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CHAPTER VI

THE SYSTEM OF MYSTICISM

GENERAL CHARACTER--THE KÂLA CHAKRA SYSTEM; ITS ORIGIN AND DOGMAS.

THE contact of the Buddhists with their various pagan neighbours gradually introduced into their creed ideas foreign to Buddhism, and the consequence of this was the rise of a new system full of mystic modifications. We see already in the later Mahâyâna schools, particularly in the Yogâchârya branch, a more general yielding to the current superstitious notions; but the principles of mystic theology such as we find them in the actual Buddhism of the present day have chiefly been developed in the most modern system, which originated independently of the earlier ones, in Central Asia, Its theories were afterwards even engrafted upon. later productions by a subsequent incorporation, to such a degree, that without a knowledge of this system, we should often

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be almost at a loss how to understand the Mahâyâna sacred books.

European orientalists use to apply to this third system the name of Yogâchârya; and if we bear in mind, that Yoga means in Sanskrit "abstract devotion, by which supernatural faculties are acquired,"[1] it becomes evident that they were led to do so by the conformity of the name with the system to which they applied it. But Wassiljew has clearly proved in his work, that Yogâchârya is but a branch of the Mahâyâna system, and he therefore substituted the name of "Mysticism," which I have also adopted. This name was chosen because this system places meditation, the recital of certain prayers, and the practise of mystical rites above the observance of precepts and even above moral deportment.

Mysticism appears for the first time as a specific system in the tenth century of our era; it is called in the sacred books Dus kyi khorlo, in Sanskrit Kâla Chakra, "the circle of time."[2] It is reported to have originated in the fabulous country Sambhala (Tib. Dejung),,source or origin of happiness." Csoma, from careful investigations, places this country beyond the Sir Deriáu (Yaxartes) between 45 and 50 north latitude. It was first known in India in the year 965 A.D.; and it was introduced,

[1. Wilson, "Glossary of Judicial and Revenue Terms," see the article Yoga.

2. See Csoma, "On the origin of the Kâla Chakra system," Journ. As. Soc. Beng., Vol. II., p. 57. "Grammar," 192. "Analysis," As. Res., Vol. XX., pp. 488, 564. Compare also Burnouf, "Introduction," Section V. Hodgson, "Notice on Buddhist Symbols," R. As. Soc., Vol. XVIII, p. 397. Wilson, "Sketch of the Religious Sects of the Hindus," As, Res., Vol. XVII., p. 216-29.]

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they go on to say, into Tibet from India viâ Kashmír, in the year 1025 A.D. I cannot believe it accidental that the beginning of the Tibetan era of counting time, about which I shall have occasion to say some words in a later chapter, coincides with the introduction of this system. I am rather inclined to think (though as far as I know, this has not yet been pointed out as particularly important) that the readiness with which this system was received made it appear at once so important, that events were dated from its introduction.

The principal rites and formulae of mysticism and the theories about their efficacy bear an extraordinary analogy to the Shamanism of the Siberians, and are, besides, almost identical with the Tantrika ritual of the Hindus; for it promises endowment with supernatural faculties far superior to the energy to be derived from virtue and abstinence, and capable of leading to the union with the deity, to the man who keeps in mind that all three worlds exist in the imagination only and regulates his actions accordingly. Its theories are laid down in two series of works, which are known under the collective titles of Dhârânîs (in Tibetan Zung), and Tantras (in Tibetan Gyut). The Dhârânî formulæ may be of considerable antiquity, and it is not unlikely that already the Mahâyâna leaders took Some of them into their books. The Tantras are of a more modern date, especially those of them, in which the observance of magical practices is carried to a point which is an extreme even for mysticism in any form. Wilson believes Tantrika notions to have originated in India in the early

