[Wu Jingxiong (1899-1986), or John Wu, was born in the port city of Ningpo and came of age when the transformation of Old China by Western missionaries and Western education was in full spate. For him the experience of the clash between the old culture and the new was, for the most part, a delightful one. The following passage is from his book Beyond East and West, 1951.]
I realize now that the influence of Buddhism on me has been much greater than I was aware at the time. To begin with, I am endowed with a speculative cast of mind. I remember when I was in my early ‘teens, I was laid to bed on account of some slight fever. When the evening came, a thought came to my mind that the courtyard in which I was in the habit of playing might no longer be existing now! I got up from the bed and ran to the window and peeped through the lattice at the courtyard. Seeing that it was still there, I went back to bed. But no sooner had I lain down than the doubt came again: “It was indeed there when you saw it, but how do you know that it is still there?” I got up again and again and ran between the bed and the window about half a dozen times, till I was utterly worn out. My mother thought I was mad, and so did I. When, in my late twenties, I studied The Surangama Sutra and other Buddhist classics under the direction of Abbot Ti Hsien, I was amused to find that the same kind of problem was discussed there which had puzzled my infantile mind. When, still later, I came to read the writings of Berkeley and Wang Yang-Ming, I found with great consolation that I was not the only madman in the world.
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