10 MARCH 1866, Page 19


Ma. HARDY would have done better to write a book upon Buddhism specially adapted for English readers. He has a deep practical knowledge of the creed as obeyed in Ceylon, from reading its books and controversy with its priests, and has collected information which in another form would be of the highest interest to Europe. Nothing is more wanted than an account of Buddhism as it appears to an intelligent English theologian—if an Arminian, so much the better—who has really fought it out with the yellow-robed priests in their own tongue, has understood not only what their sacred books say, which is one thing, but what the expositora think they say, which is quite another. Instead of such a work, Mr. Hardy, either out of laziness or humility—we will assume the second, for the man is evidently both good and temperate—has republished a contro- versial work intended to fortify the Singhalese Christians among whom he laboured, mingled with explanations intended for a more Western latitude. The result is a jumble of knowledge which, as far as the writer,—who can follow most of the quotations,—can judge, is very accurate ; of reflections which, if not always deep, are usually to the point; of legends which would be most interest- ing, but for the higgledy-piggledy in which they are presented, and of deductions which are sometimes of necessity imperfect. For instance, Mr. Hardy wants evidently to point out the actual working of the Buddhist sexual law, apparently so very pure a system. That is a practical point of high interest to the specu- lative Europeans who alone will read his book, but he stops short, and will not even quote the Buddhist Scripture, lest a certain laxity in its doctrine should injure his converts' minds. Nevertheless, in spite of its form, his little book is one for which we are indebted, and we will try to condense from it an account of Buddhism, the least known and in some ways the most interesting of creeds, as it appears to a man who has studied the Buddhist books with the aid of Singhalese, i. e., as we under- stand it, of " Catholic" Buddhist, theologians. We take it—but we give the opinion as the result of much reading, and not, except as to the Indian Buddhists, of knowledge like Mr. Hardy's- that the Indian Buddhist of the higher class is the Neologian, the Burmese the Orthodox Protestant, the Singhalese the High Church, and the Siamese and Chinese the Secularist of the Buddhist system.

We may pass over disquisitions as to Gautama or Gotama. Whether Sakya Muni ever existed, whether he was a Prince, whether he ran away from his wife to hide himself in the jungle, whether he turned the world topsy-turvy, or whether he under- went St. Anthony's temptations in an intensified form, does not matter much. What is certain is, that about 580 B.C., say a century after Lycurgus, a system of thought, probably originating with an individual, did arise on the Indian frontier of Nepal, or did get there from the old cradle of the human race, and thence spread till it subjugated India, China, and the countries between, and Ceylon—say a clear half of the human race. India fell back from it, or rather superadded to it a system of another kind, at once nobler and more earthly, but in Siam, China, Cochin China, and Ceylon the people, so far as they recognize any system of religious philosophy, recognize this, the most original of all which the sons of men have devised.

Its originality consists in this, that while Buddhism is a reli- gion, i. e., a system of thought having reference to things not • Levrtds and TheAries of As Buddhists. By the Rey. R. S. Hardy. Leedom : Williams and Norgate. material, inculcating self-restraints and moral obligations, it denies the usual basis of all religious. In India, and indeed most places, it is so mixed with Brahminism that it is hard to discern the truth, but wherever it is pure it recognizes no God, no Su- preme Intelligence,—the primary idea of Gents= being that to predicate any Self, any Ego, is an absurdity,—no soul, no future life, except as one among a myriad stages of terminable existence. It is not revealed, but discovered by man, any human being who can so far conquer his natural self, his affections, desires, fears, and wants, as to attain to perfect calm, being capable of " intui- tions" which are absolute truth; wherefore Gautama, though he argued against other creeds, never proved his own by argu- ment, simply asserting " I know." Its sole motors are upadan, the "attachment to sensuous objects," as Mr. Hardy calls it, or as we should describe it, nature, and karmma, literally, work, the aggregate action which everything in existence must by virtue of its existence produce, and which ex rerum natures cannot die. For example, fruit comes because there is a tree, not because the tree wills it, but because its karmma, its inherent aggregate of qualities, necessitates fruit, and its fruit another tree in infinite continuity. There is a final cause, but it is not sen- tient :—" All existences are the result of some cause, but in no in- stance is this formative cause the working of a power inherent in any being that can be exercised at will. All beings are produced from the upciddna, attachment to existence, of some previous being; the manner of its exercise, the character of its con- sequences, being controlled, directed, or apportioned by karm- ma; and all sentient existences are produced from the same causes, or from some cause dependent on the results of these causes; so that updddna and karmma, mediately or immedi- ately, are the cause of all causes, and the source whence all beings have originated in their present form." It will be readily perceived that this theory, expressed by Buddha in this form because he wanted to use illustrations from the ger- mination and self-reproduction of trees and fruit, is really nothing but the old argument of necessity, the " must be " of the universe ; but he drew from it a strange deduction. Instead of arguing, as English secularists and many Hindoos do, that as there is ob- viously a law which is unalterable, and of which we can know nothing, and which therefore we should ignore, and try to be happy as intelligent animals, Gautama set himself to kill the law. Pene- trated with the idea that existence, though a natural consequence of a natural law, is mere misery—that the natural man is wretched as well as evil, he declared that if man, by sub- duing all the natural affections, could, as it were, break the chain, kill the upaddna, or attachment to sensuous things, he would as a reward pass out of existence, would either cease to be, or—for this is doubtful—cease to be conscious of being. The popular notion that nirwan is absorption, is incorrect, for there is nothing to be absorbed into, no supreme spirit, no supreme uni- verse, nothing, and into this nothing the man who has attained nirwan necessarily passes. To attain it he may have to pass through a myriad states or forms, each less attached to sense than the last, hence transmigration ; but when it is reached the perfect result is simply annihilation, or rather the loss of being, for the components of being, if we understand Buddha, could not die. A drearier system of thought was never devised, and we can account for its rapid spread only by assuming what we believe to be the fact, that the Asiatic who was below philosophy under- stood by nirwan not annihilation in our sense, but that state of suspended being in which one exists, but neither hopes, fears, thinks, nor feels, in which he delights, and which we despair of snaking comprehensible to the Northern mind. Our only chance is to recall to our readers' recollection a fact they may have recognized, but which, if they can sympathize with the Spectator, they have probably never realized to themselves, namely, the in- tense delight some men feel in sleep, not as a relief from fatigue, not as a renovator, but as a condition. Sleep is temporary death,—non-existence—and if they can realize the delight in that temporary death, they may understand why, amid a people with whom it is universal, the doctrine of nirwan found favour.

