Confucianism and Its Rivals, by Herbert A. Giles, , at sacred-texts.com
During the closing years of Wang Chung's life great events were happening in China, of which he would surely have taken some notice if he had perceived their far-reaching character. Rumours of "a divine teacher in the west" had long since penetrated to China, and had been snapped up by the Taoists in a paltry forgery (Lieh Tzŭ, ch. iv), assigned to an imaginary philosopher of the seventh century B.C., whose alleged work can hardly be much older than the first century B.C. Now, a writer (Shên Kua) of the eleventh century, in a collection of miscellaneous jottings, quotes a number of historical passages to support the view that Buddhism was known in China two centuries before the Christian era; among others, the following, which was written at the close of the sixth century A.D.: "These Buddhist books had long been circulated far and wide, but disappeared with the advent of the Chin dynasty"under which occurred the Burning of the Books (220 B.C.). With regard to the Chin dynasty, it is further on record that "in the year 216 B.C., during the reign of the so-called First Emperor, a
[paragraph continues] Buddhist priest, named Shih-li-fang, and others, arrived at the capital, bringing with them, for the first time, sûtras written in Sanskrit." That is the historical account; a Buddhist work states that the company consisted of eighteen priests, and adds the following details: "The officials reported their arrival to the Emperor, who, on account of their strange behaviour, put them into prison. Shih-li-fang and his companions recited the Mahâpragnâ paramitâ sûtra (supposed to have been written by Shâkyamuni Buddha himself); whereupon a bright alight shone out and a beautiful nebula began to circle round and fill the prison. In a few moments, this revealed a golden angel, sixteen feet in height, who, majestically wielding a huge club, smashed open the prison and let the priests out (thus vividly recalling the twelfth chapter of Acts). The Emperor was terrified; and repenting his action, bestowed upon them valuable presents and sent them away." The next historical notice comes under the year 121 B.C., when we read that "for the first time an image of Buddha was secured." This is further said to have been "taken by a victorious Chinese general from a Hun chieftain, who was in the habit of worshipping it." A later history says that, "when the Emperor received the image, he had it placed in the palace among some other images, all of which averaged about ten feet in height. He did not sacrifice to it, but merely burnt incense and worshipped it with prayer. This," adds the writer, "is how Buddhism gradually began to find its way into China."
The above historical entries are generally ignored, though they have just as much claim to be recognized as the more romantic story which dates from A.D. 65. In that year we read, "The Emperor sent a mission to India, and obtained the Buddhist Sûtra of Forty-two Sections." The legend attached to this brief note attributes the origin of the mission to a dream in which the Emperor had a vision of a golden man with a bright halo round his head. This man, so the Emperor was told, was a Divine Being who lived in the west; and the mission was dispatched accordingly. Two years later, in A.D. 67, the mission returned, and with it came two Buddhist priests, Kâshiapmâdanga and Gobharana. They brought "The Sûtra of Forty-two Sections," which deals with the principles of primitive Buddhism as taught by Shâkyamuni, and which they at once set to work to translate; but before very long Kâshiapmâdanga died, leaving his colleague to carry on the task of further translation alone. Gobharana remained in China until his death at over sixty years of age; the religion, however, which he came to propagate failed to appeal closely to the Chinese imagination until several centuries had passed away. During these centuries, quite a number of other priests came to China and aided in the work of translating the Buddhist Scriptures, but it was not until A.D. 335 that the Chinese people were allowed to take Buddhist orders. This permission was due to the influence of a remarkable Indian priest, named Buddhachinga, who reached the capital in A.D. 310. He claimed
supernatural powers, and pretended to foretell the future from the tinkling of bells. He could take out his viscera from a hole in his side, and wash them. He also caused a flower to bloom from an empty pot, which looks as if he combined with religion some well-known tricks of the Indian juggler.
Buddhism was now beginning to take a firm hold; and under the year 381, we read of a special temple built for priests within the Imperial palace. A further great impetus to the spread of this religion was given by the arrival, about the year 385, of Kumârajîva, a native of India who at the age of seven had been dedicated by his mother to Buddhism. His daily task was said to have been the repetition of one thousand hymns of thirty-two words to each. He devoted himself to that form of Buddhism which is known as the Mahâyâna or Greater Vehicle, as opposed to the Hînayâna or Lesser Vehicle, both of them means of transporting the faithful into Nirvâna, and the latter being the older of the two. Speaking through a parable, Buddha is said to have adumbrated the wider success of the Greater Vehicle. A certain man's house took fire, whereupon he brought a goat-carriage to carry away his children. By and by, he fetched a spacious waggon. All the same, the Lesser Vehicle represents the primitive and more esoteric form of Buddhism; while the Greater Vehicle exhibits Buddha in the light of a personal Saviour, to whom intercessory prayers may be successfully offered.
