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Title: Buddhism in the Modern World
Author: Saunders, K. J.
Language: English
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                     BUDDHISM IN THE MODERN WORLD

                            K. J. SAUNDERS

                               AUTHOR OF



                      PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY
                          LONDON AND BECCLES.


There are many books on Buddhism, and to produce a new one almost
demands an apology. Yet most of them deal with the dead past, and
Buddhism is a living religion which is showing remarkable powers of
revival and adaptation. This is a movement of so great significance
that I hope this small volume may prove of value, not only to
missionaries but to all sympathetic students of a religion which has
played an immense part in the world's history, and which is still a
dominant influence in the lives of scores of millions. During twelve
years of somewhat intimate study of Buddhist countries I have found
that while there is much that is degenerate there is much that is very
noble, and the object of this little book is to estimate the living
forces of the religion rather than to emphasise its weaknesses. It is
at once more scientific and more worth while to look at the strong
than at the weak points of a religion, and there is an increasing
school of missionary thought which believes in building the Christian
Church of Asia upon the great foundations laid through so many
centuries. Not only is it true that God has not left Himself without a
witness amongst these peoples; it is even truer that during the long
and on the whole noble history of the expansion of Buddhism His Spirit
has been at work. I am convinced that any who really study this
remarkable chapter in human history will come to this conclusion, if
they have any belief whatsoever in a meaning in history and in a
Divine Providence.

The missionary amongst Buddhist peoples should aim at studying all
that is noble and of good repute, whilst of course he will not shut
his eyes to what is degenerate and unworthy, and inasmuch as an
increasing number of missionary teachers are doing me the honour to
consult me as to the method of approach to their Buddhist friends, I
venture to dedicate this small volume to them as a token of hearty
sympathy in the noble work that they are doing in seeking to fulfil
the age-long purposes of God. I think that many of them agree with me
that already a nobler form of Christianity is being produced on
Asiatic soil than that which we have brought thither, and it may well
be in the providence of God that a new and splendid era of Church
History is opening up as these responsive and religious peoples of the
Orient are captured by the Gospel of Christ. In spite of the failures
of Christendom and of our divided Christianity the whole of Asia
reverences the historic Jesus, and from her contact with His Spirit is
at once reforming and revivifying her ancient faiths. This process is
of immense significance and her best spirits, even when they do not
call themselves Christian, are frank to confess how much they owe to
Him and how much there is in their old faiths which will need to die
in order that they may live again, purified and deepened. That Asia is
increasingly becoming Christian in its standards of thought and
conduct is evident to any unbiased observer, and one of the most
remarkable proofs of the authenticity and originality of our faith is
this--that it is at once reforming and fulfilling the ancient faiths
of Asia. What it did with the religions of Rome and Greece it is
already doing with the nobler religions of the Orient; and true
missionaries of Christ are at work upon a task of incomparable dignity
and significance.

These brief sketches are based upon ten years of intimate association
with Buddhists in Southern and Eastern Asia.

Inasmuch as I have only been on the borders of Tibet I have not
written here of Tibetan Buddhism. It is very degenerate and so mixed
with Tantric Hinduism as to demand separate and different handling: it
is very clear that missionary work is urgently needed to free the
people of Tibet from a tyranny which is unworthy of the great name of
the Buddha.

                                      K. J. S.

    _January, 1922._

                          TABLE OF CONTENTS


                     I. BUDDHISM IN SOUTHERN ASIA

                         I. BUDDHISM IN BURMA

    (a) A Monastic School
    (b) Its Moral Teaching
    (c) Its Religious Instruction
    (d) The Importance of the Monks as a Class
    (e) Women at Worship

    (a) What Buddhism means for Burmese Women
    (b) What it means for Burmese Men
    (c) What it means for Burmese Children
    (d) The Attitude of Burmese Students
    (e) The Better Side of Burmese Buddhism

    (a) The Burmese are truly Religious in Temperament
    (b) They tend to view Gotama as a Saviour
    (c) The Christian Heaven is more attractive than _Nibbāna_
    (d) Moral Conditions demand a Vital Christianity
    (e) Loving Social Service finds its own Way to the Heart
    (f) Christianity can dispel the Fear of the Demon World

                        II. BUDDHISM IN CEYLON

    (a) The Dullness and Superstition of Village Life in Southern Ceylon
    (b) The Themes of the Hillside Preacher
    (c) The Stolidity of his Audience

    (a) The Appeal of its Traditions
    (b) Its Work of Reformation
    (c) Its Leadership of Public Opinion
    (d) Yet Ceylon needs Christianity


                        III. BUDDHISM IN SIAM





    (a) The Four Noble Truths
    (b) The Eight-fold Path


    (a) A Genuine Sympathy
    (b) A Sense of Beauty and of Humour
    (c) Strong Christian Convictions
    (d) A Desire to appreciate Fresh Truth

                     II. BUDDHISM IN EASTERN ASIA

                         I. BUDDHISM IN JAPAN


                         II. BUDDHISM IN CHINA



                     BUDDHISM IN THE MODERN WORLD

                     I. BUDDHISM IN SOUTHERN ASIA

                         I. BUDDHISM IN BURMA

1. At the great Pagoda in Rangoon.

Let us visit the great _Shwe Dagon_ pagoda in Rangoon, one of the
living centres of the Buddhist world, where amidst a splendid grove of
palms and forest trees the golden spire rises high above a vast
platform crowded with shrines and images of the Buddha. Far below is
the teeming city bathed in golden light, and humming with life; here
all is still save for the rustle of leaves and the tinkling of
innumerable bells upon the great pagoda pinnacle, and the shouting of
a class of boys in the monastery school near by.

(a) _A Monastic School_.--Some two score of them are seated round a
kindly old monk in his faded yellow robe. And all are shouting at the
top of their voices repeating in unison certain words, of whose
meaning they do not seem to think!

(b) _Its Moral Teaching_.--As we draw near we realise that these are
phrases from a popular Buddhist book known as _Mingala Thot_, a
summary of the Buddhist beatitudes, which describe the happy life of
the Buddhist layman. First they shout a word of Pāli[1] and then a
word of Burmese, and lastly the whole phrase. There are twelve verses,
of which the following is typical:--

    "Tend parents, cherish wife and child,
     Pursue a blameless life and mild:
     Do good, shun ill and still beware
     Of the red wine's insidious snare;
     Be humble, with thy lot content,
     Grateful and ever reverent."

Many times must these phrases be droned through before they are
learned by heart, but gradually their meanings sink in and simple
explanations and grammatical notes by the teacher help his class to
understand as well as to learn. These moral maxims still exert a
powerful influence for good.

(c) _Its Religious Instruction_.--Another favourite lesson is a short
summary of the excellent qualities of the "Three Jewels" of
Buddhism--the Buddha, his Order of Monks, and his Law or teaching; and
another celebrates eight victories of the Buddha over enemies temporal
and spiritual. Having mastered these preliminary books, the boys will
learn the chief _Jātakas_, a strange medley of folklore dressed up in
Buddhist guise, and purporting to be stories of the various
sacrificial existences of the founder of Buddhism, Sākyamuni, before
he became a Buddha. Buddhism is not only a body of moral teachings,
but a religion with an elaborate system of beliefs, which makes very
great demands upon the faith of its worshippers, and some of these
beliefs are embodied in these stories of the former lives of the
Buddha. Others are conveyed in legends and hymns, in popular summaries
and proverbial sayings universally known and used by the people.

(d) _The Importance of the Monks_.--This class of boys around the old
monk represents an educational system which covers all Burma and has
unbounded influence. It is an amazing fact that there are almost two
monasteries to every village. While this constitutes an enormous drain
upon the resources of the country, since all the monks retire from its
active industrial life, and live upon the alms of the laity, it has,
on the other hand, made Burma one of the most literate of all the
lands of the East, with a larger percentage of men who can read and
write than modern Italy. So great is the power of the monks that all
boys, before they can be regarded as human beings, must undergo a form
of ordination. It is not strange that some of them are caught by the
lure of the monastic life and the glamour of the yellow robe: yet most
of them, after a short experience, go back to the world.

The young _shin_ or novice, who chooses to stay in a monastery, may in
due course be admitted to ordination. At that time, dressed in
princely robes, he celebrates the sacrifice of the founder of
Buddhism, Sākyamuni, in leaving his royal state to become a
mendicant. His head is shaved, his gorgeous clothes are taken away,
and henceforward he is clad only in the yellow robe of the Buddhist
monks, an order older, more widespread, and more picturesque than any
other religious order in the world. He has "taken refuge in the Three
Jewels," and now takes up the regular life of the monk. He goes out
daily with a group of others to collect food for the monastery; he
attends to the various needs of the older monks and carries on the
simple household tasks assigned to him. A large portion of his time
must be given to studies, until he has a good working knowledge of the
three "Baskets,"[2] _i.e._ the Discipline, the Narratives or
Dialogues, and the Higher Religion, which make up the Buddhist canon.
In course of time he may himself become a teacher.

Let us turn again to the shrine. The great sun is going down and the
pagoda, splendid in the sunset as it changes from gold to purple and
from purple to gray, and then to silver as the glorious moon rises, is
thronged with devout worshippers. The monk prostrates himself before
the jewelled alabaster image of Buddha. He seems unaware of the people
around him, who honour him as a being of a superior order; or, if
conscious of them, it is with a sense of his own aloofness. "Sabbā
Dukkhā" (all is sorrow) he is murmuring: "Sabbā Anattā" (all is
without abiding entity). Mechanically the lay-folk repeat with him the
words which have been for twenty-five centuries the Buddhist challenge
to the world, calling it away from the lure of the senses and the ties
of family and home.

Do the people really believe it? Let us look at this group of women
before one of the many shrines on the spacious pagoda platform. Are
they intent on giving up the world or on making the most of it? Are
they persuaded that it is all sad and transient? Here kneels a young
wife offering strands of her hair, and praying that her child may have
hair as long and beautiful. Near by is an unhappy wife who prays that
her husband may become as pure as the flower which she lays at the
feet of the Buddha. Not far away is one very old and trembling woman
who, after bowing to the impassive image and lighting her little
candle before it, has turned back to pat a great old tree lest the
_nat_, or spirit, which lives within, be offended. "The spirits are
always malignant and have to be propitiated. The world-renowned one,
is he not benign?" She must not risk offending this tree-spirit, in
her desire to please the Buddha. "The Burman tries to keep both in
mind and to serve them faithfully, for both may help to make this life
pleasant; but he is most anxious concerning the demons. Whilst in
every village in the country there is at least one pagoda and
monastery, there is sure to be a spirit-shrine in every home, where
the spirits are consulted and appeased before homes are built,
marriages arranged, purchases made, or journeys undertaken." It is
these things, after all, that make up life for most of us.

2. The Religious Values of Everyday Buddhism.

(a) _What Buddhism means for Burmese Women_.--It will be interesting
to consider what Buddhism has to offer to such groups of women. Four
sorts of appeal may be mentioned. In the first place Buddhism is a
great social force, providing many festivals and giving much colour to
everyday life. In theory it may be sad; in practice it is very
cheerful. Even in Christian lands some women go to church to see the
latest fashions; can we wonder that Burmese Buddhist women delight to
gather on the platform of the beautiful pagoda for friendly
intercourse and gossip? Again, they think of the order of monks as
giving them the best chance to gain "merit." They recall that the
Master taught that generous offerings to them are potent in bringing
all kinds of benefits in this world, and even in helping the dead in
the dim life of the underworld. The monks confer a favour by accepting
alms; it is the donor who says "Thank you."

Another great source of enjoyment and instruction is the well-known
Buddhist stories, told over and over again, often miraculous, always
with a moral. They also reflect on the lives, which they know by
heart, of certain great _Bodhisattvas_, or Buddhas in the making,
"buds of the lotus," which later on burst into full bloom. One of the
pictures in which they delight is that of Gotama[3] when he was a hare
and jumped into the fire to feed a hungry Brahmin. Another picture
more familiar and more poignant still, depicts his appearance as
Prince Vessantara, giving away his wife and beloved children to a
hunchback beggar. These stories exert an immense influence.

And finally, Buddhism influences Burmese women by appealing to their
imagination and their love of mystery, with its solemn chanting, its
myriad shrines, with their innumerable candles twinkling in the dusk,
and the sexless sanctity of its monks. How wise and good they seem to
be! Are they not custodians of the truth? Here one little woman is
lifting a heavy stone weighing forty pounds; a monk has told her that
if it seems heavy her prayer will surely be answered. To make
assurance doubly sure, she may go and consult the soothsayer, whose
little booth is near the shrine--a cheerful rogue, not without insight
and a sense of humour--but she gives to the monk the supreme place,
and pays him more generously!

A Burman acquaintance of mine, who was converted to Christianity, was
asked by an old lady why he had deserted the "custom" of his people.
"I am sick," he began, "of all this bowing down to the monks, and of
all these offerings." "Stop, stop!" she cried, aghast. "You are
destroying the whole religion of our nation!"

(b) _What it means for Burmese Men_.--Laymen in Burma are much like
men elsewhere. Here is one who between prostrations before the image
of Buddha keeps his long cheroot alive, and enjoys an occasional puff.
He is like many men one meets, "making the best of both worlds." Yet
to him too Buddhism makes a strong appeal, primarily because it is his
heritage or, as he says, "the custom of Burma." The national feeling,
which is alive in Burma as well as in all other parts of the East,
resents Western influences, of which Christianity seems a part.
Moreover, Buddhism strongly appeals to his habit of mind. He thinks he
understands why there is inequality in human lot, why some are rich
and some poor, some healthy and some diseased. He explains it as the
working out of the law of _Kamma_.[4] Men suffer now because they have
sinned in a former birth. Listen to this conversation: Old U Hpay is
telling a neighbour about a foolish old sister of his who has adopted
a calf, and is petting it because its voice is so like that of her
dead husband! While the old men chuckle at this quaint expression of
her faith, yet they do believe that this is the law of life. Should
you kill a mosquito it may be your mother-in-law in a new body, and
still going strong! But Buddhism puts forth its greatest appeal at
those times when there comes over its votaries a wistful yearning for
something which this world has not given them. At these quiet moments,
especially in the evening of life, when they are no longer concerned
with making money or with the raising of a family, the appeal of
_Nibbāna_[5] and its peace comes home to many. They do not feel sure
of reaching it, nor do they fully understand what it means. Some of
their monkish teachers tell them it will be annihilation, while others
describe it as the extinction of all passion or a great calm. In
either way _Nibbāna_[5] has its lure, especially to the world-weary.
I have even known a Christian missionary who was tempted to long for
the quiet and relief from the staleness and hurry of life which
annihilation would bring. But he was weary and needed a holiday!
Missionaries often do.

