"Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one's mind, that is the teaching of the Awakened. . . .
"Better than Sovereignty over the earth, better than going to heaven, better than lordship over all the worlds is the reward of the first step in holiness."--Dhammapada, verses 178-183.
"Creator, where are these tribunals, where do these courts proceed, where do these courts assemble, where do the tribunals meet to which the man of the embodied world gives an account for his soul?"--Persian Vendidad, xix. 89.
"Hail to thee O Man, who art come from the transitory place to the imperishable!"--Vendidad, farg. vii., 136.
"To the true believer, truth, wherever it appears, is welcome, nor will any doctrine seem the less true or the less precious, because it was seen not only by Moses or Christ, but likewise by Buddha or Lao-tse."--MAX MULLER.
UNLUCKILY for those who would have been glad to render justice to the ancient and modern religious philosophies of the Orient, a fair opportunity has hardly ever been given to them. Of late there has been a touching accord between philologists holding high official positions, and missionaries from heathen lands. Prudence before truth when the latter endangers our sinecures! Besides, how easy to compromise with conscience. A State religion is a prop of government; all State religions are "exploded humbugs"; therefore, since one is as good, or rather as bad, as another, the State religion may as well be supported. Such is the diplomacy of official science.
Grote in his History of Greece, assimilates the Pythagoreans to the Jesuits, and sees in their Brotherhood but an ably-disguised object to acquire political ascendancy. On the loose testimony of Herakleitus and some other writers, who accused Pythagoras of craft, and described him as a man "of extensive research . . . but artful for mischief and destitute of sound judgment," some historical biographers hastened to present him to posterity in such a character.
How then if they must accept the Pythagoras painted by the satirical Timon: "a juggler of solemn speech engaged in fishing for men," can they avoid judging of Jesus from the sketch that Celsus has embalmed in his satire? Historical impartiality has nought to do with creeds and personal beliefs, and exacts as much of posterity for one as for the other. The life and doings of Jesus are far less attested than
those of Pythagoras, if, indeed, we can say that they are attested at all by any historical proof. For assuredly no one will gainsay that as a real personage Celsus has the advantage as regards the credibility of his testimony over Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, or John, who never wrote a line of the Gospels attributed to them respectively. Withal Celsus is at least as good a witness as Herakleitus. He was known as a scholar and a Neo-platonist to some of the Fathers; whereas the very existence of the four Apostles must be taken on blind faith. If Timon regarded the sublime Samian as "a juggler," so did Celsus hold Jesus, or rather those who made all the pretenses for him. In his famous work, addressing the Nazarene, he says: "Let us grant that the wonders were performed by you . . . but are they not common with those who have been taught by the Egyptians to perform in the middle of the forum for a few oboli." And we know, on the authority of the Gospel according to Matthew, that the Galilean prophet was also a man of solemn speech, and that he called himself and offered to make his disciples "fishers of men."
Let it not be imagined that we bring this reproach to any who revere Jesus as God. Whatever the faith, if the worshipper be but sincere, it should be respected in his presence. If we do not accept Jesus as God, we revere him as a man. Such a feeling honors him more than if we were to attribute to him the powers and personality of the Supreme, and credit him at the same time with having played a useless comedy with mankind, as, after all, his mission proves scarcely less than a complete failure; 2,000 years have passed, and Christians do not reckon one-fifth part of the population of the globe, nor is Christianity likely to progress any better in the future. No, we aim but at strict justice, leaving all personality aside. We question those who, adoring neither Jesus, Pythagoras, nor Apollonius, yet recite the idle gossip of their contemporaries; those who in their books either maintain a prudent silence, or speak of "our Saviour" and "our Lord," as though they believed any more in the made-up theological Christ, than in the fabulous Fo of China.
There were no Atheists in those days of old; no disbelievers or materialists, in the modern sense of the word, as there were no bigoted detractors. He who judges the ancient philosophies by their external phraseology, and quotes from ancient writings sentences seemingly atheistical, is unfit to be trusted as a critic, for he is unable to penetrate into the inner sense of their metaphysics. The views of Pyrrho, whose rationalism has become proverbial, can be interpreted only by the light of the oldest Hindu philosophy. From Manu down to the latest Swabhavika, its leading metaphysical feature ever was to proclaim the reality and supremacy of spirit, with a vehemence proportionate to the denial of the objective existence of our material world--passing phantom of
temporary forms and beings. The numerous schools begotten by Kapila, reflect his philosophy no clearer than the doctrines left as a legacy to thinkers by Timon, Pyrrho's "Prophet," as Sextus Empiricus calls him. His views on the divine repose of the soul, his proud indifference to the opinion of his fellow men, his contempt for sophistry, reflect in an equal degree stray beams of the self-contemplation of the Gymnosophists and of the Buddhist Vaibhashika. Notwithstanding that he and his followers are termed, from their state of constant suspense, "skeptics," "doubters," inquirers, and ephectics, only because they postponed their final judgment on dilemmas, with which our modern philosophers prefer dealing, Alexander-like, by cutting the Gordian knot, and then declaring the dilemma a superstition, such men as Pyrrho cannot be pronounced atheists. No more can Kapila, or Giordano Bruno, or again Spinoza, who were also treated as atheists; nor yet, the great Hindu poet, philosopher, and dialectician, Veda-Vyasa, whose principle that all is illusion--save the Great Unknown and His direct essence--Pyrrho has adopted in full.
These philosophical beliefs extended like a net-work over the whole pre-Christian world; and, surviving persecution and misrepresentations, form the corner-stone of every now existing religion outside Christianity.
Comparative theology is a two-edged weapon, and has so proved itself. But the Christian advocates, unabashed by evidence, force comparison in the serenest way; Christian legends and dogmas, they say, do somewhat resemble the heathen, it is true; but see, while the one teaches us the existence, powers, and attributes of an all-wise, all-good Father-God, Brahmanism gives us a multitude of minor gods, and Buddhism none whatever; one is fetishism and polytheism, the other bald atheism. Jehovah is the one true God, and the Pope and Martin Luther are His prophets! This is one edge of the sword, and this the other: Despite missions, despite armies, despite enforced commercial intercourse, the "heathen" find nothing in the teachings of Jesus--sublime though some are--that Christna and Gautama had not taught them before. And so, to gain over any new converts, and keep the few already won by centuries of cunning, the Christians give the "heathen" dogmas more absurd than their own, and cheat them by adopting the habit of their native priests, and practicing the very "idolatry and fetishism" which they so disparage in the "heathens." Comparative theology works both ways.
In Siam and Burmah, Catholic missionaries have become perfect Talapoins to all external appearance, i.e., minus their virtues; and throughout India, especially in the south, they were denounced by their
own colleague, the Abbe Dubois. * This was afterward vehemently denied. But now we have living witnesses to the correctness of the charge. Among others, Captain O'Grady, already quoted, a native of Madras, writes the following on this systematic method of deception: ** "The hypocritical beggars profess total abstinence and horror of flesh to conciliate converts from Hinduism. . . . I got one father, or rather, he got himself gloriously drunk in my house, time and again, and the way he pitched into roast beef was a caution." Further, the author has pretty stories to tell of "black-faced Christs," "Virgins on wheels," and of Catholic processions in general. We have seen such solemn ceremonies accompanied by the most infernal cacophony of a Cingalese orchestra, tam-tam and gongs included, followed by a like Brahmanic procession, which, for its picturesque coloring and mise en scene, looked far more solemn and imposing than the Christian saturnalias. Speaking of one of these, the same author remarks: "It was more devilish than religious. . . . The bishops walked off Romeward, *** with a mighty pile of Peter's pence gathered in the minutest sums, with gold ornaments, nose-rings, anklets, elbow bangles, etc., etc., in profusion, recklessly thrown in heaps at the feet of the grotesque copper-colored image of the Saviour, with its Dutch metal halo and gaudily-striped cummerbund and--shade of Raphael!--blue turban." ****
As every one can see, such voluntary contributions make it quite profitable to mimic the native Brahmans and bonzes. Between the worshippers of Christna and Christ, or Avany and the Virgin Mary, there is less substantial difference, in fact, than between the two native sects, the Vishnavites and the Sivites. For the converted Hindus, Christ is a slightly modified Christna, that is all. Missionaries carry away rich donations and Rome is satisfied. Then comes a year of famine; but the nose-rings and gold elbow-bangles are gone and people starve by thousands. What matters it? They die in Christ, and Rome scatters her blessings over their corpses, of which thousands float yearly down the sacred rivers to the ocean. ***** So servile are the Catholics in their imita-
tion, and so careful not to give offense to their parishioners, that if they happen to have a few higher caste converts in a Church, no pariah nor any man of the lower castes, however good a Christian he may be, can be admitted into the same Church with them. And yet they dare call themselves the servants of Him who sought in preference the society of the publicans and sinners; and whose appeal--"Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" has opened to him the hearts of millions of the suffering and the oppressed!
Few writers are as bold and outspoken as the late lamented Dr. Thomas Inman, of Liverpool, England. But however small their number, these men all agree unanimously, that the philosophy of both Buddhism and Brahmanism must rank higher than Christian theology, and teach neither atheism or fetishism. "To my own mind," says Inman, "the assertion that Sakya did not believe in God is wholly unsupported. Nay, his whole scheme is built upon the belief that there are powers above which are capable of punishing mankind for their sins. It is true that these gods were not called Elohim, nor Jah, nor Jehovah, nor Jahveh, nor Adonai, nor Ehieh, nor Baalim, nor Ashtoreth--yet, for the son of Suddhadana, there was a Supreme Being." *
There are four schools of Buddhist theology, in Ceylon, Thibet, and India. One is rather pantheistical than atheistical, but the other three are purely theistical.
On the first the speculations of our philologists are based. As to the second, third, and the fourth, their teachings vary but in the external mode of expression. We have fully explained the spirit of it elsewhere.
As to practical, not theoretical views on the Nirvana, this is what a rationalist and a skeptic says: "I have questioned at the very doors of their temples several hundreds of Buddhists, and have not found one but strove, fasted, and gave himself up to every kind of austerity, to perfect himself and acquire immortality; not to attain final annihilation.
"There are over 300,000,000 of Buddhists who fast, pray, and toil. . . . Why make of these 300,000,000 of men idiots and fools, macerating their bodies and imposing upon themselves most fearful privations of every nature, in order to reach a fatal annihilation which must overtake them anyhow?" **
As well as this author we have questioned Buddhists and Brahmanists and studied their philosophy. Apavarg has wholly a different meaning
from annihilation. It is but to become more and more like Him, of whom he is one of the refulgent sparks, that is the aspiration of every Hindu philosopher and the hope of the most ignorant is never to yield up his distinct individuality. "Else," as once remarked an esteemed correspondent of the author, "mundane and separate existence would look like God's comedy and our tragedy; sport to Him that we work and suffer, death to us to suffer it."
The same with the doctrine of metempsychosis, so distorted by European scholars. But as the work of translation and analysis progresses, fresh religious beauties will be discovered in the old faiths.
Professor Whitney has in his translation of the Vedas passages in which he says, the assumed importance of the body to its old tenant is brought out in the strongest light. These are portions of hymns read at the funeral services, over the body of the departed one. We quote them from Mr. Whitney's scholarly work:
"Start onward! bring together all thy members;
let not thy limbs be left, nor yet thy body;
Thy spirit gone before, now follow after;
Wherever it delights thee, go thou thither.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Collect thy body; with its every member;
thy limbs with help of rites I fashion for thee.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
If some one limb was left behind by Agni,
When to thy Fathers' world he hence conveyed you,
That very one I now again supply you;
rejoice in heaven with all your limbs, ye Fathers!" *
The "body" here referred to is not the physical, but the astral one--a very great distinction, as may be seen.
Again, belief in the individual existence of the immortal spirit of man is shown in the following verses of the Hindu ceremonial of incremation and burial.
"They who within the sphere of earth are stationed,
or who are settled now in realms of pleasure,
The Fathers who have the earth--the atmosphere--the heaven for their seat,
The 'fore-heaven' the third heaven is styled,
and where the Fathers have their seat."--(Rig-Veda, x.)
With such majestic views as these people held of God and the immortality of man's spirit, it is not surprising that a comparison between the
Vedic hymns and the narrow, unspiritual Mosaic books should result to the advantage of the former in the mind of every unprejudiced scholar. Even the ethical code of Manu is incomparably higher than that of the Pentateuch of Moses, in the literal meaning of which all the uninitiated scholars of two worlds cannot find a single proof that the ancient Jews believed either in a future life or an immortal spirit in man, or that Moses himself ever taught it. Yet, we have eminent Orientalists who begin to suspect that the "dead letter" conceals something not apparent at first sight. So Professor Whitney tells us that "as we look yet further into the forms of the modern Hindu ceremonial we discover not a little of the same discordance between creed and observance; the one is not explained by the other," says this great American scholar. He adds: "We are forced to the conclusion either that India derived its system of rites from some foreign source, and practiced them blindly, careless of their true import, or else that those rites are the production of another doctrine of older date, and have maintained themselves in popular usage after the decay of the creed of which they were the original expression." *
This creed has not decayed, and its hidden philosophy, as understood now by the initiated Hindus, is just as it was 10,000 years ago. But can our scholars seriously hope to have it delivered unto them upon their first demand? Or do they still expect to fathom the mysteries of the World-Religion in its popular exoteric rites?
No orthodox Brahmans and Buddhists would deny the Christian incarnation; only, they understand it in their own philosophical way, and how could they deny it? The very corner-stone of their religious system is periodical incarnations of the Deity. Whenever humanity is about merging into materialism and moral degradation, a Supreme Spirit incarnates himself in his creature selected for the purpose. The "Messenger of the Highest" links itself with the duality of matter and soul, and the triad being thus completed by the union of its Crown, a saviour is born, who helps restore humanity to the path of truth and virtue. The early Christian Church, all imbued with Asiatic philosophy, evidently shared the same belief--otherwise it would have neither erected into an article of faith the second advent, nor cunningly invented the fable of Anti-Christ as a precaution against possible future incarnations. Neither could they have imagined that Melchisedek was an avatar of Christ. They had only to turn to the Bagavedgitta to find Christna or Bhagaved saying to Arjuna: "He who follows me is saved by wisdom and even by works. . . . As often as virtue declines in the world, I make myself manifest to save it."
Indeed, it is more than difficult to avoid sharing this doctrine of periodical incarnations. Has not the world witnessed, at rare intervals, the advent of such grand characters as Christna, Sakya-muni, and Jesus? Like the two latter personages, Christna seems to have been a real being, deified by his school at some time in the twilight of history, and made to fit into the frame of the time-honored religious programme. Compare the two Redeemers, the Hindu and the Christian, the one preceding the other by some thousands of years; place between them Siddhartha Buddha, reflecting Christna and projecting into the night of the future his own luminous shadow, out of whose collected rays were shaped the outlines of the mythical Jesus, and from whose teachings were drawn those of the historical Christos; and we find that under one identical garment of poetical legend lived and breathed three real human figures. The individual merit of each of them is rather brought out in stronger relief than otherwise by this same mythical coloring; for no unworthy character could have been selected for deification by the popular instinct, so unerring and just when left untrammeled. Vox populi, vox Dei was once true, however erroneous when applied to the present priest-ridden mob.
Kapila, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Plato, Basilides, Marcian, Ammonius and Plotinus, founded schools and sowed the germs of many a noble thought, and disappearing left behind them the refulgence of demi-gods. But the three personalities of Christna, Gautama, and Jesus appeared like true gods, each in his epoch, and bequeathed to humanity three religions built on the imperishable rock of ages. That all three, especially the Christian faith, have in time become adulterated, and the latter almost unrecognizable, is no fault of either of the noble Reformers. It is the priestly self-styled husbandmen of the "vine of the Lord" who must be held to account by future generations. Purify the three systems of the dross of human dogmas, the pure essence remaining will be found identical. Even Paul, the great, the honest apostle, in the glow of his enthusiasm either unwittingly perverted the doctrines of Jesus, or else his writings are disfigured beyond recognition. The Talmud, the record of a people who, notwithstanding his apostasy from Judaism, yet feel compelled to acknowledge Paul's greatness as a philosopher and religionist, says of Aher (Paul), *
in the Yerushalmi, that "he corrupted the work of that man"--meaning Jesus. *
Meanwhile, before this smelting is completed by honest science and future generations, let us glance at the present aspect of the legendary three religions.
THE LEGENDS OF THREE SAVIOURS.
Epoch: Uncertain. European science fears to commit itself. But the Brahmanical calculations fix it at about 6,877 years ago.
Christna descends of a royal family, but is brought up by shepherds; is called the Shepherd God. His birth and divine descent are kept secret from Kansa.
An incarnation of Vishnu, the second person of the Trimurti (Trinity). Christna was worshipped at Mathura, on the river Jumna (See Strabo and Arrian and Bampton Lectures, pp. 98-100).