Kumârajîva had taught crowds of pupils, and had
preached with such success that his fame reached China, whither he was ultimately induced to proceed. There he laboured for many years as a translator, dying in 417. At death, his body was cremated; all but his tongue, which remained unhurt in the midst of the fire. The work by which he is best known, and that because of its more popular albeit abstruse character, is the translation of what is called "The Diamond Sûtra." This sûtra is especially interesting in connexion with China, as it belongs to the Mahâyâna school, which now prevails there and in Japan; also, because attempts have been made to show that the tenets of the Mahâyâna school are not purely Buddhistic, but were largely borrowed from Christianity as exhibited in the heresy of the Gnostics, with their alleged knowledge of spiritual mysteries. There are difficulties to be got over in this ascription; and it seems almost certain that the Mahâyâna school had already developed in western India before any knowledge of the Gospels could possibly have travelled so far. Nâgârjuna, its reputed founder, is generally assigned to the second century A.D.; and it does not appear to have been earlier than the middle of that century that the Christians at Antioch began to gather together the records of their Founder, nor indeed until the end of the second century that the Gospels became publicly known through the writings of Irenæus and Tertullian.
The Diamond Sûtra teaches us that all objects, all phenomena, are illusory, and have no real existence. It was delivered by the Lord Buddha to a company
of twelve hundred and fifty disciples, all of whom had attained to eminent degrees of spiritual wisdom. Buddha himself had just returned from the daily quest for food, which is obtained, without solicitation, from the charitable. Having taken off his mendicant's robe, and laid aside his alms-bowl, he bathed his feet, arranged the seats, and sat down. "Then"the following passages are translations from the Chinese text"the venerable Subhûti, who was among the company, rose from his place; and baring his right shoulder he knelt upon his right knee, and with joined palms reverently addressed Buddha, as follows: 'O rare world-honoured One, O Tathâgata, thou who dost protect and instruct those who are Bôdhisattvas! O world-honoured One! If a good man, or a good woman, should show signs of unexcelled perfect intelligence, upon what should such a one rely, and how should such a one subdue the heart?' Buddha replied, 'Good indeed! Good indeed! As you say, I protect and instruct those who are Bôdhisattvas. Listen therefore attentively, and I will tell you.' Subhûti promptly answered that he would be glad to hear, and Buddha thereupon told the Bôdhisattvas and Mahâsattvas, as follows: 'All living creatures whatsoever, whether born from the egg, or from the womb, or from damp (as wood-lice), or by metamorphosis, whether having form or not, whether possessed of intelligence or not, whether not possessed of intelligence or not not-possessed of intelligenceall such I command to enter into the absolutely non-material state of Nirvâna, and so by
extinction (of all sense-values, etc.) to obtain salvation. Thus, all living creatures will be freed from measurement, from number, and from space-limit, though in reality there are no living creatures by such extinction to obtain salvation. Why so? Subhûti, if a Bôdhisattva recognizes such objective existences as self, others, living creatures, or such a concept as old agehe is not a Bôdhisattva.'" In another passage, Buddha recurs to this theme. "A good disciple," he says, "must accustom himself to think in terms of negation as regards the existence of all living beings, whereafter it will follow that for him there will be no living beings to think about."
Section 17 of the Diamond Sûtra deals with the subject of faith as compared with works, and seems to show that faith in Buddha through the Buddhist Scriptures can also make a man "wise unto salvation" (2 Tim. iii. 15). It runs as follows: "O Subhûti," said Buddha, "if a good man, or a good woman, were to give up in the morning as many of his or her lives (in re-births) as there are sands in the river Ganges, and to do the same at noonday, and again in the evening, and to continue to do this every day for an innumerable number of kalpas, each of an innumerable number of years; and if, on the other hand, there should be one who, having heard this sûtra, should yield up his heart to implicit beliefthen the happiness of this last would exceed the happiness of that other. And much more would this be so if he were to write out this sûtra, hold fast to it himself, and recite and explain it to others. O Subhûti, let
me state its importance. This sûtra has a merit which cannot be conceived of by thought, and cannot be estimated by weight or measurement." Towards the end of the sûtra, Buddha delivered a gâthâ, or stanza, referring to himself as sharing in the illusory character of all objective existences:
While Kumârajîva was spreading the faith in China, and dictating commentaries on the sacred books of Buddhism to some eight hundred priests, the famous traveller, Fa Hsien, was engaged upon his adventurous journey. On reaching manhood, he had been ordained, and subsequently proceeded to the capital to make a thorough study of the Buddhist religion. Finding that there was a lack of material for this purpose, and full of zeal and faith, he set out in A.D. 399, in company with several others, on an overland pilgrimage to India, his chief object being to obtain a complete copy of the Buddhist Canon in the original tongue. Alone of the party he reached the goal, and spent some time in India, travelling about to various important Buddhist centres and generally fulfilling the purposes of his mission. In A.D. 414 he was back in China, having returned by sea, via Ceylon and the Straits of Malacca, and having landed at the modern Kiaochow in Shantung. He brought with him a large number of books and sacred relics, all of which he nearly lost in the Bay of Bengal.
