Eastern Philosophy


Bishnu Pathak and Susmita Bastola – TRANSCEND Media Service

27 Apr 2023 – Eastern Philosophy (EP) has often been neglected in mainstream academic discourse. Philosophy is the way of looking at, understanding, interpreting, and fundamentally bringing together love and wisdom (lovism). This study contributes to a wider understanding of international relations and philosophies in a world where the balance of power is shifting and emerging as superpower countries India and China are increasingly growing in importance.

Philosophy in general connects with human value, human life, family, society, nature, and the universe, and change is professed through the human mind, knowledge, reality, reason, and illusion, and relatively shares to pursue goodness to live a pleasing life.

The objectives of this state-of-the-art book are four-fold: (1) to understand the fundamentals of the ancient EP; (2) to interpret basic concepts, thoughts, and teachings of classical international relation-related theories or peace spiritual insights of various wisdom within Chinese, Indian, Islamic, and Christian Missionaries; (3) to assist the Master’s level students to participate actively in discussions and interpretations and to create insights and critical thinking methods accordingly; and (4) to share the outcomes of philosophy with like-minded actors/institutions globally.

Applying networking tracking methods and or snowball techniques, the required information and literature are mostly gathered and reviewed based on archival research, exchanging and sharing the way forward along with lessons-learned centric theoretical approach from yesterday, investigating the axiomatic truth to assist learners to get acquainted with different ancient and rich wisdom traditions for today and encouraging hope more for not only privileged students but people of all tiers in the Eastern and Western world for better understanding the EP tomorrow for this pioneering researching book.

Before starting this Eastern education philosophy study, the authors asked three questions: Why are they doing this? What results might be? Will they be successful? After holding intensive arguments, discussions, and interactions, when the authors received satisfactory answers, they finally started to engage in these innovative and phenomenal initiatives or studies on The Arts of Eastern Philosophy (2023). This book is being published by Cook Communication (Professor Dr. Bruce Cook), imprinting by Lulu.com, USA within a week.

It is appropriate to discuss here how this book was initiated. On December 1, 2021, at 11.35 am, Professor Dr. Bishal Kumar Sitaula requested the first author to develop a Master’s Level course on Eastern Philosophy for their International Relations Department under the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. The conversation held between the first author and Dr. Sitaula as well as Professor Dr. Stig Jarle Hansen continuously for dozens of times on messengers and emails.

While the first author realized that the manuscript of the book was not possible to write by a single author within a year, he requested the second author, who had just completed her Ph.D. in Peace and Human Rights from Japan. She also has been a second author of a widely circulated book named Negotiation by Peaceful Means: Nepo-India Territorial Disputes, 2022 in Amazon.

The authors believe the book shall be an inspirational asset for disseminating Eastern philosophy and understanding it for all concerned academia, institutions, and society.

The book addresses touched, inspired, and motivated learners as well as academics who want to study further Buddhism, Chanakyaism, Christian Missionary, Confucianism, Gandhism, Ibn Khaldun, Suntzuism, Taoism, general philosophies, and differences between Eastern and Non-Eastern thinkers.

Gautama Buddha was an ascetic cum spiritual non-violent leader. There were four passing insights: old age, sickness, death, and a nomadic ascetic. He left the place seeking four-noble truths of why people endure suffering (duhkha)? What are the causes of suffering (duhkha samudaya)? How to end suffering (duhkha-nirodha)? And what are the truth paths that lead to suffering (Duhkha-nirodha-marga)? Finally, Buddha enlightened: sufferings are parts of human life; suffering comes from human desire, and human achievement emerges from perfect sukha (nirvana) by overcoming desire, and overcoming desire leads to an eightfold rights-based path. Buddha says that nothing is lost in the universe; only the form of existence changes and rebirth is followed as per Buddhology.

