Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM.

(Concluded from page 266.) It has been somewhat too glibly To the Buddhist, in whose vision assumed that because the Brah. the supremely reverenced Law was manic conception of a God is re that alone which is ultimate and presented as having been ridiculed eternal, it would have seemed by Sakya, and because he nowhere profane to invest it with any of ascribes individuality to a Supreme the selfish attributes of personality Being, his system is an atheistic whose constant clash inakes up one. It is true that there is an the seething drama of terrestrial avoidance of allusion to a personal existence, and whose conquest is deity, but it seems to be his rever the way into heavenly emancipaence for his ideal of the universality tion. of law that compels him to exclude A limited Pantheism — if so any notion of personality. Per paradoxical an expression be allowsonality, as the word is understood able—would perhaps best represent by the generality, would in his the Buddhist conception of divine view imply a defect in that supreme perfection. The soul released from ideal, a reduction to those lower its low conditions enters into a life elements wherein are limitations that is one with the unconditioned and impermanency.

Infinite; while the soul that dwells If we trace the history of the still in the weary whirl of selfish word person, it would appear that pursuit and repeated transmigrawe are more apt to employ it now tion, is outside that Pleroma, which to signify an integral entity than is too vast for man's heart to emis warranted by its original use. brace, too inconceivable for the conThe Latin word persona, from which ditioned mind to define or explain. we draw it, represents the very The conception of a Love which opposite of such a sense ; it means by its very nature can, as it were, a mask, a temporary manifestation, humble itself to sympathise even a mere appearance, an external with the backslidings, impatience, show. The corresponding Greek and feebly renewed efforts of a word signifying person springs stumbling soul, is the element also from the same dramatic root. lacking in the Buddhist theology, To personify an abstract conception which, so far only as that negation is to bring forward a thought into extends, may be regarded as dialogue and dramatic form. The atheistic. word means essentially outward With a conception of deity so appearance rather than inward exceedingly abstract as that of verity. In Judæo-Greek thought, Buddha, it is little wonder that in a respecter of persons is literally minds tending to rigid intellectan acceptor of faces, one who can uality the doctrine should run on penetrate no deeper than the out into negation or a kind of atheism. ward show.

Similarly, as the idea of the eternal

1145

unchangeable condition of life is it that the dreamer of the joyful was, intellectually speaking, and countenance has found ? apart from its appeal to the feel. Warren Hastings, who can ings, arrived at mainly by the re neither be regarded as an un. motion of all the attributes of practical man nor as without every-day life, it is natural that opportunities of observation, thus with many followers of Buddha the wrote in 1784 upon the meditative doctrine of Nirvana should lead to a faculty which was still an attribute blank prospect of utter annihilation of the Indian ascetic: “ To those With another school, on the con- who have never been accustomed trary, the idea became that of “re to this separation of the mind from storation to the true condition of the notices of the senses, it may being,” which is akin to the ancient not be easy to conceive by what doctrine of the Parsis, and in means such a power is to be more or less sympathy with an attained, since even the most element which is to be found studious men of our hemisphere deep in the heart of most religious will find it difficult so to restrain faiths.

their attention but that it will Buddha himself was probably wander.to some object of present content to leave something of mys- sense or recollection; and even the tery in his exposition of that unex. buzzing of a fly will sometimes plored land of rest. It was enough have the power to disturb it. But for him that he saw the way out of if we are told that there have been the inherent falsities of corporeal men who were successively, for existence to be by the vanquish ages past, in the daily habit of ment of the personal ambitions and abstracted contemplation, begun fretful fevers of the untamed mind. in the earliest period of youth, A teacher, whose eyes were opened, and continued in many to the might well have faith enough to maturity of age, each adding some leave undefined the undefinable, portion of knowledge to the store and yet hold it to be truth that accumulated by his predecessors, it inconceivable existence, when ac- is not assuming too much to contually entered, might be positive, clude that, as the mind ever gathers and not negative, life. But the strength, like the body, by exercise, logicians of the metaphysical so in such an exercise it may in schools could not be content with each have acquired the faculty to this. If the intellect by itself be which they aspired, and that their raised to the throne, it ousts faith, collective studies may have led hope, and finally charity. What them to the discovery of new ever is not mathematically clear tracks and combinations of senti. must be abandoned; the worshipment, totally different from the of the definite excludes the enter doctrines with which the learned tainment, even for a moment, of of other nations are acquainted : unrealisable dreams and of the doctrines which, however speculaglimmer of impossible stars.