[paragraph continues] There was a violent gale, and the ship sprang a leak. As he tells us in his own account of the journey, "he took his pitcher and ewer, with whatever else he could spare, and threw them into the sea; but he was afraid that the merchants on board would throw over his books and images, and accordingly he fixed his whole thoughts upon Kuan-shih-yin, or Kuan Yin, the Hearer of the Prayers of the World, and prayed to the sainted priests of his own country, saying, 'Oh that by your awful power you would turn back the flow of the leak and grant us to reach some resting-place!'"
Buddhism was now fairly launched, and was gaining a permanent footing in the country. We already read of Imperial devotees, and of the malign influence of priests and nuns in the palace; we also read, but need not believe, that by the year 405, nine people out of every ten had embraced the faith. Miracles of all kinds became everyday events; for instance, there was one enthusiastic priest who, in order the more effectively to impress the public, collected a number of large stones and preached to them so eloquently that they nodded as it were their heads in approval.
We have now to consider what was happening all this time to the philosophy of Lao Tzŭ, already degraded from its original speculative purity by the greed of its professional adherents, who posed as wizards and extracted money from a confiding public. The introduction of Buddhism was soon found to affect the receipts of Taoist charlatans to such an
extent that something had to be done to check the ebbing tide of prosperity. A mere wizard, with a magic sword and a bundle of charms against devils and diseases, even though the people believed he could fly or render himself invisible at pleasure, had no chance with a Buddhist priest, his temple, his ritual, and his promise of a salvation, understood by the Chinese in the sense of an immortality of happiness after death. Therefore, in order to compete for public favour upon more equal terms, the Taoists transformed what had once been a philosophic cult into an actual religion, by the simple process of borrowing. We have already noticed an attempt to show that the Mahâyâna, or Greater Vehicle, was derived through the Gnostics from Christianity; it is a much easier matter to prove that Taoism, as a religion, is little more than Buddhism under another name. The Taoists took over, almost en bloc, the ceremonial of the Buddhists, much of which bears an extraordinary resemblance to the ceremonial of the Roman Catholic Church, though it can hardly, in view of the relative dates, be said to have been borrowed therefrom; any borrowing must have been the other way round.
One of the earliest formulas adopted by devout Buddhists, practically amounting to a creed, was the following statement of faith: "I put my trust in the Lord Buddha; I put my trust in his Law; I put my trust in his Church." The Mahâyâna school based upon that creed the doctrine of a TrinityBuddha, his Law, and his Church, popularly known
as the Three Preciosities; and this trio has been further explained as a Trinity in Unity (see Lecture VIII), the transcendency of which is not in the least appreciated or understood by the people at large, who regard the three representative images to be found in Buddhist temples as three separate deities, to be conciliated by prayer and offerings.
Buddhism has covered China with monasteries, nunneries, and shrines of varying size and importance. The priests and nuns take vows of celibacy, and of abstinence from flesh and wine; they shave their heads; they fast, even on a vegetable diet; they sit daily in meditation. Among other striking features of Buddhism as seen in China, such as have suggested a common source with Christian worship, if not actual borrowing by one religion from the other, may be mentioned the liturgies chanted by the priests, vestments, midnight masses, prayers for the dead, altars decorated with flowers and candles, bowls of water as the emblem of purity set forth in the life and teachings of the Buddha; and the use of incense, practised, however, before Buddhism was heard of. On the other hand, there is the ever-recurring statue of Kuan Yin, to whom we have seen that Fa Hsien prayed in his distress; originally an incarnation of Buddha, and represented down to the early part of the twelfth century as a man, but now as a woman holding a baby, the two bearing a remarkable resemblance to our own pictures of the Virgin and Child, of which the Chinese figures are thought by some to be a late copy.