Christna is persecuted by Kansa, Tyrant of Madura, but miraculously escapes. In the hope of destroying the child, the king has thousands of male innocents slaughtered.
Christna's mother was Devaki, or Devanagui, an immaculate virgin (but had given birth to eight sons before Christna).
Epoch: According to European science and the Ceylonese calculations, 2,540 years ago.
Gautama is the son of a king. His first disciples are shepherds and mendicants.
According to some, an incarnation of Vishnu; according to others, an incarnation of one of the Buddhas, and even of Ad'Buddha, the Highest Wisdom.
Buddhist legends are free from this plagiarism, but the Catholic legend that makes of him St. Josaphat, shows his father, king of Kapilavastu, slaying innocent young Christians (!!). (See Golden Legend.)
Buddha's mother was Maya, or Mayadeva; married to her husband (yet an immaculate virgin).
JESUS OF NAZARETH.
Epoch: Supposed to be 1877 years ago. His birth and royal descent are concealed from Herod the tyrant.
Descends of the Royal family of David. Is worshipped by shepherds at his birth, and is called the "Good Shepherd" (See Gospel according to John).
An incarnation of the Holy Ghost, then the second person of the Trinity, now the third. But the Trinity was not invented until 325 years after his birth. Went to Mathura or Matarea, Egypt, and produced his first miracles there (See Gospel of Infancy).
Jesus is persecuted by Herod, King of Judaea, but escapes into Egypt under conduct of an angel. To assure his slaughter, Herod orders a massacre of innocents, and 40,000 were slain.
Jesus' mother was Mariam, or Miriam; married to her husband, yet an immaculate virgin, but had several children besides Jesus. (See Matthew xiii. 55, 56.)
Chistna is endowed with beauty, omniscience, and omnipotence from birth. Produces miracles, cures the lame and blind, and casts out demons. Washes the feet of the Brahmans, and descending to the lowest regions (hell), liberates the dead, and returns to Vaicontha--the paradise of Vishnu. Christna was the God Vishnu himself in human form.
Christna creates boys out of calves, and vice versa (Maurice's Indian Antiquities, vol. ii., p. 332). He crushes the Serpent's head. (Ibid.)
Christna is Unitarian. He persecutes the clergy, charges them with ambition and hypocrisy to their faces, divulges the great secrets of the Sanctuary--the Unity of God and immortality of our spirit. Tradition says he fell a victim to their vengeance. His favorite disciple, Arjuna, never deserts him to the last. There are credible traditions that he died on the cross (a tree), nailed to it by an arrow. The best scholars agree that the Irish Cross at Tuam, erected long before the Christian era, is Asiatic. (See Round Towers, p. 296, et seq., by O'Brien; also Reli gions
Buddha is endowed with the same powers and qualities, and performs similar wonders. Passes his life with mendicants. It is claimed for Gautama that he was distinct from all other Avatars, having the entire spirit of Buddha in him, while all others had but a part (ansa) of the divinity in them.
Gautama crushes the Serpent's head, i.e., abolishes the Naga worship as fetishism; but, like Jesus, makes the Serpent the emblem of divine wisdom.
Buddha abolishes idolatry; divulges the Mysteries of the Unity of God and the Nirvana, the true meaning of which was previously known only to the priests. Persecuted and driven out of the country, he escapes death by gathering about him some hundreds of thousands of believers in his Buddhaship. Finally, dies, surrounded by a host of disciples, with Ananda, his beloved disciple and cousin, chief among them all. O'Brien believes that the Irish Cross at Tuam is meant for Buddha's, but Gautama was never crucified. He is represented in many temples, as sitting
JESUS OF NAZARETH.
Jesus is similarly endowed. (See Gospels and the Apocryphal Testament.) Passes his life with sinners and publicans. Casts out demons likewise. The only notable difference between the three is that Jesus is charged with casting out devils by the power of Beelzebub, which the others were not. Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, dies, descends to hell, and ascends to heaven, after liberating the dead.
Jesus is said to have crushed the Serpent's head, agreeably to original revelation in Genesis. He also transforms boys into kids, and kids into boys. (Gospel of Infancy.)
Jesus rebels against the old Jewish law; denounces the Scribes, and Pharisees, and the synagogue for hypocrisy and dogmatic intolerance. Breaks the Sabbath, and defies the Law. Is accused by the Jews of divulging the secrets of the Sanctuary. Is put to death on a cross (a tree). Of the little handful of disciples whom he had converted, one betrays him, one denies him, and the others desert him at the last, except John--the disciple he loved. Jesus, Christna, and Buddha, all three Saviours, die either on or under trees, and are connected with crosses which
Creuzer's Symbolik, vol. i., p. 208; and engraving in Dr. Lundy's Monumental Christianity, p. 160.
Christna ascends to Swarga and becomes Nirguna.
under a cruciform tree, which is the "Tree of Life." In another image he is sitting on Naga the Raja of Serpents with a cross on his breast. *
Buddha ascends to Nirvana.
JESUS OF NAZARETH.
are symbolical of the three-fold powers of creation.
Jesus ascends to Paradise.
About the middle of the present century, the followers of these three religions were reckoned as follows: **
Such is the present aspect of these three great religions, of which each is in turn reflected in its successor. Had the Christian dogmatizers stopped there, the results would not have been so disastrous, for it would be hard, indeed, to make a bad creed out of the lofty teachings of Gautama, or Christna, as Bhagaved. But they went farther, and added to pure primitive Christianity the fables of Hercules, Orpheus, and Bacchus. As Mussulmans will not admit that their Koran is built on the substratum of the Jewish Bible, so the Christians will not confess that they owe next to everything to the Hindu religions. But the Hindus have chronology to prove it to them. We see the best and most learned of our writers uselessly striving to show that the extraordinary similarities--amounting to identity--between Christna and Christ are due to the spurious Gospels of the Infancy and of St. Thomas having "probably circulated on the coast of Malabar, and giving color to the story of Christna." *** Why not accept truth in all sincerity, and reversing matters, admit that St. Thomas, faithful to that policy of proselytism which marked the earliest Christians, when he found in Malabar the original of the mythical Christ in Christna, tried to blend the two; and, adopting in his gospel (from which all others were copied) the most important details of the story of the Hindu Avatar, engrafted the Christian heresy on the primitive religion of Christna. For any one acquainted with the spirit of Brahmanism, the idea of Brahmans accepting anything from a stranger, especially from a foreigner, is simply ridiculous. That they, the most fanatic people in religious matters, who, during centuries, cannot be compelled to adopt the most simple of European usages, should be suspected of having introduced into their sacred books unverified
legends about a foreign God, is something so preposterously illogical, that it is really waste of time to contradict the idea!
We will not stop to examine the too well-known resemblances between the external form of Buddhistic worship--especially Lamaism--and Roman Catholicism, for noticing which poor Huc paid dear--but proceed to compare the most vital points. Of all the original manuscripts that have been translated from the various languages in which Buddhism is expounded, the most extraordinary and interesting are Buddha's Dhammapada, or Path of Virtue, translated from the Pali by Colonel Rogers, * and the Wheel of the Law, containing the views of a Siamese Minister of State on his own and other religions, and translated by Henry Alabaster. ** The reading of these two books, and the discovery in them of similarities of thought and doctrine often amounting to identity, prompted Dr. Inman to write the many profoundly true passages embodied in one of his last works, Ancient Faith and Modern. *** "I speak with sober earnestness," writes this kind-hearted, sincere scholar, "when I say that after forty years' experience among those who profess Christianity, and those who proclaim . . . more or less quietly their disagreement with it, I have noticed more sterling virtue and morality amongst the last than the first. . . . I know personally many pious, good Christian people, whom I honor, admire, and, perhaps, would be glad to emulate or to equal; but they deserve the eulogy thus passed on them, in consequence of their good sense, having ignored the doctrine of faith to a great degree, and having cultivated the practice of good works. . . . In my judgment the most praiseworthy Christians whom I know are modified Buddhists, though probably, not one of them ever heard of Siddartha." ****
Between the Lamaico-Buddhistic and Roman Catholic articles of faith and ceremonies, there are fifty-one points presenting a perfect and striking similarity; and four diametrically antagonistic.
As it would be useless to enumerate the "similarities," for the reader may find them carefully noted in Inman's work on Ancient Faith and Modern, pp. 237-240, we will quote but the four dissimilarities, and leave every one to draw his own deductions therefrom:
1. "The Buddhists hold that nothing which is contradicted by sound reason can be a true doctrine of Buddha."
1. "The Christians will accept any non-sense, if promulgated by the Church as a matter of faith." *****
2. "The Buddhists do not adore the mother of Sakya," though they honor her as a holy and saint-like woman, chosen to be his mother through her great virtue.
3. "The Buddhists have no sacraments."
4. The Buddhists do not believe in any pardon for their sins, except after an adequate punishment for each evil deed, and a proportionate compensation to the parties injured.
2. "The Romanists adore the mother of Jesus, and prayer is made to her for aid and intercession." The worship of the Virgin has weakened that of Christ and thrown entirely into the shadow that of the Almighty.
3. "The papal followers have seven."
4. The Christians are promised that if they only believe in the "precious blood of Christ," this blood offered by Him for the expiation of the sins of the whole of mankind (read Christians) will atone for every mortal sin.
Which of these theologies most commends itself to the sincere inquirer, is a question that may safely be left to the sound judgment of the reader. One offers light, the other darkness.
The Wheel of the Law has the following:
"Buddhists believe that every act, word, or thought has its consequence, which will appear sooner or later in the present or in the future state. Evil acts will produce evil consequences, * good acts will produce good consequences: prosperity in this world, or birth in heaven . . . in some future state." **
This is strict and impartial justice. This is the idea of a Supreme Power which cannot fail, and therefore, can have neither wrath nor mercy, but leaves every cause, great or small, to work out its inevitable effects. "With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again" *** neither by expression nor implication points to any hope of future mercy or salvation by proxy. Cruelty and mercy are finite feelings. The Supreme Deity is infinite, hence it can only be JUST, and Justice must be blind. The ancient Pagans held on this question far more philosophical views than modern Christians, for they represented their Themis blindfold. And the Siamese author of the work under notice, has again a more reverent conception of the Deity than the Christians have, when he thus gives vent to his thought: "A Buddhist might believe in the existence of a God, sublime above all human qualities and attributes--a perfect God, above love, and hatred, and jealousy, calmly resting in a quiet happiness that nothing could disturb; and of such a God he would speak no disparagement, not from a desire to please Him, or fear to offend Him, but from natural veneration. But he cannot understand a God with the attributes and qualities of men, a God who loves and hates, and shows anger; a Deity, who, whether described to
him by Christian missionaries, or by Mahometans, or Brahmans, or Jews, falls below his standard of even an ordinary good man." *
We have often wondered at the extraordinary ideas of God and His justice that seem to be honestly held by those Christians who blindly rely upon the clergy for their religion, and never upon their own reason. How strangely illogical is this doctrine of the Atonement. We propose to discuss it with the Christians from the Buddhistic stand-point, and show at once by what a series of sophistries, directed toward the one object of tightening the ecclesiastical yoke upon the popular neck, its acceptance as a divine command has been finally effected; also, that it has proved one of the most pernicious and demoralizing of doctrines.
The clergy say: no matter how enormous our crimes against the laws of God and of man, we have but to believe in the self-sacrifice of Jesus for the salvation of mankind, and His blood will wash out every stain. God's mercy is boundless and unfathomable. It is impossible to conceive of a human sin so damnable that the price paid in advance for the redemption of the sinner would not wipe it out if a thousandfold worse. And, furthermore, it is never too late to repent. Though the offender wait until the last minute of the last hour of the last day of his mortal life, before his blanched lips utter the confession of faith, he may go to Paradise; the dying thief did it, and so may all others as vile. These are the assumptions of the Church.
But if we step outside the little circle of creed and consider the universe as a whole balanced by the exquisite adjustment of parts, how all sound logic, how the faintest glimmering sense of Justice revolts against this Vicarious Atonement! If the criminal sinned only against himself, and wronged no one but himself; if by sincere repentance he could cause the obliteration of past events, not only from the memory of man, but also from that imperishable record, which no deity--not even the Supremest of the Supreme--can cause to disappear, then this dogma might not be incomprehensible. But to maintain that one may wrong his fellow-man, kill, disturb the equilibrium of society, and the natural order of things, and then--through cowardice, hope, or compulsion, matters not--be forgiven by believing that the spilling of one blood washes out the other blood spirt--this is preposterous! Can the results of a crime be obliterated even though the crime itself should be pardoned? The effects of a cause are never limited to the boundaries of the cause, nor can the results of crime be confined to the offender and his victim. Every good as well as evil action has its effects, as palpably as the stone flung into a calm water. The simile is trite, but it is the best ever conceived, so let us use
it. The eddying circles are greater and swifter, as the disturbing object is greater or smaller, but the smallest pebble, nay, the tiniest speck, makes its ripples. And this disturbance is not alone visible and on the surface. Below, unseen, in every direction--outward and downward--drop pushes drop until the sides and bottom are touched by the force. More, the air, above the water is agitated, and this disturbance passes, as the physicists tell us, from stratum to stratum out into space forever and ever; an impulse has been given to matter, and that is never lost, can never be recalled! . . .
So with crime, and so with its opposite. The action may be instantaneous, the effects are eternal. When, after the stone is once flung into the pond, we can recall it to the hand, roll back the ripples, obliterate the force expended, restore the etheric waves to their previous state of non-being, and wipe out every trace of the act of throwing the missile, so that Time's record shall not show that it ever happened, then, then we may patiently hear Christians argue for the efficacy of this Atonement.
The Chicago Times recently printed the hangman's record of the first half of the present year (1877)--a long and ghastly record of murders and hangings. Nearly every one of these murderers received religious consolation, and many announced that they had received God's forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, and were going that day to Heaven! Their conversion was effected in prison. See how this ledger-balance of Christian justice (!) stands: These red-handed murderers, urged on by the demons of lust, revenge, cupidity, fanaticism, or mere brutal thirst for blood, slew their victims, in most cases, without giving them time to repent, or call on Jesus to wash them clean with his blood. They, perhaps, died sinful, and, of course,--consistently with theological logic--met the reward of their greater or lesser offenses. But the murderer, overtaken by human justice, is imprisoned, wept over by sentimentalists, prayed with and at, pronounces the charmed words of conversion, and goes to the scaffold a redeemed child of Jesus! Except for the murder, he would not have been prayed with, redeemed, pardoned. Clearly this man did well to murder, for thus he gained eternal happiness? And how about the victim, and his or her family, relatives, dependants, social relations--has justice no recompense for them? Must they suffer in this world and the next, while he who wronged them sits beside the "holy thief" of Calvary and is forever blessed? On this question the clergy keep a prudent silence.
Steve Anderson was one of these American criminals--convicted of double murder, arson, and robbery. Before the hour of his death he was "converted," but, the record tells us that "his clerical attendants objected to his reprieve, on the ground that they felt sure of his salvation
should he die then, but could not answer for it if his execution was postponed." We address these ministers, and ask them to tell us on what grounds they felt sure of such a monstrous thing. How they could feel sure, with the dark future before them, and the endless results of this double murder, arson, and robbery? They could be sure of nothing, but that their abominable doctrine is the cause of three-fourths of the crimes of so-called Christians; that these terrific causes must produce like monstrous effects, which in their turn will beget other results, and so roll on throughout eternity to an accomplishment that no man can calculate.
Or take another crime, one of the most selfish, cruel, and heartless, and yet the most frequent, the seduction of a young girl. Society, by an instinct of self-preservation, pitilessly judges the victim, and ostracizes her. She may be driven to infanticide, or self-murder, or if too averse to die, live to plunge into a career of vice and crime. She may become the mother of criminals, who, as in the now celebrated Jukes, of whose appalling details Mr. Dugdale has published the particulars, breed other generations of felons to the number of hundreds, in fifty or sixty years. All this social disaster came through one man's selfish passion; shall he be forgiven by Divine Justice until his offense is expiated, and punishment fall only upon the wretched human scorpions begotten of his lust?
