Volume 6, 2020
Time, History, and Buddhism
In the field of comparative religion, many scholars believe that there are essentially two groups: the historical religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and the mystical religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Daoism. These, respectively, represent the basic spiritual attitude of the Western and Eastern worlds. Is it really the case that the Eastern world knows nothing about history, or is their idea of history different from that of the West? In this article, I will focus on a Japanese philosopher, Keiji Nishitani, a representative of the Kyoto School, and examine his constructive engagement with the Buddhist and Christian ideas of historicity for the purpose of constructing “a proper view of history suitable for future mankind.” I will unfold this “proper” view of history in three parts: 1) time: linear or circular; 2) history and karma; 3) eschatology and nirvāṇa.