Choose Life: A Dialogue
with Arnold J. Toynbee
2007 (new publication)
|(Published by Oxford University Press, 1976)|
For over two years, historian Arnold J. Toynbee and religious leader Daisaku Ikeda exchanged views on a wide range of topics, probing for answers to the urgent as well as the perennial questions that confront humanity’s existence. From the personal to the international and the political to the philosophical, every sphere of human nature and interaction was vigorously discussed by these two men, who, though of different cultures and traditions, shared the same commitment to the value of human life and the biosphere that sustains it.
While their exchanges occurred in London in the 1970s, the insights they offer are timeless and relevant, providing both a panorama and a vital framework for understanding the choices and interlinked issues facing humanity in the 21st century.
Toynbee, raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and Ikeda, a product of East Asian culture and a Buddhist, agree on the dilemma facing the individual and society: self-mastery or self-destruction. This challenge underlies humanity’s task in responding to the many global concerns we face, which include population growth, dwindling natural resources, armed conflict and life with technology.
The exchanges culminate in an examination of the spiritual life of the human being—the sphere from which meaning and a sense of value derive—and the role it plays in the directionality of all human endeavors. If planetary existence is threatened by our capacity for destruction, then constructive change must be the effective counterbalance.
"Changes of institutions,” Toynbee and Ikeda agree, “are effective only insofar as they are symptoms and consequences of the spiritual self-transformation of the persons whose relations with each other are the network that constitutes human society."
Edited by Richard L. Gage, Choose Life contributes to the ongoing debate on the sustainability of modern civilization.
While the Oxford University Press edition of Choose Life has been discontinued, U.K. publisher I.B. Tauris re-issued the work in late-2007 as part of a 12-volume series-to be released over a three-year period-of some 50 dialogues that Ikeda has published with international leaders and scholars on subjects ranging from religion, politics, economics, science and the arts. In addition to the Japanese and English editions, Choose Life has been translated into numerous other languages.
“Roaming across a vast field…an often engrossing tapestry of fact and opinion.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“To obtain such a highly erudite cross section of Western and Eastern views on so wide a variety of social, philosophical, religious and political problems is a rare and rewarding literary treat.”
—The Natal Mercury (Durban, South Africa)
“In other books, lectures and articles…Ikeda has advocated a world food bank, cutbacks in defense expenditures, and nuclear disarmament. His most consuming passion is the creation of an international people-to-people crusade against war.”
“Daisaku Ikeda is a muscular Buddhist, and administrator who tackles the problem of world peace with all the industry, optimism and persistence of a successful businessman… He is the head of Soka Gakkai, a Buddhist lay organization which believes in improving man’s lot now, not in some misty afterlife.”
—John Roderick, AP