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centuries of Christianity, but the present Hindu ritual seems to him not to date back beyond the tenth century; about at the same time the Tantras were probably introduced also into the Buddhist sacred literature. Their modern origin is proved by the statement of the Tibetan autorities {sic}respecting the appearance of the Dus kyi khorlo system, which makes the deliverance from metempsychosis dependent upon the knowledge of the Tantras. So at least says Padma Karpo, a Tibetan Lama, who lived in the sixteenth century, in his description of these doctrines. "He who does not know the Tantrika principles and all such, is a wanderer in the orb of transmigration and is out of the way (path) of the supreme triumphator, Sanskrit Bhagavan Vajradhara."[1] Another and indirect proof of their recent origin is the fact, that there are much fewer works on Tantrika principles existing in the Chinese language; had the Chinese Buddhist pilgrims who travelled in India still during the seventh century A.D. found such treatises (had they existed at all, they would soon have become acquainted with them), they would certainly have brought them home in order to have them translated into the Chinese language; and then, also, in this particular branch the Chinese Buddhist literature would be richer than the Tibetan, whilst the reverse is actually the case. Besides, it is also reported, that the most expert Indian magicians, or Tantrists, did not exist till after the travels of the

[1. The claim that Sâkyamuni is their original author, is undoubtedly inadmissable, both on account of their style and contents, as well as of historical dates.]

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Chinese pilgrims in India, and that the most important Tantras had been translated into Chinese during the reign of the northern Song dynasty which ruled from the years 960 to 1127 A.D.

Kâla Chakra is also the title of the principal work of this system; it stands at the head of the Gyut division of the Kanjur, as well as, the Tanjur, and was explained and repeatedly commented on by several learned men who lived in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, of whom the most celebrated were Puton or Buston, Khetup, and Padmo Karpo.

I have arranged the dogmas propounded by mysticism in four groups.

I. There is a first, chief Buddha, Âdi Buddha, in Tibetan Chogi dangpoi sangye, who is without beginning or end; none of the human Buddhas have arrived at the Buddhaship for the first time, and the Sambhogakâya; or body of blissfulness of the Buddhas has existed from all eternity and will never perish. This first of the Buddhas is called in the Tantras Vajradhara (in Tibetan Dorjechang or Dorjedzin), and Vajrasattva (in Tibetan Dorjesempa).[1] As Vajradhara he is epitheted "the supreme Buddha, the supreme triumphator, the lord of all mysteries,[2] the prime minister of all Tathâgatas, the being who is without beginning or end, the being who has the soul of a diamond (Vajrasattva)." It is he to whom the subdued and conquered evil spirits swear that

[1. Dorjechang and Dorjedzin. have the same meaning, "holding the diamond (Vajra)." Sempa (sems-pa) means "the soul."

2. Sangbai Dagpo, "concealed lord," in Sanskrit Guhyapati.]

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they will no longer hinder the propagation of the faith of the Buddha, nor in future do any mischief to man. To Vajrasattva the epithets are given of "the supreme intelligence, the chief (Tsovo), the president of the five Dhyâni Buddhas."[1] But Vajradhara and Vajrasattva are also considered as two different, beings, as they occur in several treatises both at the same time, the one putting questions, the other answering them. Their respective position may be explained the best by supposing Vajradhara to be too great a god and too much lost in divine quietude to favour man's undertakings and works with his assistance, and that he acts through the god Vajrasattva, who would be to him in the relation of a Dhyâni Buddha to his human Buddha. This explanation is also supported by the epithet of "president of the Dhyâni Buddhas."

By the name of Dhyâni Buddha,[2] "Buddha of contemplation," or by the term Anupadaka, "without parents," celestial beings are designated corresponding to the human Buddhas teaching upon earth, who are called "Mânushi Buddhas." The Buddhists believe that each Buddha when preaching the law to men, manifests himself at the same time in the three worlds which their cosmographical system acknowledges. In the world of desire, the lowest of the three to which the earth belongs, he appears in

[1. See Csoma, As. Res., Vol., 20, pp. 496, 503, 549, 550. Journ. As. Soc. Beng., Vol. II., p. 57. Wassiljew, "Der Buddhismus," p. 205.

2. Respecting the theory of the Dhyâni Buddhas see Schmidt, "Grundlehren," Mem. de l'Acad. de Petersb., Vol. I, p. 104. Burnouf, "Introduction," pp. 116, 221, 525, 627. "Lotus de la Bonne Loi," p. 400. The more theistical ideas of the Nepalese about their origin are noknot wn {sic--unknown?} to the Tibetan Buddhists.]