The copying we have now to consider is that of Taoism in regard to the instrumental parts of the Buddhist religion. In a word, the Taoists may be said to have copied almost all the above characteristics of Buddhism. They built temples and monasteries, and even provided a Trinity, consisting of Lao Tzŭ, Pan Ku, and God, but stopping short of any suggestion of Unity. Pan Ku was the first being brought into existence by cosmogonical evolution. He is said to have sprung into life fully endowed with perfect knowledge, and his function was to set the economy of the universe in order. He is often depicted as wielding a huge adze, and engaged in fashioning the world. With his death the details of creation began. His breath became the wind; his voice, the thunder; his left eye, the sun; his right eye, the moon; his blood formed rivers; his hair grew into trees and plants; his flesh became the soil; his sweat descended as rain; and the parasites which infested his body were the origin of the human race. Such was the second person of the Taoist Trinity. The name of the third is made up of Yü huang = Jade Ruler, and Shang Ti, which is already familiar to us as an alternative for Tien = God. By the images of their Trinity, a Taoist temple is readily distinguished from a Buddhist temple; there are, of course, various other characteristics of the two places of worship, but they are not so obvious to the uninitiated. A Taoist priest does not shave the whole head; and formerly he was allowed to marry, but since the tenth century celibacy has been strictly enforced.
With the annexation by the Taoists of all the more attractive and also minatory features of Buddhism, such as a heaven for the good and a hell for the wicked, there began a long struggle for supremacy which lasted through many centuries before the two faithsTaoism having become a religioncould agree to work side by side, as they do now, without interfering one with the other. Sometimes Taoism flourished, under the influence of Court favour; at other times, Buddhism would be all the rage, with Emperor and Empress as its most earnest devotees. One of the great poets of the fifth century wrote an elaborate eulogy of Buddhism, perhaps the first of its kind. A statesman and scholar of the same period objected to Taoism as opposed to the ordinary instincts of humanity; but he hated Buddhism still more, chiefly because of its foreign origin. In A.D. 446 he discovered a secret store of arms in a Buddhist temple, in consequence of which many of the priests were put to death, their books and images destroyed, and for a time the practice of this religion was prohibited. The catastrophe would have been greater but for the action of the heir-apparent, a devout Buddhist, who gave the priests warning of their danger. The statesman himself was converted to Taoism by a priest who pretended to have received a revelation from Lao Tzŭ; the priest was appointed to be the Pope of the Taoist church, and a magnificent temple was built for his reception.
The institution of the Taoist Papacyto use a convenient termis claimed for the first century A.D.
[paragraph continues] There was at that date a precocious child, named Chang Tao-ling, who is said to have mastered the philosophy of Lao Tzŭ by the time he was seven years old. Declining to take office, he retired to the mountains and devoted himself to the study of alchemy. On one occasion, he went to the province of Ssŭchuan to drive out troublesome demons, which he would better have accomplished, according to Lao Tzŭ, by staying at home and doing nothing. An individual of the same surname, who traces his descent from this Chang Tao-ling, still holds the title of Pope; and it has certainly been so held for many centuries, even if it does not go so far back as is claimed. The functions of the modern Pope are chiefly confined to blessing and selling charms and amulets, to be used against, disease and similar machinations of evil spirits. It has never, however, been this aspect of Taoism which has influenced statesmen and inspired poets. Taoism has always, since its early degradation, existed under two forms. There is the Taoism of superstition, with its grafts from Buddhism, for the masses; and there is the Taoism of speculation and paradox for the cultured, though sometimes the cultured are even more under the influence of superstition than are the masses.
In the year A.D. 471 the Emperor under the Northern Wei dynastyChina was then dividedresigned his throne and devoted himself to Taoism. In the same year the Emperor of the Liu Sung dynasty spent vast sums in building a Buddhist monastery, and boasted that he was laying up merit
for himself in the next world. A minister is said to have remonstrated, showing that the people had sold wives and children in order to meet the charges laid on them, and asking where merit could lie; upon which, the Emperor repented and caused the monastery to be pulled down. In the year 484 an Imperial prince of the Southern Chi dynasty became an ardent supporter of Buddhism, and surrounded himself with priests in great numbers. A learned official endeavoured to persuade him that the whole scheme of Buddhism was a sham. He argued that Buddha having died, his spirit could no longer be in existence, spirit being to the body what sharpness is to a knife; when the knife goes, its sharpness goes with it. Another official told his wife, who was a firm believer, that he was going to write an essay proving that there was no such being as Buddha. "If there is no such being as Buddha," rejoined the lady, tartly, "why write an essay about him?"
