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The Creed of Buddha, by Edmond Holmes, [1919], at

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THERE were mighty warriors before the days of Agamemnon, and mighty thinkers before the days of Socrates and Plato. Greatest of all the forgotten thinkers of antiquity, greatest, as it seems to me, of all who have ever consecrated their mental powers to the service of Humanity, was the sage whose vision of reality found expression in the parables and aphorisms of the Upanishads. So lofty was the plane on which his spirit moved that, however high the fountain of idealistic speculation may ascend in its periodic outbursts of activity, it can never do more than seek the level of his thought.

Philosophy is, in its essence, the quest of reality. In the attempt to determine what is real, one has to choose, in the first instance, between the percipient self and the things that it perceives. 1 This

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choice may seem to be purely metaphysical, but sooner or later it becomes a moral choice and one which is decisive of the chooser's destiny. For him who can face the problem steadily there is, in the last resort, but one possible solution of it. If we may assume that each term of the given antithesis has some measure of reality, we need be in no doubt as to which is the more real. The problem solves itself, for the simple reason that the decision as to whether the self or the outward world is (relatively) real rests with the self, not with the outward world. It is I who have to make the choice between myself and the world that surrounds me; and I have to make it to my own satisfaction. Is it possible for me to remain impartial? Am I not inevitably prejudiced in favour of myself? If I invest the outward world with reality of any degree or kind, if I persuade myself that it is more real than I am, if, by some metaphysical tour de force, I go so far as to regard it as the substance of which I am merely the shadow, the fact remains that it is I who am guaranteeing its reality; and, that being so, the question inevitably suggests itself: If the guarantor is metaphysically insolvent, what is the value of his guarantee? The man who can allow himself to say: "I can see the outward world; therefore it is real. But I cannot see my self; therefore I am non-existent": is obviously the victim of a singular confusion of thought. It is sometimes said that the idealist starts with himself, and never gets to the outward world. There are certain dialectical developments of idealism of which this

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criticism may perhaps hold good; but, as a general criticism of idealism, it is, I think, entirely untrue. The idealist starts, where every thinker must start, with provisional acceptance of the outward world as well as of the percipient self; and, in I common with all his fellow men, he invests the former with some measure or degree of reality; but, in the act of guaranteeing its reality, he guarantees (as he has discernment enough to realize) a fuller measure and a higher degree of reality to himself. Nor is the value of the latter guarantee impaired by the patent fact that it is illogical to go surety for oneself. To prove the reality of what alone enables one to prove reality is, for obvious reasons, impossible. But the Universe (as I know it) would melt into a dream-world if I could not place my self at the centre of it; and my inability to prove, or even begin to prove, that my self is real, matters little so long as Nature herself constrains me--with or without the consent of my consciousness--to postulate its reality.

In the choice between the percipient self and the objects of its perception, the thinkers of India threw the whole weight of their thought on the side of the former. The philosophy of the Far East, which has ever been dominated by the "ancient wisdom" of India, bases itself on acceptance of the self or soul, just as the philosophy of the West bases itself on acceptance of the outward world. This is a point on which I have already dwelt, and need not further enlarge. What it now concerns us to notice is that there are vast philosophical conceptions implicit in the germinal assumption

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of Eastern thought, and that the thinker who speaks to us in

"The grand, sonorous, long-linked lines"

of the Upanishads, proved his greatness by the profound insight and the speculative daring with which he developed those conceptions into a world-embracing system of thought. 1

Let us, with the aid of the Upanishads, attempt to do his thinking for him. If in the microcosm, the world which directly and obviously centres in the individual, the self or conscious subject is real and the objects of its knowledge are by comparison unreal, must it not be the same--one instinctively argues--in the macrocosm, or totality of things? Is there not at the heart of the Universe a conscious life, and is not this all-conscious life--this Universal 2 Self, as we may call it the supreme reality by reference to which all existent things, when their claims to reality are tested, take their several "stations and degrees"? To argue from one's own experience (whether rightly or wrongly interpreted) to the world at large is permissible, for the simple but sufficient reason that it is inevitable. The man who inclines to materialism when he makes his choice between his own self and the

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world that environs him, will be a materialist in his general conception of the Universe. The transition from personal to impersonal idealism is equally natural and necessary. The truth is that the distinction between the microcosm and the macrocosm is a tentative and provisional one, which readily melts away under the solvent influence of speculative thought. The microcosm, as we try to define its boundaries, gradually expands into the macrocosm; and the relation between the two is seen to be one, not of analogy merely, but of ultimate identity. The reality of the Universal Self is as certain as the reality of the individual self; and in the act of accepting the latter we accept the former, with all that it implies.