An outcry has just been made in England over the discovery that Anglican priests are largely introducing auricular confession and granting absolution after enforcing penances. Inquiry shows the same thing prevailing more or less in the United States. Put to the ordeal of cross-examination, the clergy quote triumphantly from the English Book of Common Prayer the rubrics which clearly give them the absolving authority, through the power of "God, the Holy Ghost," committed unto them by the bishop by imposition of hands at their ordination. The bishop, questioned, points to Matthew xvi., 19, for the source of his authority to bind and loose on earth those who are to be blessed or damned in heaven; and to the apostolic succession for proof of its transmission from Simon Barjona to himself. The present volumes have been written to small purpose if they have not shown, 1, that Jesus, the Christ-God, is a myth concocted two centuries after the real Hebrew Jesus died; 2, that, therefore, he never had any authority to give Peter, or any one else, plenary power; 3, that even if he had given such authority, the word Petra (rock) referred to the revealed truths of the Petroma, not to him who thrice denied him; and that besides, the apostolic successon is a gross and palpable fraud; 4, that the Gospel according to Matthew is a fabrication based upon a wholly different manuscript. The whole thing, therefore, is an imposition alike upon priest and penitent. But putting all these points aside for the moment, it suffices to ask these pretended
agents of the three gods of the Trinity, how they reconcile it with the most rudimental notions of equity, that if the power to pardon sinners for sinning has been given them, they did not also receive the ability by miracle to obliterate the wrongs done against person or property. Let them restore life to the murdered; honor to the dishonored; property to those who have been wronged, and force the scales of human and divine justice to recover their equilibrium. Then we may talk of their divine commission to bind and loose. Let them say, if they can do this. Hitherto the world has received nothing but sophistry--believed on blind faith; we ask palpable, tangible evidence of their God's justice and mercy. But all are silent; no answer, no reply, and still the inexorable unerring Law of Compensation proceeds on its unswerving path. If we but watch its progress, we will find that it ignores all creeds, shows no preferences, but its sunlight and its thunderbolts fall alike on heathen and Christian. No absolution can shield the latter when guilty, no anathema hurt the former when innocent.
Away from us such an insulting conception of divine justice as that preached by priests on their own authority. It is fit only for cowards and criminals! If they are backed by a whole array of Fathers and Churchmen, we are supported by the greatest of all authorities, an instinctive and reverential sense of the everlasting and everpresent law of harmony and justice.
But, besides that of reason, we have other evidence to show that such a construction is wholly unwarranted. The Gospels being "Divine revelation," doubtless Christians will regard their testimony as conclusive. Do they affirm that Jesus gave himself as a voluntary sacrifice? On the contrary, there is not a word to sustain the idea. They make it clear that he would rather have lived to continue what he considered his mission, and that he died because he could not help it, and only when betrayed. Before, when threatened with violence, he had made himself invisible by employing the mesmeric power over the bystanders, claimed by every Eastern adept, and escaped. When, finally, he saw that his time had come, he succumbed to the inevitable. But see him in the garden, on the Mount of Olives, writhing in agony until "his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood," praying with fervid supplication that the cup might be removed from him; exhausted by his struggle to such a degree that an angel from heaven had to come and strengthen him; and say if the picture is that of a self-immolating hostage and martyr. To crown all, and leave no lingering doubt in our minds, we have his own despairing words, "NOT MY WILL, but thine, be done!" (Luke xxii. 42. 43.)
Again, in the Puranas it may be found that Christna was nailed to a tree by the arrow of a hunter, who, begging the dying god to forgive
him, receives the following answer: "Go, hunter, through my favor, to Heaven, the abode of the gods. . . . Then the illustrious Christna, having united himself with his own pure, spiritual, inexhaustible, inconceivable, unborn, undecaying, imperishable, and universal Spirit, which is one with Vasudeva, abandoned his mortal body, and . . . he became Nirguna" (Wilson's Vishnu Purana, p. 612). Is not this the original of the story of Christ forgiving the thief on the cross, and promising him a place in Heaven? Such examples "challenge inquiry as to their origin and meaning so long anterior to Christianity," says Dr. Lundy in Monumental Christianity, and yet to all this he adds: "The idea of Krishna as a shepherd, I take to be older than either (the Gospel of Infancy and that of St. John), and prophetic of Christ" (p. 156).
Facts like these, perchance, furnished later a plausible pretext for declaring apocryphal all such works as the Homilies, which proved but too clearly the utter want of any early authority for the doctrine of atonement. The Homilies clash but little with the Gospels; they disagree entirely with the dogmas of the Church. Peter knew nothing of the atonement; and his reverence for the mythical father Adam would never have allowed him to admit that this patriarch had sinned and was accursed. Neither do the Alexandrian theological schools appear to have been cognizant of this doctrine, nor Tertullian; nor was it discussed by any of the earlier Fathers. Philo represents the story of the Fall as symbolical, and Origen regarded it the same way as Paul, as an allegory. *
Whether they will or not, the Christians have to credit the foolish story of Eve's temptation by a serpent. Besides, Augustine has formally pronounced upon the subject. "God, by His arbitrary will," he says, "has selected beforehand certain persons, without regard to foreseen faith or good actions, and has irretrievably ordained to bestow upon them eternal happiness; while He has condemned others in the same way to eternal reprobation"!! (De dono perseverantae). **
Calvin promulgated views of Divine partiality and bloodthirstiness equally abhorrent. "The human race, corrupted radically in the fall with Adam, has upon it the guilt and impotence of original sin; its redemption can be achieved only through an incarnation and a propitiation; of this redemption only electing grace can make the soul a participant, and such grace, once given, is never lost; this election can come only from God, and it includes only a part of the race, the rest being left to perdition; election and perdition (the horribile decretum) are both predestinated in the Divine plan; that plan is a decree, and this decree is eternal and unchangeable . . . justification is by faith alone, and faith is the gift of God."
O Divine Justice, how blasphemed has been thy name! Unfortunately for all such speculations, belief in the propitiatory efficacy of blood can be traced to the oldest rites. Hardly a nation remained ignorant of it. Every people offered animal and even human sacrifices to the gods, in the hope of averting thereby public calamity, by pacifying the wrath of some avenging deity. There are instances of Greek and Roman generals offering their lives simply for the success of their army. Caesar complains of it, and calls it a superstition of the Gauls. "They devote themselves to death . . . believing that unless life is rendered for life the immortal gods cannot be appeased," he writes. "If any evil is about to befall either those who now sacrifice, or Egypt, may it be averted on this head," was pronounced by the Egyptian priests when sacrificing one of their sacred animals. And imprecations were uttered over the head of the expiatory victim, around whose horns a piece of byblus was rolled. * The animal was generally led to some barren region, sacred to Typhon, in those primitive ages when this fatal deity was yet held in a certain consideration by the Egyptians. It is in this custom that lies the origin of the "scape-goat" of the Jews, who, when the rufous ass-god was rejected by the Egyptians, began sacrificing to another deity the "red heifer."
"Let all sins that have been committed in this world fall on me that the world may be delivered," exclaimed Gautama, the Hindu Saviour, centuries before our era.
No one will pretend to assert in our own age that it was the Egyptians who borrowed anything from the Israelites, as they now accuse the Hindus of doing. Bunsen, Lepsius, Champollion, have long since established the precedence of Egypt over the Israelites in age as well as in all the religious rites that we now recognize among the "chosen people." Even the New Testament teems with quotations and repetitions from the Book of the Dead, and Jesus, if everything attributed to him by his four biographers is true--must have been acquainted with the Egyptian Funereal Hymns. * In the Gospel according to Matthew we find whole sentences from the ancient and sacred Ritual which preceded our era by more than 4,000 years. We will again compare. **
The "soul" under trial is brought before Osiris, the "Lord of Truth," who sits decorated with the Egyptian cross, emblem of eternal life, and holding in his right hand the Vannus or the flagellum of justice. *** The spirit begins, in the "Hall of the Two Truths," an earnest appeal, and enumerates its good deeds, supported by the responses of the forty-two assessors--its incarnated deeds and accusers. If justified, it is addressed as Osiris, thus assuming the appellation of the Deity whence its divine essence proceeded, and the following words, full of majesty and justice, are pronounced! "Let the Osiris go; ye see he is without fault. . . . He lived on truth, he has fed on truth. . . . The god has welcomed him as he desired. He has given food to my hungry, drink to my thirsty ones, clothes to my naked. . . . He has made the sacred food of the gods the meat of the spirits."
In the parable of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew xxv.), the Son of Man (Osiris is also called the Son) sits upon the throne of his glory, judging the nations, and says to the justified, "Come ye blessed of my Father (the God) inherit the kingdom. . . . For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink . . . naked and
ye clothed me." * To complete the resemblance (Matthew iii. 12): John is made to describe Christ as Osiris, "whose fan (winnow or vannus) is in his hand, and who will "purge his floor and gather his wheat into the garner."
The same in relation to Buddhist legends. In Matthew iv. 19, Jesus is made to say: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men," the whole adapted to a conversation between him and Simon Peter and Andrew his brother.
In Schmidt's "Der Weise und der Thor," ** a work full of anecdotes about Buddha and his disciples, the whole from original texts, it is said of a new convert to the faith, that "he had been caught by the hook of the doctrine, just as a fish, who has caught at the bait and line is securely pulled out." In the temples of Siam the image of the expected Buddha, the Messiah Maitree, is represented with a fisherman's net in the hand, while in Thibet he holds a kind of a trap. The explanation of it reads as follows: "He (Buddha) disseminates upon the Ocean of birth and decay the Lotus-flower of the excellent law as a bait; with the loop of devotion, never cast out in vain, he brings living beings up like fishes, and carries them to the other side of the river, where there is true understanding." ***
Had the erudite Archbishop Cave, Grabe, and Dr. Parker, who so zealously contended in their time for the admission of the Epistles of Jesus Christ and Abgarus, King of Edessa, into the Canon of the Scripture, lived in our days of Max Muller and Sanscrit scholarship, we doubt whether they would have acted as they did. The first mention of these Epistles ever made, was by the famous Eusebius. This pious bishop seems to have been self-appointed to furnish Christianity with the most unexpected proofs to corroborate its wildest fancies. Whether
among the many accomplishments of the Bishop of Caesarea, we must include a knowledge of the Cingalese, Pehlevi, Thibetan, and other languages, we know not; but he surely transcribed the letters of Jesus and Abgarus, and the story of the miraculous portrait of Christ taken on a piece of cloth, by the simple wiping of his face, from the Buddhistical Canon. To be sure, the bishop declared that he found the letter himself written in Syriac, preserved among the registers and records of the city of Edessa, where Abgarus reigned. * We recall the words of Babrias: "Myth, O son of King Alexander, is an ancient human invention of Syrians, who lived in old time under Ninus and Belus." Edessa was one of the ancient "holy cities." The Arabs venerate it to this day; and the purest Arabic is there spoken. They call it still by its ancient name Orfa, once the city Arpha-Kasda (Arphaxad) the seat of a College of Chaldeans and Magi; whose missionary, called Orpheus, brought thence the Bacchic Mysteries to Thrace. Very naturally, Eusebius found there the tales which he wrought over into the story of Abgarus, and the sacred picture taken on a cloth; as that of Bhagavat, or the blessed Tathagata (Buddha) ** was obtained by King Binsbisara. *** The King having brought it, Bhagavat projected his shadow on it. **** This bit of "miraculous stuff," with its shadow, is still preserved, say the Buddhists; "only the shadow itself is rarely seen."
In like manner, the Gnostic author of the Gospel according to John, copied and metamorphosed the legend of Ananda who asked drink of a Matangha woman--the antitype of the woman met by Jesus at the well, *****
and was reminded by her that she belongs to a low caste, and may have nothing to do with a holy monk. "I do not ask thee, my sister," answers Ananda to the woman, "either thy caste or thy family, I only ask thee for water, if thou canst give me some." This Matangha woman, charmed and moved to tears, repents, joins the monastic Order of Gautama, and becomes a saint, rescued from a life of unchastity by Sakya-muni. Many of her subsequent actions were used by Christian forgers, to endow Mary Magdalen and other female saints and martyrs.
"And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward," says the Gospel (Matthew x. 42). "Whosoever, with a purely believing heart, offers nothing but a handful of water, or presents so much to the spiritual assembly, or gives drink therewith to the poor and needy, or to a beast of the field; this meritorious action will not be exhausted in many ages," * says the Buddhist Canon.
At the hour of Gautama-Buddha's birth there were 32,000 wonders performed. The clouds stopped immovable in the sky, the waters of the rivers ceased to flow; the flowers ceased unbudding; the birds remained
silent and full of wonder; all nature remained suspended in her course, and was full of expectation. "There was a preternatural light spread all over the world; animals suspended their eating; the blind saw; and the lame and dumb were cured," etc. *
We now quote from the Protevangelion:
"At the hour of the Nativity, as Joseph looked up into the air, 'I saw,' he says, 'the clouds astonished, and the fowls of the air stopping in the midst of their flight. . . . And I beheld the sheep dispersed . . . and yet the sheep stood still; and I looked into a river, and saw the kids with their mouths close to the water, and touching it, but they did not drink.
"Then a bright cloud overshadowed the cave. But on a sudden the cloud became a great light in the cave, so that their eyes could not bear it. . . . The hand of Salome, which was withered, was straightway cured. . . . The blind saw; the lame and dumb were cured." **
When sent to school, the young Gautama, without having ever studied, completely worsted all his competitors; not only in writing, but in arithmetic, mathematics, metaphysics, wrestling, archery, astronomy, geometry, and finally vanquishes his own professors by giving the definition of sixty-four kinds of writings, which were unknown to the masters themselves. ***
And this is what is said again in the Gospel of the Infancy: "And when he (Jesus) was twelve years old . . . a certain principal Rabbi asked him, 'Hast thou read books?' and a certain astronomer asked the Lord Jesus whether he had studied astronomy. And Lord Jesus explained to him . . . about the spheres . . . about the physics and metaphysics. Also things that reason of man had never discovered. . . . The constitutions of the body, how the soul operated upon the body, . . . etc. And at this the master was so surprised that he said: 'I believe this boy was born before Noah . . . he is more learned than any master.' " ****
The precepts of Hillel, who died forty years B. C., appear rather as quotations than original expressions in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus taught the world nothing that had not been taught as earnestly before by other masters. He begins his sermon with certain purely Buddhistic
precepts that had found acceptance among the Essenes, and were generally practiced by the Orphikoi, and the Neo-platonists. There were the Philhellenes, who, like Apollonius, had devoted their lives to moral and physical purity, and who practiced asceticism. He tries to imbue the hearts of his audience with a scorn for worldly wealth; a fakir-like unconcern for the morrow; love for humanity, poverty, and chastity. He blesses the poor in spirit, the meek, the hungering and the thirsting after righteousness, the merciful and the peace-makers, and, Buddha-like, leaves but a poor chance for the proud castes to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Every word of his sermon is an echo of the essential principles of monastic Buddhism. The ten commandments of Buddha, as found in an appendix to the Pratimoksha Sutra (Pali-Burman text), are elaborated to their full extent in Matthew. If we desire to acquaint ourselves with the historical Jesus we have to set the mythical Christ entirely aside, and learn all we can of the man in the first Gospel. His doctrines, religious views, and grandest aspirations will be found concentrated in his sermon.
This is the principal cause of the failure of missionaries to convert Brahmanists and Buddhists. These see that the little of really good that is offered in the new religion is paraded only in theory, while their own faith demands that those identical rules shall be applied in practice. Notwithstanding the impossibility for Christian missionaries to understand clearly the spirit of a religion wholly based on that doctrine of emanation which is so inimical to their own theology, the reasoning powers of some simple Buddhistical preachers are so high, that we see a scholar like Gutzlaff, * utterly silenced and put to great straits by Buddhists. Judson, the famous Baptist missionary in Burmah, confesses, in his Journal, the difficulties to which he was often driven by them. Speaking of a certain Ooyan, he remarks that his strong mind was capable of grasping the most difficult subjects. "His words," he remarks, "are as smooth as oil, as sweet as honey, and as sharp as razors; his mode of reasoning is soft, insinuating, and acute; and so adroitly does he act his part, that I with the strength of truth, was scarcely able to keep him down." It appears though, that at a later period of his mission, Mr. Judson found that he had utterly mistaken the doctrine. "I begin to find," he says, "that the semi-atheism, which I had sometimes mentioned, is nothing but a refined Buddhism, having its foundation in the Buddhistic Scriptures." Thus he discovered at last that while there is in Buddhism "a generic term of most exalted perfection actually applied to numerous individuals, a Buddha superior to the whole host of subordinate deities," there are also lurking in the
system "the glimmerings of an anima mundi anterior to, and even superior to, Buddha." *
This is a happy discovery, indeed!
Even the so-slandered Chinese believe in One, Highest God. "The Supreme Ruler of Heavens." Yuh-Hwang-Shang-ti, has his name inscribed only on the golden tablet before the altar of heaven at the great temple at Pekin, T'Iantan. "This worship," says Colonel Yule, "is mentioned by the Mahometan narrator of Shah Rukh's embassy (A.D. 1421): 'Every year there are some days on which the emperor eats no animal food. . . . He spends his time in an apartment which contains no idol, and says that he is worshipping the God of Heaven.' " **
Speaking of Shahrastani, the great Arabian scholar, Chwolsohn says that for him Sabaeism was not astrolatry, as many are inclined to think. He thought "that God is too sublime and too great to occupy Himself with the immediate management of this world; that He has, therefore, transferred the government thereof to the gods, and retained only the most important affairs for Himself; that further, man is too weak to be able to apply immediately to the Highest; that he must, therefore, address his prayers and sacrifices to the intermediate divinities, to whom the management of the world has been entrusted by the Highest." Chwolsohn argues that this idea is as old as the world, and that "in the heathen world this view was universally shared by the cultivated." ***
Father Boori, a Portuguese missionary, who was sent to convert the "poor heathen" of Cochin-China, as early as the sixteenth century, "protests in despair, in his narrative, that there is not a dress, office, or ceremony in the Church of Rome, to which the Devil has not here provided some counterpart. Even when the Father began inveighing against the idols, he was answered that these were the images of departed great men, whom they worshipped exactly on the same principle, and in the same manner, as the Catholics did the images of the apostles and martyrs." **** Moreover, these idols have importance but in the eyes of the ignorant multitudes. The philosophy of Buddhism ignores images and fetishes. Its strongest vitality lies in its psychological conceptions of man's inner self. The road to the supreme state of felicity, called the Ford of Nirvana, winds its invisible paths through the spiritual, not physical life of a person while on this earth. The sacred Buddhistical literature points the way by stimulating man to follow practically the example of Gautama.
