The first book I read in 2020 was Religion and Nothingness by Keiji Nishitani, and it was excellent. Definitely one for my ‘Non-fiction books of the year’ list in December. But for now, just a great way to start the year.

Nishitani was a Japanese philosopher, and this book makes links between Eastern and Western philosophies in a way I haven’t seen done so convincingly before. Nishitani also has several interesting things to say about Kierkegaard, which will always get my vote.

As well as quoting from Kierkegaard, Nishitani also had a Kierkegaardian way of speaking about things, at times: “Subjectivity is nothing else than the selfness of the self reflected onto the field of consciousness.”

There were various beautiful poems quoted throughout the book, including this one by Gasan Jōseki:

It is ninety-one years
Since my skin and bones were put together;
This midnight, as always,
I lay myself down in the Yellow Springs.

If you’re interested in religion and spirituality; existential philosophy, particularly concepts of nothingness, selfhood and despair; or just in the philosophy of religion more generally, I would definitely recommend this book.

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