We left Confucianism at the close of the first century, battered but not bruised by the attacks of Wang Chung. Taoism was then still more or less a philosophic cult; Buddhism had as yet made no advance. The birthplace of Confucius had become a goal for the Confucian pilgrim; a shrine had been built there, and even Emperors found their way thither, to do honour to the great Teacher. One of the latter had visited the spot so early as A.D. 72, and after worshipping Confucius, coupled with his seventy-two disciples, gave orders that the heir-apparent and all the Court should devote themselves
to a study of the Confucian Canon. Under the reign of the Emperor Ming Ti, A.D. 227-239, there is an echo of Confucianism, from its religious side, in an edict which was published after an eclipse of the sun in A.D. 233, in order to restore public confidence. "We have heard," says the Emperor, "that if a sovereign is remiss in government, God terrifies him by calamities and portents. These are divine reprimands sent to recall him to a sense of duty. Thus, eclipses of the sun and moon are manifest warnings that the rod of empire is not wielded aright. Ever since We ascended the throne, Our inability to continue the glorious traditions of Our departed ancestors and carry on the great work of civilization has now culminated in a warning message from on high. It therefore behoves Us to issue commands for personal reformation, in order to avert impending calamity. The relationship, however, between God and man is that of father and son; and a father, about to chastise his son, would not be deterred were the latter to present him with a dish of meat. We do not therefore consider it a part of Our duty to act in accordance with certain memorials advising that the Grand Astrologer be instructed to offer up sacrifices on this occasion. Do ye governors of districts, and other high officers of State, seek rather to rectify your own hearts; and if anyone can devise means to make up for Our shortcomings, let him submit his proposals to the throne."
The enlightened Emperor who penned these lines was ruler of one of the Three Kingdoms, founded by
his grandfather, Tsao Tsao, the famous general, who, like many other founders of houses in China, never mounted the throne. The grandson was a handsome man, and when he stood up his beard touched the ground; but he is interesting to us for a very different reason. Under his reign, women were for the first time admitted to official life, and several actually rose to important posts. The experiment was tried again in the eighth century, but was soon given up. His father, who was the first actual sovereign of the dynasty, was an ardent Taoist. He used to preach to his Court on the doctrines of Lao Tzŭ, and always became very angry with any official who either stretched himself, yawned, or expectorated. At the same time, he was careful to see that the Confucian shrine, which showed signs of decay, was put into proper repair. Throughout the long history of China it is noticeable that Confucianism, though faced by more attractive rivals, never quite loses its hold. Many Emperors indulged freely in heterodox teachings, so far as their more private life was concerned; but except in one notable instance, to which we shall come by and by, they seem to have felt that Confucius had a backing of the nation's intellect and scholarship which it would not do to ignore.
In A.D. 505 the first Confucian temple, as we now understand the term, was built and dedicated. Images of Confucius were then introduced into the temple, some say for the first time; others hold that in A.D. 178 a likeness of Confucius had been placed in his shrine, as a substitute for the wooden tablet
in use up to that date. Although it is correct to distinguish between the earlier shrine and the more elaborate temple which we are now about to consider, there is no doubt that the shrine played an important part in keeping alive the Confucian tradition. So far back as A.D. 267, an Emperor decreed that the sacrifice of a pig, a sheep, and an ox should be offered to Confucius at each of the four seasons. Rules were also drawn up about A.D. 430 for regulating the ceremonies to be performed. Gradually, the people came to look upon Confucius as a god to be propitiated for the sake of worldly advantages; and in A.D. 472 it became necessary to issue an edict forbidding women to frequent the shrine for the purpose of praying for children.
About A.D. 555 it was enacted that a Confucian temple should be built in every prefectural city in the empire. Various changes were made from time to time in the internal arrangements of the building. Some of the ancient sages who were admitted to share in the honours accorded to their Master, appeared in the shape of wooden figures; the portraits of others were painted on the walls. In the year 960 the wooden figures were abolished, and clay images were substituted. These were in turn replaced, in the year 1530, by simple wooden tablets. At another period, the numbers of the musicians and dancers were altered; and so on. It will here be convenient, perhaps, to bring the story of the Confucian temple, with all its important bearings upon national life and religion, down to the present day.
In the early shrines, the only image was that of Confucius; but when the order was given for the general erection of Confucian temples, that of Yen Hui was added. He was emphatically the disciple whom Confucius loved. He would listen with what appeared to be stolid indifference to his Master's teachings, and then he would go away and strive to put into practice the principles he had learned. He is still affectionately remembered by his countrymen, although Ssŭ-ma Chien, the historian, attributes his splendid reputation chiefly to his close connexion with Confucius, quaintly likening him to a fly which travels far and fast by clinging to the tail of a courser. By degrees, batches of disciples and other worthies were admitted to the honours of the temple, until the number of tablets was considerably enlarged. The first Manchu Emperors, who were throughout among the warmest supporters of Confucianism, made it their business to see that a temple was established in every prefecture, district city, and market town all over the empire. The tablets were rearranged, and a revised ceremonial was introduced. At the present day, we find the tablet of Confucius in a hall at the north end of the temple, facing south. It had always been placed on the east side down to the eighth century, the south-facing position being that of an Emperor on his throne; but from that date Confucius was recognized as the peer of Emperors. To the right and left of his tablet are the tablets of the Four Associates, of whom Yen Hui is the first and Mencius is the fourth. The second and third
are, respectively, Tsêng Tsan, the author of the "Classic of Filial Piety" and reputed author of the "Great Learning," one of the Four Books, and Tzŭ Ssŭ, the grandson of Confucius, author of the "Doctrine of the Mean," which, with the Confucian Analects and the works of Mencius, completes the tale of the Four Books, the first division of the Confucian Canon. Then come the tablets of the Twelve Sages, which number might have for us a suggestive ring, particularly when taken in conjunction with the Four Associates. Unfortunately for those who love to draw hasty parallels, of the Four Associates only three could possibly be regarded as Evangelists in the sense of spreading the Gospel by their writings; and of the Twelve Sages only eleven had actually been intimate disciples, the twelfth being the philosopher Chu Fu Tzŭ, of the twelfth century A.D.