Chanakya (Bishnu Gupta), from a poor Brahmin family, wrote the Arthashastra. It illustrates a treatise on politico-economics, military strategy, politico-diplomacy (sama, dama, bheda, and danda), social organization, and state function. With the help of those treaties, Chanakya overthrew the powerful Nanda King dynasty and made Chandragupta a powerful King in India. Chanakya Neeti teaches dharma, artha, kama, moksha, and social ethics. His Niti motivated many Emperors/Kings, even today. The phenomenon of Niti has been practicology for effective, relevant, and suitable government functions, initiating offensive and defensive war strategies, mobilizing peaceful methods, and ensuring justice even today.

In 1946, Albanian-Indian Catholic Mother Teresa, while traveling by train to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling from Calcutta, got a powerful call (message) from Jesus asking her to give up life to care for the poorest of the poor. In 1948, Teresa left her Loreto convent and entered the Motijhil slums in Calcutta to teach the poor children. On December 22, 1948, when Teresa reached Motijhil, she was very happy to see many children waiting for her on the steps of a railway bridge. She noticed a guava tree nearby and she started to teach them without blackboards, copies, books, desks-benches – only a stick to write in the mud. She finally established the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. By 2020, it consists of 5,167 nuns spread over 134 countries.

Confucius developed theories of value, knowledge, learning, transmission, human nature, society, and consciousness. His golden rule says, “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.” He has a firm belief that the future is determined by his/her deeds today. He said that family is a symbol of societal relationships for kindness, obedience, nobility, humanness, obedience, benevolence, sincerity, love, and loyalty. And all human beings are equal at birth, upheld by character. He developed empathy, righteousness, sacrifice, wisdom, and trustworthiness for not having physical punishment and law with sincerity and faithfulness.

Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi), an Indian lawyer, civil rights, freedom and non-violent campaigner, and political ethicist successfully conquered by accomplishing the rights and freedom for Indians residing in South Africa in 1913. With the help of Satyagraha, he returned to India to make a sovereign India. Then he led and initiated the struggle for Indian independence for three decades (1915-1945). His entire freedom movement primarily adapted four – Swadeshi, Swaraj, Satyagraha, and Sarvodaya – theories. His theories were based on unity, ends-means, truth, non-violence, and existence. As a result, India became independent from British authoritarian-cum-colonial rule in August 1947.

Tunisian/Arabian sociologist, historian, and philosopher Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) is recognized as one the greatest social scientists.  He emphasized empirical thought, overshadowing normative theory and introducing a driver of change. His best-known book, the Muqaddimah (Prolegomenon) records the early thought of universal sociology, history (Akhtar, 1997), cultural history (Abdalla, summer 2007), political theory, historiography, social Darwinism (Gates, July–September 1967 & Baali, January 1, 1988), and human civilization. His contributions summarized cyclical, solidarity, and cooperation theories. Western scholars recognized him as one of the greatest thinkers in the Muslim world.

Lao Tzu is a founder of Taoism or Daoism and Tao Te Ching (a way of life). This text of Tao Te Ching has been the second most translated book in various languages in history (after the Bible) that had been written on bamboo slips. It has two Yang (positive or bright) and Yin (negative or dark) divisions, similar to two sides of the same coin. The core teaching of the Laozi is emptiness, law, humanity, unity, peace, harmony, violence, wisdom, righteousness, and nature. Taoism is neither a religion nor a philosophy alone. In some senses, it describes a flow of natural order of thoughts or things of every living and non-living existence in the entire universe. Universe has been balanced because spiritual immortality joins nature after death.

A legendary military philosopher, military strategist, theorist, and author Sun Tzu had written The Art of War book. That book has been known as the world’s most famous and the first written military treaty on war/guerrilla warfare and military science. It stresses the unpredictability of fighting, surprise attack, and deception of the enemy. The US military applied Sun Tzu’s strategy during the attacks in Japan, Vietnam, North Korea, and Afghanistan, among others. Several theorists and politico-military strategists, including Carl von Clausewitz, Antoine-Henri Jomini, and Napoleon to Mao Zedong, and the People’s War (1996-2006) in Nepal, applied Tzu’s warfare strategies and tactics.

The Eastern philosophy is carried out following the universality, indivisibility, interdependence, and interrelatedness of conflict, peace, harmony, justice, governance, rights, and security, among others.