tive and subtle, still, as they What it is that the contemplative possess the advantage of being devotee reaches is a difficult matter derived from a source so free from to solve. To the undeveloped soul every adventitious mixture, may that enters meditative life when the be equally founded in truth with practical were the easier and more the most simple of our own." suitable school, the result may well Perhaps a man well accustomed be something apparently not far to worldly ways is nearer to an removed from imbecility, but what appreciation of that Nirvana

lei

wherein the turmoil of selfish sible from this natural machinery ambition is imagined to be stilled, of trial. than the merely intellectual critic “Long is the night to him who can be. To the latter, Nirvana is awake; long is a mile to him presents itself as a condition that who is tired; long is life [transmust be defined with scientific migratory life, the constant revoexactitude ; to the former it appeals lution of birth and death] to the without argument with the rude foolish who do not know the true force of fact. Our own Bacon, law,” says Buddha, according to who, like Buddha, had seen some. the Pali Dhammapada; but so thing of the world, wrote that long as that kind of existence is " the long and solicitous dwelling not tedious to the individual imin matter, experience and the un- mersed in it, the doctrine will take certainty of particulars ': . . fixeth no hold on him. Better surely the mind to earth, or rather sinketh that he should be left to pass it into an abyss of confusion and through the crucible of joys and perturbation, at the same time pains than that he should become driving and keeping it aloof from a monk before he knows what it is the serenity and tranquillity of a that he seeks to escape. much diviner state; a state of “Few there are among men who abstract wisdom!"

arrive at the other shore; the other Many of the followers of Buddha people here run up and down the who rushed in to define what he shore.” Here is a recognition of with greater knowledge of the un- the truth that many undeveloped definable had left indefinite, were souls prefer that running up and doubtless holy friars from youth, down the shore, that common unand ignorant of almost everything certain life with its epochs of birth in the world but devotion and and death, to the most certain metaphysics. They would natu. passage across to Nirvana. rally fail to appreciate his broad How strong is the tendency to and simple notion of Nirvana. nominalism, which is worse than to Hence arises the paradox that, to have no religion at all, seems to become a Buddhist after the primi. have been a familiar thought with tive pattern, the best way is not Buddha. to study Buddhism but to be a Here is his reply to a captious man of the world.

Brahman, in answer to the quesAnd here we find the flaw of tion, “ Who is the true disciple ?” Buddhism as a system ; it is like “Not he who at stated times begs an exaggerated teetotalism. The his food ; not he who walks young monk is withdrawn from unrighteously, but hopes to be the world before he knows what it considered a disciple, desiring to is, and is kept by a rigid disci. establish a character (as a religious plinary system from the real teach person), and that is all; but he ing of causes and effects, which, who gives up every cause (karma) slow though it may be, no reli- of guilt, and who lives continently gious leading strings can equal in and purely, who by wisdom is able efficacy.

to crush every evil (inclination)

this man is the true friar.” “ And The mills of God grind slowly, But they grind exceeding small.

who is the truly enlightened ?”

“Not he who is simply mute, The aim of Buddhism, or indeed whilst the busy work of his mind is of any monastic system, is to re- impure - merely accommodating move the individual as far as pos himself to the outer rule, and that

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

is all ; but he whose heart is with out preference (indifferent), whose inward life is pure and spiritual (empty), perfectly unmoved and dead to this or that (person or thing)—this man is called an inwardly enlightened man (Muni?).” And who is a man of Bôdhi (an Ariya, or elected one') ?” “Not he who saves the life of all things [this must mean by formality, as of the man who, on principle, would not destroy vermin), but he who is filled with universal benevolence, who has no malice in his heart-he is a man of Bôdhi. And the man who observes the law is not he who talks much, but one who keeps his body (himself) in subjection to the law (religion), although he be a plain, untaught man, always guard. ing the way without any forgetful. ness—this man is an observer of the law.” This passage is from Mr. Beal's version of the Chinese text of the Dhammapada.

If it is hard to attain this condition, so also, says Buddha, is ordinary life hard :-" To aim at supreme wisdom and to give up sin is hard ; but to live in the world as a worldly man is also hard. To dwell in a religious community on terms of perfect equality as to worldly goods is difficult; but difficult beyond comparison is the possession of worldly goods. To beg one's food as a mendicant is hard; but what can a man do who does not restrain him self? By perseverance the duty becomes natural, and in the end there is no desire to have it otherwise.”

