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Glass Children and Other Essays

Glass Children and Other Essays
Pub. Year

1979

Publisher

Kodansha International

ISBN

0-87011-375-5

In the literary tradition of the personal essay—a form of nonfiction distinguished by its conversational tone in dealing with daily life and the larger issues of the day—Glass Children and Other Essays creates a dialogue between the author, who describes himself as a “rather average Japanese,” and the Western reader. Most if not all of this collection were written in the late 1960s and early 1970s in an effort, according to Ikeda, “to establish bonds of mutual understanding” between cultures and give rise to the potential for new and hopeful insights.

The essays speak to the problems and challenges that confront us all, offering neither quick nor temporary solutions but, rather, an opening to the prospects of another point of view. Writing about “Self-realization,” for example, Ikeda relates the story of Shakyamuni—who would later found Buddhism—venturing outside the comfort of his family’s palace to encounter the sufferings of birth, old age, illness and death. Ikeda concludes that “self-realization in the true meaning of the word is something achieved only through communication with the everyday world of external reality.”

In his “Advice to Newlyweds,” the author addresses a young generation struggling to identify with the values of their grandparents, who survived through the devastation of Japan in World War II, or those of their parents, the first affluent generation since the war. “If one will learn to face the reality of each new day and to overcome all difficulties,” Ikeda suggests to them, “then one is bound to discover the true nature of happiness.”

In a similarly personal and personable light, Ikeda shares his views on education, world literature, government, and a sense of community both local and global. He also recounts his first meeting with Josei Toda, the man whom he would later consider his mentor in life and faith.

"My Definition of Happiness" essentially captures the entire collection’s tone and message in the statement that "Human happiness is something that breathes and has its being in the relationships between one person and another."

Originally published in Japanese, Glass Children and Other Essays which was translated by Burton Watson has also been published in Malay, Thai, Portuguese, French and Hindi.


CONTENTS

PREFACE
TRANSLATOR'S NOTE
THE UNIVERSE AND HUMAN LIFE
THE ARROGANCE OF THE PRESENT

AUTUMN IN PRAGUE
POVERTY AND WEALTH
GROWTH RINGS
THOUGHT ON PEACE
THE JOY OF MUSIC
A BOOK

A MIRROR
A PICTURE
COURAGE, CONVICTION, AND HOPE
NEVER LET LIFE GET THE BETTER OF YOU
HOW I SPENT MY YOUTH
OVERCOMING HARDSHIP

ON STAYING YOUNG AND SIMPLE IN HEART
THE POINT WHERE HOME AND SOCIETY MEET
A MOTHER'S LOVE
A WORD TO YOUNG MOTHERS
GOOD AND EVIL
THE THROB OF LIFE

TO LIVE
SELF-REALIZATION
THE JAPANESE SPIRIT
YESTERDAY, TODAY
THOUGHTS ON LIFE AND DEATH
STRONGHOLDS FOR PEACE

ANALYSIS AND SYNTHESIS
THE LEGACY OF ANCIENT TIMES
THE HOUSEWIFE IN SOCIETY
GLASS CHILDREN
MY DEFINITION OF HAPPINESS
MOTHERS

ADVICE TO NEWLYWEDS