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Human Nature and Zen

Human Nature and Zen

By Richard DeMartino 

Wil (Switzerland) / Paris: UniversityMedia, 2021. xxix & 213 pp.  ISBN 978-3-906000-17-6 (paperback). 

Buddha, in the first of his Four Noble Truths, states that “All is suffering.”

What does Buddhism’s founder mean by that? Is this starting point of Buddhism in any way connected with human nature? Is there such a nature at all? What sets us humans apart from other animals? And how is this difference related to religion?

In this book—the fruit of a life-long quest—Richard DeMartino explains what makes us members of the species homo sapiens sapiensunique and what Zen Buddhism has to do with this.

UniversityMedia’s complete trilogy of DeMartino’s main writings:

Human Nature and Zen (2021). ISBN 978-3-906000-17-6

Zen Encounters (2022). ISBN 978-3-906000-22-0

The Zen Understanding of Man (2023).  978-3-906000-32-9

Richard DeMartino (1922–2013), Zen practitioner and thinker, long-time student of  D.T. Suzuki, Shin’ichi Hisamatsu, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebuhr, and co-author (along with D.T. Suzuki and Erich Fromm) of the classic Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, was senior associate professor of religion at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

This book is sold worldwide at all major internet bookstores. For orders of five or more copies we offer discounts; please contact our representative.

In this book, the fruit of a life-long quest, Richard DeMartino explains what makes us members of the species homo sapiens sapiens unique—namely, that we are conscious of being conscious. This reflective consciousness or self-consciousness forms the basis of our personhood, of our identity as an “I.” Irrespective of sex, nationality, race, age, etc., being a self-aware “I” or “self” is what makes us human.

But how is this related to the first Noble Truth that states that “all is suffering”? To be a self-aware subject-“I” implies facing objects—including myself—to which I am inextricably bound and yet from which I am alienated. Along with other religions and philosophies of Oriental origin (such as Advaita Vedanta), Zen Buddhism calls the human being’s constitutive subject-object matrix “duality,” and identifies this duality as man’s root problem.

This book focuses on the initial nature and the basic problem of the human person. The resolution to this problem—Non-duality or Awakening to the self-less Self—is a major theme of the companion volumes Zen Encounters (ISBN 978-3-906000-22-0) containing Dr. DeMartino’s seminal essays and conversations, and  his doctoral dissertation The Zen Understanding of Man (ISBN ISBN 978-3-906000-32-9).

PDF file of the Table of Contents of this book for download

PDF file of Richard DeMartino’s list of publications for download