Therefore, the Buddhistical writings lay a particular stress on the spiritual privileges of man, advising him to cultivate his powers for the production of Meipo (phenomena) during life, and for the attainment of Nirvana in the hereafter.
But turning again from the historical to the mythical narratives, invented alike about Christna, Buddha, and Christ, we find the following:
Setting a model for the Christian avatar and the archangel Gabriel to follow, the luminous San-tusita (Bodhisat) appeared to Maha-maya 'like a cloud in the moonlight, coming from the north, and in his hand holding a white lotus.' He announced to her the birth of her son, and circumambulating the queen's couch thrice . . . passed away from the dewa-loka and was conceived in the world of men. * The resemblance will be found still more perfect upon examining the illustrations in mediaeval psalters, ** and the panel-paintings of the sixteenth century (in the Church of Jouy, for instance, in which the Virgin is represented kneeling, with her hands uplifted toward the Holy Ghost, and the unborn child is miraculously seen through her body), and then finding the same subject treated in the identical way in the sculptures in certain convents in Thibet. In the Pali-Buddhistic annals, and other religious records, it is stated that Maha-devi and all her attendants were constantly "gatified with the sight of the infant Bodhisatva quietly developing within his mother's bosom, and beaming already, from his place of gestation, upon humanity "the resplendent moonshine of his future benevolence." ***
Ananda, the cousin and future disciple of Sakya-muni, is represented as having been born at the same time. He appears to have been the original for the old legends about John the Baptist. For example, the Pali narrative relates that Maha-maya, while pregnant with the sage, paid a visit to his mother, as Mary did to the mother of the Baptist. Immediately, as she entered the apartment, the unborn Ananda greeted the unborn Buddha-Siddhartha, who also returned the salutation; and in like manner the babe, afterward John the Baptist, leaped in the womb of Elizabeth when Mary came in. **** More even that that; for Didron describes a scene of salutation, painted on shutters at Lyons, between Elizabeth and Mary, in which the two unborn infants, both pictured as outside their mothers, are also saluting each other. *****
If we turn now to Christna and attentively compare the prophecies respecting him, as collected in the Ramatsariarian traditions of the
Atharva, the Vedangas, and the Vedantas, * with passages in the Bible and apocryphal Gospels, of which it is pretended that some presage the coming of Christ, we shall find very curious facts. Following are examples:
FROM THE HINDU BOOKS.
1st. "He (the Redeemer) shall come, crowned with lights, the pure fluid issuing from the great soul . . . dispersing darkness" (Atharva).
2d. "In the early part of the Kali-Yuga shall be born the son of the Virgin" (Vedanta).
3d. "The Redeemer shall come, and the accursed Rakhasas shall fly for refuge to the deepest hell" (Atharva).
4th. "He shall come, and life will defy death . . . and he shall revivify the blood of all beings, shall regenerate all bodies, and purify all souls."
5th. "He shall come, and all animated beings, all the flowers, plants, men, women, the infants, the slaves . . . shall together intone the chant of joy, for he is the Lord of all creatures . . . he is infinite, for he is power, for he is wisdom, for he is beauty, for he is all and in all."
6th. "He shall come, more sweet than honey and ambrosia, more pure than the lamb without spot" (Ibid.).
7th. "Happy the blest womb that shall bear him" (Ibid.).
8th. "And God shall manifest His glory, and make His power resound, and shall reconcile Himself with His creatures" (Ibid.).
9th. "It is in the bosom of a woman that the ray of the Divine splendor will receive human form, and she shall bring forth, being a virgin, for no impure contact shall have defiled her" (Vedangas).
FROM THE CHRISTIAN BOOKS.
1st. "The people of Galilee of the Gentiles which sat in darkness saw great light" (Matthew iv. from Isaiah ix. 1, 2).
2d. "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son" (Isaiah vii. quoted in Matthew i. 23).
3d. "Behold, now, Jesus of Nazareth, with the brightness of his glorious divinity, put to flight all the horrid powers of darkness" (Nicodemus).
4th. "And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (John x. 28).
5th. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, thy King cometh unto thee . . . he is just . . . for how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! Corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids" (Zechariah ix.).
6th. "Behold the lamb of God" (John i. 36). "He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53).
7th. "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Luke i.); "Blessed is the womb that bare thee" (xi. 27).
8th. "God manifested forth His glory" (John, 1st Ep.).
"God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Corinth. v.).
9th. "Being an unparalleled instance, without any pollution or defilement, and a virgin shall bring forth a son, and a maid shall bring forth the Lord" (Gospel of Mary, iii.).
Let there be exaggeration or not in attributing to the Atharva-Veda and the other books such a great antiquity, the fact remains that these prophecies and their realization preceded Christianity, and Christna preceded Christ. That is all we need care to inquire.
One is completely overwhelmed with astonishment upon reading Dr. Lundy's Monumental Christianity. It would be difficult to say whether an admiration for the author's erudition, or amazement at his serene and unparalleled sophistry is stronger. He has gathered a world of facts which prove that the religions, far more ancient than Christianity, of Christna, Buddha, and Osiris had anticipated even its minutest symbols. His materials come from no forged papyri, no interpolated Gospels, but from sculptures on the walls of ancient temples, from monuments, inscriptions, and other archaic relics, only mutilated by the hammers of iconoclasts, the cannon of fanatics, and the effects of time. He shows us Christna and Apollo as good shepherds; Christna holding the cruciform chank and the chakra, and Christna "crucified in space," as he calls it (Monumental Christianity, fig. 72). Of this figure--borrowed by Dr. Lundy from Moor's Hindu Pantheon--it may be truly said that it is calculated to petrify a Christian with astonishment, for it is the crucified Christ of Romish art to the last degree of resemblance. Not a feature is lacking; and, the author says of it himself: "This representation I believe to be anterior to Christianity. . . . It looks like a Christian crucifix in many respects. . . . The drawing, the attitude, the nail-marks in hands and feet, indicate a Christian origin, while the Parthian coronet of seven points, the absence of the wood, and of the usual inscription, and the rays of glory above, would seem to point to some other than a Christian origin. Can it be the victim-man, or the priest and victim both in one, of the Hindu Mythology, who offered himself a sacrifice before the worlds were? Can it be Plato's Second God who impressed himself on the universe in the form of the cross? Or is it his divine man who would be scourged, tormented, fettered; have his eyes burnt out; and lastly . . . would be crucified?" (Republic, c. ii., p. 52, Spens. Trans.). It is all that and much more; Archaic Religious Philosophy was universal.
As it is, Dr. Lundy contradicts Moor, and maintains that this figure is that of Wittoba, one of the avatars of Vishnu, hence Christna, and anterior to Christianity, which is a fact not very easily to be put down. And yet although he finds it prophetic of Christianity, he thinks it has no relation whatever to Christ! His only reason is that "in a Christian crucifix the glory always comes from the sacred head; here it is from above and beyond. . . . The Pundit's Wittoba then, given to Moor, would seem to be the crucified Krishna, the shepherd-god of Mathura
. . . a Saviour--the Lord of the Covenant, as well as Lord of Heaven and earth--pure and impure, light and dark, good and bad, peaceful and war-like, amiable and wrathful, mild and turbulent, forgiving and vindictive, God and a strange mixture of man, but not the Christ of the Gospels."
Now all these qualities must pertain to Jesus as well as to Christna. The very fact that Jesus was a man upon the mother's side--even though he were a God, implies as much. His behavior toward the fig-tree, and his self-contradictions, in Matthew, where at one time he promises peace on earth, and at another the sword, etc., are proofs in this direction. Undoubtedly this cut was never intended to represent Jesus of Nazareth. It was Wittoba, as Moor was told, and as moreover the Hindu Sacred Scriptures state, Brahma, the sacrificer who is "at once both sacrificer and victim"; it is "Brahma, victim in His Son Christna, who came to die on earth for our salvation, who Himself accomplishes the solemn sacrifice (of the Sarvameda)." And yet, it is the man Jesus as well as the man Christna, for both were united to their Chrestos.
Thus we have either to admit periodical "incarnations," or let Christianity go as the greatest imposture and plagiarism of the ages!
As to the Jewish Scriptures, only such men as the Jesuit de Carriere, a convenient representative of the majority of the Catholic clergy, can still command their followers to accept only the chronology established by the Holy Ghost. It is on the authority of the latter that we learn that Jacob went, with a family of seventy persons, all told, to settle in Egypt in A.M. 2298, and that in A.M. 2513--just 215 years afterward--these seventy persons had so increased that they left Egypt 600,000 fighting men strong, "without counting women and children," which, according to the science of statistics, should represent a total population of between two and three millions!! Natural history affords no parallel to such fecundity, except in red herrings. After this let the Christian missionaries laugh, if they can, at Hindu chronology and computations.
"Happy are those persons, but not to be envied," exclaims Bunsen, "who have no misgivings about making Moses march out with more than two millions of people at the end of a popular conspiracy and rising, in the sunny days of the eighteenth dynasty; who make the Israelites conquer Kanaan under Joshua, during and previous to the most formidable campaigns of conquering Pharaohs in that same country. The Egyptian and Assyrian annals, combined with the historical criticism of the Bible, prove that the exodus could only have taken place under Menephthah, so that Joshua could not have crossed the Jordan before Easter 1280, the last campaign of Ramses III. in Palestine being in 1281." *
But we must resume the thread of our narrative with Buddha.
Neither he nor Jesus ever wrote one word of their doctrines. We have to take the teachings of the masters on the testimony of the disciples, and therefore it is but fair that we should be allowed to judge both doctrines on their intrinsic value. Where the logical preponderance lies, may be seen in the results of frequent encounters between Christian missionaries and Buddhist theologians (pungui). The latter usually, if not invariably, have the better of their opponents. On the other hand, the "Lama of Jehovah" rarely fails to lose his temper, to the great delight of the Lama of Buddha, and practically demonstrates his religion of patience, mercy, and charity, by abusing his disputant in the most uncanonical language. This we have witnessed repeatedly.
Despite the notable similarity of the direct teachings of Gautama and Jesus, we yet find their respective followers starting from two diametrically opposite points. The Buddhist divine, following literally the ethical doctrine of his master, remains thus true to the legacy of Gautama; while the Christian minister, distorting the precepts recorded by the four Gospels beyond recognition, teaches, not that which Jesus taught, but the absurd, too often pernicious, interpretations of fallible men--Popes, Luthers, and Calvins included. The following are two instances selected from both religions, and brought into contrast. Let the reader judge for himself:
"Do not believe in anything because it is rumored and spoken of by many," says Buddha; "do not think that is a proof of its truth.
"Do not believe merely because the written statement of some old sage is produced; do not be sure that the writing has ever been revised by the said sage, or can be relied on. Do not believe in what you have fancied, thinking that, because an idea is extraordinary, it must have been implanted by a Deva, or some wonderful being.
"Do not believe in guesses, that is, assuming something at hap-hazard as a starting-point, and then drawing conclusions from it--reckoning your two and your three and your four before you have fixed your number one.
"Do not believe merely on the authority of your teachers and masters, or believe and practice merely because they believe and practice.
"I [Buddha] tell you all, you must of yourselves know that this is evil, this is punishable, this is censured by wise men; belief in this will bring no advantage to any one, but will cause sorrow; and when you know this, then eschew it." *
It is impossible to avoid contrasting with these benevolent and human sentiments, the fulminations of the OEcumenical Council and the Pope,
against the employment of reason, and the pursuit of science when it clashes with revelation. The atrocious Papal benediction of Moslem arms and cursing of the Russian and Bulgarian Christians have roused the indignation of some of the most devoted Catholic communities. The Catholic Czechs of Prague on the day of the recent semi-centennial jubilee of Pius IX., and again on the 6th of July, the day sacred to the memory of John Huss, the burned martyr, to mark their horror of the Ultramontane policy in this respect, gathered by thousands upon the neighboring Mount Zhishko, and with great ceremony and denunciations, burned the Pope's portrait, his Syllabus, and last allocution against the Russian Czar, saying that they were good Catholics, but better Slavs. Evidently, the memory of John Huss is more sacred to them than the Vatican Popes.
"The worship of words is more pernicious than the worship of images," remarks Robert Dale Owen. "Grammatolatry is the worst species of idolatry. We have arrived at an era in which literalism is destroying faith. . . . The letter killeth." *
There is not a dogma in the Church to which these words can be better applied than to the doctrine of transubstantiation. ** "Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life," Christ is made to say. "This is a hard saying," repeated his dismayed listeners. The answer was that of an initiate. "Doth this offend you? It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words (remata, or arcane utterances) that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life."
During the Mysteries wine represented Bacchus, and bread Ceres. ***
The hierophant-initiator presented symbolically before the final revelation wine and bread to the candidate who had to eat and drink of both in token that the spirit was to quicken matter, i.e., the divine wisdom was to enter into his body through what was to be revealed to him. Jesus, in his Oriental phraseology, constantly assimilated himself to the true vine (John xv. 1). Furthermore, the hierophant, the discloser of the Petroma, was called "Father." When Jesus says, "Drink . . . this is my blood," what else was meant, it was simply a metaphorical assimilation of himself to the vine, which bears the grape, whose juice is its blood--wine. It was a hint that as he had himself been initiated by the "Father," so he desired to initiate others. His "Father" was the husbandman, himself the vine, his disciples the branches. His followers being ignorant of the terminology of the Mysteries, wondered; they even took it as an offense, which is not surprising, considering the Mosaic injunction against blood.
There is quite enough in the four gospels to show what was the secret and most fervent hope of Jesus; the hope in which he began to teach, and in which he died. In his immense and unselfish love for humanity, he considers it unjust to deprive the many of the results of the knowledge acquired by the few. This result he accordingly preaches--the unity of a spiritual God, whose temple is within each of us, and in whom we live as He lives in us--in Spirit. This knowledge was in the hands of the Jewish adepts of the school of Hillel and the kabalists. But the "scribes," or lawyers, having gradually merged into the dogmatism of the dead letter, had long since separated themselves from the Tanaim, the true spiritual teachers; and the practical kabalists were more or less persecuted by the Synagogue. Hence, we find Jesus exclaiming: "Woe unto you lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge [the Gnosis]: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering ye prevented" (Luke xi. 52). The meaning here is clear. They did take the key away, and could not even profit by it themselves, for the Masorah (tradition) had become a closed book to themselves as well as to others.
Neither Renan nor Strauss, nor the more modern Viscount Amberley seem to have had the remotest suspicion of the real meaning of many of the parables of Jesus, or even of the character of the great Galilean philosopher. Renan, as we have seen, presented him to us as a Gallicized Rabbi, "le plus charmant de tous," still but a Rabbi; and one, moreover, who does not even come out of the school of Hillel, or any school either, albeit he terms him repeatedly "the charming doctor." * He shows him as a sentimental young enthusiast, sprung out of the plebeian classes of Galilee, who imagines the ideal kings of his parables the empurpled and jewelled beings of whom one reads in nursery tales. **
Lord Amberley's Jesus, on the other hand, is an "iconoclastic idealist," far inferior in subtilty and logic to his critics. Renan looks over at Jesus with the one-sidedness of a Semitomaniac; Viscount Amberley looks down upon him from the social plane of an English lord. Apropos of this marriage-feast parable, which he considers as embodying "a curious theory of social intercourse," the Viscount says: "Nobody can object to charitable individuals asking poor people or invalids without rank at their houses. . . . But we cannot admit that this kind action ought to be rendered obligatory . . . it is eminently desirable that we should do exactly what Christ would forbid us doing--namely, invite our neighbors and be invited by them as circumstances may require. The fear that we may receive a recompense for the dinner-parties we may give, is surely chimerical. . . . Jesus, in fact, overlooks entirely the more intellectual side of society." *** All of which unquestionably shows that the "Son of God" was no master of social etiquette, nor fit for "society"; but it is also a fair example of the prevalent misconception of even his most suggestive parables.