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human shape. In the world of forms he manifests himself in a more sublime form as Dhyâni Buddha. In the highest world, the one of the incorporeal beings, he has neither shape nor name. The Dhyâni Buddhas have the faculty of creating from themselves by virtue of Dhyâni, or abstract meditation, an equally celestial son, a Dhyâni Bôdhisattva, who after the death of a Mânushi Buddha is charged with the continuance of the work undertaken by the departed Buddha till the next epoch of religion begins, when again a subsequent Mânushi Buddha appears.[1] Thus, to each human Buddha belongs a Dhyâni Buddha and a Dhyâni Bôdhisattva,[2] and the unlimited number of the former also involves an equally unlimited number of the latter.

Out of this vast number the five Buddhas of the actual period of the universe are particularly worshipped. Four of these Buddhas have already appeared; Sâkyamuni is the fourth and the last who has appeared till now; his Dhyâni Buddha is Amitâbha, in Tibetan Odpagmed; his Dhyâni Bôdhisattva Avolôkitêsvara, or Padmapâni, in Tibet generally implored under the name of Chenresi. To the Dhyâni Buddhas of these five Mânushi Buddhas is added, as a sixth and the highest in rank, Vajrasattva. To him or occasionally also to Amitâbha who then takes his place, the Tibetans attribute the function of the "God

[1. The Buddhas am men and subjected to the physical conditions established for human creatures; it is in consequence of this principle that the stay of every Buddha upon earth is limited by the laws which fix for the period during which he appears, the life-time of man, which varies from 80,000 to 10 years. When this period had elapsed he dies, or as the Buddhists say, he returns to Nirvâna.

2. He has, besides, a female companion, a Sakti.]

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above all." One of these two divine persons is addressed in such ceremonies as are believed to grant success to undertakings, and the belief in the absolute necessity of their assistance is so positive that a Lama told my brother that "a ceremony which does not include an address to Dorjesempa (Vajrasattva) is similar in efficacy to a bird which, with its wings cut, tries to fly."'

With reference to the representations of these divine persons in drawings I am able to add the following details.

A picture on canvas received by Adolphe from Thóling, in Gnári Khórsum, represents Vajrasattva with rosy complexion, holding the Dorje in his right hand and a bell in his left; the latter, in Tibetan called Drilbu, is identical in shape with those used in sacred choral songs to mark the pauses. Vajrasattva is surrounded by various groups of gods representing protectors of men against evil spirits.--Amitâbha is represented in all the images I have examined, with a vivid red complexion; in a very nicety executed picture from Mángnang in Gnári Khórsum were subjoined beneath the seat the seven precious things, in Tibetan called Rinchen na dun. They are:--Khorlo (Sanskr. Chakra), "the wheel;" Norbu (Sanskr. Mani), "the precious stone;" Tsunpo, "the royal consort;" Lonpo, "the best treasurer;" Tachog, "the

[1. A very powerful prayer is that which concludes the address to the Buddhas of confession, see Plates V et seq.-The fact of the frequent imploration of the Dhyâni Buddhas shows that the Tibetan Buddhists differ in this point from those of Nepál, who believe the Dhyâni Buddhas to be absolutely inactive.]

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best horse;" Langpo, "the elephant;" Maglon, "the best leader."[1]

II. Worldly notions or phenomena dare not be selected for contemplation; but from assiduous meditation in which any religious object is analysed (Zhine lhagthong, Sankr. Vipasyana), man acquires new faculties, provided he most earnestly concentrates his thoughts upon one object. Such a state of calmness nd tranquillity, in Sanskrit Samatha, occasions, however, great trouble, and it is considered as not at all easy to concentrate the mind, this requiring long practice; but if man has once succeeded, aided by preparatory exercises,[2] in bringing himself to meditate with unmoved mind upon the deepest religious abstractions in the four degrees of meditation, Dhyâna (in Tibetan Samtan), he finally arrives at entire imperturbability, Samâpatti (in Tibetan, Nyompa), which has also four gradations. First of all, a perfect absence of all idea of individuality is the result; then secrets and powers hitherto concealed to him become at once unveiled, and he has now entered "the path of seeing," Thonglam; by continued, uninterrupted meditation on the four truths, his mind becomes supernaturally pure, and gradually rises to the most perfect states, called the Top, Tsemo (in Sanskrit Mûrdhan), patience, Zodpa (in Sanskrit Kshânti), and the supreme in the world (in Sanskrit Lokottaradharma).[3]--

[1. Compare about them I. J. Schmidt, "Ssanaug Ssetsen," p. 471.

