« AnteriorContinuar »
is pressing with equal intensity on the whole mass of humanity. In contemplating that fact, you will find a more complete solace than ever was experienced by the Brahman in his attempt to fly from the scene. You will learn that in the scene and not beyond it is the true secret of rest. Your own burden will fall in the very act of lifting your brother's. In the realisation that the weight is universal, it will cease to be particular. In the sense that you are bearing a common load, you will forget everything that is individual or uncommon, and in the midst of a world of war you will feel a great calm.”
You will observe that the main distinction here between Brahmanism and Buddhism lies in the difference between a levelling up and a levelling down. Brahmanism is essentially a levelling up; it teaches emancipation from the cares of the world by rising into another world. Buddhism is distinctively a levelling down. It is conceived in the interest of the democracy. It proposes a remedy for universal man, and therefore it places that remedy within the reach of the lowest. It objects to the Brahmanical method, because that method appeals only to the transcendental few. It feels that when you tell a man to lose himself in God, you tell him to do something which demands a long spiritual training, and presupposes a preliminary education in the divine life. It perceives that such a precept will inevitably end in the privilege of a caste, and that the prize for self-surrender will be won by the more refined professions. Buddhism aspires to be the religion of the people; it seeks a remedy for man as man. It tries to find a refuge for those wants which are at the foot of the social ladder, and which, because they are at the foot of the social ladder, belong equally to all men. Accordingly, the refuge which Buddhism proposes is a refuge which can be sought and found alike by the lowest and the highest. It involves no metaphysical knowledge, it requires no transcendental flights, it prescribes no unnatural asceticism. It does not ask an abandonment of the present world, or the thought of it; it demands rather a deeper entrance into the thought of it. It tells the man of toil to look at his own toil as exemplified in another, the man of sorrow to contemplate his sorrow in the face of his brother-man. It tells him that by ceasing to view his cross as exclusively a private possession, it will cease to be a private possession at all. It tells him that what he wants to give him rest is not a diminished but an increased sense of the pain of life, and that if he only widen his horizon far enough to embrace the fact that grief is universal, he will enter into personal peace and learn the secret of emancipation from care.
The system in modern times would be pronounced one of secularism. It would be called the gospel of humanity to distinguish it from any theological gospel. Without denying either God or immortality, it persistently ignores both. It ignores them not on the ground of any rational difficulties, but simply and solely on the ground of their own practical inutility, of their powerlessness to effect the redemption of mankind. And yet I am far from thinking that in the historical circumstances which prompted the rise of Buddhism, it is adequately described by the word secularism. That it ignored God and immortality is true, but what God, and what immortality? It was a God who was believed to stand to the world in a relation of antagonism, an immortality which was thought to consist in the annihilation of material life. The God of Brahmanisin was not coextensive with the universe; He did not embrace in His being the works and ways of time. The immortality of Brahmanism was a life which could only exist by the destruction of earthly life; it had no place in the secret of its pavilion for the perpetuation of temporal interests. Against this partial Deity, against this limited immortality, Buddhism raised its voice in protest. In that protest lies its value; its so-called secularism is the secret of its power. It would have been a very different matter if Buddhism had arisen to expel God from the world ; it would then have been
entitled to be styled atheism. But we must never forget that the God of Brahmanism was already expelled from the world, and that in the creed of the Brahman the earth as such was already without a helper. When Buddhism appeared, it appeared to vindicate a neglected element. It stood up to advocate the cause of something which had been overlooked in the scheme of creation—the temporal life of man. It was willing to leave to the ancient Deity His original possessions in a transcendental heaven, but it asked to be allowed the possession of a field which had never been included within His dominions. It demanded the right to redeem the world through the world. It declared that there had been sufficient sacrifice to God, that the time was come for a sacrifice to man—a sacrifice which should be effected not by the hands of any consecrated priest, but by the hand of every man stretched out in aid of his brother. It maintained the doctrine of a universal priesthood, bound to accomplish a universal redemption by the lifting up of a universal burden.1
The truth is, the triumph of Buddhism lies in its protest against asceticism. That which gave it power over Brahmanism was its unascetic tendency. The view is frequently held that it has derived its influence from the same root as monasticism; it has in fact derived its influence from exactly the opposite root. Monasticism was the shrinking of men into a place of refuge from the conflict of life and the burden of the day; it was essentially a retirement from the world. Buddhism was, on the contrary, a withdrawal from that retirement; it was an effort of the human mind to get rid of its isolation from common things, and to mingle once more in the pursuits and interest of the crowd. The relation of the two systems is not one of resemblance but of contrast. Monasticism has owed its power to the worldly nature of the age which has preceded it, to the weariness of minds that have been living long in the pursuit of earthly vanities. Buddhism has owed its power to the unworldly nature of the age which has preceded it, to the fact that men have been long immured in a life of transcendentalism, and are eager to join again in the concourse of the busy crowd.
| Buddha's own personal power lies in the belief that he has voluntarily submitted to sacrifice in order to be in sympathy with humanity (Hardy, Manual of Buddhism, p. 98).
It is the sacrificial character of Buddhism which has blinded the general reader to the view of its unascetic nature. It has been taken for granted that a life which is sacrificial must of necessity be a life which is separated from the world. The truth is precisely the reverse, and one of the great missions of Buddhism has been to teach us the reverse. The life most full of sacrifice is not that of the