The theory of Anquetil du Perron that the Bagaved-gita is an independent work, as it is absent from several manuscripts of the Maha-Bharata, may be as much a plea for a still greater antiquity as the reverse. The work is purely metaphysical and ethical, and in a certain sense it is anti-Vedic; so far, at least, that it is in opposition with many of the later Brahmanical interpretations of the Vedas. How comes it, then, that instead of destroying the work, or, at least, of sentencing it as uncanonical--an expedient to which the Christian Church would never have failed to resort--the Brahmans show it the greatest reverence? Perfectly unitarian in its aim, it clashes with the popular idol-worship. Still, the only precaution taken by the Brahmans to keep its tenets from becoming too well known, is to preserve it more secretly than any other
religious book from every caste except the sacerdotal; and, to impose upon that even, in many cases, certain restrictions. The grandest mysteries of the Brahmanical religion are embraced within this magnificent poem; and even the Buddhists recognize it, explaining certain dogmatic difficulties in their own way. "Be unselfish, subdue your senses and passions, which obscure reason and lead to deceit," says Christna to his disciple Arjuna, thus enunciating a purely Buddhistic principle. "Low men follow examples, great men give them. . . . The soul ought to free itself from the bonds of action, and act absolutely according to its divine origin. There is but one God, and all other devotas are inferior, and mere forms (powers) of Brahma or of myself. Worship by deeds predominates over that of contemplation." *
This doctrine coincides perfectly with that of Jesus himself. ** Faith alone, unaccompanied by "works," is reduced to naught in the Bagaved-gita. As to the Atharva-Veda, it was and is preserved in such secrecy by the Brahmans, that it is a matter of doubt whether the Orientalists have a complete copy of it. One who has read what Abbe Dubois says may well doubt the fact. "Of the last species--the Atharva--there are very few," he says, writing of the Vedas, "and many people suppose they no longer exist. But the truth is, they do exist, though they conceal themselves with more caution than the others, from the fear of being suspected to be initiated in the magic mysteries and other dreaded mysteries which the work is believed to teach." ***
There were even those among the highest epoptae of the greater Mysteries who knew nothing of their last and dreaded rite--the voluntary transfer of life from hierophant to candidate. In Ghost-Land **** this mystical operation of the adept's transfer of his spiritual entity, after the death of his body, into the youth he loves with all the ardent love of a spiritual parent, is superbly described. As in the case of the reincarnation of the lamas of Thibet, an adept of the highest order may live indefinitely. His mortal casket wears out notwithstanding certain alchemical secrets for prolonging the youthful vigor far beyond the usual limits, yet the body can rarely be kept alive beyond ten or twelve score of years. The old garment is then worn out, and the spiritual Ego forced to leave it, selects for its habitation a new body, fresh and full of healthy vital principle. In case the reader should feel inclined to ridicule this asser-
tion of the possible prolongation of human life, we may as well refer him to the statistics of several countries. The author of an able article in the Westminster Review, for October, 1850, is responsible for the statement that in England, they have the authentic instances of one Thomas Jenkins dying at the age of 169, and "Old Parr" at 152; and that in Russia some of the peasants are "known to have reached 242 years." * There are also cases of centenarianism reported among the Peruvian Indians. We are aware that many able writers have recently discredited these claims to an extreme longevity, but we nevertheless affirm our belief in their truth.
True or false there are "superstitions" among the Eastern people such as have never been dreamed even by an Edgar Poe or a Hoffmann. And these beliefs run in the very blood of the nations with which they originated. Carefully stripped of exaggeration they will be found to embody an universal belief in those restless, wandering, astral souls, which are called ghouls and vampires. An Armenian Bishop of the fifth century, named Yeznik, gives a number of such narratives in a manuscript work (Book i., §§ 20, 30), preserved some thirty years ago in the library of the Monastery of Etchmeadzine. ** Among others, there is a tradition dating from the days of heathendom, that whenever a hero whose life is needed yet on earth falls on the battle-field, the Aralez, the popular gods of ancient Armenia, empowered to bring back to life those slaughtered in battle, lick the bleeding wounds of the victim, and breathe on them until they have imparted a new and vigorous life. After that the warrior rises, washes off all traces of his wounds, and resumes his place in the fray. But his immortal spirit has fled; and for the remainder of his days he lives--a deserted temple.
Once that an adept was initiated into the last and most solemn mystery of the life-transfer, the awful seventh rite of the great sacerdotal operation, which is the highest theurgy, he belonged no more to this world. His soul was free thereafter, and the seven mortal sins lying in wait to devour his heart, as the soul, liberated by death, would be crossing the seven halls and seven staircases, could hurt him no more alive or dead; he has passed the "twice seven trials" the twelve labors of the final hour. ***
The High Hierophant alone knew how to perform this solemn operation
by infusing his own vital life and astral soul into the adept, chosen by him for his successor, who thus became endowed with a double life. *
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John iii. 3). Jesus tells Nicodemus, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit."
This allusion, so unintelligible in itself, is explained in the Satapa-Brahmana. It teaches that a man striving after spiritual perfection must have three births: 1st. Physical from his mortal parents; 2d. Spiritual, through religious sacrifice (initiation); 3d. His final birth into the world of spirit--at death. Though it may seem strange that we should have to go to the old land of the Punjab and the banks of the sacred Ganges, for an interpreter of words spoken in Jerusalem and expounded on the banks of the Jordan, the fact is evident. This second birth, or regeneration of spirit, after the natural birth of that which is born of the flesh, might have astonished a Jewish ruler. Nevertheless, it had been taught 3,000 years before the appearance of the great Galilean prophet, not only in old India but to all the epoptae of the Pagan initiation, who were instructed in the great mysteries of LIFE and DEATH. This secret of secrets, that soul is not knit to flesh, was practically demonstrated in the instance of the Yogis, the followers of Kapila. Having emancipated their souls from the fetters of Prakriti, or Mahat (the physical perception of the senses and mind--in one sense, creation), they so developed their soul-power and will-force, as to have actually enabled themselves, while on earth, to communicate with the supernal worlds, and perform what is bunglingly termed "miracles." ** Men whose astral
spirits have attained on earth the nehreyasa, or the mukti, are half-gods; disembodied spirits, they reach Moksha or Nirvana, and this is their second spiritual birth.
Buddha teaches the doctrine of a new birth as plainly as Jesus does. Desiring to break with the ancient Mysteries, to which it was impossible to admit the ignorant masses, the Hindu reformer, though generally silent upon more than one secret dogma, clearly states his thought in several passages. Thus, he says: "Some people are born again; evil-doers go to Hell; righteous people go to Heaven; those who are free from all worldly desires enter Nirvana" (Precepts of the Dhammapada, v., 126). Elsewhere Buddha states that "it is better to believe in a future life, in which happiness or misery can be felt; for if the heart believes therein, it will abandon sin and act virtuously; and even if there is no resurrection, such a life will bring a good name and the regard of men. But those who believe in extinction at death will not fail to commit any sin that they may choose, because of their disbelief in a future." *
The Epistle to the Hebrews treats of the sacrifice of blood. "Where a testament is," says the writer, "there must be of necessity the death of the testator. . . . Without the shedding of blood is no remission." Then again: "Christ glorified not himself to be made High Priest; but He that said unto him: Thou art my son; TO-DAY HAVE I BEGOTTEN THEE" (Heb. v. 5). This is a very clear inference, that, 1, Jesus was considered only in the light of a high priest, like Melchisedek--another avatar, or incarnation of Christ, according to the Fathers; and, 2, that the writer thought that Jesus had become a "Son of God" only at the moment of his initiation by water; hence, that he was not born a god, neither was he begotten physically by Him. Every initiate of the "last hour" became, by the very fact of his initiation, a son of God. When Maxime, the Ephesian, initiated the Emperor Julian into the Mithraic Mysteries, he pronounced as the usual formula of the rite, the following: "By this blood, I wash thee from thy sins. The Word of the Highest has entered unto thee, and His Spirit henceforth will rest upon the NEWLY-BORN, the now-begotten of the Highest God. . . . Thou art the son of Mithra." "Thou art the 'Son of God,' " repeated the disciples after Christ's baptism. When Paul shook off the viper into the fire without further injury to himself, the people of Melita said "that he was a god" (Acts xxviii.). "He is the son of God, the Beautiful!" was the term used by the disciples of Simon
Magus, for they thought they recognized the "great power of God" in him.
A man can have no god that is not bounded by his own human conceptions. The wider the sweep of his spiritual vision, the mightier will be his deity. But where can we find a better demonstration of Him than in man himself; in the spiritual and divine powers lying dormant in every human being? "The very capacity to imagine the possibility of thaumaturgical powers, is itself evidence that they exist," says the author of Prophecy. "The critic, as well as the skeptic, is generally inferior to the person or subject that he is reviewing, and, therefore, is hardly a competent witness. If there are counterfeits, somewhere there must have been a genuine original." *
Blood begets phantoms, and its emanations furnish certain spirits with the materials required to fashion their temporary appearances. "Blood," says Levi, "is the first incarnation of the universal fluid; it is the materialized vital light. Its birth is the most marvellous of all nature's marvels; it lives only by perpetually transforming itself, for it is the universal Proteus. The blood issues from principles where there was none of it before, and it becomes flesh, bones, hair, nails . . . tears, and perspiration. It can be allied neither to corruption nor death; when life is gone, it begins decomposing; if you know how to reanimate it, to infuse into it life by a new magnetization of its globules, life will return to it again. The universal substance, with its double motion, is the great arcanum of being; blood is the great arcanum of life."
"Blood," says the Hindu Ramatsariar, "contains all the mysterious secrets of existence, no living being can exist without. It is profaning the great work of the Creator to eat blood."
In his turn Moses, following the universal and traditional law, forbids eating blood.
Paracelsus writes that with the fumes of blood one is enabled to call forth any spirit we desire to see; for with its emanations it will build itself an appearance, a visible body--only this is sorcery. The hierophants of Baal made deep incisions all over their bodies and produced apparitions, objective and tangible, with their own blood. The followers of a certain sect in Persia, many of whom may be found around the Russian settlements in Temerchan-Shoura, and Derbent, have their religious mysteries in which they form a large ring, and whirl round in a frantic dance. Their temples are ruined, and they worship in large temporary buildings, securely enclosed, and with the earthen floor deeply strewn with sand. They are all dressed in long white robes, and their heads are
bare and closely shaved. Armed with knives, they soon reach a point of furious exaltation, and wound themselves and others until their garments and the sand on the floor are soaked with blood. Before the end of the "Mystery" every man has a companion, who whirls round with him. Sometimes the spectral dancers have hair on their heads, which makes them quite distinct from their unconscious creators. As we have solemnly promised never to divulge the principal details of this terrible ceremony (which we were allowed to witness but once), we must leave the subject. *
In the days of antiquity the sorceresses of Thessaly added sometimes to the blood of a black lamb that of an infant, and by this means evoked the shadows. The priests were taught the art of calling up the spirits of the dead, as well as those of the elements, but their mode was certainly not that of Thessalian sorceresses.
Among the Yakuts of Siberia there is a tribe dwelling on the very confines of the Transbaikal regions near the river Vitema (eastern Siberia) which practices sorcery as known in the days of the Thessalian witches. Their religious beliefs are curious as a mixture of philosophy and superstition. They have a chief or supreme god Aij-Taion, who did not create, they say, but only presides over the creation of all the worlds. He lives on the ninth heaven, and it is but from the seventh that the other minor gods--his servants--can manifest themselves to their creatures. This ninth heaven, according to the revelation of the minor deities (spirits, we suppose), has three suns and three moons, and the ground of this abode is formed of four lakes (the four cardinal points) of "soft air" (ether), instead of water. While they offer no sacrifices to the Supreme Deity, for he needs none, they do try to propitiate both the good and bad deities, which they respectively term the "white" and the "black" gods. They do it, because neither of the two classes are good or bad through personal merit or demerit. As they are all subject to the Supreme Aij-Taion, and each has to carry on the duty assigned to him from eternity, they are not responsible for either the good or evil they produce in this world. The reason given by the Yakuts for such sacrifices is very curious. Sacrifices, they say, help each class of gods to perform their mission the better, and so please the Supreme; and every mortal that helps either of them in performing his duty must, therefore,
please the Supreme as well, for he will have helped justice to take place. As the "black" gods are appointed to bring diseases, evils, and all kinds of calamities to mankind, each of which is a punishment for some transgression, the Yakuts offer to them "bloody" sacrifices of animals; while to the "white" they make pure offerings, consisting generally of an animal consecrated to some special god and taken care of with great ceremony, as having become sacred. According to their ideas the souls of the dead become "shadows," and are doomed to wander on earth, till a certain change takes place either for the better or worse, which the Yakuts do not pretend to explain. The light shadows, i.e., those of good people, become the guardians and protectors of those they loved on earth; the "dark" shadows (the wicked) always seek, on the contrary, to hurt those they knew, by inciting them to crimes, wicked acts, and otherwise injuring mortals. Besides these, like the ancient Chaldees, they reckon seven divine Sheitans (daemons) or minor gods. It is during the sacrifices of blood, which take place at night, that the Yakuts call forth the wicked or dark shadows, to inquire of them what they can do to arrest their mischief; hence, blood is necessary, for without its fumes the ghosts could not make themselves clearly visible, and would become, according to their ideas, but the more dangerous, for they would suck it from living persons by their perspiration. * As to the good, light shadows, they need not be called out; besides that, such an act disturbs them; they can make their presence felt, when needed, without any preparation and ceremonies.
The blood-evocation is also practiced, although with a different purpose, in several parts of Bulgaria and Moldavia, especially in districts in the vicinity of Mussulmans. The fearful oppressions and slavery to which these unfortunate Christians have been subjected for centuries has rendered them a thousand-fold more impressible, and at the same time more superstitious, than those who live in civilized countries. On every seventh of May the inhabitants of every Moldavo-Valachian and Bulgarian city or village, have what they term the "feast of the dead." After sunset, immense crowds of women and men, each with a lighted wax taper in hand, resort to the burial places, and pray on the tombs of their departed friends. This ancient and solemn ceremony, called Trizna, is everywhere a reminiscence of primitive Christian rites, but far more solemn yet, while in Mussulman slavery. Every tomb is furnished with a kind of cupboard, about half a yard high, built of four stones, and with hinged double-doors. These closets contain what is termed the household of the defunct: namely, a few wax tapers, some
oil and an earthen lamp, which is lighted on that day, and burns for twenty-four hours. Wealthy people have silver lamps richly chiselled, and bejewelled images, which are secure from thieves, for in the burial ground the closets are even left open. Such is the dread of the population (Mussulman and Christian) of the revenge of the dead that a thief bold enough to commit any murder, would never dare touch the property of a dead person. The Bulgarians have a belief that every Saturday, and especially the eve of Easter Sunday, and until Trinity day (about seven weeks) the souls of the dead descend on earth, some to beg forgiveness from those living whom they had wronged; others to protect and commune with their loved ones. Faithfully following the traditional rites of their forefathers, the natives on each Saturday of these seven weeks keep either lamps or tapers lighted. In addition to that, on the seventh of May they drench the tombs with grape wine, and burn incense around them from sunset to sunrise. With the inhabitants of towns, the ceremony is limited to these simple observances. With some of the rustics though, the rite assumes the proportions of a theurgic evocation. On the eve of Ascension Day, Bulgarian women light a quantity of tapers and lamps; the pots are placed upon tripods, and incense perfumes the atmosphere for miles around; while thick white clouds of smoke envelope each tomb, as though a veil had separated it from the others. During the evening, and until a little before midnight, in memory of the deceased, acquaintances and a certain number of mendicants are fed and treated with wine and raki (grape-whiskey), and money is distributed among the poor according to the means of the surviving relatives. When the feast is ended, the guests approaching the tomb and addressing the defunct by name, thank him or her for the bounties received. When all but the nearest relatives are gone, a woman, usually the most aged, remains alone with the dead, and--some say--resorts to the ceremony of invocation.
After fervent prayers, repeated face downward on the grave-mound, more or less drops of blood are drawn from near the left bosom, and allowed to trickle upon the tomb. This gives strength to the invisible spirit which hovers around, to assume for a few instants a visible form, and whisper his instructions to the Christian theurgist--if he has any to offer, or simply to "bless the mourner" and then disappear again till the following year. So firmly rooted is this belief that we have heard, in a case of family difficulty, a Moldavian woman appeal to her sister to put off every decision till Ascension-night, when their dead father would be able to tell them of his will and pleasure in person; to which the sister consented as simply as though their parent were in the next room.
