In the author's own words, this work looks at “the relationship between the Buddhist answers to the mystery of life and the empiric solutions modern science has offered to the same questions” and “ways in which Buddhist truth may be illustrated in modern scientific terms.”
The eternity of life and life's inherent dignity are central themes in Ikeda's discussions of topics that include body, spirit and mind; individuality and self-realization; human life, nature and the cosmos; and life and death as a continuum.
The literature he cites is broad and extensive—from scientist Charles Darwin and philosopher Immanuel Kant to literary Walt Whitman and historian Arnold Toynbee—in comparing various views of the whole human being.
At the heart of his approach is the author's Buddhist perspective, which places an understanding of cosmic life within the practical grasp of daily human existence. As in many of Ikeda's writings, Buddhist philosophy not only informs but provides an inclusive framework for the diversity of knowledge about life and its environment.
Though this volume was published more than 20 years ago, the questions it addresses—what is life, what is its meaning, how do we know what we know—are perennial. It presents a timeless survey of scientific, philosophical and religious thought of both East and West. Translated by Charles S. Terry, Life: An Enigma, a Precious Jewel brings to new light humanity's aspirations to know itself.
Originally published in three volumes in Japanese, Life: An Enigma, a Precious Jewel has also been translated into Spanish, French, Indonesian, Portuguese, Italian, Swahili, German, Danish, Serbian and Macedonian.
I. THE COSMOS AND LIFE
- THE BODY AND THE SPIRIT
The Strange Phenomenon of Life / The Human Body / Probing the Depths of the Mind
- MAN AND NATURE
Only One Cosmos / Environment and Adaptability / Action and Reaction in Life
- EYES THAT CAN SEE LIFE
What are Dreams? / A Constantly Changing World / Time, Space, and Latency / The Constant and Immutable Self
- THE RIDDLE OF TIME
Physical Time / Subjective Time / Eternity in an Instant
- THE ESSENCE OF THE COSMOS
Concepts of the Universe / Subjective Space / Space-Time
II. THE BUDDHIST VIEW OF LIFE
- THE TEN STATES OF BEING
From Hell to Buddhahood / The Evil Paths / Humanity and Rapture / The Six Lower States / Learning and Realization / Bodhisattva Nature and Buddhahood
- MUTUAL POSSESSION
Examples from Life / The Human Revolution / The Infinite Possibilities of Life / Appearance, Nature, and Entity / The Dynamics of Life / The Principles of Individuality / The Five Aggregates / Sentient Beings and the Environment / Three Thousand Possible Worlds
III. LIFE AND DEATH
- THE NATURE OF DEATH
Death the Inevitable / Life after Death / A Law of Conservation / Death the Expedient
- LIFE IN OUTER SPACE
Probability / Life on Earth
- THE ORIGIN OF MAN
Human Revolution / The Nature of Human Development
- THE ETERNITY OF LIFE
From Sentient to Non-sentient / The Permanent Self / Conditions for Rebirth / Implications for Our Present Life
“A truly profound philosophical assessment of Life.”
—Kenneth K. Inada State University of New York at Buffalo
“The Buddhist analysis of the dynamics of life, as Mr. Ikeda explains them, is more detailed and subtle than any modern Western analysis that I know of.”
—Arnold J. Toynbee, British historian
“There is little doubt that his book is one of the best available on ‘life', spirity and ‘life after death.'”
—M.A. Suseelan, Marywood College
“The analyses by Daisaku Ikeda…have no doubt created a new dimension in the interpretation of Buddhism in modern times.”
—Amrita Bazar Patrika, Calcutta