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Compassionate Light in Asia: A Dialogue
with Jin Yong

Compassionate Light in Asia
Pub. Year



I.B. Tauris
(*Acquired by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2018)



“Life is a drama of encounters.” This is the first line of Daisaku Ikeda's preface to his dialogue with celebrated Chinese novelist Jin Yong titled “Compassionate Light in Asia: A Dialogue.” Ikeda goes on to say that “Nothing makes a person happier than encounters in which you immediately feel a sense of mutual understanding and the feeling that your ideas and thoughts are understood, even without speaking.” This statement embodies the encounter between the two authors that is captured in this compelling work.

Jin Yong, who is China's best-selling living Chinese novelist, and Ikeda, a Japanese Buddhist philosopher, prolific writer and president of the Soka Gakkai International, find extensive common ground stemming from their wartime experiences, love of literature and shared passion for the power of the written word. The authors explore topics ranging from the nature of friendship, theories of civilization, world literature and the importance of free speech to Buddhist perspectives on life and death and the spiritual search for truth.

Throughout the dialogue there is sustained reflection on the horrors of war as well as a shared dedication to peace.

Throughout the dialogue there is sustained reflection on the horrors of war, as well as a shared dedication to peace. Ikeda affirms that: “Peace is a battle against forgetfulness . . . Forgetting the past leaves no opportunity for true reflection, atonement, or commitment to peace.” Reflecting upon his own life experiences, Ikeda concludes that friendship is life's ultimate experience. “When bonds of friendship are created,” he states “peace begins to flow.” Jin Yong echoes this in his observation that “Life is not made up of infinitely continuing good times. When people have decided to share the same destiny, they share the joy of the happy times. When hardships are encountered, they also share in trying to overcome these difficulties.” Demonstrating a remarkable capacity for empathy throughout their dialogue, both authors embody an intelligent and sympathetic compassion that is a light of hope for the future direction of Sino-Japanese relations.

The two authors also dedicate a significant portion of their dialogue to discussing a wide range of literature that they read during their youth. Jin Yong explains the general aim of literature as a way to express the human emotions and values that are inherent in the fabric of people's lives. “The artist epitomizes and organizes them in a way that moves and inspires, and at the same time, enables readers to discover those values from a new perspective.” On the power and ultimate responsibility of our words Ikeda states, “Words and expression are like a sword. A sword that is used to protect people and save those in danger is a sacred treasure. However, a sword that is used to defame and hurt others is a weapon of malice and cruelty.”

Both authors agree that their youthful literary encounters with characters that triumphed in the face of overwhelming odds inspired them to take initiative and cultivate the strength to never give up in the face of life's adversities and setbacks. Ikeda states, “Just as the growth of a tree depends on the extent to which it is nourished, so does the growth of one's spirit.” Mr. Ikeda states. “The books that a youth reads during his or her teens and twenties will be treasures for life.”

Jin Yong and Ikeda have met on five occasions, the first on November 16, 1995, at Jin Yong's home in Hong Kong. Their dialogue was initially serialized in Ushio, a Japanese literary magazine, and Hong Kong's Ming Pao Monthly, during 1997. The Japanese edition of their dialogue was published in April 1998, and traditional Chinese editions were published soon after, in Hong Kong in August 1998 and in Taiwan in December 1998. Peking University Press in China published a simplified Chinese edition, also in December of the same year.


About the Authors
Preface Jin Yong
Preface Daisaku Ikeda

  1. The Seasons of Life: Self-Discipline and Character Development in Youth
  2. Creating Twenty-First Century People: Deng Xiaoping and the Return of Hong Kong
  3. Friendship, Spirit, and Character: An Encounter with Buddhism
  4. Beloved Books of Our Youth: Studying Human Nature in Plutarch's Parallel Lives
  5. A Resurgence of Literature: The Appeal of The Count of Monte Cristo
  6. Lu Xun, Revolutionary Humanist, Awakens the Soul of the People
  7. The Power of the Pen: From On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land to Ba Jin
  8. A Literature of Hope
  9. Illuminate the World with the Light of Humanity: The Essence of Victor Hugo's Literature
  10. The Noble Path to the New Century: Adventure in Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin


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