Besides the above, space has to be allotted to the tablets of the ancestors of Confucius for five generations; also for the tablets of seventy-nine of the most prominent worthies of past ages, including all other known disciples of Confucius beyond those already mentioned. Then comes a contingent of sixty to seventy tablets, representing great Confucian scholars of all dynasties, every one of whom, as a condition of admission, must have contributed largely to the elucidation and support of Confucian doctrine. Altogether, there are about one hundred and seventy tablets, inscribed with the name of each individual and his rank in the temple. Admission to the national Walhalla, the honour of which has always
been much coveted by the families of deceased Confucianists, does not always confer that permanent place with posterity which it might be supposed would be the case. The Chinese, always noted for an especially practical turn of mind, have reserved to themselves the right to revise the decisions of their ancestors in regard to the merit of all those whose tablets stand in the temple. They feel that a popular impulse, justifiable at the moment, a personal intrigue, or Court favour, may sometimes have succeeded in giving a man more than was his due; it then remains to secure the removal of such a tablet, and to substitute that of a worthier representative. A tablet, however, which has once been removed is under no disability; it may be restored at a later date. This perhaps is the least satisfactory feature of all, aggravating rather than otherwise the instability of the institution. For instance, a Confucianist, named Fan Ning, was ranked in A.D. 647 among the Associates, but under the next reign he was reduced to the position of Scholar. In 1530 his tablet was removed from the temple; in 1724 it was replaced. Still, there are many instances in which the prerogative has been justly used; and it seems desirable that before very long some such system should be tentatively applied to the monuments in Westminster Abbey and other injudiciously crowded shrines.
The worship in the Confucian temple is celebrated twice a year, in spring and in autumn. In the provinces, the official who performs the ceremony is the chief civil authority. He is accompanied by the
general body of civil and military officers, by a band of musicians, and by thirty-six dancers. On the morning of the worship, the tables and altars are covered with offerings which have been prepared the day before. In front of the tablet of Confucius is an altar on which stand an incense-burner and two large lighted candles. A table before this altar is spread with bowls of grain, cups of wine, etc.; and on the east and west sides are tables furnished with vessels containing various articles of food. In the middle of the hall a roll of white silk is laid out, and before it are the three victims, an ox, with a sheep on one side and a pig on the other. Similar offerings, but fewer in number and in all cases without the ox, are set out in front of the other tablets. The official who is to preside as chief worshipper is supposed to have fasted and purified himself by ablution during the three preceding days. He arrives at the temple before daylight, and assumes his Court dress. Under the guidance of the master of the ceremonies, he takes up a position at the head of his civilian colleagues on the east side of the hall, the military officials being stationed on the west side. The service begins with music and a hymn, after which the chief worshipper ascends to the tablet of Confucius, where he kneels, strikes the ground with his head, and offers incense on the altar. He then resumes his place, but only to ascend and descend twice more with the same ceremonial. During the intervals there is music, and dancers perform slow-time and dignified evolutions. The spirit of Confucius
is supposed to arrive and take part in the ceremony so soon as the music begins. The first hymn is called "Receiving the Spirit," and is sung very slowly and reverently, as befitting such a tremendous occasion.
[paragraph continues] The lin is a fabulous animal which appeared to the mother of Confucius before the latter's birth. She tied a skein of silk round its horn; and when, just before the death of Confucius, the animal appeared again, the skein was still attached to the horn. This was the "fulfilment" mentioned in the hymn.
By the second century B.C. the old music, of which Confucius speaks, was gone, and had been replaced by a system brought from the Greek kingdom of Bactria about the year 126 B.C. The music of the Confucian age, scores and instruments alike, perished at the Burning of the Books, and we read that in the first part of the second century B.C. the hereditary Grand Music-Master was altogether ignorant of his art. The extraordinary similarities between the Chinese and Pythagorean systems of music place it beyond a doubt that one must have been derived from the other. The early Jesuit fathers declared that the ancient Greeks borrowed their music from the Chinese; but we know that the music in question
did not exist in China until two centuries after its appearance in Greece.