That there are fearful secrets in nature may well be believed when, as we have seen in the case of the Russian Znachar, the sorcerer cannot die until he has passed the word to another, and the hierophants of White Magic rarely do. It seems as if the dread power of the "Word" could only be entrusted to one man of a certain district or body of people at a time. When the Brahmatma was about to lay aside the burden of physical existence, he imparted his secret to his successor, either orally, or by a writing placed in a securely-fastened casket which went into the latter's hands alone. Moses "lays his hands" upon his neophyte, Joshua, in the solitudes of Nebo and passes away forever. Aaron initiates Eleazar on Mount Hor, and dies. Siddhartha-Buddha promises his mendicants before his death to live in him who shall deserve it, embraces his favorite disciple, whispers in his ear, and dies; and as John's head lies upon the bosom of Jesus, he is told that he shall "tarry" until he shall come. Like signal-fires of the olden times, which, lighted and extinguished by turns upon one hill-top after another, conveyed intelligence along a whole stretch of country, so we see a long line of "wise" men from the beginning of history down to our own times communicating the word of wisdom to their direct successors. Passing from seer to seer, the "Word" flashes out like lightning, and while carrying off the initiator from human sight forever, brings the new initiate into view. Meanwhile, whole nations murder each other in the name of another "Word," an empty substitute accepted literally by each, and misinterpreted by all!
We have met few sects which truly practice sorcery. One such is the Yezidis, considered by some a branch of the Koords, though we believe erroneously. These inhabit chiefly the mountainous and desolate regions of Asiatic Turkey, about Mosul, Armenia, and are found even in Syria, * and Mesopotamia. They are called and known everywhere as devil-worshippers; and most certainly it is not either through ignorance or mental obscuration that they have set up the worship and a regular inter-communication with the lowest and the most malicious of both elementals and elementaries. They recognize the present wickedness of the chief of the "black powers"; but at the same time they dread his power, and so try
to conciliate to themselves his favors. He is in an open quarrel with Allah, they say, but a reconciliation can take place between the two at any day; and those who have shown marks of their disrespect to the "black one" now, may suffer for it at some future time, and thus have both God and Devil against them. This is simply a cunning policy that seeks to propitiate his Satanic majesty, who is no other than the great Tcherno-bog (the black god) of the Variagi-Russ, the ancient idolatrous Russians before the days of Vladimir.
Like Wierus, the famous demonographer of the sixteenth century (who in his Pseudomonarchia Daemonum describes and enumerates a regular infernal court, which has its dignitaries, princes, dukes, nobles, and officers), the Yezidis have a whole pantheon of devils, and use the Jakshas, aerial spirits, to convey their prayers and respects to Satan their master, and the Afrites of the Desert. During their prayer-meetings, they join hands, and form immense rings, with their Sheik, or an officiating priest in the middle who claps his hands, and intones every verse in honor of Sheitan (Satan). Then they whirl and leap in the air. When the frenzy is at its climax, they often wound and cut themselves with their daggers, occasionally rendering the same service to their next neighbors. But their wounds do not heal and cicatrize as easily as in the case of lamas and holy men; for but too often they fall victims to these self-inflicted wounds. While dancing and flourishing high their daggers without unclasping hands--for this would be considered a sacrilege, and the spell instantly broken, they coax and praise Sheitan, and entreat him to manifest himself in his works by "miracles." As their rites are chiefly accomplished during night, they do not fail to obtain manifestations of various character, the least of which are enormous globes of fire which take the shapes of the most uncouth animals.
Lady Hester Stanhope, whose name was for many years a power among the masonic fraternities of the East, is said to have witnessed, personally, several of these Yezidean ceremonies. We were told by an Ockhal, of the sect of Druses, that after having been present at one of the Yezidis' "Devil's masses," as they are called, this extraordinary lady, so noted for personal courage and daring bravery, fainted, and notwithstanding her usual Emir's male attire, was recalled to life and health with the greatest difficulty. Personally, we regret to say, all our efforts to witness one of these performances failed.
A recent article in a Catholic journal on Nagualism and Voodooism charges Hayti with being the centre of secret societies, with terrible forms of initiation and bloody rites, where human infants are sacrificed and devoured by the adepts (!!). Piron, a French traveller, is quoted at length, describing a most fearful scene witnessed by him in Cuba, in the
house of a lady whom he never would have suspected of any connection with so monstrous a sect. "A naked white girl acted as a voodoo priestess, wrought up to frenzy by dances and incantations that followed the sacrifice of a white and a black hen. A serpent, trained to its part, and acted on by the music, coiled round the limbs of the girl, its motions studied by the votaries dancing around or standing to watch its contortions. The spectator fled at last in horror when the poor girl fell writhing in an epileptic fit."
While deploring such a state of things in Christian countries, the Catholic article in question explains this tenacity for ancestral religious rites as evidence of the natural depravity of the human heart, and makes a loud call for greater zeal on the part of Catholics. Besides repeating the absurd fiction about devouring children, the writer seems wholly insensible to the fact that a devotion to one's faith that centuries of the most cruel and bloody persecution cannot quench, makes heroes and martyrs of a people, whereas their conversion to any other faith would turn them simply into renegades. A compulsory religion can never breed anything but deceit. The answer received by the missionary Margil from some Indians supports the above truism. The question being: "How is it that you are so heathenish after having been Christians so long?" The answer was: "What would you do, father, if enemies of your faith entered your land? Would you not take all your books and vestments and signs of religion and retire to the most secret caves and mountains? This is just what our priests, and prophets, and soothsayers, and nagualists have done to this time and are still doing."
Such an answer from a Roman Catholic, questioned by a missionary of either Greek or Protestant Church, would earn for him the crown of a saint in the Popish martyrology. Better a "heathen" religion that can extort from a Francis Xavier such a tribute as he pays the Japanese, in saying that "in virtue and probity they surpassed all the nations he had ever seen"; than a Christianity whose advance over the face of the earth sweeps aboriginal nations out of existence as with a hurricane of fire. * Disease, drunkenness, and demoralization are the immediate results of apostasy from the faith of their fathers, and conversion into a religion of mere forms.
What Christianity is doing for British India, we need go to no inimical
sources to inquire. Captain O'Grady, the British ex-official, says: "The British government is doing a shameful thing in turning the natives of India from a sober race to a nation of drunkards. And for pure greed. Drinking is forbidden by the religion alike of Hindus and Mussulmans. But . . . drinking is daily becoming more and more prevalent. . . . What the accursed opium traffic, forced on China by British greed, has been to that unhappy country, the government sale of liquor is likely to become to India. For it is a government monopoly, based on almost precisely the same model as the government monopoly of tobacco in Spain. . . . The outside domestics in European families usually get to be terrible drunkards. . . . The indoor servants usually detest drinking, and are a good deal more respectable in this particular than their masters and mistresses . . . everybody drinks . . . bishops, chaplains, freshly-imported boarding-school girls, and all."
Yes, these are the "blessings" that the modern Christian religion brings with its Bibles and Catechisms to the "poor heathen." Rum and bastardy to Hindustan; opium to China; rum and foul disorders to Tahiti; and, worst of all, the example of hypocrisy in religion, and a practical skepticism and atheism, which, since it seems to be good enough for civilized people, may well in time be thought good enough for those whom theology has too often been holding under a very heavy yoke. On the other hand, everything that is noble, spiritual, elevating, in the old religion is denied, and even deliberately falsified.
Take Paul, read the little of original that is left of him in the writings attributed to this brave, honest, sincere man, and see whether any one can find a word therein to show that Paul meant by the word Christ anything more than the abstract ideal of the personal divinity indwelling in man. For Paul, Christ is not a person, but an embodied idea. "If any man is in Christ he is a new creation," he is reborn, as after initiation, for the Lord is spirit--the spirit of man. Paul was the only one of the apostles who had understood the secret ideas underlying the teachings of Jesus, although he had never met him. But Paul had been initiated himself; and, bent upon inaugurating a new and broad reform, one embracing the whole of humanity, he sincerely set his own doctrines far above the wisdom of the ages, above the ancient Mysteries and final revelation to the epoptae. As Professor A. Wilder well proves in a series of able articles, it was not Jesus, but Paul who was the real founder of Christianity. "The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch," say the Acts of the Apostles. "Such men as Irenaeus, Epiphanius, and Eusebius have transmitted to posterity a reputation for untruth and dishonest practices; and the heart sickens at the story of the crimes of that
period," writes this author, in a recent article. * "It will be remembered," he adds, "that when the Moslems overran Syria and Asia Minor for the first time, they were welcomed by the Christians of those regions as deliverers from the intolerable oppression of the ruling authorities of the Church."
Mahomet never was, neither is he now, considered a god; yet under the stimulus of his name millions of Moslems have served their God with an ardor that can never be paralleled by Christian sectarianism. That they have sadly degenerated since the days of their prophet, does not alter the case in hand, but only proves the more the prevalence of matter over spirit all over the world. Besides, they have never degenerated more from primitive faith than Christians themselves. Why, then, should not Jesus of Nazareth, a thousandfold higher, nobler, and morally grander than Mahomet, be as well revered by Christians and followed in practice, instead of being blindly adored in fruitless faith as a god, and at the same time worshipped much after the fashion of certain Buddhists, who turn their wheel of prayers. That this faith has become sterile, and is no more worthy the name of Christianity than the fetishism of Calmucks that of the philosophy preached by Buddha, is doubted by none. "We would not be supposed to entertain the opinion," says Dr. Wilder, "that modern Christianity is in any degree identical with the religion preached by Paul. It lacks his breadth of view, his earnestness, his keen spiritual perception. Bearing the impress of the nations by which it is professed, it exhibits as many forms as there are races. It is one thing in Italy and Spain, but widely differs in France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Great Britain, Russia, Armenia, Kurdistan, and Abyssinia. As compared with the preceding worships, the change seems to be more in name than in genius. Men had gone to bed Pagans and awoke Christians. As for the Sermon on the Mount, its conspicuous doctrines are more or less repudiated by every Christian community of any considerable dimensions. Barbarism, oppression, cruel punishments, are as common now as in the days of Paganism.
"The Christianity of Peter exists no more; that of Paul supplanted it, and was in its turn amalgamated with the other world-religions. When mankind are enlightened, or the barbarous races and families are supplanted by those of nobler nature and instincts, the ideal excellencies may become realities.
"The 'Christ of Paul' has constituted an enigma which evoked the most strenuous endeavor to solve. He was something else than the Jesus of the Gospels. Paul disregarded utterly their 'endless genealogies.' The
author of the fourth Gospel, himself an Alexandrian Gnostic, describes Jesus as what would now be termed a 'materialized' divine spirit. He was the Logos, or First Emanation--the Metathron. . . . The 'mother of Jesus,' like the Princess Maya, Danae, or perhaps Periktione, had given birth, not to a love-child, but to a divine offspring. No Jew of whatever sect, no apostle, no early believer, ever promulgated such an idea. Paul treats of Christ as a personage rather than as a person. The sacred lessons of the secret assemblies often personified the divine good and the divine truth in a human form, assailed by the passions and appetites of mankind, but superior to them; and this doctrine, emerging from the crypt, was apprehended by churchlings and gross-minded men as that of immaculate conception and divine incarnation."
In the old book, published in 1693 and written by the Sieur de la Loubere, French Ambassador to the King of Siam, are related many interesting facts of the Siamese religion. The remarks of the satirical Frenchman are so pointed that we will quote his words about the Siamese Saviour--Sommona-Cadom.
"How marvellous soever they pretend the birth of their Saviour has been, they cease not to give him a father and a mother. * His mother, whose name is found in some of their Balie (Pali?) books, was called, as they say, Maha MARIA, which seems to signify the great Mary, for Maha signifies great. However it be, this ceases not to give attention to the missionaries, and has perhaps given occasion to the Siamese to believe that Jesus being the son of Mary, was brother to Sommona-Cadom, and that, having been crucified, he was that wicked brother whom they give to Sommona-Cadom, under the name of Thevetat, and whom they report to be punished in Hell, with a punishment which participates something of a cross. . . . The Siamese expect another Sommona-Cadom, I mean, another miraculous man like him, whom they already named Pronarote, and whom they say was foretold by Sommona. He made all sorts of miracles. . . . He had two disciples, both standing on each hand of his idol; one on the right hand, and the other on the left . . . the first is named Pra-Magla, and the second Pra Scaribout. . . . The father of Sommona-Cadom was, according to this same Balie Book, a King of Teve Lanca, that is to say, a King of Ceylon. But the Balie Books being without date and without the author's name, have no more authority than all the traditions, whose origin is unknown." **
This last argument is as ill-considered as it is naively expressed. We do not know of any book in the whole world less authenticated as to date, authors' names, or tradition, than our Christian Bible. Under these circumstances the Siamese have as much reason to believe in their miraculous Sommona-Cadom as the Christians in their miraculously-born Saviour. Moreover, they have no better right to force their religion upon the Siamese, or any other people, against their will, and in their own country, where they go unasked, than the so-called heathen "to compel France or England to accept Buddhism at the point of the sword." A Buddhist missionary, even in free-thinking America, would daily risk being mobbed, but this does not at all prevent missionaries from abusing the religion of the Brahmans, Lamas, and Bonzes, publicly to their teeth; and the latter are not always at liberty to answer them. This is termed diffusing the beneficent light of Christianity and civilization upon the darkness of heathenism!
And yet we find that these pretensions--which might appear ludicrous were they not so fatal to millions of our fellow-men, who only ask to be left alone--were fully appreciated as early as in the seventeenth century. We find the same witty Monsieur de la Loubere, under a pretext of pious sympathy, giving some truly curious instructions to the ecclesiastical authorities at home, * which embody the very soul of Jesuitism.
"From what I have said concerning the opinions of the Orientals," he remarks, "it is easy to comprehend how difficult an enterprise it is to bring them over to the Christian religion; and of what consequence it is that the missionaries, which preach the Gospel in the East, do perfectly understand the manners and belief of these people. For as the apostles and first Christians, when God supported their preaching by so many wonders, did not on a sudden discover to the heathens all the mysteries which we adore, but a long time concealed from them, and the Catechumens themselves, the knowledge of those which might scandalize them; it seems very rational to me that the missionaries, who have not
the gift of miracles, ought not presently to discover to the Orientals all the mysteries nor all the practices of Christianity.
"'Twould be convenient, for example, if I am not mistaken, not to preach unto them, without great caution, the worshipping of saints; and as to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, I think it would be necessary to manage it with them, if I may so say, and not to speak to them of the mystery of the Incarnation, till after having convinced them of the existence of a God Creator. For what probability is there, to begin with, of persuading the Siamese to remove Sommona-Cadom, Pra Mogla, and Pra Scaribout from the altars, to set up Jesus Christ, St. Peter, and St. Paul, in their stead? 'Twould, perhaps, be more proper not to preach unto them Jesus Christ crucified, till they have first comprehended that one may be unfortunate and innocent; and that by the rule received, even amongst them, which is, that the innocent might load himself with the crimes of the guilty, it was necessary that a god should become man, to the end that this man-God should, by a laborious life, and a shameful but voluntary death, satisfy for all the sins of men; but before all things it would be necessary to give them the true idea of a God Creator, and justly provoked against men. The Eucharist, after this, will not scandalize the Siamese, as it formerly scandalized the Pagans of Europe; forasmuch as the Siamese do not believe Sommona-Cadom could give his wife and children to the Talapoins to eat.
"On the contrary, as the Chinese are respectful toward their parents even to a scruple, I doubt not that if the Gospel should be presently put into their hands, they would be scandalized at that place, where, when some told Jesus Christ that his mother and his brethren asked after him, he answered in such a manner, that he seems so little to regard them, that he affected not to know them. They would not be less offended at those other mysterious words, which our divine Saviour spoke to the young man, who desired time to go and bury his parents: 'Let the dead,' said he, 'bury the dead.' Every one knows the trouble which the Japanese expressed to St. Francis Xavier upon the eternity of damnation, not being able to believe that their dead parents should fall into so horrible a misfortune for want of having embraced Christianity, which they had never heard of. . . . It seems necessary, therefore, to prevent and mollify this thought, by the means which that great apostle of the Indies used, in first establishing the idea of an omnipotent, all-wise, and most just God, the author of all good, to whom only everything is due, and by whose will we owe unto kings, bishops, magistrates and to our parents the respects which we owe them.
"These examples are sufficient to show with what precautions it is
necessary to prepare the minds of the Orientals to think like us, and not to be offended with most of the articles of the Christian faith." *
And what, we ask, is left to preach? With no Saviour, no atonement, no crucifixion for human sin, no Gospel, no eternal damnation to tell them of, and no miracles to display, what remained for the Jesuits to spread among the Siamese but the dust of the Pagan sanctuaries with which to blind their eyes? The sarcasm is biting indeed. The morality to which these poor heathen are made to adhere by their ancestral faith is so pure, that Christianity has to be stripped of every distinguishing mark before its priests can venture to offer it for their examination. A religion that cannot be trusted to the scrutiny of an unsophisticated people who are patterns of filial piety, of honest dealing, of deep reverence for God and an instinctive horror of profaning His majesty, must indeed be founded upon error. That it is so, our century is discovering little by little.
In the general spoliation of Buddhism to make up the new Christian religion, it was not to be expected that so peerless a character as Gautama-Buddha would be left unappropriated. It was but natural that after taking his legendary history to fill out the blanks left in the fictitious story of Jesus, after using what they could of Christna's, they should take the man Sakya-muni and put him in their calendar under an alias. This they actually did, and the Hindu Saviour in due time appeared on the list of saints as Josaphat, to keep company with those martyrs of religion, SS. Aura and Placida, Longinus and Amphibolus.
