self-introspective bifurcation, which is part of our attempt to orient the self, is endless and can never lead us to a terminating abode where “the self” comes comfortably to rest. The “self,” we may conclude, is after all nonexistent. But at the same time we can never get rid of this self—we somehow always stumble over it—which is very annoying, as it interferes with our sense of freedom. The annoyance we feel, consciously or unconsciously, is in fact the cause of our mental uneasiness. How does or how can this nonexistent “self”—that which can never be taken hold of on the rationalistic, dualistic plane of our existence—interfere in various ways with our innate feeling of freedom and authenticity? Can this ego be really such a ghostly existence, an empty nothing, a zero like the shadow of the moon in the water? If it is really such a nonexistent existence, how does it ever get into our consciousness or imagination? Even an airy nothing has something substantial behind. A memory always has some real basis, be it in some unknown and altogether forgotten past, or even beyond our individual experience.

The self then is not a nothing or an emptiness incapable of producing work. It is very much alive in our innate sense of freedom and authenticity. When it is stripped of all its trappings, moral and psychological, and when we imagine it to be a void, it is not really so; it is not “negativistic.” There must be something absolute in it. It must not be a mere zero symbolizing the negation of all dualistically conceived objects. It is, on the contrary, an absolute existence that exists in its own right. Relatively or dualistically, it is true, the self is “the unattainable” (anupalabdha), but this “unattainable” is not to be understood at the level of our ordinary dichotomous thinking.

The Unattainable, so termed, subsists in its absolute right and must still be taken hold of in a way hitherto unsuspected in our intellectual pursuit of reality. The intellect is to be left aside for a while, in spite of a certain sense of intellectual discomfort, so that we may plunge into that nothingness beyond the intellect, as if into a threatening abyss opening up at our feet. The Unattainable is attained as such in its just-so-ness, and the strange thing is that when this takes place the intellectual doubts that made us so uncomfortable are dissolved. One feels free, independent, one’s own master. Experiences at the level of intellection are restrictive and conditioning, but the “inner” self feels the way God felt when he uttered, “Let there be light.” This is where zero identifies itself with infinity and infinity with zero—if we recall that both zero and infinity are not negative concepts, but utterly positive.

As a positive concept, infinity is not, as I said before, to be conceived serially as something taking place in time where things succeed or precede one another endlessly in all directions. It is the idea of a wholeness that can never be totalized or summed up as a whole. It is a circle whose circumference knows no boundaries. It is what makes us sense or feel that the world in which we live is limited and finite, and yet does not allow us to be taken as limited and finite. From our ordinary point of view, such a conception is inadmissible, impossible, and irrational. And yet there is something there that compels us to accept it. And once we accept it, all impossibilities and irrationalities vanish, regardless of the intellectual discomfort we may feel. In fact, this kind of discomfort arises out of our failure to accept the ultimate “irrationality” totally and unconditionally.

This failure on our part is precisely what Zen tries to do away with. To understand Zen, therefore, means to be “comfortable” in every possible way. This state of mind is known as the “pacification of mind” or “making mind restful and comfortable” (anjin or anhsin). It takes place when the impossible—or, in Zen terminology, “the Unattainable” is experienced as such. The word experience is used here in its most specific sense as a sort of inner sense that becomes manifest on the individualized plane of sense-experience as a totalistic response of one’s being. It is an immediate and altogether personal response, one that makes the total experience appear like a sense perception; but in actuality the total experience takes place simultaneously with the sense experience. The sense experience is partitive and stops at the periphery of consciousness, whereas the total experience springs from the being itself and makes one feel or perceive that it has come to the Unattainable itself.

Selection from our Library about The Buddha Eye
 TitleSourceAuthor 1Author 2Subject WW HTMLWW PDFExternal Link
“Nothingness” in Meister Eckhart and Zen BuddhismThe Buddha Eye (2004)Ueda, Shizuteru Buddhism, Christianity, Comparative Religion
The I-Thou Relation in Zen BuddhismThe Buddha Eye (2004)Nishitani, Keiji Buddhism, Eastern Religion, Metaphysics
God, Emptiness, and the True SelfThe Buddha Eye: An Anthology of the Kyoto School and its ContemporariesAbe, Masao Buddhism
 3 entries (Displaying results 1 - 3) View : Jump to: Page: of 1 pages

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