2. A Tibetan mode of keeping the thoughts together, shall be noticed in Chapter XV.

3. See Burnouf, "Le Lotus," pp. 348, 800. Hardy, "Eastern Monachism,", p. 270. Wassiljew, "Der Buddhismus," p. 149.]

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This dogma is in decided contradiction to the Mahâyâna principle that the meditation on any object whatever keeps man back from arriving at the highest degree of perfection.[1]

III. The recital of mystical words and sentences, the Dhâranîs (Tib. Zung), bestows upon man every kind of bliss and obtains for him the assistance of the Buddhas and Bôdhisattvas. These Dhâranîs[2] have been decidedly adopted from the generally felt want of incantations as remedies against fear of danger, though the Buddhists believe them to have been delivered by Sâkyamuni, or by those Buddhas, Bôdhisattvas, and gods over whom Dhâranîs are supposed to exercise an influence. The number of the formulae taught by these gods is described in the sacred books as enormous, and each is considered as equally efficacious. But Wassiljew is of opinion that the great number alluded to most likely is to be referred to so many verses (Gâthâs) or even single words of the treatises which describe their powers and the ceremonies in the performance, of which they are recited. These formulae are either short sentences or even only a few words, as e. g. the names and the epithets of the Buddhas and Bôdhisattvas. There are some Dhâranîs which are equal to the practise of the Pâramitâs, others subdue gods and genii, or call for Buddhas and Bôdhisattvas; some impart longevity or accomplish every wish; others cure diseases, &c. It is even assumed, that by a were

[1. See p. 36.

2. Compare Burnouf "Introduction," pp. 522-74. Wassiljew, 1. c., pp. 153, 193.]

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uttering of the letters of which the Dhâranî is composed--nay even by their aspect alone--power may be gained over those beings of which they treat, or for such purposes for which they are supposed to grant help.

They dare not be altered when recited or written, as each letter has its own magical power, and it is owing to this belief that they have not been translated into Tibetan, and that the Tibetan alphabet has been adapted to the exact rendering of every Sanskrit letter.'

The magical influence of words is deduced from the unreality of all existing objects: all existence being but ideal, the name is just as much as the object itself; consequently, if a man holds sway over a word expressive of anything, he also disposes of the thing itself. The same influence is also attributed to conventional signs formed by a certain placing of the fingers, Chakja, in Sanskrit Mudrâ. All objects being identical with reference to their nature, signs which symbolize the attributes of a god produce the same effect as words and offerings.

IV. The reciting of Dhârânîs, if combined with the practise of magical rites and supported by morality and contemplation, leads to superhuman faculties (in Sanskrit Siddhi)--nay, even to the union with the deity. This is a doctrine which, in all probabilitity, {sic} has

[1. The Sanskrit names of the Buddhas and Bôdhisattvas have been, however, translated into Tibetan, but these names are rendered as literally as possible. I quote as examples Amitâbha and. Odpagmed; Manjusrî and Jamjang; Avalôkita and Chenresi; Vajrasattva and Dorjesempa;--Vajradhara and Dorjechang.--For the alphabetical scheme of the Sanskrit language when written with Tibetan characters see Csoma's Grammar, p. 20.]

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grown up very recently. The compendious books Tantra treat of this dogma and say, that by magical arts either worldly purposes can be attained, as longevity and riches, or also religious ones, as dominion over malignant spirits, the aid of a Buddha or Bôdhisattva,, or the removal by him of any doubt or uncertainty with regard to any of the dogmas. But the chief aim is to obtain final emancipation from metempsychosis, and acquire re-birth in Amitâbha's celestial mansion, which latter, by means of such magical ceremonies, can be obtained already in one existence, instead of being the reward of uninterrupted privations in an unlimited series of existences.[1]

[1. The observances in connexion with such magical arts, and the description of magical rites, &c., is given in Chapter XV.]

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Next: Chapter VII. Historical Account of the Introduction of Buddhism into Tibet