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A Dialogue of Affection and Respect
Reflections on Creating Waldens

By Rick Wilson

I loved Creating Waldens, Daisaku Ikeda’s dialogue with Ronald A. Bosco and Joel Myerson on the legacy of the American Renaissance. I've read quite a few of Ikeda's dialogues over the years. I think this one is my favorite. More than in any other, I get a sense of President Ikeda the man: the young lover of poetry and philosophy who, even before encountering Buddhism, treasured the great American Transcendentalists—Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman; the teenager who, when he obtained, after scrimping and saving, a copy of Leaves of Grass, was encouraged by Whitman’s affirmation of humanity and celebration of hope. I was inspired and touched by Ikeda’s deep and ongoing affection and respect for these great writers.

Indeed, affection and respect permeate the entire dialogue—of the participants for each other, and, of course, for the subjects of their discussion. Those who value Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman find meaning and purpose in their ideas: a humility before and devotion to nature and the deep lessons it teaches; a commitment to dialogue, open-mindedness, self-reflection, and continuous self-education; and courageous self-reliance. As the title of the book suggests, this isn't simply an academic discussion of these themes.

Rather, as the three writers under discussion did, Bosco, Myerson, and Ikeda have endeavored for many decades to actually live this way themselves; they therefore inspire us to make the same effort. This cross-fertilization among the lives of the discussants and those of their subjects makes for consistently engaging and thought-provoking reading. On every page, it seemed, little flashbulbs of insight, of fresh ideas, popped. I finished the book refreshed, encouraged, and ready to work even harder at creating my own Waldens, in a way true to myself—an individual rooted in, and nourished by, the Universal, as expressed in nature, culture, the Buddhist Law, and my own heart.

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ORDER CREATING WALDENS

READ AN EXCERPT FROM CONVERSATION FOUR: "REFUSING 'ALL THE ACCUSTOMED PATHS'"

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Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue
396 Harvard Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Phone: (617) 491.1090 Fax: (617) 491.1169

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