As to the dances, the movements of which are very like those of the minuet, they seem to be of purely native origin. In the commentary to the History of the Later Han dynasty, which covered the first two centuries of the Christian era, we are told that "the origin of these dances is not known, but that they were formerly used in the worship of God." The dance is essentially a step-dance, and not mere posturing as some have thought; it may be compared with the Greek ὄρχησις, which was not only rhythmical but also pantomimic in character, though there is no suggestion that these dances came with the music from Greece. The ancient official dance of China was performed altogether without accessories. A short poem of perhaps sixteen words having been chosen, two performers, dressed in the now old-fashioned robe of the graduate and accompanied by music, would proceed to illustrate these words, expressing each individual word by a figure (as in a quadrille) of eight separate movements. Thus, the number of figures to a dance would depend upon the number of words in the poem. The dances are usually performed, at the present day, by eight pairs of dancers, each of whom holds in his left hand a flute, and in his right hand a triple pheasant's feather. This arrangement was supposed to be in accordance with a verse in the Odes; but, unfortunately, it is now certain that the word which has been understood to mean "pheasant's feather" really means "flute."
[paragraph continues] Thus, instead of having a flute in one hand and in the other a feather, the latter of which would effectually prevent the dancer from playing upon the former, we find that the dancer was really provided with a flute for each hand; in other words, a double flute like that of the Greeks, which was played with both hands, the treble half being held in the left hand, the bass in the right.
Such is the Confucian temple, the worship in which has been conducted upon much the same lines for the past fourteen hundred years. An inner meaning is attributed to the various accessories at which we have merely glanced. The roll of white silk is an emblem of purity; the ox, of stability; the pig, of determinationa symbolism gathered somehow from its bristles; the sheep represents food and clothing; and the incense suggests virtue, fragrance being always associated with good deeds and a good reputation. The composition of the sacrificean ox between a sheep and a pigis noteworthy, if nothing more, for its identity with the suovetaurilia of the Romans, a sacrifice offered at lustrations.
We left Buddhism and Taoism, both flourishing, in the fifth and sixth centuries, and now, before picking up again the chronological thread, it will be convenient to introduce brief notices of several foreign religions, the majority of which enjoyed but a meteor-like existence, leaving only one to survive to the present day. The first of these was the religion of Zoroaster, whose idea of the resurrection glorified man's body as his eternal companion. It is known
as Mazdaism, and was imported from Persia into China towards the close of the sixth or beginning of the seventh century. As a term for God, the early Mazdæans adopted a character, pronounced Hsien, already in use in China with that same signification. They were permitted to build temples, and these are mentioned in Chinese records as having been erected at the capital during the seventh century. The Chinese, however, do not seem to have been much attracted by fire-worship; and, moreover, it was not long before there were two other rivals in the field.
The Christian schism of Manichæus, which had once been a form of faith dear to St Augustine, enjoyed perhaps a better chance than Mazdaism. Its dualistic theology, in which Satan is represented as co-eternal with God, bore at least sufficient resemblance to the dual system of the positive and negative principles to arrest the attention of the Chinese; and this resemblance seems to have been exploited by the Manichæan missionaries, who preached in China during the seventh century, and during the eighth century had temples at several important centres of population, but were finally suppressed in 843. Our interest in Manichæism has been greatly stimulated in recent days by the discovery of a Manichæan treatise in Chinese, unfortunately of uncertain date. This document was brought by Professor Pelliot from the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas at Tun-huang, in the province of Kansuh, where it had been bricked up for many centuries. From it we gain some interesting information. Not only is it like in form
to a Buddhist sûtra, but it is tinged here and there with traces of Buddhist thought, reminding us how the Buddhists themselves, when they first sought to convert Japan, were careful to begin by canonizing various Shinto or native gods, in order to impart an air of familiarity to the new religion. Taoist influence may also be traced. The opening words, but apparently not very many of them, are lost; we start, however, with a complete question put by a personage who has been identified with Addas, mentioned in the Acta Archelai as the apostle of Manichæism in the East, and answered by Manichæus himself. "Is the original nature of the carnal body," asks Addas, "single or double?" By "double" the questioner seems to refer to the subdivision of the soul into light and dark, the dualism which I have just said was part of the Manichæan system. To this, Manichæus, here called the Envoy of Light, began his reply in the very words of Buddha in the Diamond Sûtra, the Chinese characters being the same in both cases, "Good indeed! Good indeed! In order to benefit the innumerable crowds of living beings, you have addressed to me this query, profound and mysterious. You thus show yourself a good friend to all those living beings of the world who have blindly gone astray, and I will now explain the matter to you in detail, so that the net of doubt in which you are ensnared may be broken for ever without recall. Know, then, that before this world was created, two Envoys of Light, namely, the Holy Ghost and the Good Mother of Life, entered into
the dark abyss of the sunless land, from which they returned victorious, clad in the cuirass of knowledge of the five divisions of bright bodies (the five elements), which they skilfully used to help themselves to get out of the five abysses. The five classes of demons clung to the five elements, as flies cling to honey, like birds caught by bird-lime, or like fishes which have swallowed the hook. Therefore, the Holy Ghost, the Envoy of Light, took the five classes of demons and the five elements, and combining the powers of these in due relation one to the other, made the ten heavens and eight earths of the universe. Thus, the universe is, for the five elements, a druggery where they may be cured, and for the demons, a prison where they may be kept under restraint."
