Alone with Others: An Existential Approach to Buddhism (Grove Press Eastern Philosophy and Literature)
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Alone with Others is a uniquely contemporary guide to understanding the timeless message of Buddhism, and in particular its relevance in actual human relations. It was inspired by Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattava’s Way of Life, the oral instructions of living Buddhist masters, Martin Heidegger’s classic Being and Time, and the writings of the Christian theologians Paul Tillich and John MacQuarrie.
disillusioned with the palace life. His father had tried his best to keep him hidden from the underlying conditions of existence, but the Prince had happened to see, while outside the palace, an old man, a sick man, a corpse and a wandering mendicant. These events produced within him a vivid awareness of his ontological constitution of being thrown into the world and having to die. He was now confronted with his existence as such which he had previously avoided through absorption in the realm of
itself, that we can start looking for an answer. But such an answer will not be restricted to the confinements of language; it too must be revealed within an existential structure. Moreover, to be fully meaningful it must correlate directly with the structure of the question. And since the question—the life of man—is human in structure, likewise the answer too must be revealed in a human structure. For a Buddhist the answer to the questions implied within existence is the Buddha himself. It is
happiness and flee pain and sorrow to the maximum possible extent. How ought I to relate to these fellow sentient beings in a positive, constructive way? Life often strikes me as meaningless, as having no more purpose than an idiot’s dream; and yet something convinces me that one must somehow make it purposeful in order to be happy and reasonably satisfied. How and where can I find a well defined purpose and meaning? Our author’s answers to these anxieties and questions are explicit. He sees
needs to become a basic orientation of our life, thereby embracing not merely overt acts of generosity, but the giving of words of advice, the giving of care and protection, the giving of kindness and love. Furthermore, it is not restricted to concrete interpersonal situations but can be developed in private contemplation and prayer. The principal function of such exercises is to firmly establish an inner sense of altruistic resolve by means of consciously directing one’s attention away from
lenses through which to bring ourselves, our questions, and our aims into focus. With the basis of such an attitude we are constantly grounded in the sensuous reality of our human existence, and the danger of indulging in flights of abstraction is thereby greatly diminished. In this way the belief structure becomes subordinate to the aims of man, instead of man becoming subordinate to the aim of justifying the structure. Consequently an appreciation of the relative nature of the structure