In Palermo there is even a church dedicated to Divo Josaphat. Among the vain attempts of subsequent ecclesiastical writers to fix the genealogy of this mysterious saint, the most original was the making him Joshua, the son of Nun. But these trifling difficulties being at last surmounted, we find the history of Gautama copied word for word from Buddhist sacred books, into the Golden Legend. Names of individuals
are changed, the place of action, India, remains the same--in the Christian as in the Buddhist Legends. It can be also found in the Speculum Historiale of Vincent of Beauvais, which was written in the thirteenth century. The first discovery is due to the historian de Couto, although Professor Muller credits the first recognition of the identity of the two stories to M. Laboulaye, in 1859. Colonel Yule tells us that * these stories of Barlaam and Josaphat, are recognized by Baronius, and are to be found at p. 348, of The Roman Martyrology, set forth by command of Pope Gregory XIII., and revised by the authority of Pope Urban VIII., translated out of Latin into English by G. K. of the Society of Jesus. **
To repeat even a small portion of this ecclesiastical nonsense would be tedious and useless. Let him who doubts and who would learn the story read it as given by Colonel Yule. Some *** of the Christian and ecclesiastical speculations seem to have embarrassed even Dominie Valentyn. "There be some, who hold this Budhum for a fugitive Syrian Jew," he writes; "others who hold him for a disciple of the Apostle Thomas; but how in that case he could have been born 622 years before Christ I leave them to explain. Diego de Couto stands by the belief that he was certainly Joshua, which is still more absurd!"
"The religious romance called The History of Barlaam and Josaphat was, for several centuries, one of the most popular works in Christendom," says Col. Yule. "It was translated into all the chief European languages, including Scandinavian and Sclavonic tongues. . . . This story first appears among the works of St. John of Damascus, a theologian of the early part of the eighth century." **** Here then lies the secret of its origin, for this St. John, before he became a divine, held a high office at the court of the Khalif Abu Jafar Almansur, where he probably learned the story, and afterwards adapted it to the new orthodox necessities of the Buddha turned into a Christian saint.
Having repeated the plagiarized story, Diego de Couto, who seems to yield up with reluctance his curious notion that Gautama was Joshua, says: "To this name (Budao) the Gentiles throughout all India have dedicated great and superb pagodas. With reference to this story, we have been diligent in inquiring if the ancient Gentiles of those parts had in their writings any knowledge of St. Josaphat who was converted by Balaam, and who in his legend is represented as the son of a great king of India, and who had just the same up-bringing, with all the same particulars that we have recounted of the life of the Budao. And as I was
travelling in the Isle of Salsette, and went to see that rare and admirable pagoda, which we call the Canara Pagoda (Kanhari Caves) made in a mountain, with many halls cut out of one solid rock, and inquiring of an old man about the work, what he thought as to who had made it, he told us that without doubt the work was made by order of the father of St. Josaphat to bring him up in seclusion, as the story tells. And as it informs us that he was the son of a great king in India, it may well be, as we have just said, that he was the Budao, of whom they relate such marvels." *
The Christian legend is taken, moreover, in most of its details, from the Ceylonese tradition. It is on this island that originated the story of young Gautama rejecting his father's throne, and the king's erecting a superb palace for him, in which he kept him half prisoner, surrounded by all the temptations of life and wealth. Marco Polo told it as he had it from the Ceylonese, and his version is now found to be a faithful repetition of what is given in the various Buddhist books. As Marco naively expresses it, Buddha led a life of such hardship and sanctity, and kept such great abstinence, "just as if he had been a Christian. Indeed," he adds, "had he but been so, he would have been a great saint of our Lord Jesus Christ, so good and pure was the life he led." To which pious apothegm his editor very pertinently remarks that "Marco is not the only eminent person who has expressed this view of Sakya-muni's life in such words." And in his turn Prof. Max Muller says: "And whatever we may think of the sanctity of saints, let those who doubt the right of Buddha to a place among them, read the story of his life as it is told in the Buddhistical canon. If he lived the life which is there described, few saints have a better claim to the title than Buddha; and no one either in the Greek or the Roman Church need be ashamed of having paid to his memory the honor that was intended for St. Josaphat, the prince, the hermit, and the saint."
The Roman Catholic Church has never had so good a chance to Christianize all China, Thibet, and Tartary, as in the thirteenth century, during the reign of Kublai-Khan. It seems strange that they did not embrace the opportunity when Kublai was hesitating at one time between the four religions of the world, and, perhaps through the eloquence of Marco Polo, favored Christianity more than either Mahometanism, Judaism, or Buddhism. Marco Polo and Ramusio, one of his interpreters, tell us why. It seems that, unfortunately for Rome, the embassy of Marco's father and uncle failed, because Clement IV. happened to die just at that very time. There was no Pope for several months to
receive the friendly overtures of Kublai-Khan; and thus the one hundred Christian missionaries invited by him could not be sent to Thibet and Tartary. To those who believe that there is an intelligent Deity above who takes a certain concern in the welfare of our miserable little world, this contretemps must in itself seem a pretty good proof that Buddhism should have the best of Christianity. Perhaps--who knows--Pope Clement fell sick so as to save the Buddhists from sinking into the idolatry of Roman Catholicism?
From pure Buddhism, the religion of these districts has degenerated into lamaism; but the latter, with all its blemishes--purely formalistic and impairing but little the doctrine itself--is yet far above Catholicism. The poor Abbe Huc very soon found it out for himself. As he moved on with his caravan, he writes--"every one repeated to us that, as we advanced toward the west, we should find the doctrines growing more luminous and sublime. Lha-Ssa was the great focus of light, the rays from which became weakened as they were diffused." One day he gave to a Thibetan lama "a brief summary of Christian doctrine, which appeared by no means unfamiliar to him [we do not wonder at that], and he even maintained that it [Catholicism] did not differ much from the faith of the grand lamas of Thibet. . . . These words of the Thibetan lama astonished us not a little," writes the missionary; "the unity of God, the mystery of the Incarnation, the dogma of the real presence, appeared to us in his belief. . . . The new light thrown on the religion of Buddha induced us really to believe that we should find among the lamas of Thibet a more purified system." * It is these words of praise to lamaism, with which Huc's book abounds, that caused his work to be placed on the Index at Rome, and himself to be unfrocked.
When questioned why, since he held the Christian faith to be the best of the religions protected by him, he did not attach himself to it, the answer given by Kublai-Khan is as suggestive as it is curious:
"How would you have me to become a Christian? There are four prophets worshipped and revered by all the world. The Christians say their God is Jesus Christ; the Saracens, Mahomet; the Jews, Moses; the idolaters, Sogomon Borkan (Sakya-muni Burkham, or Buddha), who was the first god among the idols; and I worship and pay respect to all four, and pray that he among them who is greatest in heaven in very truth may aid me."
We may ridicule the Khan's prudence; we cannot blame him for trustingly leaving the decision of the puzzling dilemma to Providence itself. One of his most unsurmountable objections to embrace Christianity
he thus specifies to Marco: "You see that the Christians of these parts are so ignorant that they achieve nothing and can achieve nothing, whilst you see the idolaters can do anything they please, insomuch that when I sit at table, the cups from the middle of the hall come to me full of wine or other liquor, without being touched by anybody, and I drink from them. They control storms, causing them to pass in whatever direction they please, and do many other marvels; whilst, as you know, their idols speak, and give them predictions on whatever subjects they choose. But if I were to turn to the faith of Christ and become a Christian, then my barons and others who are not converted, would say: 'What has moved you to be baptized? . . . What powers or miracles have you witnessed on the part of Christ? You know the idolaters here say that their wonders are performed by the sanctity and power of their idols.' Well, I should not know what answer to make, so they would only be confirmed in their errors, and the idolaters, who are adepts in such surprising arts, would easily compass my death. But now you shall go to your Pope, and pray him on my part to send hither an hundred men skilled in your law; and if they are capable of rebuking the practices of idolaters to their faces, and of proving to them that they too know how to do such things, but will not, because they are done by the help of the Devil and other evil spirits; and if they so control the idolaters that these shall have no power to perform such things in their presence, and when we shall witness this, we will denounce the idolaters and their religion, and then I will receive baptism, and then all my barons and chiefs shall be baptized also, and thus, in the end, there will be more Christians here than exist in your part of the world." *
The proposition was fair. Why did not the Christians avail themselves of it? Moses is said to have faced such an ordeal before Pharaoh, and come off triumphant.
To our mind, the logic of this uneducated Mongol was unanswerable, his intuition faultless. He saw good results in all religions, and felt that, whether a man be Buddhist, Christian, Mahometan, or Jew, his spiritual powers might equally be developed, his faith equally lead him to the highest truth. All he asked before making choice of a creed for his people, was the evidence upon which to base faith.
To judge alone by its jugglers, India must certainly be better acquainted with alchemy, chemistry, and physics than any European academy. The psychological wonders produced by some fakirs of Southern Hindustan, and by the shaberons and hobilhans of Thibet and Mongolia, alike prove our case. The science of psychology has there reached an acme of perfection
never attained elsewhere in the annals of the marvellous. That such powers are not alone due to study, but are natural to every human being, is now proved in Europe and America by the phenomena of mesmerism and what is termed "spiritualism." If the majority of foreign travellers, and residents in British India, are disposed to regard the whole as clever jugglery, not so with a few Europeans who have had the rare luck to be admitted behind the veil in the pagodas. Surely these will not deride the rites, nor undervalue the phenomena produced in the secret lodges of India. The mahadthevassthanam of the pagodas (usually termed goparam, from the sacred pyramidal gateway by which the buildings are entered) has been known to Europeans before now, though to a mere handful in all.
We do not know whether the prolific Jacolliot * was ever admitted into one of these lodges. It is extremely doubtful, we should say, if we may judge from his many fantastic tales of the immoralities of the mystical rites among the Brahmans, the fakirs of the pagodas, and even the Buddhists (!!) at all of which he makes himself figure as a Joseph. Anyhow, it is evident that the Brahmans taught him no secrets, for speaking of the fakirs and their wonders, he remarks, "under the direction of initiated Brahmans they practice in the seclusion of the pagodas, the occult sciences. . . . And let no one be surprised at this word, which seems to open the door of the supernatural; while there are in the sciences which the Brahmans call occult, phenomena so extraordinary as to baffle all investigation, there is not one which cannot be explained, and which is not subject to natural law."
Unquestionably, any initiated Brahman could, if he would, explain every phenomenon. But he will not. Meanwhile, we have yet to see an explanation by the best of our physicists of even the most trivial occult phenomenon produced by a fakir-pupil of a pagoda.
Jacolliot says that it will be quite impracticable to give an account of the marvellous facts witnessed by himself. But adds, with entire truthfulness, "let it suffice to say, that in regard to magnetism and spiritism, Europe
has yet to stammer over the first letters of the alphabet, and that the Brahmans have reached, in these two departments of learning, results in the way of phenomena that are truly stupefying. When one sees these strange manifestations, whose power one cannot deny, without grasping the laws that the Brahmans keep so carefully concealed, the mind is overwhelmed with wonder, and one feels that he must run away and break the charm that holds him."
"The only explanation that we have been able to obtain on the subject from a learned Brahman, with whom we were on terms of the closest intimacy, was this: 'You have studied physical nature, and you have obtained, through the laws of nature, marvellous results--steam, electricity, etc.; for twenty thousand years or more, we have studied the intellectual forces, we have discovered their laws, and we obtain, by making them act alone or in concert with matter, phenomena still more astonishing than your own.' "
Jacolliot must indeed have been stupefied by wonders, for he says: "We have seen things such as one does not describe for fear of making his readers doubt his intelligence . . . but still we have seen them. And truly one comprehends how, in presence of such facts, the ancient world believed . . . in possessions of the Devil and in exorcism." *
But yet this uncompromising enemy of priestcraft, monastic orders, and the clergy of every religion and every land--including Brahmans, lamas, and fakirs--is so struck with the contrast between the fact-supported cults of India, and the empty pretences of Catholicism, that after describing the terrible self-tortures of the fakirs, in a burst of honest indignation, he thus gives vent to his feelings: "Nevertheless, these fakirs, these mendicant Brahmans, have still something grand about them: when they flagellate themselves, when during the self-inflicted martyrdom the flesh is torn out by bits, the blood pours upon the ground. But you (Catholic mendicants), what do you do to-day? You, Gray Friars, Capuchins, Franciscans, who play at fakirs, with your knotted cords, your flints, your hair shirts, and your rose-water flagellations, your bare feet and your comical mortifications--fanatics without faith, martyrs without tortures? Has not one the right to ask you, if it is to obey the law of God that you shut yourselves in behind thick walls, and thus escape the law of labor which weighs so heavily upon all other men? . . . Away, you are only beggars!"
Let them pass on--we have devoted too much space to them and their conglomerate theology, already. We have weighed both in the balance of history, of logic, of truth, and found them wanting. Their
system breeds atheism, nihilism, despair, and crime; its priests and preachers are unable to prove by works their reception of divine power. If both Church and priest could but pass out of the sight of the world as easily as their names do now from the eye of our reader, it would be a happy day for humanity. New York and London might then soon become as moral as a heathen city unoccupied by Christians; Paris be cleaner than the ancient Sodom. When Catholic and Protestant would be as fully satisfied as a Buddhist or Brahman that their every crime would be punished, and every good deed rewarded, they might spend upon their own heathen what now goes to give missionaries long picnics, and to make the name of Christian hated and despised by every nation outside the boundaries of Christendom.
As occasion required, we have reinforced our argument with descriptions of a few of the innumerable phenomena witnessed by us in different parts of the world. The remaining space at our disposal will be devoted to like subjects. Having laid a foundation by elucidating the philosophy of occult phenomena, it seems opportune to illustrate the theme with facts that have occurred under our own eye, and that may be verified by any traveller. Primitive peoples have disappeared, but primitive wisdom survives, and is attainable by those who "will," "dare," and can "keep silent."
532:* "Edinburgh Review," April, 1851, p. 411.
532:** "Indian Sketches; or Life in the East," written for the "Commercial Bulletin," of Boston.
532:*** See chapter ii. of this vol., p. 110.
532:**** It would be worth the trouble of an artist, while travelling around the world, to make a collection of the multitudinous varieties of Madonnas, Christs, saints, and martyrs as they appear in various costumes in different countries. They would furnish models for masquerade balls in aid of church charities!
532:***** Even as we write, there comes from Earl Salisbury, Secretary of State for India, a report that the Madras famine is to be followed by one probably still more severe in Southern India, the very district where the heaviest tribute has been exacted by the p. 533 Catholic missionaries for the expenses of the Church of Rome. The latter, unable to retaliate otherwise, despoils British subjects, and when famine comes as a consequence, makes the heretical British Government pay for it.
533:* "Ancient Faiths and Modern," p. 24.
533:** "Fetichisme, Polytheisme, Monotheisme."
534:* "Oriental and Linguistic Studies," "Vedic Doctrine of a Future Life," by W. Dwight Whitney, Prof. of Sanscrit and Comparative Philology at Yale College.
535:* "Oriental and Linguistic Studies," p. 48.
536:* In his article on "Paul, the Founder of Christianity," Professor A. Wilder, whose intuitions of truth are always clear, says: "In the person of Aher we recognize the Apostle Paul. He appears to have been known by a variety of appellations. He was named Saul, evidently because of his vision of Paradise--Saul or Sheol being the Hebrew name of the other world. Paul, which only means 'the little man,' was a species of nickname. Aher, or other, was an epithet in the Bible for persons outside of the Jewish polity, and was applied to him for having extended his ministry to the Gentiles. His real name was Elisha ben Abuiah."
537:* "In the 'Talmud' Jesus is called AUTU H-AIS, , that man."--A. Wilder.
539:* See Moor's plates, 75, No. 3.
539:** Max Muller's estimate.
539:*** Dr. Lundy: "Monumental Christianity," p. 153.
540:* Buddhaghosa's "Parables," translated from the Burmese, by Col. H. T. Rogers, R. E.; with an introduction by M. Muller, containing "Dhammapada," 1870.
540:** Interpreter of the Consulate-General in Siam.
540:*** "Ancient Faith and Modern," p. 162.
540:***** The words contained within quotation marks are Inman's.
541:* See vol. i. of this work, p. 319.
541:** p. 57.
541:*** Matthew vii. 2.
542:* p. 25.
546:* See Draper's "Conflict between Religion and Science," p. 224.
546:** This is the doctrine of the Supralapsarians, who asserted that "He [God] predestinated the fall of Adam, with all its pernicious consequences, from all eternity, and that our first parents had no liberty from the beginning."