(c) _Buddhism and Children_.--Playing around, while the old people
talk or pray, are always some children. Here a fat, naked baby takes a
puff at his grandfather's cigar; there a little girl, devoutly
imitating what she sees her parents doing before the great image of
Buddha, also lights her candle and offers her marigolds. The older
children quickly begin to take their share in the religious life about
them. In some of them is dawning a hero-worship of the great Buddha
who has done so much for the world. This little girl thinks wistfully
of her brother, so recently her playmate, but now a Buddhist novice,
with shaven head and yellow robe, as remote from her and aloof as if
he belonged to another world. Not much is taught to her and her
girl-playmates: "they are only girls!" But she is learning by what she
sees, and she too is becoming a staunch Buddhist. There are some
stalwart champions of Buddhism amongst the children, and the girls
grow up, less instructed but not less devout than the boys.

(d) _The Attitude of Burmese Students_.--Every mother desires that one
of her sons shall take and keep the yellow robe, yet the younger among
the educated Burmese are frank in calling the order of monks a "yellow
peril," not because they are bad men, for public opinion in Burma
rarely tolerates immorality in these religious leaders, but because
there are so many of them, over seventy-five thousand in the whole
country. To feed such a horde of mendicants is a costly business, and
the rebuilding and gilding of a pagoda may mean that the inheritance
of every one belonging to its village will be decimated. "The pagoda
is built and the village ruined," they ruefully repeat. Thus there is
growing up among those who are in the government schools in contact
with the liberal thinking of the West a disposition to question the
values of the present religious system. Possibly not more than ten per
cent. of the students who have Western training can be called orthodox
Buddhists. Thus the old people to whom Buddhism means so much are
anxious, and the young are restive. Burma, like many other countries,
is going through a period of transition, the outcome of which is
uncertain. Yet undoubtedly it is still a strongly Buddhist country,
and the masses of its people are not much affected by this spirit of
scepticism. As, however, Western education is the key to preferment
the official classes are apt to sit loose to much that their fathers
held sacred. And some few are busy re-thinking their faith and seeking
to adapt it to modern needs.

(e) _The Better Side of Burmese Buddhism_.--Buddhism is often
described as a pessimistic religion. As one sees it in Burma, however,
it seems to make the people happy and contented. Possibly this is due
to their naturally cheerful temperament. Whatever the reason, there is
a remarkable joyousness about the gay-robed crowds of happy, smiling

Again, while Buddhism does not give to womanhood nearly so high a
place as does the religion of Jesus, yet it has granted her a far
better standing than she has in any part of India under Hinduism or
Islam. Woman is the "better half" in Burma and knows it, even though
she may pray to be born next as a man.

Caste, moreover, the great bane of India, is almost unknown to
Buddhist Burma: it is a cheerful democratic land. Buddhism believes in
the education of the masses, and its schools and monasteries are open
to all. It is also very tolerant and kindly. It has not led on any
large scale either to religious persecution or to war. These are no
small services. Moreover, Buddhism has in the past been a great bond
of union between the peoples of Asia, and it is to-day again playing
some part in the movement, "Asia for the Asiatics"--a movement
deserving our sympathetic attention. In the great awakening of
Nationalism the Buddhist Revival has its share both as cause and as

3. Prospects of Christianity in Burma.

There are only some twenty thousand Burmese Christians as yet,
although, within the confines of Burma there is a far larger number of
Christians, and the Karens are already a great church. What, then, are
the reasons for confidence that Burma will at some time be a Christian
country, albeit with a Christianity whose type will differ very
greatly from the prevailing types of the West?

(a) _The Burmese are truly Religious in Temperament_.--The natural
instinct of the Burmese for religion is strong. They are not content
with mere ritual and with offerings, lavish as these are. Gratitude to
Gotama, the great Teacher and lord of life, is a real motive to many.
Not uncommonly are Christian hymns adapted by modern educated
Buddhists and sung in honour of the Buddha:

    "Glory, laud and honour
     To our Lord and King,
     This through countless ages,
     Men and Devas sing."

These Buddhists have organised Buddhist Sunday Schools. In these the
children not only closely imitate Protestant Sunday Schools but sing
to a small portable harmonium:

    "Buddha loves me, this I know;
     For the Scriptures tell me so,"

or more usually Burmese hymns and "carols."

(b) _They tend to view Gotama as a Saviour_.--Again many look upon
Gotama as a loving saviour. So strong is this attitude toward him that
when a father blesses his child, he says to him: "May you be reborn
when the Loving One, _Metteya_[6] comes." Gotama is reported as having
promised the coming of such a redeemer. Even in Southern Asia,
therefore, Buddhism is changing from a way of merit and self-mastery
into a way of salvation by faith. May we not reckon this transition as
a preparation for the message of Christianity? Buddhism everywhere is
to-day almost more like Christianity than it is like the Buddhism of
Gotama and the Elders. The Buddhism of Burma is more of a religion and
less of a philosophy than that of the Books.

(c) _The Christian Heaven is more Attractive than _Nibbāna_.--It is
clear again that Buddhists to-day are much more ready than before to
accept the idea of a Christian heaven. This heaven, preached as a
state of progress, a meeting-place of friends, and the beatific vision
of God, is very attractive to them. The appeal of _Nibbāna_ is dying:
"_Nibbāna_," said a monk in Burma, "is a fearsome thought. I have no
hope of attaining it." "We are walking in darkness," said another
leader, "without seeing a light, a person, or a hope."

Missionaries both in Burma and Ceylon are agreed that the teaching of
Buddhism has changed very greatly during the last few decades, among
those who have come directly or indirectly in touch with Christianity.
Formerly Buddhists preached that there was no supreme god, that
_Nibbāna_ meant total quiescence, almost total annihilation, that man
is his own saviour, and that there is no possible escape from the
penalty of sin; now many admit that there must be a God, declare that
Gotama is a saviour, that sin is forgiven and that there is a heaven
in place of _Nibbāna_.

On the other hand, there is still much work for the Christian
missionary. Buddhism in many parts of Burma seems to be making one
great last stand against the gospel of Christ. Its own standard is in
many respects so high that our Christianity is as a whole not loving
or sacrificial enough to win its adherents. The Christianity which is
to be an overpowering argument for the efficacy and truth of the
Christian faith is too rare. The Buddhist Revival is largely a
reaction from our Western pseudo-Christianity, and from the shameless
aggression of Christendom.

(d) _Moral Conditions Demand a Vital Christianity_.--The moral
situation in Burma clearly demands that either a revivified Buddhism
or Christianity in its most vital form should come to the rescue. The
need is grave. Burma is at once the most literate and the most
criminal portion of the Indian Empire. A government report for 1912
reads: "The moral sense of the people is diminishing with a slackening
of religious observances. With the decay of ancient beliefs the
Buddhist religion is losing its moral sanction as an inspiring force
in the lives of its adherents. Drunkenness, gambling, drug-taking and
vicious habits, increasing as they all are, tend to produce a
weakening of self-control and a loss of self-respect which in
favouring circumstances easily create the criminal." A fair-minded
missionary would agree that these deplorable conditions are in large
measure chargeable to the impact of Western "civilisation." It is
incumbent upon us, in ordinary justice and fair play, to see that the
West is represented by our very best men in missionary service, in
commerce and in government posts. On the other hand, these deplorable
moral conditions are also due to the fact that Buddhism has not
succeeded in its task of building character. A genuine and vital
Christianity has a large and hopeful task in Burma. These very
attractive people need a dynamic and a bond of union in great
enterprises. They are seeking such a religion.

(e) _Loving Social Service finds its own Way to the Heart_.--When
Christianity is expressed in deeds of loving social service, such as
work for lepers, for the deaf and the blind, or for any other needy
class in the community, it touches a responsive chord in every
Buddhist heart. They subscribe to our Christian mission work for the
afflicted. The social appeal of Christianity will go far toward
breaking down all forms of prejudice: and it is significant that the
young Burmese are organising their own Y.M.B.A.'s and their own social
service clubs, though at present these movements do not exhibit much

(f) _Christianity dispels the Fear of the Demon World_.--Christianity
reveals its power by dispelling the terrors of demon-haunted villages,
and lessening the horrors of the slums of the great cities. A country
like Burma is not interested in a new system of ethics. It is wholly
satisfied with the admirable system it already possesses. But it does
welcome the sense of spiritual freedom and power which Christianity
can impart. "The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." May we
not say that Christ can give strength to follow the Noble Path of
which Gotama spoke?

[1] The ancient and still the classic language of S. Buddhism in which
its scriptures are preserved. It is used religiously, much as Latin is
used in the Roman Catholic services.

[2] The Tipitaka (Sanskrit, Tripitika) (1) _Vinaya_; (2) _Sutta_; (3)
_Abhidhamma_. The Pāli scriptures were originally written on palm
leaves and preserved, layer upon layer, in the three "baskets." This,
at least, is one explanation of the use of this term.

[3] Gotama is the Pāli form (common in S. Asia) of the Sanskrit
Gautama, more familiar to Western readers.

[4] Sanskrit, _Karma_.

[5] Sanskrit, _Nirvāna_.

[6] Sanskrit, _Maitri_.

                        II. BUDDHISM IN CEYLON

1. On a Hillside near Kandy.

Over against this sketch of Buddhism as it appears in Burma let us
consider a scene in a neighbouring land, the island of Ceylon, where
for twenty-five hundred years, the religion of the yellow robe has
held almost undisputed sway. Here it has a supreme opportunity, and
has often used it nobly, building a great civilisation for a thousand

It is early spring. The rains are over, and in the brilliant
moonlight, the Singhalese peasants have gathered from their little
malarial villages to listen to _bana_, the preaching of the Buddhist

(a) _The Dullness and Superstition of Village Life in Southern
Ceylon_.--Life is dull in these villages, and any incident and any
teaching will be welcome. It is a strange world in which these people
live, "a world of bare and brutal facts; of superstition, of grotesque
imagination; a world of hunger and fear and devils, where a man is
helpless before the unseen, unintelligible forces surrounding him." As
in Burma, so in Ceylon, demonism is inextricably interwoven with the
Buddhism of the people. In Ceylon, however, it is a darker and more
sinister demonism, blending with a far more sombre and pessimistic
Buddhism. Devils and anti-devils, exorcists and monks, incantations
and prayers to Buddha mingle in the dim confused minds of these poor
Kandyan villagers. It is not very long since human sacrifices were
made to the "demons" of disease.

(b) _The Themes of the Hillside Preacher_.--This darker pessimism
speaks through the monotonous sing-song of the yellow-robed monk on
the hillside, as he speaks to the villagers, urging upon them that
life is transient and full of sorrow, that none the less their chief
duty is to avoid taking the life of the meanest animal, not even
killing the malarial mosquito or the plague-bringing rat against which
government edicts have gone out. Here religion is in conflict with
science and with family love: which is to die, my child or the rat?
There can in the end of the day be but one answer.

(c) _The Stolidity of his Audience_.--The men listen dully, chewing
their betel-nut. They have not much use for the monks, who own
one-third of the arable land of the country and are a heavy drain upon
its resources. Except fitfully, they are not schoolmasters like those
of Burma, but tend to be drones in the hive. When they do teach the
children they only emphasise the doctrines of rebirth and of
not-killing; yet some are kind and teach reading and writing to the
little ones. And occasionally one leads a life of such real piety as
to justify this division of labour--"the people to work, the monk to
meditate." But saints are rare in all lands.

2. The Hold of Buddhism upon the Singhalese.

Even in this village audience, crude as the preaching and dull as the
response to it may be, there is a certain sense of religious peace, of
an otherworldly calm. The _Dharma_ has not lost its power. What are
the deep roots which the great tree of Buddhism has put out in the
island of Ceylon? Of these the more intelligent Buddhist laity will
speak. Let us question this young lawyer, dressed in Western style,
who stands looking on with some contempt.

(a) _Appeal of its Traditions_.--Such men are impressed by what they
see of a very ancient and very real civilisation, which Buddhism
undoubtedly built. In the jungles everywhere are the remains of the
days when Buddhism taught the people to irrigate their fields, to
build strong cities, to write remarkable books, and to develop a
genuine culture. The ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Pollanaruwa, in
spite of the incursions of the jungle and of the neglect of centuries,
are still magnificent and eloquent monuments of what was a really
great civilisation when Europe was still barbarian. Here the patriot
sees the melancholy remnants of a great Buddhist nation, great not
only in the beauty of its art, but great in the tanks and irrigation
systems now almost hidden by rank undergrowth, but remaining to prove
that the whole of this vast deserted area was once under cultivation.
Great, too, was the spirit of some of these rulers. Imagine the
emotions which surge in the young patriot's heart as he thinks of all
the devastation caused by the great European war and then stands
before the calm statue of the noble Dutu Gemunu who to save his people
from war, sought out the invader and slew him in single combat, and
then in the greatness of his heart put up a splendid monument in his
honour! It is on account of such things as these that the young modern
Singhalese is convinced that Buddhism has still a place in the world.

Wave after wave of European aggression has swept over Ceylon, arousing
a resentment which leads the Singhalese even to exaggerate the glories
of ancient Buddhism. It is not strange that they do so. Moreover,
although it is fashionable in Ceylon to despise the mendicants of the
yellow robe, the fact that there are still about eight thousand monks
shows that in these days of disillusionment there are many world-weary
men, to whom the traditional attraction of the monastic life is
over-poweringly strong and who find under it protection and peace. I
have seen strong and true boys being drawn under its spell, and have
known some noble characters among the monks.

(b) _Its work of Reformation_.--The intelligent Buddhist layman
emphasises not merely the sense of peace and quiet satisfaction which
Buddhism affords; he also claims that it has done away with caste and
has purified religion. He will often compare the dignity, the stately
beauty, and the harmlessness of the Buddhist temple and its
surroundings with the incredibly gross indecencies of a Saivite shrine
in Southern India. Men must worship something: in Buddhism they
worship a good and great man deified. In Saivite Hinduism they mingle
the base passions of a perverted sexuality with their worship.

