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Interview with Philosopher Dr. Hiroshi Tasaka

TJ: How do you define Buddhism?

TASAKA: Buddhism is a kind of “cosmology” that can accept various value systems - not only religions but philosophies that exist around the world. Zen Buddhism, especially, is a “philosophy of contradiction” that can accept all the contradictions in our life, because contradiction is an essence of life. An important thing in Buddhism is the ability to keep the contradictions in mind, to keep gazing at them and think about the meaning of the contradictions.

TJ: In Europe, many philosophers think Buddhism is not a religion but more of a way to understand life or a style of life because it is not theist. What do you think?

TASAKA: It depends on the definition of religion. If we define a religion as a value system centering around one god, then Buddhism is not a religion. Buddhism sees numerous gods, Buddhahood, everywhere – in mountains, rivers, grass, trees, land and even in the wind. However, we need to understand that religion itself is in the process of transformation and evolution in today’s age. An important question is, “What religious systems will replace the old religious systems in the 21st century?” Even a traditional religious system should transform itself to adapt to the changes in people’s minds in modern society.

TJ: We are very interested in knowing how Buddhism views life and death. Could you explain what life and death means to you?

TASAKA: For Buddhists, there is no difference between life and death in their true meaning because life and death share the same reality in life. If we hope to talk about death, we need to answer the question, “Whose death is it?” Is it the death of the Small Ego or the death of the Great Self? Once we ask this question, we will find that the Great Self cannot die. If we see the Small Ego in our mind, it will die sooner or later. However, if we see the Great Self as the world itself, then there is no life and death. A famous philosopher left an important message to us: “You are the world. The world is you”. tj

The complete article can be found in Issue #274 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.

Written By:

Hiroshi Tasaka

Tokyo Journal columnist Hiroshi Tasaka is President of Think Tank SophiaBank, Former Special Advisor to Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan, World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council Member and Tama University Professor. He graduated from the University of Tokyo with a Ph. D. in Nuclear Engineering in 1981. From 1987, he worked at the Battelle Memorial Institute and also at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in the USA. In 1990, he participated in founding the Japan Research Institute. In 2000, he became a Professor at Tama University in Tokyo and founded Think Tank SophiaBank. Dr. Tasaka is a philosopher who has put forward a wide range of ideas, theories and philosophies. He is the author of more than 60 books.


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