I have frequently looked upon Spinoza as the West’s version of the Chinese Buddhist sage Zhiyi, who systematized the Lotus Sutra (considered by many to be Shakyamuni Buddha’s highest teaching).
Below is an excerpt from Daisaku Ikeda’s novel series, The New Human Revolution (Vol III) that rings similarity for me between Spinoza and Zhiyi. Ikeda’s prose summarizes Zhiyi in a way that I believe makes Spinoza more accessible as well. If anyone out there can share as simple and compelling summary of Spinoza, I would appreciate it.
In that instant, Shakyamuni attained a profound awakening. He had finally become a Buddha — one enlightened to the supreme truth. It was as if a door within his life had been thrown open to the entire universe, and he was released from all illusion. He felt he could now move and act freely based upon the Law of life. It was a state he had never experienced before in this lifetime.
Now Shakyamuni understood: “The entire universe is subject to the same constant rhythm of creation and change. This applies equally to human beings. Those now in infancy are destined to grow old and eventually die and then be reborn again. Nothing, either in the world of nature or human society, knows even a moment of stillness or rest. All phenomena in the universe emerge and pass into extinction through the influence of some external cause. Nothing exists in isolation; all things are linked together over space and time, originating in response to shared causal relationships. Each phenomenon simultaneously functions as both cause and effect, exerting an influence on the whole. Moreover, a Law of life permeates the entire process.”
Shakyamuni had grasped the wondrous truth of existence. He was convinced that he could develop himself limitlessly through this Law he had awakened to. All criticism, obstacles, and hardships would be nothing more than dust before the wind. — Daisaku Ikeda, The New Human Revolution (Vol III)