(c) _Its Leadership of Public Opinion_.--This apologist argues, too,
that Buddhism still retains the power of moulding public opinion. He
instances the strenuous appeals which the Buddhists have made to the
Ceylon government to suppress instead of encourage the liquor traffic:
and points to some of their good schools, where young Ceylon is being
taught the great moral lessons of their Faith. And though Theosophists
from the West have been most responsible for starting these, the
Buddhists keep them up and are adding new buildings and improving
their quality.

(d) _Yet Ceylon needs Christianity_.--It is clear that much as
Buddhism has done for this lovely land, it does need Jesus Christ as
indeed all lands, not least our own, need Him in increasing measure as
they face the complexities of the modern world.

He is needed in jungle village and in teeming city, to cast out fear
and sin, and to enable His people to live nearer to their ideals.
They, too, have gifts for Him! And we and they are partners in a
glorious enterprise: to establish His Kingdom of Love and Truth in all
the world. Their devotion to their Buddha, no less than their need and
helplessness to-day, is an inspiring motive to the Christian
missionary to win them to Christ.

3. Two Sharply Marked Attitudes among Buddhists.

Let us return to the hillside preacher. A change has come over his
audience. All are now alert and eager. Seated around his platform,
they are holding a cord which seems to bind them in some mystic
circle. It is "_Pirit_": a kind of magic incantation. The preacher is
reciting the ancient runes by which evil is averted and demon armies
kept at bay. He is telling how the bandit, Angulimāla, who had killed
nine hundred and ninety-nine victims and wore their fingers as a
chaplet, tried to kill the Buddha so as to make the full tale of a
thousand, but was converted on the spot. "May the merit of this be
yours," he says, and they all cry, "_Sadhu_, Amen."

"All humbug," grunts the layman. "Come, let us go to the Young Men's
Buddhist Association, where a Singhalese advocate, newly returned from
England, is going to read a paper on 'Buddhism, a Gospel for Europe.'"
Leaving the palms and fragrant trees of the jungle silhouetted against
the brilliant sky, and passing the white buildings of the Buddhist
High School and of the precious and venerated Temple of the Tooth, he
talks of this possibility. It seems that a movement is on foot to send
a mission to Europe. We agree that, if Christians were real followers
of Jesus of Nazareth, such missions would be futile: and that the
spirit of Gotama is akin to that of Jesus. "We see your Christ," he
says; "in His beauty, because we have first seen the beauty of our
Buddha." Here is a preparation for the gospel indeed. And may not all
idealists--Christians, Buddhists, and others--cooperate much more
freely than they do in great causes? In a League of Nations, for
example, and in social programmes? In Ceylon, as in Burma, Buddhism is
in some degree adapting itself to the new world-environment. Its old
cry of pain, "All is fleeting, transient, sorrowful," is giving place
to attempts at social service and positive living. Yet as compared
with Burma or with Christian lands, the predominating note among
Buddhists in Ceylon is one of world-weariness and despair.

                         III. BUDDHISM IN SIAM

1. Siam a Buddhist Kingdom.

Ceylon and Burma were for many centuries Buddhist kingdoms with a
sovereign as patron and supporter of the monks and very often with
members of the royal family amongst the great abbots. Buddhism has
indeed depended much upon royal patronage, and in these days when
kings are rare it is of special interest to get a glimpse of a modern
Buddhist kingdom which is not unlike those of the past. Let us study a
great festival in Siam where the king's own brother is Head of the
Order and where he himself is a staunch patron of Buddhism.

2. The Thot Krathin Festival.

Some time between the eleventh and twelfth moons his majesty visits
the temples round Bangkok which are under his royal patronage. For
weeks past every household in Siam, from that of the King to that of
the poorest peasant, has been busy "laying down holy cloth" or making
patchwork robes for the monks, that the letter of the old commandment
"be ye clothed in rags" may be observed, and the monks be supplied
with their year's clothing. At the same time offerings of bedding,
furniture, and food are made and great merit is acquired by the
faithful. The King in his splendid barge of state, with its prows
shaped like dragons, its sixty oarsmen, its canopy of cloth of gold,
sets out for one of the great _Wats_ or temples; he is seated on his
throne, and wears a golden crown, and about him are numerous little
princes. Arrived at the shrine his retainers carry the bales of cloth
and other offerings into the temple, and then the King himself with
due ceremony and amidst barbaric music and military salutes, comes
down from the barge and lights five candles which stand upon the table
prepared for his offering. Then, burning incense, he bows to the image
of the Buddha, to the sacred books written on strips of palm-leaf, and
to the Order of Monks; he is "taking refuge" in the Buddhist Jewels.
He then reverently asks the abbot to accept him as a lay-adherent, and
to allow him to keep the Five Precepts, not to kill, not to steal, not
to commit sexual sin, not to lie nor to drink strong drink. And if it
be a holy day he will also take the vows of a monk, not to eat after
midday, not to watch theatrical shows, nor use perfumes, nor sleep on
a high luxurious bed. Then as he offers his gifts the monks accept
them, crying "_Sadhu_" (Amen or well done), and distribution is made
according to their rank. So amidst their blessings he bows again to
the Three Jewels and makes a solemn departure to another shrine.

3. The King and Pāli Learning.

The present King, whom we may call for short King Mahamongkut (he has
more names than the Hohenzollerns), is a graduate of Oxford, a man of
the world, and a great patron of Buddhist scholarship. This has been a
tradition of his house for centuries and in no small degree the
present interest in Pāli learning in Western countries is due to the
enthusiasm of the ruling house of Siam, which has presented splendid
libraries of the sacred books to many universities and temples. The
King summons the monkish candidates for degrees in Pāli learning to
undergo examinations every three years; and for nine days in the
comparatively cool weather of the early part of the year makes a royal
festival in their honour, during which they are undergoing an
examination which increases every day in stiffness. Those who survive
to the end are given the degree _Pareean ek_, or "first-class
honours," and with it goes a small pension; those who drop out before
the end are given second-, third-, or fourth-class degrees. So the
knowledge of the sacred books is kept alive and some of these Siamese
scholars reach a remarkable degree of proficiency. Their influence has
been potent in a renaissance of Pāli learning in Burma and Ceylon.

4. Buddhist Education.

In Siam as in Burma the monks are the elementary schoolmasters. The
boys all spend some time as novices, during which they not only learn
the rudiments of the religion but reading, writing, and arithmetic. As
in Burma, very little is done for the education of the girls, though
this is steadily improving owing to the splendid work done by mission

5. The Temples or Wats.

These Siamese pagodas, fantastic and gay with gold and sky-blue tiles,
are of four grades, those built by the King and dedicated to him,
those built by the princes, those built by the nobles, and lastly
those built by the common people, usually by subscription organised by
the monks or by some enthusiastic laymen. Merit gained in this and
similar ways has been called "The Sum and Substance of Siamese
Buddhism": there is some truth in these generalisations as regards the
whole of Southern Asia. But in Siam as elsewhere there is genuine
devotion to the religion of Buddha, and the human heart is not as
calculating as this sentence implies. Moreover, there is considerable
attempt to modernise the religion to fit the new age, and many of the
people follow the King in believing that it can be made the basis for
a modern state, and can unify and uplift the peoples. All that helps
to build up a nation is welcomed in Siam, and Christianity therefore
has an open door here as in Ceylon and Burma. Burma is tolerant, but
Siam desires the friendship of Western peoples, and being independent
is freer to develop along its own lines. Let us now attempt to
summarise our impressions of the Buddhism of these lands of Southern
Asia by describing other typical scenes in each.


1. The Cremation of a Singhalese Abbot.

A great Singhalese abbot has passed away. It is a national event. The
hillside near Kandy is thronged with great companies of monks in every
shade of yellow and brown, while around them surges a sombre sea of
the faithful laity. In the centre of the huge assemblage is the
funeral-pyre, draped in white and red. Standing beside it, a monk is
telling in solemn and mournful tones of the greatness and goodness of
the departed, who, though he had not become worthy of _Nibbāna_, had
his feet surely set upon the upward path leading to a good rebirth in
_so-wan_, a heaven. Then amidst solemn chanting and the wailing of
flutes and throbbing of drums he applies a torch to the pyre. While
the people bow their heads and cry "_sadhu_" (Amen), the body turns to
ashes. Then solemnly and silently the great throng disperses, the lay
people to take up the ordinary duties of life, the monks to meditate
upon its transient character and unreality. And here a young novice,
to whom the dead man has been very dear, stays weeping, until the last
embers die down and night comes swiftly on.

2. The Funeral Rites of a Burmese Monk.

Another funeral scene. It is that of a Buddhist monk in Burma--a
_Hpongyi_. The whole countryside is present. In clothing of exquisite
silk, resembling a brilliant swarm of butterflies, the people surround
the great catafalque, blazing with tinsel and gold leaf, on which lies
the embalmed body of the monk. After a time the coffin is taken down
and a programme of merry-making begins. The young bloods of the
village to which the monk has belonged, range themselves in two
carefully picked teams on either side of it. Then begins a tug-of-war
with the body in its coffin, the victorious team treating the defeated
to drinks, and to side shows at the little booths which cluster round,
awaiting custom. These and other contests make a glad and joyful scene
at which all the people rejoice, for has not the good man been
released from this transient life (which, nevertheless, is good and
satisfying while blood is hot and youth endures)? Has he not returned
to a life of glory, and won much merit for his own folk and for all
the faithful?

In due time the body is restored to its resting place on the funeral
pyre, the fire is lighted, and the whole mass flares up in flame and
smoke, consuming not only the body, but along with it the decorations,
including paintings of numerous demons, among whom may be an
Englishman with a gun! Only demons could kill for sport! When it is
consumed, the crowd disperses with shouts of merriment, well content,
not least among the others the relatives of the departed. A good show
has been staged, the dead has been honoured, the family name has been
distinguished, and everybody is satisfied. If for the next year or
more the family exchequer has been sorely depleted, still "it is the
custom," and every one expects to follow it. Some one has well said
that Buddhism in Burma is a cheery and social affair, "from festive
marriages to no less festive funerals." I confess to an admiration for
this cheerful view of death, even if some of its expressions are
bizarre! It is less pagan than our "blacks, and funeral obsequies."

3. A Similar Scene in Siam.

_The Funeral of a Siamese Prince_.--A nephew of the King has died, and
his funeral sermon is being preached by another royal Prince, who is
also a monk, and who is true to type and to the orthodox Buddhism of
his race. "As kinsmen welcome kinsmen returning after long sojourn in
far countries, so do good deeds welcome the good as they enter the
other world. And what are good deeds, but the unselfish effort to
advance the good of others? All must be left behind as we enter the
Gate of Death; but as a shadow follows the body so do purity and
simplicity of heart and deed steal after us, and minister to us in
that world beyond. As a flame is our mortal life, and if there be no
fuel it burns no more. We know not when it may die down, for all that
has a beginning has also an end, and transient are all things. And as
we may take with us only virtue, shall we not cherish and ensue it?"

We are reminded of the picture by G. F. Watts, "_Sic Transit Gloria
Mundi_," in which another prince is seen upon the bier, his crown, his
books, his winecup laid aside; and over his bier are the words, "What
I spent I had, what I had I lost, what I gave I have." It is sound
Buddhism, and every word of this sermon of the royal monk is drawn
from the _Dhammapada_, accepted in all Buddhist lands as the very
words of the Buddha, himself the prototype of a long line of kings and
princes in many lands, who have been proud to wear the Yellow Robe.

4. The Secret of Buddhism's Influence.

Which of these funeral scenes (chosen because Buddhism plays almost
its chief part at such times) is most true to type? It is a perplexing
question. Buddhism has from the very beginning been chiefly a religion
for monks, calling men and women to leave the world. It was never
exactly optimistic, and yet another permanent root of its remarkable
power over humankind has been that often men and women who obeyed
possessed a sense of discovery, of hopefulness, of sheer joy;
especially strong in its golden age, the first five centuries of its
existence. There was something vernal in the air. "In joy we live,
hating none; let us live in the midst of those who hate, unhating; in
the midst of those who ail, let us live in perfect health; having
nothing, yet we possess great riches." Such is the spirit of the early
_sangha_ (monastic community). And when we turn to the Buddhism of
to-day we find that it retains these two dominant characteristics:
this blending of sadness and quiet joy. Even in sunny Burma the old
people and the monks seem sad at times, and even in Ceylon and Siam
the ordinary folk are fairly cheerful as they go on pilgrimages or
make their offerings to monk or image.


Buddhism stands in a different relation to Christianity from any other
world religion, because it has unquestionably done for Eastern peoples
something of the intellectual, moral, and spiritual service which
Christianity has done for Europe and America. Moreover, it is showing
a strange power of revival. It also seems to make a real appeal to
certain types of mind in the West. Little groups of Westerners in
Burma and in Ceylon, the former Scotch, the latter German, have for
some years been promoting the propagation of Buddhism in Western
lands. They feel convinced that it is "the religion of mature minds."
One of their number, a Scot, known as _Bhikkhu Silācāra_,[7] wrote
in 1913: "This seems to be the place of honour which Burma is called
upon to fill in the family of the nations of the world--that of being
_Dhammadāyaka_ to the world, giver of the _dhamma_[8] of the Blessed
One to all the nations of the earth. What prouder, what more glorious,
what more merit-bringing position could any people ask for than to be
chosen as the bearer of the sublime teaching of the Blessed One?"
There is a considerable amount of publication of Buddhist propaganda
to-day in Europe and America, even if few Eastern Buddhists are found
with the courage to preach Buddhism in person in Western cities. In
Germany, where there are said to be scores of thousands of Buddhists,
a publishing house has been set up at Breslau; and the _Buddhist
Review_ is published in London. In North America Buddhism has numerous
missions, especially on the Pacific Coast, where it aims at converting
Americans as well as at ministering to the Japanese. It is the only
non-Christian religion which has this appeal. What gives it this hold,
not only upon great sections of the East, but also upon those who have
been born within the range of Christianity, is a question which needs
a thoughtful answer. It is a question of vital importance to us all.