Manichæus goes on to show that the five elements became, as it were, the prison in which the demons were confinedgood and evil in a state of almost chemical union, wherein the traces of each component part are obliterated. The governors of the prison are the five sons of the Holy Ghost, who are expressed by such abstractions as cogitation, intelligence, reflection, thought, arid apprehension. Satan then comes upon the scene; and "when he saw these things, he once more conceived in his poisonous heart a wicked scheme. He ordered two demons, a male and a female, to take upon themselves the likenesses of the Holy Ghost and of the Good Mother, and then to create by magic the body of a man, in imitation of the material universe. Thus, the carnal
body, tainted with the poison of evil passions, although on a tiny scale, yet reproduced in itself every single feature of heaven and earth. . . . Just as when a goldsmith copies the form of an elephant, drawing it inside a finger-ring, and neither adding to it nor taking away from it, so was man made in the exact likeness of the universe." Further, in revenge for the treatment of the demons by the Holy Ghost, Satan conceived another wicked and poisonous plan. He shut up the five bright natures in the carnal body, of which he fashioned a small universe, and so put an end to their independence of action. He also planted five trees of death, in order to disturb as much as possible the original human nature. "Thus, the tree of dark cogitation springs up within the barrier of the bones; its fruit is resentment. The tree of dark intelligence springs up within the barrier of the muscles; its fruit is anger. The tree of dark reflection springs up within the barrier of the veins; its fruit is licentiousness. The tree of dark thought springs up within the barrier of the flesh; its fruit is rage. The tree of dark apprehension springs up within the barrier of the skin; its fruit is folly."
Again, we read that "the Holy Ghost had constructed two bright ships to transport good men over the sea of life and death, back to their original home (with God), so that their brilliantly lighted natures should find peace and happiness at last. When Satan saw this, his mind was at once filled with anger and jealousy; and he proceeded to make
two forms, one male and the other female, after the fashion of the two great bright ships which are the sun and moon, in order to introduce disturbance and confusion into the bright nature of man." The two forms thus constructed by Satan became, as it were, two dark ships, in contrast with the bright ships of the Holy Ghost, and carried their freight of bright human nature into hell, where all sorts of torments were suffered, and from which it was difficult to obtain deliverance. Then, when there comes into the world some Envoy of Light, such as one of the predecessors of Manichæus, who desires to instruct and reform mankind, in order to deliver them from suffering, he begins, we are told, "by causing the sound of the beautiful Word to pass through the portal of the ear; after which he enters into the abodes of false religions, 1 and, relying upon the virtue of spiritual invocation, chains up the crowd of venomous serpents and evil beasts, and no more allows them independence and freedom. Further, armed with the axe of wisdom, he cuts down the poisonous trees, tearing up their very roots, together with all kinds of foul vegetation."
Enough has been said, perhaps, to give an idea of the shape in which Manichæan Christianity was presented to the Chinese people, often confused by them with Mazdaism, the fire-worshipping religion of Zoroaster. As has been already stated, we do not possess the opening words of this treatise, and cannot therefore say if they coincide with the conventional
words with which a Buddhist sûtra begins; but we may fairly infer that such was the case, partly from the remarkable imitation of Buddhist phraseology throughout, and also from the closing sentence, the Chinese text of which, mutatis mutandis, might well be interchanged with that of the Diamond Sûtra:
When Buddha had delivered this sûtra, all the monks and nuns, lay-brothers and lay-sisters, together with all the dêvas and demons in the universe, having heard Buddha's words, rejoiced with one accord, and accepting them with faith, proceeded to put them into practice.
Then, all the members of the great assembly, having heard this sûtra, accepted it with faith and rejoicing, and proceeded to put it into practice.
194:1 Kindly suggested by Prof. A. A. Bevan.