Page images
PDF
EPUB

to suffer; and it was from seeing this that Budha ordained him. Therefore Budha may be all-merciful, and yet all-wise." Milinda: "Then Budha's mercy is on this wise; he punishes a man, and then anoints his body with sesamum oil; he casts him down, and then raises him up; he takes his life, and then causes him again to live; see, what mercy! When he would favour any one, he first causes him sorrow, and the consolation comes afterwards." Nágaséna: "When Budha punishes any one, or casts him down, or takes his life, it is that he may be benefited thereby; for the same reason that a father chastises his child. Budha ordained Déwadatta, because he saw that thereby a great degree of suffering would be prevented. As when a noble who is in favour at court sees that a relative or friend is about to suffer some severe punishment, he pleads for him with the king, and mitigates the sentence, or obtains forgiveness; so Budha interfered to arrest the punishment that awaited Déwadatta. It was like the act of a skilful physician, who cures a disease by the application of a powerful medicine. When he sees a putrid and offensive sore, he cleanses it, cuts it open with a sharp instrument, and cauterises it; but will any one say that he does all this wantonly, or that he does wrong? When a man, carelessly walking along the road, runs a thorn into his foot, and another who follows him sees his misfortune, and with another thorn, or some instrument, extracts the thorn that has caused pain, does he do this wantonly, or from a cruel disposition? Is it not rather in mercy, that a greater evil may be prevented? It was for the same reason, and with the same intention, that Budha ordained Déwadatta." When the king heard this explanation, he acknowledged that his doubts were removed.

The king of Ságal repeated the question that he had asked on a previous occasion respecting the wisdom of Budha, and again enquired, "Does Budha know all things ?" Nágaséna replied, "Yes; he knows all things, but the power that he possesses is not at all times exercised; this power is attached to thought, or there must be the exercise of thought in order to discover that which he wishes to know; what he wishes to know he discovers in a moment by the exercise of thought." Milinda: "Then if Budha must seek before he can find; if that which he sees has to be discovered by searching, he is not all-wise."

Nágaséna: "The power of thought in Budha is exceedingly quick and subtle. I will explain to you how it is, but I can only do it in a very inadequate manner. Thus, in one gela, or load of rice, there are 63,660,000 grains; each of these grains can be separately considered by Budha in a moment of time. In that moment the seven-times gifted mind exercises this power." (Milinda Prasna.)

IX. THE ONTOLOGY OF BUDHISM.

1. THE ELEMENTS OF EXISTENCE.-II. THE ORGANIZED BODY.-III. SENSA

TION.-IV. PERCEPTION.-V. DISCRIMINATION.-VI. CONSCIOUSNESS.-
VII. IDENTITY; INDIVIDUALITY ; AND MORAL RETRIBUTION.-VIII.
REPRODUCTION.-IX. KARMA.

WE have now done with the ancient legend, and its supernatural accompaniments. We have to enter into another region, and commence a course of observation that in its character will differ widely from that which we have hitherto pursued. We have, for a time, to shut out from our vision the various orders of existence that have flitted before us in bewildering profusion, and to chain down our attention to a silent contemplation of the elements of our own being. We are still in a world of mystery; but this arises as much from the difficulty of the subject, as from the manner of its illustration.

Before we commence our task, it will be well to ascertain the object, or motive, of our investigation. We should have supposed, from what we have already seen, that the teachings of Budha were of too practical a nature to allow of much attention being paid to so abstract, and apparently unprofitable, a subject, as the one now before us. But it is not from a vain curiosity, or to discover new objects of admiration, or to enlarge the domain of science, we are to continue our researches. It is to find out the highest illustration of the great principle, that all being, every possible mode of existence, partakes of "impermanency, misery, and unreality.” The Spartan prayer was, "Give us what is good and what is beautiful;" and Coleridge says, "Poetry has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me;" but the Budhist seeks to realise the truth of a more ancient axiom, "All is vanity and

enu

vexation." The essential properties of existence are merated, in order to convince us that there is no self, or soul. We are to contemplate the unreality of our being, that we may learn to despise it, and place ourselves in such a position that we may live above its agitations and secure its cessation.

The elements of sentient existence are called khandas, of which there are five constituents; literally, five sections, or heaps (1). 1. The organized body (2), or the whole of being, apart from the mental processes. 2. Sensation (3). 3. Perception (4). 4. Discrimination (5). 5. Consciousness (6).

In the Brahma Jála Sútra (Rev. D. J. Gogerly, Ceylon Friend, Sept. 1838), we have an account of sixty-two heterodox sects, which enumeration is said to include "all the different modes of belief that were then in existence or could exist." They are divided into two great sections.

1. Those who reason on the past, containing eighteen. classes. 1-4. Those who hold the eternity of existence, which arises from their having a recollection of former births, or from induction. 5-8. Those who hold that some beings are eternal and some mutable. 9-12. Those who affirm that the world is finite, or that it is infinite, or infinite laterally but not perpendicularly, or that it cannot be predicated as either finite or infinite. 13. Those who doubt, or equivocate, from various causes. 14-18. Those who suppose that they and the world are uncaused, from their having previously existed in the brahma world in which there is no consciousness.

2. Those who reason as to the future, containing forty-four classes. 1-16. Those who hold a future state of conscious existence, and that it is either material, immaterial, a mixed state, or neither material or immaterial; that it is either finite, indefinitely extended, a mixture of both states, or neither the one nor the other; or that its perceptions are either simple, discursive, limited, unlimited, happy, miserable, mixed, or insensible. 17-24. Those who hold a future

state of unconscious existence. 25-32. Those who hold a state between consciousness and unconsciousness. 33-39. Those who hold that death, at once, or ultimately, is annihilation. 40-44. Those who reason on the mode in which perfect happiness is to be obtained.

According to Gótama, the pure unmixed truth is not to be found anywhere but in his own bana. To other teachers the truth may appear partially; but to him alone does it appear in unshrouded clearness and in its utmost amplitude. In him it is not an acquisition, gained by means of some mental process, nor is it a lesson taught by another. It is an intuitive underived power; a self-generated effulgence. By this unerring sage it is declared, that none of the sixty-two opinions above enumerated are consistent with the truth; so that, according to him, there is no state of future existence, either conscious or unconscious, material or immaterial, miserable or happy. And yet death is not annihilation. We exist, and we do not exist. We die, and we do not die. These appear to be contradictions; but we shall afterwards learn that the seeming discrepancy arises from the complexity of the system. There will be a future state of existence, but not of the individuality that now exists; and though death is the dissolution of that which now exists, it is not the annihilation of a potentiality inherent in that existence.

It is evident that the four last of the khandas are results, or properties, of the first; and if there be anything equivalent to that which we call the soul, it must be found under the first class. Now there are twenty-eight members of the organized body, but among them no single entity is presented that we can regard as the primary and essential principle to which all the other parts are accessories. It is the office of life, or vitality, to keep together, or preserve, the constituents of the organized body; and here its office appears to cease. We are told that it is a wind, or air, that imparts the power by which the hand or foot, or any other member is moved; but it is said again that the principal

« PreviousContinue »