1. It takes hold where Faith in Christianity has ceased.

Buddhism makes a strong appeal to minds dissatisfied with
Christianity, or unwilling to accept the claims of Christ. It is not
difficult to draw analogies between the acts and sayings of Jesus and
those of Gotama. It is easy to be enthusiastic over the ethical
teachings of Buddhism, and over its great influence upon Asia. It has
a certain appeal too to the scientific mind, which is not found in any
other non-Christian religion; and some claim that it is more
satisfying to the intellect than Christianity. The appeal of Buddhism,
therefore, is more than a mild satisfaction of curiosity in something
novel; it gives to a mind which denies the fundamentals of
Christianity an apparently good religious substitute. This being true,
no one can question the fact that those who are to go as Christian
missionaries to Buddhist countries must take the utmost pains to
prepare themselves to meet those who believe in Buddhism, not merely
with friendliness and a sense of sympathy, but with an adequate
background of philosophical, psychological, and religious training
which enables them adequately to represent the best that is in
Christianity, and to deal sympathetically and fairly with Buddhism at
its best. Missionaries are all too few who can "out-think" these
Scotch and German Buddhists, who carry much influence with the peoples
among whom they live. Some of them are sincere and able men: and there
are also strong native defenders of the Buddhist Faith. Moreover,
without a deep appreciation of the power of Buddhism one cannot
understand the history and culture of Asia. And this study becomes
daily more important and more interesting.

2. It faces the Fact of Suffering.

Where shall one begin in his endeavour to grasp the essential
teachings of Buddhism? No one can fully understand Buddhism without
studying Hinduism as a background and starting point. The student can
go far, however, by starting from the fact of universal human
suffering, and its relief. "One thing only do I teach," said Buddha,
"sorrow and the uprooting of sorrow." He was never weary of bringing
home to his disciples the horror of the world's pain, in order that he
might lead them on to what he believed to be the only way of
salvation. "What think ye, O monks, which is vaster, the flood of
tears that, weeping and lamenting, ye in your past lives have shed, or
the waters of the four great oceans? Long time, O monks, have ye
suffered the death of father, mother, brothers, and sisters. Long time
have ye undergone the loss of your goods; long time have ye been
afflicted with sickness, old age, and death." "Where is the joy, where
is the laughter, when all is in flames about us?" Buddhism is often
labelled pessimistic, because its writings are full of attempts, such
as these, to make men realise the suffering and the worthlessness of
the life to which they cling. The critics, however, do not realise the
hopes which it holds out to a suffering world, which are just as
characteristic of Buddhistic teaching. The Buddhist replies, "If
medical science is pessimistic then Buddhism is also pessimistic." It
diagnoses the disease in order to cure it.

Like other religions it is a "Way out." It first states the problem:
then offers a solution.

3. It affords a Way of Escape from Sorrow.

In India Gotama had an easier task than he would have faced in the
full-blooded and less thoughtful West. We Westerners do not need to be
convinced of the pain of life, we are now wide awake to it; but to the
Hindu of the sixth century before Christ a conviction of the emptiness
of life was something in the nature of an obsession. The bright,
naïve optimism of earlier ages, revealed, for example, in the
_Rig-Veda_,[9] had passed away; a combination of circumstances,
climate, speculative activities, disappointments and other causes, had
combined to make India pessimistic. Chief of these causes was
undoubtedly the belief in transmigration which has come more and more
to occupy a central position in Hinduism. It represents man as doomed
to wander from birth to birth, and to expiate every deed of his past.
It is impossible for us in the West to realise how firm a hold this
thought has upon India, or how great is the longing for a way of
escape. Gotama's resolute attempt to find such a way of escape, his
assurance that he had discovered it, and his enthusiastic preaching of
"the Way" brought Buddhism into the world as a new religion, and
became a veritable "gospel" to weary and jaded hearts.

4. It is a Practical Creed: Its Founder called Himself "A Physician of
Sick Souls."

Born the son of a chieftain in Nepal in the foothills of the
Himalayas, about 560 B.C., Gotama, the great founder of Buddhism, was
sheltered from the sights and sounds of suffering, as we are told in
the loving stories of Buddhist lore, until the gods, who had a higher
destiny in store for him than that of an Indian princeling, revealed
to him the facts of old age and decay and death. In a series of
visions--of the old man tottering down to the grave, of the leper
riddled with foul disease, of the corpse laid out for the burning, the
great fact of human suffering came home to him. It made so deep an
impression that he renounced his royal rights and went out as a
mendicant ascetic to discover some way of escape. He was then
twenty-nine years old. Not until he had reached the age of
thirty-eight, and had honestly tried the various accepted paths for
the attainment of holiness and the escape from the burdens of life
laid down by Hindu sages, did he find what he was seeking. Sitting
under the Indian fig-tree in the heat of the day, he meditated
patiently and long until the vision dawned upon him, or, as we should
say, until his sub-consciousness, which had long been working upon the
problem presented to it, sent a complete and satisfying solution into
the focus of his conscious mind. His solution, recognising the fact
that Hindu practices had vainly attempted to drug the aching nerve of
pain or to tear it out, offered a more positive remedy. The present
writer believes that the Spirit of God had much to do with this
discovery. There are, however, among missionaries, many who feel that
this is a grievous heresy, and are bitterly opposed to any such view.

In order to understand the solution which Gotama offered to the world,
which undoubtedly captured the enthusiasm of unnumbered millions of
weary pilgrims in India and other lands, it may be well to consider
Gotama's own description of himself as "a physician of sick souls."
Just as the physician must first diagnose the disease and recognise
the germ which is its secret cause, before he can give the right
treatment, so Gotama set himself to discover the hidden cause of the
world's suffering. He thought that he had found it in that universal
clinging to life which he called _tanhā_, which means a "craving" for
anything less austere than _Nibbāna_. "From _tanhā_ springs sorrow;
he that is free from _tanhā_ is freed from sorrow and suffering."

This is the source of all the world's agony, says Gotama: and if we
face the facts we shall see that egoism of men and nations, a form of
_tanhā_, accounts for most of it! The modern world is full of

5. It cultivates a Sense of the Worthlessness of Temporal Things.

It is because man clings to things which cannot fully satisfy him,
such as the love of family, the desire for wealth and fame, the wish
to be reborn in a heaven (all of which are classed together in
Buddhism), that he has to go on being reborn. This is the Buddhist
doctrine of _Kamma_. Hinduism, like much orthodox Christianity, thinks
of a "soul" which dwells in the body. The Hindu thinks of it as
passing from one body to another in the process of transmigration. The
view of Buddhism is rather that the "ego" of man is a stream of mental
energy, the direction of which is under his own control. If he dies
full of _tanhā_, cleaving to the things of this world, he will surely
be reborn to some sort of misery. If, on the other hand, he dies
detached from human interests and open-eyed to the worthlessness of
temporal things, he will eventually be set free from the entanglement
of life, as we know it on earth, and will pass into _Nibbāna_. Of
this goal one can only say with assurance that it is unlike anything
known to mortal man,[10] and that its essence is moral purity.

6. Its Conception of Bliss is realisable in this Life.

But Gotama was not concerned with the next life so much as with this.
He laid emphasis also upon the wonderful joy and peace which the fixed
purpose to achieve _Nibbāna_ had caused him to experience. This was
the real relief from suffering, which he had in mind. "Whoso is pure
from all _tanhā_, he is in _Nibbāna_." This he preached with great
conviction and enthusiasm, declaring that men might aim in this life
to attain the position of an _arhat_ (saint) and actually enter into
the preliminary experience of _Nibbāna_. It is this aspect of
Buddhism which makes it a true religion. Its joy and power can be
experienced in the midst of the world's pain. So it is called an
"Island," a "Refuge," where the drowning man may escape, or a "Cool
Retreat," whither one may fly from a world in flames.

7. Buddhism is a Religion of Enlightenment and Reason.

Buddhism exhibits salvation as, first of all, a way of understanding.
It is a religion of analysis, which bids man see life steadily and see
it whole, by first taking it to pieces! When one looks at the body,
what is it, says Buddhism, after all, that we should regard ourselves
as attached to it? There are so many bones, so many tendons, so much
skin, so many juices. If a man views the body with an anatomical eye,
he will see it as it really is; disgust will arise in him which will
lead him out into detachment. A Buddhist is sometimes urged to
practise the habit of sitting in cemeteries or among reminders of the
dead, or to have a skeleton near at hand, in order that he may
meditate upon the transient nature of all that is mortal. Similarly he
is to dispel anger or lust by asking, "Who is it I am angry with,
after whom do I lust, but a bag of bones?" It seeks to dispel passion
by reason.

8. It has a strong Moral Code: The "Four Noble Truths," and the
"Eight-fold Path."

As the old Teacher was passing away he emphasised anew the part which
intelligent belief plays in the Buddhist scheme of religion. "It is
through not understanding and not grasping four things, O monks, that
we have to abide and wander through this maze of being," he remarked.
The four things which he had in mind were suffering, its real cause
(_tanhā_), the cure of suffering, and the path which leads to
_Nibbāna_. These are the "Four Noble Truths" of Buddhism, driven
home to every disciple as the very foundation of his religious life.

With reference to the "way" which leads to _Nibbāna_ Buddhism has
made its most remarkable contribution to human thought. It is called
the "Middle Way," between the extremes of an austere asceticism and a
spirit of worldliness, a clear-cut and admirably arranged ethical
scheme, which has undoubtedly done much to elevate the nations among
whom it has been practised. The "eight practices," urged upon every
one who aspires to spiritual growth, are right thinking (about the
"four noble truths," etc.), right aspirations (benevolence, pity,
brotherhood, etc.), right speech, right action, right livelihood (by
industries which are not harmful), right effort of mind, right
attention (alertness), and right contemplation, or mystic meditation.
Such a scheme may readily be ritualised and deadened, but it lends
itself no less readily to the cultivation of simple virtues. A popular
summary, universally known, teaches "Do good, shun ill, and cleanse
the inmost thoughts, this is the teaching of Buddhas."

The "eight-fold path" is usually developed under three main
endeavours--enlightenment, morality, and concentrated meditation.
Stage by stage the disciple is led along this path. "Step by step, day
by day, one may purify one's heart from defilements by understanding,
even as the smith purifies silver in the fire." The true disciple must
avoid the extremes of asceticism, on the one hand, or of entanglement
with the world on the other. So the noble path claims to be a "middle
path" of sweet reasonableness. The lines are not always clearly drawn
between ritual offences or mistakes and moral failures, and the ideal
life often seems to be represented as primarily monastic, but there is
no doubt that one who deliberately sets himself to follow the
"eight-fold path" would be a lovable and strong type of character,
something like the fine old monk from Tibet in Kipling's "Kim." And
there have been many such, men not only of his gentle strength, but
men filled with missionary zeal and devotion to noble tasks.

9. It has come to practise Prayer.

In spite of the protests of Gotama against attempts to persuade the
gods, this is what most Buddhists in Southern Asia have come to do:
and in Tibet, China, and Japan prayer is multiplied by mechanical
devices, such as prayer-wheels, prayer-cylinders, and prayer-flags--a
degeneration of mysticism into magic, not unknown in some Christian
lands. The human heart is hungry and wants to pray! And even this
religion of enlightenment and of the fixed causality of the universe
has had to find a place for prayer. And Divine Beings have been called
in to answer the aspiration of the heart. Gotama himself is deified:
and folk pray to him in Burma, Siam, and Ceylon: whilst in the other
Buddhist lands they have learnt to love such compassionate beings as
Kwanyin, and Amitābha, Buddha of eternal Light who saves men by his
grace. That there is mercy in heaven is the hope of every man. It is
but a pathetic dream, until we know that the heavens have spoken and
declared that mercy in the Word made Flesh.

"So through the thunder comes a human voice."

10. Yet it emphasises Stoical Self-mastery.

On the other hand, the whole trend of early Buddhism is stoical. It
sets up a lofty moral ideal, yet offers relatively little assistance
in attaining it. Admiration for the Buddha, faith in the system he
preached, common-sense or enlightened self-interest in accepting the
great truth that happiness follows upon goodness--these furnish the
motive power of a Buddhist religious life. In theory, at least, there
is no god higher than the little local deities who are said to have
bowed down before the Buddha. Inasmuch, moreover, as they are also
subject to _kamma_, the gods are less admirable and less helpful than
he. To some thinkers this stoical self-mastery is the strongest
element of Buddhism. "I am the captain of my soul," a good Buddhist
would say: "I am the master of my fate." But to those who think more
deeply, this will appear an element of weakness, for everywhere and in
all ages the human heart finds no ultimate satisfaction without a
belief in some loftier, purer, and stronger Being, who is ready to
hear and to help. And in the more developed Buddhism of the North such
theology plays a very great part. The history of Buddhism is one of
the best chapters in Christian apologetics and deserves close study.
As we shall see, the Japanese Buddhist believes in a Trinitarian
theology, and in an evangelical doctrine of salvation: and, in one
great sect, has urged its priests to marry.

11. It has Two Standards of Morality.

A very serious defect of Southern Buddhism is its double standard of
morality, one for the layman and another for the monk. It places the
celibate _bhikkhu_ (mendicant) on a higher footing than the layman.
During the Buddha's own lifetime he was accused of making many homes
desolate, and this has been a constant criticism in China where it is
a crime not to beget sons; and where Buddhism has been obstinately
monastic. There have been great exceptions, especially where kings
have been good Buddhists, but it is on the whole a monastic religion,
and has continually reverted to type.

12. It rates Womanhood Low.

Another alleged weakness, which will specially interest those who are
entering upon the careful study of non-Christian religions at the
present time, is the relatively low place which the Buddhist system,
at least in theory, gives to women. While in practice, as has been
pointed out, the women of Burma are the better half of the population,
yet in strict theory they are not "human beings" at all: they are less
than human: only he who takes the yellow robe and becomes for a time a
monk reaches the status of full humanity. Yet Gotama said equally
severe things about men; the two sexes, he taught, are a snare to one
another: but women are the worse! A Singhalese Christian pastor
praying for power to resist the Devil added, "and all _her_ works,"
and women are in fact so described in many passages of the Buddhist
Books. Love between the sexes and lust are not distinguished. And
here, perhaps, is the supreme service that Jesus renders to human
society: he makes family life a sacred thing, and safeguards women and
children from abuse, bringing them to honour and sanctity. Buddhism
being concerned chiefly with the monastic life of meditation has not
much to say about the family. It does not, at least in Southern Asia,
teach the Fatherhood of God from whom "all families are named."

