MASAO ABE QUOTES

Buddhist author and philosopher (1915-2006)

In Buddhism, compassion always goes with wisdom. Compassion without wisdom is not understood to be true compassion, and wisdom without compassion is not true wisdom.

MASAO ABE, Zen and the Modern World

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Tags: Buddhism, compassion


Zen is a double-edged sword, killing words and thoughts, yet at the same time, giving them life. Although beyond human intellect and philosophy, Zen is their root and source.

MASAO ABE, Zen and Western Thought

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Tags: Zen


Emptiness is not a mere emptiness, but rather fullness in which the distinctiveness of everything is throughly realized.

MASAO ABE, Zen and the Modern World

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Science without religion is dangerous because it necessarily entails a mechanization of humanity and consequent loss of individual autonomy and spirituality. On the other hand, religion without science is powerless because it lacks an effective means through which to actualize the ultimate reality. Science and religion must work together harmoniously.

MASAO ABE, Zen and the Modern World

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Tags: science, religion


When one existentially awakens from within, the relation of birth-and-death is not seen as a sequential change from the former to the latter. Rather, living as it is, is no more than dying, and at the same time there is no living separate from dying. This means that life itself is death and death itself is life. That is, we do not shift sequentially from birth to death, but undergo living-dying in each and every moment.

MASAO ABE, A Study of Dogen: His Philosophy and Religion

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Tags: life, death


Justice ... is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it judges sharply what is right and what is wrong. On the other hand, judgment based on justice naturally calls forth a counter-judgment as a reaction from the side so-judged. Accordingly, we fall into an endless conflict and struggle between judge and the judged.

MASAO ABE, Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue

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Tags: justice


Buddhist nirvana ... is based on egolessness and is not anthropocentric but rather cosmological. In Buddhism, humans and the things of the universe are equally subject to change, equally subject to transitoriness or transmigration. A person cannot achieve emancipation from the cycle of birth and death until he or she can eliminate a more universal problem: the transience common to all things in the universe.

MASAO ABE, Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue

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Love and justice are like water and fire -- although both are necessary, they go together with difficulty. Compassion and wisdom are like heat and light -- although different, they work together in complementarity.

MASAO ABE, Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue

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Tags: wisdom


Buddhism is originally not a religion of faith in a transcendent deity but a religion of awakening to the true nature of self and others.

MASAO ABE, A Study of Dogen: His Philosophy and Religion

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When life is lived as a living-and-dying in the primordial, nonsubstantial nothingness, one realizes that life is bottomlessly life and death is bottomlessly death. Life does not change into death, and death does not take away life.

MASAO ABE, Zen and the Modern World

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Tags: life


Justice, when carried to its final conclusion, often results in punishment, conflict, revenge and even war.

MASAO ABE, Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue

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To say that Buddhist principles such as dependent origination, emptiness, and suchness are impersonal does not mean that Buddhism is indifferent to human affairs. On the contrary, Buddhism as a religion is essentially concerned with the salvation of humankind.

MASAO ABE, Zen and the Modern World

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Buddhism's aim is not immortality and eternal life through a resurrection that conquers death, but the unborn and the undying state of nirvana realized directly in and through living-and-dying by liberation from living-and-dying itself.

MASAO ABE, Zen and the Modern World

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Buddhist wisdom implies the affirmation or recognition of everything and everyone in their distinctiveness or in their suchness.

MASAO ABE, Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue

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To realize life as absolute is to be existentially amancipated from life itself in that very realization, which understands that life is not life. The same applies to death.

MASAO ABE, Zen and the Modern World

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Although it is our hope to overcome death by the power of life and it is an ethical imperative to conquer evil by the power of good, whether it is possible in actual human life is another question.

MASAO ABE, Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue

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Tags: death


The notion of justice creates an irreparable split between the just and the unjust, the righteous and the unrighteous, whereas the notion of wisdom evokes the sense of equality and solidarity.

MASAO ABE, Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue

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The understanding of human existence that sees life as having death as its inevitable end presumes that life is lived only in opposition to dying and seeks the conquest of death; that is, immortality, or eternal life. Here, death is always seen as alien to life, something to be overcome. In contrast to this, the understanding of human existence as a continuous living-and-dying does not view life and death as objects in mutual opposition but as two aspects of indivisible reality. Present life is understood as something that undergoes continuous living-and-dying.

MASAO ABE, Zen and the Modern World

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