Eastern and Western philosophies have not been studied to date specifying the differences and similarities between these two in academic sermons. Thus, the concluding chapter of this book has analyzed the detailed differences between the Eastern and Western philosophies in an integrated manner, putting them into tabulation for each issue separately.

Philosophy is the way of looking at, and thoughtfully construing human value, human life, family, society, nature, and the universe. Philosophy relatively pursues goodness to live a pleasing life. Philosophy envisions the reality either of an eternal truth or absolute truth. Eastern and Western philosophies have developed within certain parameters and dimensions and the approach to life in general. Both philosophies are highly influenced by responsibilities of their duties that often argue, along with the presence of inherent knowledge. The thoughts and conceptions of East’s self and West’s truth philosophy are quite opposite.

More than 60 percent of the world’s population resides and believes in Eastern Philosophy, but it lacks research, analysis, resources, motivation, discussion, and dissemination. The East philosophy talks about the mind and meditation. The meditative mind directs the proper path to use, motivate, protect, and promote philosophy. Thus, today’s urgency is to incorporate Eastern philosophy into higher studies of its uniqueness, paramount importance, metaphor, theosophical with metaphysics, passivity, cycles of birth and death, and liberation and ascetic life.

After World War II, when America’s influence (in some senses control) exponentially increased in the Asia Pacific region, non-western including Eastern philosophy could not move forward as the demand for change. The gap between non-Western and Western countries will be bridged if the Master’s Level of education in non-western philosophy is conducted in an integrated approach under the Department of International Relations or any other related/interested Department. International Relations will also be developed and changed over time. Non-Western and Western philosophies will move forward as two wheels of the same chariot.

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Transnational Professor Bishnu Pathak was a former Senior Commissioner at the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), Nepal who has been a Nobel Peace Prize nominee from 2013-2019 for his noble finding of Peace-Conflict Lifecycle similar to the ecosystem. A Board Member of the TRANSCEND Peace University holds a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary Conflict Transformation and Human Rights in two decades. Arduous Dr. Pathak is an author of over 100 international paper-book publications including Politics of People’s War and Human Rights in Nepal (2005), Generations of Transitional Justice in the World (2019), The Nepal Compact: Potential for Cold War II (2022), Negotiation by Peaceful Means: Nepo-India Territorial Disputes (2022), among others, have been used as Universities references in more than 100 countries across the globe. Immense versatile personality Dr. Pathak’s publications belong to Human Rights, Human Security, Peace, Conflict Transformation, and Transitional Justice among others. Email: ciedpnp@gmail.com

Susmita Bastola completed her Ph.D. in Peace and Human Rights at the beginning of 2023 at Osaka Jogakuin University, Japan. Her research interest is conflict transformation, peace, transitional justice, reconciliation, mediation, facilitation, and creating alternative mechanisms to deal with armed conflict and violence. She is also a co-author of the widely circulated volume Negotiation by Peaceful Means: Nepo-India Territorial Disputes (2022). Email: bastolasusmita@gmail.com

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 May 2023.

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3 Responses to “Eastern Philosophy”

  1. Thus is a superb study. Dr. Pathak and Dr. Bastola deserve highest recognition for the study. By reading their book, a serious student of peace can clearly understand how Eastern and Western philosophies are in brutal conflict in today’s world.

  2. Ali Gohar says:

    I am very sorry that one of the Muslim non violent leader is always forgotten in such Initiatives.
    “Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan: A Man to Match His Mountains.”

    The Frontier Gandhi and his army without guns.

    “When Mahatama Gandhi roused millions in civil disobedience to British rule, an unknown figure in the remotest corner of India raised history’s first nonviolent “army”; 100,000 men from the most violent people in the world, the Pathans of the Khyber Pass.

    This is the story of Badshah Khan-the story of heroism that comes when born fighters take to nonviolence.”

    (Extract from the Book by Prof. Eknath Easwaran)
    His autobiography is also translated into English titled.My Life And Struggle.Sahibzada Imtiyaz

  3. Fine work as always, my friend.

    It will be valuable in many university courses seeking to understand
    ‘the East’.