13. A Summary.

Such, in bare outline, is Southern Buddhism--in its origin a stoical
agnosticism which ignored the gods and bade men rely upon themselves
in following the paths of goodness that lead to happiness. Because it
thus ignored the deepest instincts of humanity, first by turning the
thoughts of men away from God, and again by glorifying celibacy, these
instincts, refusing to be snubbed, have taken a revenge, so that
to-day Buddhism survives, largely because of the teachings it has been
compelled to adopt in the process of moulding itself "nearer to the
heart's desire." This may be illustrated in two ways. _Nibbāna_ at
best, originally, an ideal of negative, solitary bliss, has been
replaced by an ideal of social life hereafter. Moreover, faith in
self-mastery has given place to prayers for help, or, among the most
conservative, to the belief that there is a store of merit gained by
the sacrificial lives of the Buddhas throughout the ages, which may be
"tapped" by the faithful.

Buddhism has thus passed through an interesting history of adjustment.
It is important for the student of religion to give close attention to
this history, one of the most amazing and fascinating chapters in
human thought.

[7] Sanskrit, _Bhikshu_. It means "mendicant."

[8] _Dhamma_ means "law" or "teaching."

[9] The _Rig-Veda_ is a great anthology of religion. The Vedas are
early religious Books in which a joyous nature-worship predominates.

[10] _Nirvāna_ means to the Hindu reabsorption into the Absolute
_Brahman_. To Buddhists it is variously expounded by their teachers as
either (a) annihilation, or (b) a heaven of bliss, or (c) annihilation
of evil desire, _i.e._ of all clinging to life. Western Buddhist
writers call it usually by some such phrase as "The great Peace,"
which is vague enough to mean any of the three!


I have tried to show both the good and the bad sides of Buddhism in
Southern Asia: and have laid emphasis upon those characteristics which
demonstrate its continuing power. Southern Buddhists, however, need
earnest and sympathetic missionaries, with a gospel of abounding life,
of a Father God, and of communion with Him in Christ. Let all who
contemplate this great service note the following points.

1. Modern Buddhism differs from the Theoretical Buddhism of Gotama.

There is a marked difference between the theoretical Buddhism of early
days, reflected in the standard literature of Southern Buddhism, and
the Buddhism of the present day in Southern Asia. The Buddhism which
Western enthusiasts are eager to introduce into their own countries is
something which they have learnt, not from the peoples of Buddhist
lands, but from the ancient literature of Buddhism. Captivated at
first, it may be, by the beauty of some isolated saying, or, possibly,
deeply touched during some moonlight scene at the great golden pagodas
of Burma or on the hillsides of Ceylon, they become eager and not
infrequently learned students of the Buddhism of Gotama. They have to
declare with sadness that the great bulk of the people who profess
Buddhism have wandered very far from its true principles and practice,
and that human nature, for the most part, needs something less

This old Buddhism of the Books may be regarded and used as a kind of
Old Testament for Buddhists; already they have passed away from its

2. The Central Emphasis of Buddhism varies in the Three Southern

Not only does Buddhism, as the missionary comes in contact with it,
differ very markedly from theoretical Buddhism, but the central
emphasis varies in different parts of Southern Asia. The student must
know his country and his people in order to know their Buddhism, as
well as _vice versâ_. Nothing can be further from the sunny
temperament of the Burmese than the central "truth" of Buddhism that
"all is sorrowful"; and it is a strange perversion of the truth which
claims, as some of these Western writers have claimed, that the
Burmese are optimistic because they are free from _tanhā_. The fact
that they believe in a good Buddha as a living god, however, has much
to do with it: and temperament has even more.

In Ceylon, while Buddhist ideals are better suited to the more
melancholic temperament of the people, yet they are acutely conscious
of their powerlessness to gain the victory over sin and sorrow
unaided. As in Japan and China, so in a lesser degree in Burma and
Ceylon, Buddhism has been constrained to die to itself (to substitute
the idea of a saviour for the idea of earning one's own salvation) in
a way that is full of encouragement and suggestion to the Christian.
For, if the mythical Kwanyin and the far-off Metteya can so captivate
hungry human hearts, how shall not the historic and living Christ be
enthroned in their stead?

3. The Qualities of Missionaries to Buddhists.

The life of a missionary to Buddhist peoples is full of interest. Each
people has many attractive qualities and the life has much of delight.
Certain special qualifications may be worth mentioning:--

(a) _A Genuine Sympathy_.--A missionary will make very little
impression upon the people and especially upon their leaders in
Buddhist countries who is unable to think himself, to some extent,
sympathetically, into their point of view, and to be friendly toward
the better aspects of their life and beliefs. There are many things
which are "lovely and of good report." The spirit of friendliness and
of appreciation goes far toward establishing good relations with the

(b) _A Sense of Beauty and of Humour_.--They are lovers of beauty and
enjoy humour, and respond readily to these qualities in the
missionary. More over, without such gifts life in the tropics is very
trying to oneself and to others.

(c) _Christian Convictions_.--Along with these qualities, the
missionary must have a passionate loyalty to Christ, a clear
understanding of the essential Christian message to such a people, and
a firm conviction of the right of Jesus Christ to claim these
attractive peoples for God, and to make them great.

(d) _A willingness to appreciate fresh truth_.--It is very desirable
that the young missionary should face such people, themselves often
creative in their thinking, with a belief that the Holy Spirit, who
has guided the nations in their search for truth, is still seeking to
lead them on, at least into fresh realisations of the power and
meaning of the truths which have meant so much in past ages. Every
such missionary will be thrilled in his contact with the inner "soul
of the people" to whom he goes, by the hope that they will find in
Christ hitherto undiscovered riches and by the desire on his own part
to catch something of a continually enlarging vision of Christ and His

4. A Great Opportunity.

The missionary to Buddhists may find encouragement and inspiration in
the growing conviction that Oriental Christianity will definitely add
strength to the universal Church in coming days. God's kingdom will
not be complete without the peoples of Southern Asia. They are deeply
religious. It may be far from being an idle dream that God should give
to some missionary of to-day the privilege of training a St. Paul, an
Origen or an Augustine of the East, who will give to the Church other
great chapters of Christian interpretation, and a truly convincing
apologetic of the gospel to the world.

                     II. BUDDHISM IN EASTERN ASIA

                         I. BUDDHISM IN JAPAN

From the Buddhism of Southern Asia to that of China and Japan is a far
cry. It must be remembered that the monastic Buddhism, in which the
_Arhat_ seeking his own salvation is the ideal, gradually gave place
before Buddhism left India and entered Eastern Asia to the
_Mahāyāna_, or Great Vessel, in which the _Bodhisattva_, or
compassionate servant of humanity, became the ideal. Other important
changes also took place in the religion of Gotama during the five or
six centuries after his death. In the first place, in spite of all his
teachings that men should not look to him for help the teacher was
himself deified: He "mounts the empty throne of Brahmā." A little
later there appeared a docetic tendency which explained him away, or
attempted to show that he was without human feeling or passion, a kind
of unreal adaptation of the eternal to the needs of time. Others
conceived of him as an Eternal Being carrying on the work he had begun
upon earth, and opening up salvation to all sentient beings, until
finally a trinitarian doctrine was evolved which related the
historical Gotama to the eternal Buddha, and conceived of him as
having emptied himself of his glory for a season out of compassion for
mankind, but as now enjoying it and manifesting it in pitiful and
helpful ministries.

It is possible to see in this developing Buddhology evidence of
Christian influence: the late Arthur Lloyd of Tokyo is the chief
exponent of such a view. To me, however, it seems at once more
scientific and more interesting to find in these parallels one more
evidence alike of the similarity of human nature in all lands and
ages, and of the indwelling Presence of the one Father of us all,
guiding the nations in their search for Truth. The vitality and
adaptability of Buddhism are evidences of His Spirit.

This vitality, even if at times adaptability has degenerated into
compromise, is, as we have seen, great in Southern Asia, and amongst
the sources of its strength we have noted its great influence as a
civilising power and as a bond of social life: its appeal to the
imagination and to the gratitude of the peoples: its philosophical
explanation of the age-old problem of suffering, and the moderation
and sanity of its ethical teachings. All these factors enter in
differing degrees into the vitality of Buddhism in China and Japan:
for it has done much to help the civilisation of these countries also,
and to give them a popular philosophy of life and a pleasant social
setting for religious faith.

Let us consider these facts in more detail as regards the Buddhism of
Japan; for she is leading the Orient not only in matters of material
progress, but in such spiritual things as a revival of the old faith
which she is characteristically using to her own advantage. In 1918,
for instance, a Pan-Buddhistic League was formed in Tokyo, and more
remarkable has been the lead taken by the Buddhists of Japan in
sending strong idealistic appeals to the Conferences at Versailles and
Washington. The vital forces of Buddhism in Japan, then, are as

1. Buddhism has for twelve centuries rendered a unique service to the
culture of the nation. Letters, architecture, painting, the discipline
of the mind--in fact, the whole culture of Japan is shot through and
through with Buddhist influence. It is significant that the two
Western writers who entered most deeply into the spirit of Japanese
culture, Lafcadio Hearn and Fenollosa, both became Buddhists and are
buried in Buddhist cemeteries.

2. Buddhism is again a great bond of social union. Its great
pilgrimages, for example, are the favourite recreation of the people,
and its great festivals such as the _Bon Matsuri_, in which the
spirits of the departed are honoured, are seasons of great
sociability. Here, again, the "pessimistic" Buddhism is a cheerful and
a pleasant thing.

3. Its appeal to the imagination is obvious. Splendid temples with
their dim golden altars, gorgeous vestments, sonorous chanting, and
all the splendour of an artistic ritual--all this leaps to the eye of
the most casual visitor. What must it not be to the artistic Japanese
worshipper with all its tender associations?

4. Nor does Japanese Buddhism appeal less to the mind. Its apologists
constantly claim for it that it is a more philosophical and more
scientific creed than any other. I have been many times impressed with
the wide reading of Japanese Buddhists, and with the intellectual tone
of Japanese Christianity. It is clear that the crude theology of some
missionaries will not meet the acid test of modern scholarship, and is
partly responsible for a widespread belief amongst the Japanese that
Christianity is out of date. The chief Buddhist sects give their
priests a better training in the History of Religion than our
missionary societies. A stronger apologetic literature is needed.

5. The best apologetic, however, is in saintly lives; Tolstoi and
Francis of Assisi especially make an immense appeal to the Japanese;
there are Tolstoyan colonies, and a Buddhist Franciscan society. Yet
it must be remembered that they find in the saints of Buddhism such as
Honen and Nichiren, men worthy to compare with these great Christian
souls. Mr. Takayama, whose influence on young Japan has been so great,
was at once an ardent disciple of Tolstoy and a follower of Nichiren;
Dr. Anesaki is no less a Buddhist of the Nichiren school because he is
a devoted admirer of St. Francis. And these men believe that Buddhism
and Christianity at their best are closely akin: "We see your Christ,"
says Dr. Anesaki, "because we have first seen our Buddha."

6. There is much to be said for this view; for Buddhism in Japan has
developed a very noble idea of God; he is the Eternal Father who has
compassion on all his sons; their salvation is won by faith, not by
merit, and gratitude is the motive to good living. It is surely a
misnomer to call the fair forms of Amida, the lord of the Western
paradise, and of Kwannon the Compassionate, "idols." And Jīzo, the
strong Conqueror of Death, the play mate and protector of little
children--is he not a noble embodiment of divine strength and
gentleness? If the Christian apologist argues that these are figments
of the imagination, the Buddhist is right in replying that they owe
their inspiration to the historic Sākyamuni and his early followers,
and that there is as much evidence in the vision of a Buddhist saint
as in that of an Old Testament prophet for the objective reality of
the god who is worshipped. May we not see in the strivings of good and
true men everywhere to know God a movement of the Spirit of God
Himself? This is my own conviction--that the Spirit of God has been
moving for long centuries amongst our Buddhist brethren and has led
them far upon the path to Truth. It is, however, only right to say
that this view is shared by comparatively few missionaries in Japan.
Though the great Conference at Edinburgh in 1910 accepted it as an
axiom that God had been at work in these ethnic faiths, and though it
was specifically stated of Japanese Buddhism, yet it is a fact that
this view is held at best as one of academic interest, and without
enthusiasm. The leading authority upon the subject amongst the
Protestant missionaries in Japan sums up his conviction in these
weighty words and they are one tenable interpretation: "It may be
said, then, that Mahāyāna Buddhism is a religion with a rather lofty
idea of God among many conceptions of the divine, but without a real
faith in the living God; a religion with the idea of a saviour, but
without a historical saviour; a religion with a doctrine of divine
grace paralysed by the old karma doctrine; a religion with a promise
of a present salvation and a future life, which is nevertheless made
obscure by the doubts of a recurrent agnostic philosophy that cuts the
nerve of all vital ethics and beclouds the hopes of a better
future."[11] The student must weigh these two interpretations: and can
only do so by a sympathetic and patient study of the facts. And the
outstanding fact is that Buddhism has been the civiliser of Asia, and
a great bond of union between its peoples.

Japan is, in many ways, the best country for an intelligent study of
its achievements.

She has been called the custodian of Asiatic civilisation: India,
China, and Korea have all poured their rich gifts into her lap, and
she has preserved them with wise discrimination. But she has always
assimilated them till they are her own, and express her own genius.
This is perhaps especially true of Buddhism, which is a very different
thing in Japan even from what it is in China and Korea. Still more
does it differ from that which we have studied in Ceylon and Burma. To
turn away from these monastic expressions of the ancient faith to the
elaborate Buddhism of Japan is to realise that a development has taken
place not unlike that of Christianity, in its transition from the
simplicity of Galilean hillsides and the upper chamber at Jerusalem to
the pomp of high mass in St. Peter's at Rome or St. Mark's at Venice.
Into each great process there have entered similar elements, the
growth of a theology by which the historic founder is related to the
eternal order, the absorption of ideas and rituals from peoples
converted to the new faith and the making over of the faith in each
new land till it becomes indigenous, and racy of the soil. The story
of Buddhism as it developed its philosophical systems and its
elaborate pantheon cannot be told here;[12] but we may attempt, as in
the case of Ceylon and Burma, to give a few impressions of the
Buddhism of Japan, which will indicate the processes of change and
suggest what are the vital forces of this amazingly flexible religion,
whose watchwords have been adaptation and compromise.

