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The Lotus And The Robot Hardcover – 1961

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Company; 1st edition (1961)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006AWZ9S
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
By 1959, Koestler had a wide variety of life experiences that could have easily stimulated him to continue exploring the intellect in the unique way that was his style. Yet, as have many before him, he succumbed to the temptation to explore the Eastern traditions of self-realization in order to gain perspective on the predicament of the West and humanity in general. The Lotus and the Robot is the story of year and a half long journey to India and Japan and his study of Yoga and Zen in each respective country. With well balanced critical eye coupled with an open mind, Koestler's account reads like a spiritual ethnography, observing the implications of spiritual traditions within their cultures, their psychological manifestations, historical trends, and contrasts with his own collective Western ideals and biases. His ultimate conclusions are ambiguous; he is both fascinated by these traditions yet does not believe that the cultures studied can particularly "help" the West with the problems that they face. The deliberate irrationality of the East is not a direct antidote for the excessive rationality of the West, though a hybridization of the two may be beneficial. He also highlights similarity in Eastern traditions to diluted, forgotten, and vestigal Western traditions amd the vice versa unique embracement of Western technology and ideas by the East. While some sections lag, others show flashes of profound insight. All in all, a very instructive and illuminating book for those interested in the East-West dichotomy written by a brilliant observer of both.
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Format: Paperback
In recent decades, the wholesale rejection of many Western ideals by large chunks of society has meant that people have turned to other sources... in many cases this has meant that they see those other sources as a little too perfect through their ignorance of them and/or they actually forget the better points of Western culture, because they see it to be totally "bankrupt".
While there are better guides to the overall "texture" and ideas of Asian philosophy and religion, Koestler doesn't flinch here from telling us some of the uglier details that don't generally reach the west. Yes, Koestler is at times a little prejudiced coming from a Western religious tradition (His family were Ashkenazi Jews), and you can see that in this book... but his descriptions of REAL Indian yoga, will show you how much it has been cleaned up and bowdlerised for western consumption. Koestler also reveals some of the darker side of Buddhism, particularly Japanese Zen, which as he shows can produce a doublethink which can avoid morality, and such thinking may have been partly responsible for darker moments of WWII in the East. He also comes up with many ideas that I haven't seen elsewhere... for example he considers meditation as almost a practice for death. He also reminds people of the similarity of lesser known Western movements to Oriental ones, and of the massive influence of the west on the east of the time (far greater by now of course). Koestler himself was not uninfluenced by certain Eastern thought, indeed he titled one of his other books "The YOGI and the Commissar", and often referred to the "oceanic feeling" in his works, a close lift from Buddhism.
Koestler was no Hippie (he had seen enough of *real* war and totalitarianism not to fall in that trap)...
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This book was published in 1960 soon after Arthur Koestler's visits
to India and Japan. The 285 page book is about evenly divided between these two countries. Since I come from India I was primarily
interested in the section covering India and these comments are confined to that half of the book.
Koestler is a very sharp, intelligent, sensitive and yet didactic
observer. His visit to India was to check whether the country's
culture and philosophy had anything worthwhile to offer to the West.
His check on Indian philosophy is suppoerted by a meticulous and
detailed analysis of origial sources of information and comment. This type of in-depth analysis is rarely done and it is a pleasure
to read his observations.
Koestler spent time meeting several several well known Gurus, both male and female, and their disciples. The accounts of these meetings
increase the value of the book particularly for those readers who may not be attracted to erudite, sometimes abstruse, discussion of
philosophic subjects.
This book is strogly recommended to readers with a serious interest
in India and its ancient spiritual culture.
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Format: Paperback
In the chapter title, 'Predicament of Man', in his Ghost in the Machine, Arthur Koestler writes about the joy he experienced in seeing the starving Ukranian children, with big swollen bellies (I am no writer, Koestler's description is more fancy than mine). Koestler explains that he and his comrades were infected with 'double think' and that the baby corpses, or soon to be, were seeds planted for the glorious future. Koestler then famously swaps sides and becomes a nice man and a fierce critic of communism.

Imagine if a Nazi writer wrote the same about jewish kids in the ghetto? Imagine the ex-Nazi writer saying, "O, what joy these hungry children bring, the ecstasy, planted seeds, sweet seeds for the master race"! Sure, the Nazi writer then turns tail and became a respected conservative and a fierce critic of anti semitism, but does this cancel out his love of starving kids from his younger days?

Do we trust this writer?

Surely his passionate eulogy to dying children out-ways his respectable demeure later in life? Towards the end, Arthur Koestler morphed into a grand old man in Thatcher's England and was partially responsible for banning the death penalty.

So please remember who they sent off to Japan and India to study those cultures. A grand conservative writer who's philosophical discourse at the end of his famous novel is better than Huxley's and Orwell's. I'm a long-time fan of Arthur Koestler, but you don't sent a Nazi to analyse Judaism and you don't send a Bolshevic to analyse spirituality.

What did they expect anyway?

One thing Koestler does have is critical faculties. These days, spiritual seekers have zero critical faculties.
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