It is also to this highly-moral doctrine that the Catholic world became indebted, in the eleventh century, for the institution of the Order known as the Carthusian monks. Bruno, its founder, was driven to the foundation of this monstrous Order by a circumstance well worthy of being recorded here, as it graphically illustrates this divine predestination. A friend of Bruno, a French physician, famed far and wide for his extraordinary piety, purity of morals, and charity, died, and his body was watched by Bruno himself. Three days after his death, and as he was going to be buried, the pious physician suddenly sat up in his coffin and declared, in a loud and solemn voice, "that by the p. 547 just judgment of God he was eternally damned." After which consoling message from beyond the "dark river," he fell back and relapsed into death.
In their turn, the Parsi theologians speak thus: "If any of you commit sin under the belief that he shall be saved by somebody, both the deceiver as well as the deceived shall be damned to the day of Rasta Khez. . . . There is no Saviour. In the other world you shall receive the return according to your actions. . . . Your Saviour is your deeds and God Himself. 1
面面面面面面面面面面面面面面面面1:1 "The Modern Parsis," lecture by Max Muller, 1862.
547:* "De Isid. et Osir," p. 380.
548:* Every tradition shows that Jesus was educated in Egypt and passed his infancy and youth with the Brotherhoods of the Essenes and other mystic communities.
548:** Bunsen found some records which show the language and religious worship of the Egyptians, for instance, not only existing at the opening of the old Empire, "but already so fully established and fixed as to receive but a very slight development in the course of the old, middle, and modern Empires," and while this opening of the old Empire is placed by him beyond the Menes period, at least 4,000 years B.C., the origin of the ancient Hermetic prayers and hymns of the "Book of the Dead," is assigned by Bunsen to the pre-Menite dynasty of Abydos (between 4,000 and 4,500 B.C.), thus showing that "the system of Osirian worship and mythology was already formed 3,000 years before the days of Moses."
548:*** It was also called the "hook of attraction." Virgil terms it "Mystica vannus Iacchi," "Georgics," i., 166.
549:* In an Address to the Delegates of the Evangelical Alliance, New York, 1874, Mr. Peter Cooper, a Unitarian, and one of the noblest practical Christians of the age, closes it with the following memorable language: "In that last and final account it will be happy for us if we shall then find that our influence through life has tended to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and soothe the sorrows of those who were sick and in prison." Such words from a man who has given two million dollars in charity; educated four thousand young girls in useful arts, by which they gain a comfortable support; maintained a free public library, museum, and reading-room; classes for working people; public lectures by eminent scientists, open to all; and been foremost in all good works, throughout a long and blameless life, come with the noble force that marks the utterances of all benefactors of their kind. The deeds of Peter Cooper will cause posterity to treasure his golden sayings in its heart.
549:** "Aus dem Tibetischen ubersetzt und mit dem Originaltexte herausgegeben," von S. J. Schmidt.
549:*** "Buddhism in Tibet," by Emil Schlagintweit, 1863, p. 213.
550:* "Ecclesiastical History," 1. i., c. 13.
550:** Tathagata is Buddha, "he who walks in the footsteps of his predecessors"; as Bhagavat--he is the Lord.
550:*** We have the same legend about St. Veronica--as a pendant.
550:**** "Introduction a l'Histoire du Bouddhisme Indien," E. Burnouf, p. 341.
550:***** Moses was a most notable practitioner of Hermetic Science. Bearing in mind that Moses (Asarsiph) is made to run away to the Land of Midian, and that he "sat down by a well" (Exod. ii.), we find the following:
The "Well" played a prominent part in the Mysteries of the Bacchic festivals. In the sacerdotal language of every country, it had the same significance. A well is "the fountain of salvation" mentioned in Isaiah (xii. 3). The water is the male principle in its spiritual sense. In its physical relation in the allegory of creation, the water is chaos, and chaos is the female principle vivified by the Spirit of God--the male principle. In the "Kabala," Zachar means "male"; and the Jordan was called Zachar ("Universal History," vol. ii., p. 429). It is curious that the Father of St. John the Baptist, the Prophet of Jordan--Zacchar--should be called Zachar-ias. One of the names of Bacchus is Zagreus. The ceremony of pouring water on the shrine was sacred in the Osirian rites as well as in the Mosaic institutions. In the Mishna it is said, "Thou shalt dwell in Succa and pour out water seven, and the pipes six days" ("Mishna Succah," p. 1). "Take virgin earth . . . and work up the dust with living p. 551 WATER," prescribes the Sohar (Introduction to "Sohar"; "Kabbala Denudata," ii., pp. 220, 221). Only "earth and water, according to Moses, can bring forth a living soul," quotes Cornelius Agrippa. The water of Bacchus was considered to impart the Holy Pneuma to the initiate; and it washes off all sin by baptism through the Holy Ghost, with the Christians. The "well" in the kabalistic sense, is the mysterious emblem of the Secret Doctrine. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink," says Jesus (John vii.).
Therefore, Moses the adept, is naturally enough represented sitting by a well. He is approached by the seven daughters of the Kenite Priest of Midian coming to fill the troughs, to water their father's flock. Here we have seven again--the mystic number. In the present biblical allegory the daughters represent the seven occult powers. "The shepherds came and drove them (the seven daughters) away, but Moses stood up, and helped them, and watered their flock." The shepherds are shown, by some kabalistic interpreters, to represent the seven "badly-disposed Stellars" of the Nazarenes; for in the old Samaritan text the number of these Shepherds is also said to be seven (see kabalistic books).
Then Moses, who had conquered the seven evil Powers, and won the friendship of the seven occult and beneficent ones, is represented as living with the Reuel Priest of Midian, who invites "the Egyptian" to eat bread, i.e., to partake of his wisdom. In the Bible the elders of Midian are known as great soothsayers and diviners. Finally, Reuel or Jethro, the initiator and instructor of Moses, gives him in marriage his daughter. This daughter is Zipporah, i.e., the esoteric Wisdom, the shining light of knowledge, for Siprah means the "shining" or "resplendent," from the word "Sapar" to shine. Sippara, in Chaldea, was the city of the "Sun." Thus Moses was initiated by the Midianite, or rather the Kenite, and thence the biblical allegory.
551:* Schmidt: "Der Weise und der Thor," p. 37.
552:* "Rgya. Tcher. Rol. Pa.," "History of Buddha Sakya-muni" (Sanscrit), "Lalitavistara," vol. ii., pp. 90, 91.
552:** "Protevangelion" (ascribed to James), ch. xiii. and xiv.
552:*** "Pali Buddhistical Annals," iii., p. 28; "Manual of Buddhism," 142. Hardy.
552:**** "Gospel of the Infancy," chap. xx., xxi.; accepted by Eusebius, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Jerome, and others. The same story, with the Hindu earmarks rubbed off to avoid detection, is found at Luke ii. 46, 47.
553:* Alabaster: "Wheel of the Law," pp. 29, 34, 35, and 38.
554:* E. Upham: "The History and Doctrines of Buddhism," p. 135. Dr. Judson fell into this prodigious error by reason of his fanaticism. In his zeal to "save souls," he refused to peruse the Burmese classics, lest his attention should be diverted thereby.
554:** "Indian Antiquary," vol. ii., p. 81; "Book of Ser Marco Polo," vol. i., p. 441.
554:*** "Ssabismus," vol. i., p. 725.
554:**** Murray's "History of Discoveries in Asia."
555:* "Manual of Buddhism," p. 142.
555:** See Inman's "Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism," p. 92.
555:*** "Rgya. Tcher. Rol. Pa.," Bkah Hgyour (Thibetan version).
555:**** Gospel according to Luke, i. 39-45.
555:***** Didron: "Iconograph. Chretienne Histoire de Dieu."
556:* There are numerous works deduced immediately from the "Vedas," called the "Upa-Ved." Four works are included under this denomination, namely, the "Ayus," "Gandharva," "Dhanus," and "Sthapatya." The third "Upaveda" was composed by Viswamitra for the use of the Kshatriyas, the warrior caste.
558:* Bunsen's "Egypt's Place in Universal History," vol. v., p. 93.
559:* Alabaster: "Wheel of the Law," pp. 43-47.
560:* "The Debatable Land," p. 145.
560:** "We divide our zeal," says Dr. Henry More, "against so many things that we fancy Popish, that we scarce reserve a just share of detestation against what is truly so. Such are that gross, rank, and scandalous impossibility of transubstantiation, the various modes of fulsome idolatry and lying impostures, the uncertainty of their loyalty to their lawful sovereigns by their superstitious adhesion to the spiritual tyranny of the Pope, and that barbarous and ferine cruelty against those that are not either such fools as to be persuaded to believe such things as they would obtrude upon men, or, are not so false to God and their own consciences, as, knowing better, yet to profess them" (Postscript to "Glanvill").
560:*** Payne Knight believes that Ceres was not a personification of the brute matter which composed the earth, but of the female productive principle supposed to pervade it, which, joined to the active, was held to be the cause of the organization and animation of its substance. . . . She is mentioned as the wife of the Omnipotent Father, AEther, or Jupiter ("The Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology," xxxvi.). Hence the word, of Christ, "it is the Spirit that quickeneth, flesh profiteth nothing," applied in their dual meaning to both spiritual and terrestrial things, to spirit and matter.
Bacchus, as Dionysus, is of Indian origin. Cicero mentions him as a son of Thyone and Nisus. Διονυσος means the god Dis from Mount Nys in India. Bacchus, crowned p. 561 with ivy, or kissos, is Christna, one of whose names was Kissen. Dionysus is preeminently the deity on whom were centred all the hopes for future life; in short, he was the god who was expected to liberate the souls of men from their prisons of flesh. Orpheus, the poet-Argonaut, is also said to have come on earth to purify the religion of its gross, and terrestrial anthropomorphism, he abolished human sacrifice and instituted a mystic theology based on pure spirituality. Cicero calls Orpheus a son of Bacchus. It is strange that both seem to have originally come from India. At least, as Dionysus Zagreus, Bacchus is of undoubted Hindu origin. Some writers deriving a curious analogy between the name of Orpheus and an old Greek term, ορφος, dark or tawny-colored, make him Hindu by connecting the term with his dusky Hindu complexion. See Voss, Heyne and Schneider on the Argonauts.
562:* "Vie de Jesus," p. 219.
562:** Ibid., p. 221.
562:*** "Analysis of Religious Belief," vol. i., p. 467.
563:* See the "Gita," translated by Charles Wilkins, in 1785; and the "Bhagavad-Purana," containing the history of Christna, translated into French by Eugene Burnouf. 1840.
563:** Matthew vii. 21.
563:*** "Of the People of India," vol. i., p. 84.
563:**** Or "Researches into the Mysteries of Occultism"; Boston, 1877, Edited by Mrs. E. Hardinge Britten.
564:* See "Stone Him to Death"; "Septenary Institutions." Capt. James Riley, in his "Narrative" of his enslavement in Africa, relates like instances of great longevity on the Sahara Desert.
564:** Russian Armenia; one of the most ancient Christian convents.
564:*** "Egyptian Book of the Dead." The Hindus have seven upper and seven lower heavens. The seven mortal sins of the Christians have been borrowed from the Egyptian Books of Hermes with which Clement of Alexandria was so familiar.
565:* The atrocious custom subsequently introduced among the people, of sacrificing human victims, is a perverted copy of the Theurgic Mystery. The Pagan priests, who did not belong to the class of the hierophants, carried on for awhile this hideous rite, and it served to screen the genuine purpose. But the Grecian Herakles is represented as the adversary of human sacrifices and as slaying the men and monsters who offered them. Bunsen shows, by the very absence of any representation of human sacrifice on the oldest monuments, that this custom had been abolished in the old Empire, at the close of the seventh century after Menes; therefore, 3,000 years B.C., Iphicrates had stopped the human sacrifices entirely among the Carthaginians. Diphilus ordered bulls to be substituted for human victims. Amosis forced the priests to replace the latter by figures of wax. On the other hand, for every stranger offered on the shrine of Diana by the inhabitants of the Tauric Chersonesus, the Inquisition and the Christian clergy can boast of a dozen of heretics offered on the altar of the "mother of God," and her "Son." And when did the Christians ever think of substituting either animals or wax-figures for living heretics, Jews, and witches? They burned these in effigy only when, through providential interference, the doomed victims had escaped their clutches.
565:** This is why Jesus recommends prayer in the solitude of one's closet. This secret prayer is but the paravidya of the Vedantic philosopher: "He who knows his soul p. 566 (inner self) daily retires to the region of Swarga (the heavenly realm) in his own heart," says the Brihad-Aranyaka. The Vedantic philosopher recognizes the Atman, the spiritual self, as the sole and Supreme God.
566:* "Wheel of the Law," p. 54.
567:* A. Wilder: "Ancient and Modern Prophecy."
568:* While at Petrovsk (Dhagestan, region of the Caucasus) we had the opportunity of witnessing another such mystery. It was owing to the kindness of Prince Melikoff, the governor-general of Dhagestan, living at Temerchan-Shoura, and especially of Prince Shamsoudine, the ex-reigning Shamchal of Tarchoff, a native Tartar, that during the summer of 1865 we assisted at this ceremonial from the safe distance of a sort of private box, constructed under the ceiling of the temporary building.
569:* Does not this afford us a point of comparison with the so-called "materializing mediums"?
571:* The Yezidis must number over 200,000 men altogether. The tribes which inhabit the Pashalik of Bagdad, and are scattered over the Sindjar mountains are the most dangerous, as well as the most hated for their evil practices. Their chief Sheik lives constantly near the tomb of their prophet and reformer Adi, but every tribe chooses its own sheik among the most learned in the "black art." This Adi or Ad is a mythic ancestor of theirs, and simply is, Adi--the God of wisdom or the Parsi Ab-ad the first ancestor of the human race, or again Adh-Buddha of the Hindus, anthropomorphized and degenerated.
573:* Within less than four months we have collected from the daily papers forty-seven cases of crime, ranging from drunkenness up to murder, committed by ecclesiastics in the United States only. By the end of the year our correspondents in the East will have valuable facts to offset missionary denunciations of "heathen" misdemeanors.
575:* "Evolution," art. Paul, the Founder of Christianity.
576:* We find in Galatians iv. 4, the following: "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
576:** The date has been fully established for these Pali Books in our own century; sufficiently so, at least, to show that they existed in Ceylon, 316 B.C., when Mahinda, the son of Asoka, was there (See Max Muller, "Chips, etc.," vol. i., on Buddhism).
577:* "A New Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam," by M. de la Loubere, Envoy to Siam from France, 1687-8, chap. xxv., London; "Diverse Observations to be Made in Preaching the Gospel to the Orientals."
The Sieur de la Loubere's report to the king was made, as we see, in 1687-8. How thoroughly his proposition to the Jesuits, to suppress and dissemble in preaching Christianity to the Siamese, met their approval, is shown in the passage elsewhere quoted from the Thesis propounded by the Jesuits of Caen ("Thesis propugnata in regio Soc. Jes. Collegio, celeberrimae Academiae Cadoniensis," die Veneris, 30 Jan., 1693), to the following effect: ". . . neither do the Fathers of the Society of Jesus dissemble when they adopt the institute and the habit of the Talapoins of Siam." In five years the Ambassador's little lump of leaven had leavened the whole.
579:* In a discourse of Hermes with Thoth, the former says: "It is impossible for thought to rightly conceive of God. . . . One cannot describe, through material organs, that which is immaterial and eternal. . . . One is a perception of the spirit, the other a reality. That which can be perceived by our senses can be described in words; but that which is incorporeal, invisible, immaterial, and without form cannot be realized through our ordinary senses. I understand thus, O Thoth, I understand that God is ineffable."
In the Catechism of the Parsis, as translated by M. Dadabhai Naoroji, we read the following:
"Q. What is the form of our God?"
"A. Our God has neither face nor form, color nor shape, nor fixed place. There is no other like Him. He is Himself, singly such a glory that we cannot praise or describe Him; nor our mind comprehend Him."
580:* "Contemporary Review," p. 588, July, 1870.
580:** "Book of Ser Marco Polo," vol. ii., pp. 304, 306.
581:* "Dec.," v., lib. vi., cap. 2.
582:* "Travels in Tartary," etc., pp. 121, 122.
583:* "Book of Ser Marco Polo," vol. ii., p. 340.
584:* His twenty or more volumes on Oriental subjects are indeed a curious conglomerate of truth and fiction. They contain a vast deal of fact about Indian traditions, philosophy and chronology, with most just views courageously expressed. But it seems as if the philosopher were constantly being overlaid by the romancist. It is as though two men were united in their authorship--one careful, serious, erudite, scholarly, the other a sensational and sensual French romancer, who judges of facts not as they are but as he imagines them. His translations from Manu are admirable; his controversial ability marked; his views of priestly morals unfair, and in the case of the Buddhists, positively slanderous. But in all the series of volumes there is not a line of dull reading; he has the eye of the artist, the pen of the poet of nature.
585:* Les Fils de Dieu, "L'Inde Brahmanique," p. 296.