When Buddhism entered Japan in the seventh century A.D. it was already
the religion of all Asia. It found amidst the semi-barbarous peoples
of the islands certain deeply rooted ideas, such as the worship of
heroes and especially of the Emperor, who was believed to be descended
from the Sun-goddess Amaterasu. Within three centuries it had
civilised the country, and had triumphantly identified this goddess
with its own Sun-Buddha Vairochana, producing a blended faith made up
of elements of the old Shinto (_Shen Tao_ or Way of the Gods, _Kami no
michi_) and of highly philosophical Buddhism which saw in the sun the
source of all cosmic energy. This new Buddhism or _Ryobu Shinto_ is
different indeed from the faith of the founder, but it claims to be
the logical and only legitimate evolution of his teachings.

Let us glance at it first in its great mountain fastness of Kōya San,
where its founder Kobo Daishi lived and died, and where the faithful
await with him the coming of Miroku--or Maitri--the next Buddha.

Koya San.

Like a great lotus of eight petals are the hills of Kōya San, and up
their wooded slopes wind the pilgrim roads. It is the season of
pilgrimage and they are thronged with pilgrims clad in white; here is
a litter in which some invalid is being borne to the great temple
where priests by the performance of mystic ritual and incantations
will attempt to restore him to physical as well as spiritual health;
here an aged couple are helping one another over steep parts of the
way. As they approach the shrines they say a prayer to the pitiful
Jizō, that he will be merciful to their dead; then as they pass the
wooden octagonal library they turn it upon its axis in order that the
merit of reading its voluminous scriptures may be theirs: and near by
some afflicted person rubs the portion of the wooden figure of Binzuru
which is affected in himself. Behind these somewhat childish
superstitions is an elaborate philosophy, and if one is fortunate one
may find a monk with leisure and ability to explain the elaborate
_mandaras_, the pictures of this _Shingon_, or Trueword; Buddhism.
Founded in the ninth century by the great scholar Kobo Daishi, it is a
pantheistic worship of Dainichi, the great sun Buddha, the indwelling
and pervading essence of the world. Present in all things, he is most
present where men worship him, and so by mystic rite and incantation
the worshipper is identified with this source of his being, and lays
hold of certain secrets of bodily and spiritual health. Japan, like
other countries, is eagerly looking for a religion which works, and
which has a message for this life as well as for that beyond the
grave. Amongst the great trees are innumerable tombs of the faithful,
and here in their midst sits Kobo Daishi himself awaiting the coming
of Miroku, the next Buddha. Nor is his spirit of loving-kindness,
which is the essence of Buddhism, forgotten. Unique amongst the
monuments of war stands this seventeenth-century pillar calling down
the mercies of heaven upon all who fell in the war with Korea, both
friend and foe.

In these temples, too, one will see the simple mirror, emblem at once
of Amaterasu and of Dainichi, of Shinto and of Buddhism: are not the
two now reconciled, and have they not become an integral part of the
soul of Japan, _Yamato Damashii_? Here on Kōyasan mingle Japanese
nature-worship, Indian idealistic philosophy, gods from central Asia,
and the superstitions of needy human hearts. There is much that is
fine as well as much that is corrupt, and it is noteworthy that the
impatient reformer, Nichiren, called Kōbo "the prize liar" of Japan,
and abominated the beliefs and practices of _Shingon_. Yet he was not
unbiased in his judgments!

Hieisan and its Sects.

Another great mountain-fastness of Japanese Buddhism is Hieisan. Here
amidst vast cryptomerias and redwoods a contemporary of Kōbo, named
Saichō or Dengyō, established just eleven hundred years ago a
synthetic Buddhism, which strove to reconcile the conflicting schools
and to represent at once the founder Sākyamuni as he is revealed in
the Lotus Scripture, seated in glory and opening a way for all to
become Buddhas, and the eternal Amida Buddha of the Western Paradise.
Side by side are preaching-halls for these two schools of Buddhist
devotion, and from the parent stock of _Tendai_ have sprung the three
great sects of _Jōdo_, _Shinshu_, and _Nichiren-Shu_. The two former
are extreme developments of the Way of Faith in Amida, and the latter
is a revolt from their pietism and vain repetitions to the historical
Sākyamuni and the famous "Lotus Scripture," the _Hokkekyō_ which is
found to-day in every Buddhist temple in Japan. At the foot of the
great mountain clusters the old imperial city of Kyōto, or Miyako,
with its thousand temples. Let us visit some of them.

A Shinshu Temple.

The great _Hondo_ or hall of the _Hongwanji_ temples in Kyōto is a
thing of exquisite beauty. How different are these great altars, these
exquisite paintings, this cave of splendour, with its dim lights and
its fragrant incense, from the simple rock-hewn shrines of Ceylon and
their barbaric frescoes, and from the sunny courtyards and massed
images of a Burmese pagoda! Very different, too, is the worship of
this devout crowd of Japanese men and women, prostrating themselves
before the high altar or joining in antiphonal praises of Amitābha
(_Amida Nyorai_), the lord of the Western Paradise. The influence of
the solemn chanting, the deep notes of gongs, the incense rising in
clouds, the dim lights, the burnished gold and lacquer work of screen
and altar--all this is almost hypnotic, and the congregation is borne
along on a tide of sombre feeling shot through with gleams of joy and
otherworldly enthusiasm. The student who has steeped himself in the
simple pithy sayings of the _Dhammapada_, or of the Amitābha Books,
and then passes on to study the elaborate apocalypses of the Lotus
Scripture, will understand what has taken place in this transition
from the simple ethical reform movement of early Buddhism to the
elaborate pietism and cultus of the _Mahāyāna_. The historical
Sākyamuni has almost disappeared, and in his place there are the
eternal or semi-eternal Buddhas, and the great Bodhisattvas. Let us
study the figures in this great Kyōto temple. The central position is
given to the Japanese monk Shinran, a Luther or Wesley who in the
twelfth century popularised in Japan the Way of Salvation by Faith; to
the left of him are the figures of Amida Nyorai, the chief object of
worship in this sect, Honen, the predecessor of Shinran and his
teacher in the way of mystic faith, and Shōtoku, the great layman who
as Regent of Japan espoused Buddhism in the seventh century A.D., and
laid the foundations of Japanese civilisation. He is the patron saint
of the arts and crafts of Japan and is given a prominent place in
_Shin Shu_ Buddhism (to which three-quarters of Japanese Buddhists
belong) because it claims to be a religion for lay-people and not only
for monks. There is a delightful story of Shinran and of the lady who
led him to realise this truth. Going up to his monastery on the Hiei
San Shinran met a charming princess, who took from her long silken
sleeve a burning glass; "See how this little crystal gathers to a
point the scattered rays of the sun," she cried. "Cannot you do this
for our religion?" He replied that it took twenty years to train a
monk in the old _Tendai_ sect to which he belonged, and she reminded
him that women were not allowed to go up to its temples. He went away
and meditating upon the essential teachings of Buddhism came to the
conclusion that the real heart of the matter was this, that it is
faith in the eternal Buddha and gratitude to him which are to be the
motives of true living, that as the Lotus Scripture teaches, all may
become Buddhas, and that the priests of Amida should be free to become
fathers after the pattern of the Heavenly Father. Marrying the
charming princess this Japanese Luther founded a new sect, and to-day
one sees the hereditary abbot, splendid in purple and scarlet,
accompanied by his son, a boy of seventeen, proudly conscious of his
destiny as the next head of the great hierarchy, and taking his place
in the elaborate ritual of the service. Behind them are the choir in
robes of old gold and the priests in black. "_Namu Amida Butsu_"[13]
intone the priests, and alternating with this act of faith they sing
to a kind of Gregorian chant such words as these:

    "Eternal Life, Eternal Light!
     Hail to Thee, wisdom infinite.
     Hail to Thee, mercy shining clear,
     And limitless as is the air.
     Thou givest sight unto the blind,
     Thou sheddest mercy on mankind,
     Hail, gladdening Light,
     Hail, generous Might,
     Whose peace is round us like the sea,
     And bathes us in infinity."

Or it may be some patriarch who is being hymned, such as Honen

    "What though great teachers lead the way,--
     Genshin and Zendo of Cathay,--
     Did Honen not the truth declare
     How should we far-off sinners fare
     In this degenerate, evil day?"

Occasionally a hymn, like the excellent preaching of some of the
priests, strikes a note of moral living whose motive is gratitude to

    "Eternal Father on whose breast
     We sinful children find our rest,
     Thy mind in us is perfected
     When on all men thy love we shed;
     So we in faith repeat thy praise,
     And gratefully live out our days."[14]

The Japanese, in whom gratitude is a very strong motive, find in the
teachings of Shinran a Buddhism which is very Christian, and the words
attributed to him as he was nearing his journey's end, are a confession
of sin which is only worthy of a saint. That the mass of his followers
fall far behind him in this respect is unfortunately true, as it is
true of most of us who call ourselves by a greater name.

Other founders of Buddhism are commemorated on the altars and in the
hymns of this sect, especially Nāgārjuna, the Indian philosopher of
about the second century A.D., and Donran, a Chinese, who carried
still further the evolution of Mahāyāna Buddhism.

A Revival of Buddhism.

The _Shin Shu_ is one of the sects of Japanese Buddhism in which a
great revival seems to be at work. Upwards of five hundred young
priests are being trained in its schools in Kyōto, and it claims to
have one hundred and fifty thousand children in its Sunday Schools, an
organisation in which it has wisely imitated the missionary methods of
the Christian Church.

This Buddhist revival in Japan is well worthy of study. As in Ceylon
and Burma nationalism has much to do with it. The Japanese have been
reminded by Lafcadio Hearn and Fenollosa and by their own native
scholars trained by Max Müller at Oxford, or in other Western
universities, how great is the debt which they owe to Buddhism; "There
is scarcely one interesting or beautiful thing produced in the
country," wrote Lafcadio Hearn, "for which the nation is not in some
sort indebted to Buddhism," and the Japanese, in whom gratitude is a
strong motive, are saying, "Thank you." Moreover, in the present
restless seeking after truth the nation is finding, in its old
religions, things which it is refusing lightly to cast away, and in
its resentment against some of the nations of Christendom, and its
conviction that our Christianity does not go very deep, it reminds
itself that after all Buddhism was a great international force which
helped to establish peace for a thousand years in Asia.

The present revival manifests itself in many ways, not least in the
new intellectual activity which has brought into existence Buddhist
universities, chairs of religious education, and a very vigorous
output of literature; and each of the great sects has some outstanding
scholar trained in the scientific methods of Western scholarship, but
proud to call himself a Buddhist. There are ample signs, too, of a
quickened interest in social service, of movements for children and
young people, such as the Y.M.B.A., which is now active in all
Buddhist countries.

Old temples are being repaired and new ones built and there are said
to be over a hundred thousand of these in Japan devoted to Buddhism
alone. Amongst the more recent is one in Kyōto which cost nearly a
million pounds sterling; for the transport of its massive timbers
hundreds of thousands of women sacrificed their hair. It is
interesting and amusing to see Buddhist priests in bowler hats and
gorgeous robes directing the removal of some ancient shrine to a new
site and to note the modern American methods of engineering employed.
All this is symptomatic of a new Japan which is yet tenaciously loyal
to its old past.

Another symptom is a vigorous attempt at moral reform about which the
"Mahāyānist," a Buddhist periodical, said, "Whilst formerly the
moral sickness was allowed to go on unchecked, now the coverings are
cast aside and the disease laid bare which is the first thing to do if
the patient is to be cured." One hears a good deal about
misappropriation of temple funds, and moral laxity in matters of sex.
It is not for a visitor to comment on these things. Personally I
believe that Buddhism is really a power for good: and I am inclined to
think that the beautiful courtesy and kindliness one meets everywhere
largely spring from it, and are one of its many noble fruits. We in
the West have made more of commercial honesty and less of courtesy and
forbearance than Jesus was wont to do: and there is no more odious
type than the self-righteous visitor from Western lands who comes to
the East armed with a narrow and negative moral code and a critical
spirit. Certainly Buddhism is teaching "morals" to its children, and
in a thousand ways its influence is felt in that very attractive
character so truly described by Lafcadio Hearn as peculiar to the
Japanese, of which the essence is a genuine kindness of heart that is
essentially Buddhist. Another proof that the chief sects are now
filled with vigorous life is to be found in their missionary
activities. The first Buddhist missionary from Japan to China was sent
out by the eastern branch of the _Hongwanji_ in 1876, a spiritual
return for the early Chinese missions of twelve hundred years ago.
Missions have also been established in Honolulu in 1897 and they are
numerous on the Pacific Coast of North America. Home missionary work,
too, is being attempted, owing largely to the influence of a layman;
the _Shin Shu_ priests are working in jails, seeking to arouse a sense
of sin in the inmates; and in Tokio one may visit a training school
where some sixty students are trained in charity organisation and
lodging houses for the poor.

Christian Influence.

All this is very largely the outcome of Christian activities in Japan
and it is very noteworthy that while the Christian Church is
numerically small its leadership in liberal politics and in
philanthropy is acknowledged all over the Empire and its pervasive
influence upon the thought of modern Japan is obvious on all sides.
St. Francis of Assisi and Tolstoy are perhaps the Christian leaders
most admired by the Japanese. They belong to the same spiritual
company as the great Sākyamuni, who, like them, embraced poverty and
was filled with a tender love and a sane yet passionate enthusiasm of
humanity. Japan is looking for a great spiritual and moral leader.
Will he be a Buddhist like the great Nichiren who in the thirteenth
century came like a strong sea-breeze to revive the soul of his people
and preached a religion which was to be a moral guide in national
affairs and in the daily life of his people? Or will he be a Christian
leader who, counting all things as dung compared with the Gospel of
Jesus, shall answer the cry of the Japanese patriot who believes that
his people are hungry for truth? There is a wealth of liberalism in
young Japan and there are idealists everywhere waiting to rally around
a great religious leader. But he will need to know and understand her
past and to launch his appeal to that wonderful patriotism which is
the essence of the Japanese character.

