• Phil Grant
  • Kyoto Journal
  • January 25, 2014

"Years after an unexpected encounter with the remarkable reign of Emperor Ashoka Maurya, Bruce Rich has written an insightful meditation on the relevance of the ancient Indian ruler to our own age of global discontent. To Uphold the World is much more than a literary excavation of a legendary leader who extended his empire’s influence from Egypt to China. It is also a persuasive call for our own generation to challenge the central assumptions behind economic globalization and replace them with policies grounded in an ethics of reverence and transcendence. The Dalai Lama writes in an afterward to this book, 'In this new millennium, when our world is increasingly interdependent, we must find ways to resolve our problems and conflicts through nonviolence. To Uphold the World should serve as a source of great inspiration.' Rich joins Octavio Paz in calling for a recommitment to Ashoka’s reverence for life as the keystone of our emerging global society. Rich, quoting Paz, writes, 'the ecological movement… insofar as it is a call to different social values, expresses our thirst for totality and our yearnings to participate.' Rich concludes his homage to Ashoka with these words: 'The great Indian poet Tagore said, when the twentieth century was still young, that Ashoka’s ‘thought had been standing on the wayside for all these ages longing to find a refuge in the mind of every man.’ This moment may now be arriving.'”

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