With the cosmical system of Buddha or Gautama we have no concern. Suffice it to say that his theory of what we call revelation is that the intuition of a man who has conquered upcidcina is absolutely true, and that this idea applied to physics by a totally ignorant person produces an explanation of the phenomena of the world which is simply extravagant nonsense, dreamy stuff about central rocks, and the swallowing up of the sun by a demon. We pass on to the ethical system of Buddhism. Strictly speaking, the creed, by reducing everything to the natural law of cause and effect, should kill morals, but it does not. " Of sin, in the

sense in which the Scriptures speak of it, he knows nothing.. There is no authoritative lawgiver, according to the Dharnuna•, nor can there possibly be one ; so that the transgression (>2 the precepts is not an iniquity, and brings no guilt. It is right that we should try to get free from its consequences, in the same way in which it is right for us to appease hunger or overcome disease ; but no repentance is required ; and if we are taught the necessity of being tranquil, subdued, and humble, it is that our minds may go out with the less eagerness after those things that unsettle their tranquillity. If we injure no one by our acts, no wrong has been done ; and if they are an inconvenience to ourselves only, no one else has any right to regard us as transgressors. The Dharmma has some resemblance to the modern utilitarianism ; it is not, however, the prodactionof thegreatest possible happiness at which it aims, but the removal of all possible evil and inconvenience—from ourselves_ Nevertheless self-denial is the sum of practical ethics, and Gautama having set up the killing of attachment to sense as the object, and self-denial as the means, has produced a very noble theoretic system of ethics. True, the ultimate reward is only annihilation, but there are intermediate stages, and so powerful is the crave of man. to be higher than he is, so terrible his fear of being lower, that even for this he will, theoretically at least, surrender much. No act is in the Buddhist system sin, —the very idea is unknown— but then a bad act produces a bad consequence, just as a rotten substance will produce stench, and bad acts are therefore to be avoided. As to what is good everything is good, because in se everything is indifferent, but nevertheless that is bad relatively to its consequence which produces injury to another. If it produces injury to oneself no matter, because each existence is its own irresponsible lord, but if to another then nirwan is by that injurious act postponed, and he who commits it is lower than he who does not. There is no sin, but there is unkindness, and unkindness produces fruit just as a tamarind produces fruit. The result of that principle, one latent in a dozen creeds besides Buddhism, and secretly believed by thousands even in Western Europe, is a system which, worked honestly out, would produce universal passive benevolence—active benevolence being of no use whatever—and the most bizarre muddle of morals in some depart- ments of life. For example, it would be a crime to hurt any living. thing, and strict Buddhists still refuse to swallow animakulas.; but it would not be a crime to commit adultery if the husband consented, a deduction formally drawn and acted on in Ceylon, because no one is injured. In practice the idea works in two ways,—the really devout pass lives of the monastic kind, ab- sorbed in themselves, and apart from the world; and the worldly follow their own inclinations, thinking the reward of virtue a great deal too distant and too shadowy, a hunt after nothing. Sd keenly indeed is this felt that in most Buddhist countries there is a sub-creed, not supposed to be at variance with the Established Church, but to work in a less refined but quicker way. When a Singhalese, for example, feels the need of supernatural help, he worships a devil to get it, not as disbelieving Buddhism, but as supposing that devils may exist as well as anything else, and may if kindly treated be as useful as any other allies. Of course the race which holds such a system has, as a race, rather a better chance of being decent than a really pagan one, for it only half understands its own creed, and the stock texts being all very bene- volent and philosophical, it takes them for a theoretic rule of life, and though it does not fully obey the rule, it is decidedly better than if the rule were a bad one. The Burmese, for example, are on the whole distinctly a better people than the Hindoos, more especially because as human affairs must go on, they make rules for holding society together—as we also do—which are quite independent of any divine rule at all, and which happen in Burmah to be decently wise.