Can Buddhism produce this moral leadership? Let us hear what a
Japanese Christian of great learning and insight has to say. "To
Buddhism Japan owes a great debt for certain elements of her faith
which would scarcely have developed without its aid; but those
germinal elements have taken on a form and colouring, a personal
vitality not gained elsewhere. Important as are those elements of
faith, they still lack the final necessary reality. Buddhism is
incomplete in the god whom it presents as an object of worship. In
place of the Supreme Being, spiritual and personal, Buddhism offers a
reality of which nothing can be affirmed, or, at best, a Great Buddha
among many. Buddhism is incomplete in the consciousness of sin which
it awakens within the soul of man. Instead of the sense of having
violated an eternal law of righteous love by personal antagonism,
Buddhism deepens the consciousness of human misery by an unbreakable
bond of suffering; and the salvation, therefore, which Buddhism offers
is deliverance from misery, not from the power of personal sin. In its
idea of self-sacrifice, Buddhism affords an element of faith much more
nearly allied to that of the Christian believer. In both the offering
of self is for the sake of the multitude, the world-brotherhood; but
in the one pity, often acquiescent and helpless, predominates, whereas
in the other loyalty to a divine ideal finds expression in the
obligation to active service."

And yet let us note that Buddhism has undoubtedly nerved men of
action, and inspired saints, and that its call to meditation and to
quiet strength is one that our age needs to regard. Not far from the
great Pietist temples of _Hongwanji_, I found a veritable haven of
peace--the courtyard and simple buildings of a _Zenshu_ sect.

How different from the Buddhism of the Amida sects is that of
_Zenshu_! Seated in his exquisite retreat one may visit an abbot or
teacher of this school. The orderliness and quiet of his temple
courts, the stillness of his posture, the repose of his face--all
alike tell one of spiritual calm. Perhaps one begins to ask him the
secret of it. "Ah," he may say, "that is not easy. You should go and
study one of the simpler sects." Then, if his questioner is
persistent, he will suddenly present him with one of the _Koans_, or
dark sayings which have come down for many centuries: "Listen," he
will say, "to the sound of a single hand." Puzzled and disturbed the
mind may refuse to deal with this enigma, or it may learn the great
lesson which is intended to be learned, that intuition is a surer
guide to truth than the discursive reason, or as we should say in our
psychological jargon, the sub-conscious has gifts for us if we will
give it a chance. The essence, in fact, of this sect is a quiet sense
of the presence of eternal truths. The Buddha is not to be found in
images or books, but in the heart or mind, and in scores of Buddhist
monasteries I have found the spirit of Wordsworth with its serene
sense of a pervasive presence,

"Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns."

[11] A. K. Reischauer, _Studies in Japanese Buddhism_.

[12] See _Buddhism as a Religion_, by H. Hackmann, and my _Epochs of
Buddhist History_. (To be published later.)

[13] Praise to Amida Buddha.

[14] See "Buddhist Hymns," tr. by S. Yamabe and L. Adams Beck.

                         II. BUDDHISM IN CHINA

The followers of this meditative school are to be found throughout the
monasteries of China and Korea where they are known as the _Chan_
sect; but here more than in Japan their quietism is mingled with the
devotion to Amitābha or Omito-Fo, and though in many places such as
the exquisite island of Putoshan they are faithful in the practice of
meditation, they seem to have carried it to a far less perfect pitch
than the more scholarly followers of the Japanese school.

A Chinese Temple.

Let us get a glimpse of Chinese Buddhism in one of these great
monasteries. The day is a round of worship[15] and the worship is
divided amongst many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Here some rich layman
is making an offering for masses for his dead; Buddhism in China has
indeed become largely a matter of such masses, and the filial Chinese
spend yearly scores of millions upon them.[16] The priests have turned
out in force, and the abbot is reciting the praises now of Omito-Fo,
now of Pilochana, the great sun-Buddha, now of the merciful Kwanyin
whose ears are ever open to human prayer, and now of Titsang, guardian
of the dead. Beautiful figures these, and especially that of this
strong conqueror of death so popular amongst the Japanese as the
guardian of the little ones who have gone into the dark under-world.
Innumerable figures of him adorned with baby garments tell their own
pathetic tale, and he is unimaginative indeed who cannot find here in
these ideal figures traces of the Spirit of God at work in human

It is harder to sympathise with and to admire the Lama Buddhism which
has penetrated China from Tibet, but even here there are some
beautiful figures such as the _Tāras_, and amongst the mummery and
moral corruption of a Lama temple one may find some sparks of the
divine spirit, even if one fails to meet the Lama of Kim!

Buddhism in China, decadent though it is in many places, is reviving
itself; there is great building activity at certain centres such as
Ningpo and Hangchow; there are probably nearly half a million monks,
and at one ordination in 1920 a thousand candidates were ordained in
Changchow. Many men, indeed, disillusioned at the failure of the
revolution, are seeking the quiet otherworldly retreats of Buddhism,
and others of scholarly bent delight in the classical scriptures which
the early missionaries from India translated into Chinese, and which
are still models of beauty.

Among laymen also there is an increasing interest in the Buddhist
scriptures. Turn into this bookstore at Peking and you will find over
a thousand copies of different texts and commentaries, and there are
publishing-houses in most of the great cities. Two notable works are
the reprint of the whole of the Scriptures and a new dictionary of
Buddhist terms, containing over three thousand pages. At Ningpo one
will find a small group of young enthusiasts working for a
"neo-Buddhism." Antipathetic to Christianity, and especially to the
aggressions of "Christian" nations, these men, like some of the
propagandists in Ceylon, use weapons which are two-edged and dangerous
to all religion, not only to Christianity; they seem to feed upon the
publications of the rationalist press, and must not be taken too
seriously. Yet we can sympathise with their resentment of Western
aggression, which is a large factor in these Buddhist movements
everywhere. "Buddhism: the Religion of Asia" often accompanies and
reinforces another cry, "Asia for the Asiatics."

Of great significance are these Pan-Buddhist movements attempting to
unite the Buddhist peoples in a strong Eastern civilisation such as
that which welded them together for a thousand years in the Golden Age
of the past. One such movement originates in Ceylon with the vigorous
layman Dharmapala, in whom resentment against the West blends with a
real enthusiasm for Buddhism. In 1893 he visited China, and stirred up
some of the Chinese monks, calling upon them to go to India as
missionaries; in Japan he attacked some of the great abbots as
wine-drinkers and corrupt, and every where he is a pungent and
provocative influence. In 1918 a Pan-Buddhist Association was started
in Tokyo and in the following year a rival one was founded in Peking.
It is, in fact, rather pathetic to find Buddhism being promoted by the
Japanese in Korea as a part of their propaganda to Japanise the
Koreans, and at the same time claiming in China to be _the_ religion
for democratic nations.

In justification of such claims, however, Buddhism is doing some good
work in social service, and in education, and takes its part in famine
relief, prison visitation, and the beneficent work of the Red Cross.

The Chinese are a religious people, whatever critics may say. Vast
armies of monks and innumerable temples and shrines witness to this
other-worldly strain, and though much of their religion is
superstitious, and almost all of it needs moralising, the sympathetic
observer will find on every hand the evidences that these are not a
"secular-minded" people.

In almost every house are not only ancestor-tablets, but images of
Kwanyin and other Buddhist deities, and pilgrimages play in China as
elsewhere in Asia a great part in the national life.

Follow this merry throng as it climbs the slopes of some great
mountain; note the groves and the poetical inscriptions on the rocks;
enter this noble group of temples with them and watch their acts of

Here before Kwanyin a young apprentice bows: carelessly he tosses the
bamboo strips which will tell him if his prayer is to be answered, and
defiantly he tosses his head as he turns away with a refusal from the
goddess: but here is an old widow, with sorrowful persistence
importuning the Compassionate One, and in even the most careless is a
belief that Heaven rules in the affairs of men and that Heaven is

Here prayers are offered for rain and harvest, for children and
wealth, for release from suffering and demons.

As in many Christian nations the bridge between natural religion and
the essential truths of Christian Theism is a very shaky one--so here
in China and Japan, whilst there is a widespread belief in Karma and
in Heaven's laws, this is but vaguely connected with the polytheistic
cults of the masses. And as in some other Christian lands, the worship
of the saints and local gods--even of the great Kwanyin--is not
always moralised. Habitual sinners--opium fiends who, it may be, are
ruining scores of lives, prostitutes and murderers--will pay their
daily court to the family or local god: not conscious of any demand
from the Compassionate that they should show compassion, or from the
Righteous that they should be righteous. Buddhism has indeed lost its
early salt of morality. It is for these and other reasons that China
and Japan urgently need the Gospel of Jesus and of His Kingdom. In
their own religious development is a noble preparation for this New
Order: and in the Jesus of History they are finding a Norm and a
Vision of God which makes their old ideals real and vital, and which
purifies their idea of God. In this faith the Church is at work in
these wonderful lands, believing that they have rich gifts for the
Kingdom of God, and that it will greatly enrich them and carry to its
fulfilment their noble civilisations whilst it emancipates their
masses from fear and superstition. With all its achievements Buddhism
has failed because it has had no power to cast out fear, and its
Confucian critics even accuse it of playing upon the superstition of
the people and of letting loose more demons to plague them. Yet it has
done much for China, not only ennobling her art and culture but giving
a new value to the individual, a new respect for women, a new love of
nature, and many noble objects of worship to hungry human hearts.

Whilst then the Gospel wins its way slowly but surely in Asia,
leavening and giving new and abundant life, there are those in
Christendom who hold that it is played out, and that Buddhism is
destined to supersede it as the religion of the intelligent!

The student should investigate their activities in London, Breslau,
and other Western cities; and he may find Appendix I a finger-post to
guide him in his quest.

Appendix II is offered as a similar guide to a course of reading.

[15] The chief services are at 2 a.m. and at 4 p.m.

[16] During the war many such masses were said for the fallen, whether
friend or foe.

                            APPENDIX I[17]


In the year 1881 Dr. Rhys Davids said, "There is not the slightest
danger of any European ever entering the Buddhist Order."[18] Yet a
recent writer was told by a Buddhist in Ceylon that his religion was
making its converts "chiefly amongst the Tamils and Germans," and in
each of the Buddhist countries there is to-day a small but active
group of converts from the European nations to Buddhism.

It would be difficult to say whether these groups are the product or
the cause of the undoubted revival which is taking place in the
Buddhist world: probably they are part product and part cause.
Buddhism is certainly in ferment. As Dr. Suzuki has said, "It is in a
stage of transition from a mediæval dogmatic and conservative spirit
to one of progress, enlightenment, and liberalism,"[19] and in other
ways, especially in Japan, it is approximating to a liberal

To this awakening there are several contributory causes, such as the
national spirit which has awakened in recent years, the works of
Eastern and Western students of Buddhism, the activities of the
Theosophical Society, and, it must be confessed, and unwise and, in my
opinion, illiberal and unfair attitude on the part of many
missionaries who, forgetting that they are sent to preach Christ, have
attacked, often without adequate knowledge, the religion of
Gautama.[20] From this criticism I do not wish to exempt myself; I
have gone through the unpleasant but salutary process of having to eat
my own words, and I am more anxious than I can say to foster a real
spirit of love and understanding between the followers of Gautama and
those of Jesus.

Of the founder of Buddhism I can honestly say with the great Danish
scholar Fausboll: "The more I know of him, the more I love him," and
it is the "fact of Gautama," emerging more and more clearly as the
Buddhist books are being edited and translated, which more than any
other single cause is responsible for the Buddhist revival.

"From such far distances the echo of his words returns that we cannot
but rank him amongst the greatest heroes of history," says the eminent
Belgian scholar de la Vallée Poussin, and from him, as from Gautama,
we shall all do well to learn the spirit of tolerance and courtesy.
Yet both of them speak out bluntly and shrewdly enough at times. It is
recorded that when the great teacher met men whose doctrines were
morally dangerous or intellectually insincere, he harried them
remorselessly till "the sweat poured from them" and they cried, "As
well might one meet an infuriated bull or dangerous snake as the
ascetic Gautama!" Of those whose teachings were sincere and earnest he
was wonderfully tolerant, even advising a soldier disciple to give
alms to them and their followers, no less than to the Buddhist monks.

In this spirit the Belgian scholar, probably the greatest living
authority upon Buddhism as a whole, is lovingly tolerant towards
Buddhism and honest Buddhists, but of Neo-Buddhism he says: "It is at
once frivolous and detestable--dangerous, perhaps, for very feeble
intellects." Even so, a vast Neo-Buddhist Church is not impossible!

European and American Buddhists, then, fall into these two classes:
those who are honest and sincere students of Buddhism and followers of
Gautama, and those of whom the most charitable thing that can be said
is that they lead astray "foolish women," and other sentimentalists.
To illustrate the methods of these two schools, who are unfortunately
at present often working in an unnatural alliance, let me describe two
recent experiences.

On Easter Day I went from the simple and exquisite beauty of our
Communion Service, in which the glamour of the Resurrection is ever
being renewed, to a Buddhist church within a stone's throw, here in
the heart of San Francisco. There, as in innumerable other centres of
Buddhist life, the birth of Gautama was being celebrated; and I could
unhesitatingly join in paying reverence to the memory of the great
Indian teacher. But it was certainly amazing and a little staggering
to find "Buddhist High Mass" being performed, the celebrant calling
himself a bishop and ordaining on his own initiative abbots and
abbesses.[21] Three altar candles representing the Buddha, the Law,
and the Order being lighted, the "bishop," preceded by seven or eight
American and British monks in yellow robes, and by the Abbess, known
as Mahadevi, ascended to the platform, which contains a beautiful
Japanese shrine of the Hongwanji sect. Several monks from Japan, to my
surprise, assisted in the strange service that followed, which began
with the invocation of Amida Buddha, and went on in an astonishing
hotch-potch of the cults of the primitive and the later Buddhism
derived indiscriminately from Ceylon, Tibet, and Japan.

Of this strange service, which the "bishop" claims to have modelled on
that in use in the Dalai Lama's palace at Lhassa, it must suffice to
say that if the Tibetan _Mantras_ were as inaccurately rendered as
were the five precepts in Pāli which are the Buddhist pentalogue,
then the general impression of Buddhism given was as misleading as it
is possible to conceive. The service included a processional hymn,
music by an organist announced as "late of the Golden Temple Shway
Dagon in Burma, and of St. Paul's Cathedral, London," an "Epistle"
read by an American Buddhist, a "gospel of the day," read by the
Abbess, several addresses by Japanese and Western Buddhists, and a
sermon by the "bishop," who claims to be ninety-five years old, to be
the son of a Persian prince, to have spent sixteen years at the feet
of the late Dalai Lama in Tibet, to have numerous degrees in arts,
medicine, science, and philosophy from Oxford, London, Paris, and
Heidelberg, and to have been seventy-five years a monk of the yellow
robe. His costume was as amazingly mixed as his liturgy, consisting of
a Hindu turban, a yellow Buddhist overmantle, a scarlet robe with
cincture and maniple of purple, and a rosary terminating in the
_Swastika_, with which sign he blessed the people at the end of the
service, saying: "May the face of the Truth shine upon you, and the
divine Wisdom of the Buddhas permeate you, and remain with you now and
throughout eternity. So mote it be."

