Sunday, 17 August 2008

Reading "Wandering in Eden: Three Ways to the East Within Us"

While I was on holiday I had the opportunity to read this book (see the book page on LibraryThing). I found it quite by chance at a car boot sale. I recognised the publisher, Wildwood House, by whom I also have two excellent books, "Tao Te Ching" and "Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters". It was published back in 1976. I wonder what became of Wildwood House? It doesn't seem to be active any more.

book coverThe author's idea is that the "East" is not some far-off foreign culture but that East and West are aspects that make up the whole of the human mind, rather like masculine and feminine, and that in the West we need to rediscover this lost facet of ourselves. This is rather like the idea that men need to rediscover our lost or repressed feminine aspect and vice-versa. He also notes that in the orient, Western outlook and behaviour also became popular in the 20th century. The book has three sections:

  • The Way of the Body
  • The Way of Emptiness
  • The Way of Things

The Way of the Body is examined in its manifestation in Indian art, especially sculpture. The Way of Emptiness is seen through the eyes of Chinese poets and artists, with some amazingly modern-looking illustrations from so many centuries ago. The Way of Things is discussed in terms of Japanese, especially Zen philosophy and art.

The author arrives at a synthesis of oriental philosophy and show the way it relates to Western religions and the Western idea of God and the Universe. I found it fascinating to read and tremendously enlightening. I also liked the discussion of the place of science in human awareness and of humanity as the eye of the universe; the universe is able to contemplate itself through human perception. A pity it is out of print although there seem to be copies available second-hand online.

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