This is as the precept which Bacon cites, “ Optimum elige, suave et facile illud faciet consue. tudo"-Fix upon that which is best, custom will make it easy and delightful. But even in this apparently perfect plan there is lurking danger, as an old gnomic philosopher, Publius Syrus, once

[ocr errors]

discovered : — “Bonarum rerum consuetudo pessima est” — Customedness of good things is the very worst of things.

The Buddhist friar who had left all evil behind might as readily fall into spiritual dormancy in his good things as the worldly man in his worldliness, and end in a mechanical religion, removed from worldly activity not by being drawn into higher and nobler activities, but as exchanging fever for nothing better than hibernation.

The Brahmans were careful not to make saints of unripe souls, for they had a law which has more than one humorous aspect, that, if a man at sixty years of age had not reached wisdom, it was his duty to return to his home and marry a wife.

There is a curious story of some Indian nuns which will show that the devotee is not always the most devout. They had sent to Buddha for an instructor, and he had responded by despatching an old mendicant of poor faculties who knew only one stanza of the law, but had learned its meaning thoroughly and could expound it. The party of nuns, learning who was to instruct them, began to laugh together, and laid a plot that when the old man came they should all repeat the verse backwards, and so confuse and put him to shame. Their agreement was frustrated by some minor miracle, according to the account as we have it; but the story at least shows that the nun of the time, even as seen by her own people, cannot have been much better than her less sanctified sisters.

Buddha again and again hurls himself with his full force against nominality; the following saying of his, which was probably the corner-stone upon which the legend just quoted was constructed, is

one evidence out of many :- dom: “Thou fool, what dost thou “ Although a man can repeat a with the matted hair, what dost thousand stanzas, but understand thou with the raiment of skin ? not the meaning of the lines he Thine inward parts are full of repeats, this is not equal to the wickedness, the outside thou makest repetition of one sentence well clean.” understood, which is able when Many a disappointment and heard to control thought. To rebuff must Sakya have experienced repeat a thousand words without from the incurable frivolity of the understanding, what profit is generality before he could utter there in this ? But to understand such words as follow : “Perceiving one truth, and hearing it to act that the ignorant herd can never accordingly, this is to find de- attain true wisdom, the wise man liverance."

prefers in solitude to guard himself The following is Buddha's in virtuous conduct, not associating definition of the true Brahman, with the foolish; rejoicing in the which ancient term he adopted, practice of moral duties, and pursuwith all its accumulated prestige, ing such conduct as becomes this as a designation of his truest fol. mode of life, there is no need of a lowers :-“ It is not by his clan, or companion or associate in such prachis platted hair, that a man is tice-solitary in virtue without called a Brahman, but he who sorrow, a man rejoices as a wild walks truthfully and righteously, elephant escaped from the herd.” he is indeed rightly called a good A man of the present age, one man. What avails the platted who may almost be called prophet, hair, O fool! what good the gar- has expressed the same truth of ment of grass? Within there is baffling as that uttered by Buddha no quittance of desire, then what and many other spiritual men, in advantage the outward denial of verses that rise in parts to self ? Put away lust, hatred, de- eloquence. They may help us to lusion, sloth, and all its evil con- appreciate the young Indian prince sequences, as the snake puts off who quitted the life of a palace for his skin, this is to be a Brahma- that of a vagrant preacher: chârin indeed.”

This passage is from the Chinese Reformers fail, because they change the version of the Dhammapada, and it

letter, may be interesting to compare it

And not the spirit of the world's

design ; with the rendering from the Pali, Tyrant and slave create the scourge and from which it differs very little fetter, Max Müller Englishes as follows: As is the worshipper will be the shrine. “A man does not become a Brah- The ideal fails, though perfect were the

plan ; mana by his platted hair, by his

World harmony springs through the family, or by both ; in whom there

perfect man. is truth and righteousness he is blessed, he is a Brahmana. What

We burn out life in hot, impatient

striving, is the use of platted hair, O fool ?

We dash ourselves upon the hostile What of the raiment of goatskins ?

spears ; Within thee there is ravening, but The bale tree, that our naked hands are the outside thou makest clean.”

riving, We may add, also, the late Pro

Unites to crush us. Ere our man

hood's years, fessor Childers's translation of the

We sow the rifled blossoms of the prime, last paragraph, since it expresses a Then fruitlessly are gathered out of thought so familiar to Christen

time.

« НазадПродовжити »