In his sermon he claimed to have founded no less than eighty missions
in the past ten years in California, and said some shrewd things in
criticism of the Christian Church, of which I am persuaded he was
himself once a member. For the rest it was a practical discourse
enough; he advised his followers, if they would live as long as he
(and he announced that he would still be going strong fifty years
hence), they must change their wrinkles into dimples, and learn the
secret of a serene mind. He gave notice that in the evening there
would be a banquet and a dance, in which he would join, if widows and
maidens pressed him, and immediately after the service he saluted them
all "with a holy kiss," which they seemed to enjoy as much as he.
There is something really attractive about this jovial monk, and he
has the energy, the ubiquity and the perseverance of another "Persian
prince" who is equally opposed to Christianity!

The "bishop's" disciples are fairly numerous, though one of his
colleagues expressed the conviction, on the authority of an English
professor, that the same wonderful teachings would draw thousands to
hear them in London, instead of scores in San Francisco. Be that as it
may, they are faithful disciples; attracted very largely by the fact
that he is rather expounding spiritualism, telling of the wonderful
_Mahatmas_ of Tibet, and luring them with the glamour of Eastern
mysticism than teaching Buddhism. When I chuckled at some of his
shrewd sallies, an elegantly dressed woman next to me said, "Hush!
Hush! You are not an initiate, you do not understand; all that he says
has a profound, inner meaning which only we who are initiated can
comprehend." To which I could not resist the reply: "I may not be
initiated into this business, but I know that this is not Buddhism any
more than that the organist who is playing those penny-whistle tunes
on the harmonium ever played them on the Shway Dagon, where music is
not allowed, or any more than the old sportsman who is speaking is a

It is not by such means that Buddhism can be revived.

But there are others! Some years ago I had a delightful talk with one
of them in the shadow of the great pagoda from which our organist did
not come. He was a Scot, a scholar and scrupulously honest, and his
name is already widely known as the translator of both German and
Pāli works. Quite frankly he told me why he had taken the yellow
robe, and how, having lost his faith in Christianity, he found in the
Buddhist books something which saved his reason and probably his life:
then, turning to me, he said: "How glad you fellows would be if you
could get rid of the Old Testament."

Another friend of mine, an Englishman, was formerly trained as a Roman
Catholic priest, and is now a Buddhist missionary in California,
having been ordained in Japan, and having, with an American scholar,
now a professor in London, been responsible for the production of an
admirable and scholarly periodical, _The Mahayanist_. Its object is to
impart an accurate knowledge of the Buddhism of China and Japan, and
to investigate its history, doctrines, and present conditions in an
unbiased and scholarly way.

Such men as these three ought not to be associated with those who
claim to teach "esoteric" Buddhism.[22] There is really no such thing;
"I have preached the Law without making any distinction between
exoteric and esoteric doctrine," said Gautama, "for I have no such
thing as the closed fist of the teacher who keeps some things in

Now so long as these unequally yoked teams are drawing the Buddhist
chariot, there is bound to be a smash; when one studies, for instance,
the history of the propagandist literature they have put out, one
finds that it is one long story of fitful beginnings and spasmodic
effort, almost all of them failing to survive for more than a few
years. Of these periodicals, Professor Poussin writes as follows:
"Propagandist reviews like _Buddhism_ of Rangoon and the _Open Court_
of Chicago are useful when Mrs. Rhys Davids condescends to contribute
to them, but she finds in them strange neighbours indeed, fully worthy
of the indescribable Mahabodhi Society!"

Buddhists everywhere are finding new inspiration by going back to the
authority of Gautama; let the Christian Church go back to Jesus
Christ, and, taking Him as the full and perfect revelation of the
nature of God and man, rethink and restate its theology. And secondly,
let its missionaries study the great religion of Gautama--which is
still, after twenty-five centuries, a mighty power, with strong
capacity for revival, and which is still strangely misunderstood; and
let them see to it that they and the Christian "native" pastors and
catechists are as carefully trained as the Buddhist monks who each
year are receiving a more systematic preparation for the task of
defending and propagating the _Dhamma_.

[17] Reprinted from _The East and the West_.

[18] _Hibbert Lectures_, 3rd edition, p. 184.

[19] _The Zen Sect of Buddhism_, p. 11.

[20] There is fortunately a marked improvement in this respect in
missionary methods: but the old order has not yet given place to the
new. The present writer was recently classed, in a public address in
Rangoon, with the Kaiser and Antichrist--as a "Sign of the Times."

[21] The full form of service and a biographical sketch of its author
is published by the _Open Court_, Chicago, U.S.A.

[22] They are, fortunately, even now parting company: the "bishop,"
for example, has been obliged to start a rival "church" in San

[23] From the _Mahaparinibbana Sutta_, the oldest and most authentic
of the Buddhist scriptures.



The Christian missionary in Buddhist lands is faced with a task of
infinite fascination. He is dealing, in the first place, with
remarkable peoples for whom their religion has done much of the great
service which Christianity has done for him and his people. He will
find everywhere traces of a mighty Buddhist civilisation, and in many
places, if he has the eye to see, proofs that this venerable religion
is still alive and is reforming itself to meet the needs of the modern
world. In the second place, he will find that it is vitally linked up
with the intensely interesting and important nationalist movements of
Asia, and that he cannot understand the political situation in these
countries without a close and careful study of the religion. And in
the third place, he will find that it is not only as part and parcel
of nationalist movements that Buddhism is alive, but that it has an
international programme and that it is closely bound up with the
movement of "Asia for the Asiatics"--a movement deserving of
respectful and sympathetic study.

How then will the missionary prepare himself for this absorbing task?
Nothing can take the place of friendly intercourse with Buddhists in
temple and home, on pilgrimage and at great times of festival; it is
thus that the religion will become a living reality to him, full of
colour and movement, giving him at times moments of exquisite pleasure
in its artistic pageantry, and bringing him into sympathetic touch
with the "soul of the people" to whom he is seeking to minister. But
to prepare him for this absorbing pursuit, at once business and
pleasure, study and hobby, for any one who really enjoys such things,
he can and must do some systematic reading. Appended are a course of
study for the first two years worked out for Y.M.C.A. secretaries in
India, and a more advanced and detailed course. The following
additional notes may be of service in using these:

1. Clearly the first step is to get a sympathetic and accurate idea of
the founder of Buddhism, of the essence of his teaching, and of the
secret of his amazing influence. There is, in human history, only one
figure more significant and more worthy of a study. Side by side the
student should read Sir Edwin Arnold's _Light of Asia_ (London: Kegan
Paul. 1s. 6d. and 5s.) and some good biographical study such as that
of H. Oldenberg, _Buddha_ (London: Williams & Norgate. Out of print.
1882), or that by the present writer, _Gotama Buddha_ (New York:
Association Press. 1920).

2. Next he will do well to saturate himself in such selections of the
moral teachings of Gautama as are contained in the _Dhammapada_ or the
_Itivuttaka_, both of which contain much very early material, some of
which may be attributed to the founder himself.

3. For the whole Buddhist system in its earlier forms Warren's
admirable _Buddhism in Translations_ (Harvard Oriental Series.
Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A. 1900) is indispensable, and should be
constantly used for reference.

4. As an introduction to the history of Buddhism two elementary books,
attempting to cover the whole field in a rather sketchy way, are
Saunders' _The Story of Buddhism_ (London: Oxford University Press.
4s., 6d. 1916) and Hackmann's _Buddhism as a Religion_ (London:
Probsthain. 15s. 1910).

5. Whether the student is going to work in lands devoted to the
primitive type of Buddhism, such as Ceylon, Siam, and Burma, or in
those in which a highly developed Buddhism prevails, such as Japan,
China, and Korea, he ought to have a grasp of the essential
differences between the two types of Buddhism known as _Hinayāna_ and
_Mahāyāna_; for an evolution must be read backwards as well as
forwards, and the missionary will look forward to spending a holiday
in one of the other Buddhist lands. If, for instance, his lot is cast
in Burma, he ought to plan to go on a visit to Japan or to China, and
_vice versâ_. To get a grasp of the highly developed Mahāyāna he
should study especially the famous _Lotus of the Good Law_ translated
in vol. xxi of the Sacred Books of the East (Oxford: Clarendon Press.
15s. 6d.) and should carefully compare this with the _Dhammapada_. He
will find that even in the conservative Buddhism of Ceylon and Burma
there are Mahāyāna tendencies, and that everywhere Gautama Buddha
has become in practice more than a moral teacher and is related, in
the minds of the people, to an eternal order making for righteousness.
In this and in other ways which the student will study for himself,
_e.g._ in the idea of a sacrificial life-process culminating in the
historical life of Sākyamuni and in the practice of prayer by all
Buddhists, he will find a wonderful preparation for the gospel of
Christ. I would suggest that he take as his guiding light this saying
of a great Buddhist scholar of Japan, "We see your Christ, because we
have first seen our Buddha." The task of the missionary will be to
relate Christianity to this great preparation that has been made for
it and to think out with Eastern scholars the thought bases of a truly
Eastern Christianity which shall seem to these Asiatic nations to come
with all the authority of their own past behind it, and with all the
glamour of a knowledge that the God who has been working with and for
them in the past is now bringing them out into a larger and freer
life. Only so can they be won for Christ.

[24] Reprinted by kind permission of the editors and publisher from
"An Introduction to Missionary Service," Ed. by G. A. Gollock and E.
G. K. Hewat, Oxford University Press. 1921, 3s. 6d. net.


The following course of reading--drawn up for Secretaries of the
Y.M.C.A. in the East by Dr. J. N. Farquhar and the writer--is
recommended to those whose leisure is scant:

_First Year_. General: Rhys Davids, _Buddhism, Life and Teachings of
Gautama, the Buddha_ (London: S.P.C.K. 3s. 6d.); V. Smith, _Asoka_
(Oxford: Clarendon Press. 4s. New edition, 1920).

Special: _The Dhammapada_. Sacred Books of the East, vol. x (out of
print); _The Mahaparinibbana_. S.B.E., vol. xi (12s. 6d. See

Additional: Oldenberg, _Buddha_ (see Introduction); or Rhys Davids,
_Dialogues of the Buddha_ (London: Milford. 12s. 6d. 3rd volume,

_Second Year_. General: Copleston, _Buddhism Primitive and Present_
(London: Longmans. 10s. 6d. Out of print); Hackmann, _Buddhism as a
Religion_ (see Introduction).

Special: Warren, _Buddhism in Translations_. Chaps. i and iv (see

Additional: Rhys Davids, _Buddhist India_ (London: Fisher Unwin. 7s.
6d.); _The Questions of King Milinda_, S.B.E., vols. xxxv, xxxvi.
(42s. for two. See Introduction.)


For those who desire further and more detailed study the following
suggestions, based upon Professor Hume's course at Union Theological
Seminary and the present writer's at the Pacific School of Religion,
are likely to prove helpful:

A. _The Life of the Buddha_.

Rhys Davids, _Buddhism, Life and Teachings of Gautama, the Buddha_,
chaps. ii, iii, vii (see I, First Year); Kern, _Manual of Indian
Buddhism_, part ii (London: Probsthain. 15s.); Oldenberg, _Buddha_,
part i (see Introduction); Warren, _Buddhism in Translations_, chap. i
(see Introduction); Saunders, _Gotama Buddha_ (see Introduction).

B. _The Scriptures of Hinayāna Buddhism_.

The Vinaya Pitaka (Discipline Basket), The Sutta Pitaka (Teaching
Basket), The Abhidhamma Pitaka (Higher Religion, or Metaphysical

Rhys Davids, _Buddhism, Its History and Literature_ (London: Putnams.
10s. 6d. 1907); Hastings' _Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics_, vol.
viii, pp. 85-9 (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark. 35s. 1916); K. J.
Saunders, _Heart of Buddhism_ (London: Oxford University Press. 2s.
6d. Calcutta: Association Press. 6d. 1915); Sacred Books of the East,
vols. x, xi, xvii, xix, xx, xxi, xxxv, xxxvi, xlix (see Introduction);
Rhys Davids, _Sacred Books of the Buddhists_, vols. ii, iii (London:
Milford. 12s. 6d. each).

C. _The Doctrines and Practices of Hinayāna Buddhism_.

(The Hindu Setting, Moral Teachings, Concerning the Soul,
Transmigration, Karma, Nirvana, Methods of Salvation, Prayer,
Miracles, The Order Woman.)

Rhys Davids, _Buddhism, A Sketch_, chaps. iv, v, vi (London: Williams
and Norgate. 2s. 6d. 1912); E. W. Hopkins, _Religions of India_, chap.
xiii (Boston: Ginn & Co. 10s. 6d. 1902); K. J. Saunders, _Buddhist
Ideals_ (Calcutta: Y.M.C.A., 10 annas. 1912).

D. _The Expansion of Buddhism_.

(In India, the Adjacent Countries, in China and Korea, in Japan.)

K. J. Saunders, _Story of Buddhism_, chaps. iv, vii (see
Introduction); Hackmann, _Buddhism as a Religion_, Book iii (see
Introduction); Rhys Davids, _Buddhism, Sketch_, chap. ix (see C); R.
F. Johnston, _Buddhist China_ (London: Murray. 18s. 1913); K.
Reischauer, _Japanese Buddhism_ (London and New York; Macmillan. 10s.
6d. $2. 1917).

E. _Differences between Hinayāna and Mahāyāna_.

Suzuki, _Outlines of Mahāyāna_ (London: Lusac. 8s. 6d. Out of print.
1908); _Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics_. Under headings (see B).

F. _Buddhism and Christianity_.

(Similarities and Differences.)

Saunders, _Buddhist Ideals_ (see C); Carus, _Buddhism and its
Christian Critics_, chap. v (Chicago: _Open Court_ Publishing Co. 7s.
6d.); K. J. Saunders, _Story of Buddhism_, chap. viii (see


For still more detailed work see the excellent booklets prepared by
the Board of Missionary Preparation, 25 Madison Avenue, New York City,
_The Preparation of Missionaries to Buddhist Lands_ and _Buddhism and
Buddhists in China_--both in the press.

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