For Indian thought, then, which started with acceptance of the individual self, Brahma--the Universal Soul or Self--was and is alone real. The first thing that we can say about him is that he is unknown and unknowable. In the world which centres in me, it is I, the knower, who am unknown and unknowable. It is the same in the Cosmos. We must either keep silence when we meditate on Brahma, or speak of him (as the Upanishads habitually do) in the language of paradox and negation. Speech cannot reveal him, for he makes speech possible. Thought cannot reveal him, for he makes thought possible. Sight cannot reveal him, for he makes sight possible. Hearing cannot reveal him, for he makes hearing possible. He is afar and yet near. He is innermost and outermost. Though swifter than the mind, he moveth not. All things are in him, and he is in everything. Allow

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opposites are harmonized in him,--being and non-being, wisdom and unwisdom, right and wrong. He is beyond sight, beyond speech, beyond mind, beyond the known, beyond the unknown. "If thou thinkest 'I know him well,' but little sure of Brahma dost thou know."

"He is unknown to whoso think they know,
But known to whoso know they know him not." 1

But though he is in very truth the Unknown and Unknowable, he is not "the Unknowable" of modern European thought. In the "synthetic" philosophy the Unknowable is a background of unreality which brings out into strong belief the reality of the phenomenal world. Or, again, it is a convenient hypothesis which bears, like the scapegoat of old, the sins and follies of idealism, and takes them away into the wilderness of non-existence, and so sets the thinker free to develop, without let or hindrance, a materialistic system of thought. But the Unknowable of Indian philosophy is the most real of all realities. Indeed it is the sum total of reality, the beginning and end of all that really is.

"This is that ultimate and uttermost
Which shall not be beheld, being in a
The unbeholden essence!" 2

Brahma, then, far from being the pale reflection of our own complacent ignorance, is the innermost reality, in the sense that all existent things have

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their life and their power in him. This conception finds fitting expression in the parable of Brahma and the Gods. The story goes that Brahma once won a victory for the Gods,--Wind, Fire, and the rest. They thought, "Ours is this victory, our very own the triumph." Knowing their thought, Brahma stood before them. They knew him not, and wondered who he was. They said to Fire, "Find out, all-knowing one, who that wondrous Being is." Fire did their bidding, and, as he drew near to the stranger, was greeted with the words, "Who art thou?" "Why, I am Fire," he answered, "all-knowing Fire am I." "What power is in thine I-ness, then?" said the stranger. "Why, I can burn up everything on earth," said Fire. Then the stranger set a straw before him, and bade him burn it. He smote it with all his might, but could not even scorch it. So he returned and said, "I could not find out who that wondrous Being is." Then Air was sent on the same quest, and he too was asked, "Who art thou?" "Why, I am Air," he answered, "breather in mother space am I." "What power is in thine I-ness, then?" said the stranger. "Why, I can blow away all things on earth," said Air. Then the stranger set a straw before him, and bade him blow it away. He smote it with all his might, but could not stir it. So he too returned and said, "I could not find out who that wondrous Being is." Then "the Lord" (Indra) was sent; but the stranger, as he drew near to him, vanished from his sight, and where he had been standing there stood a beautiful woman arrayed in gold. Of her

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the Lord asked who the stranger was. "Brahma," she said. "In Brahma's conquest do ye triumph."

The moral of this story is plain. Individuality is the negation of reality. Apart from the One the individual is nothing. Even the high Gods triumph in Brahma's might. Left to themselves, they have no power, no life. Their selfhood, when severed from the Universal selfhood, is a pure delusion. Fire cannot of himself burn a straw. Air cannot of himself blow a straw away. The Universal Self is the true self of each of the high Gods. It follows, a fortiori, that it is the true self of each individual man. We have seen that the microcosm, as we try to define its boundaries, gradually expands into the macrocosm, and that the relation between the two worlds is one, not of analogy merely, but of ultimate identity. There is a corollary to this general conception of things, which Indian thought did not fail to draw. As the microcosm expands into the macrocosm, so does what is real in the former--the individual self--expand into what is real in the latter,--the Universal Self. The relation between the two selves, like the relation between the two worlds, is one, not of analogy merely, but of ultimate identity. As I try to determine what my self really is, I find that it begins to melt into the Universal Self; and at last the idea begins to dawn upon me that the Universal Self, the All-Consciousness, is the real self of each individual man, and that until I have found the Universal Self, made myself one with it, made it in some sort my own, I am not really free to say, "I am I."

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This grand conception is the keystone of the whole arch of Indian thought. Let us consider its bearing on human life. We must first remind ourselves that the philosophy of ancient India brings the whole Universe under the dominion of natural law. The Divine Self does not dwell above or apart from the world of Nature, but at the very heart of it, being indeed the vital essence of Nature,--the revelation to him whose inward eyes are open, of what Nature really is. It follows that the natural order of things is the expression, or at any rate an expression, of the Divine Self; that the central forces of Nature are a manifestation of the Divine Will; and that through the whole system of natural law the One, who "remains," proves his presence in and through the Many, which "change and pass." The physical science of the West believes itself to have evolved the conception of natural law, and claims to have exclusive rights in it. But in this, as in other matters, we must distinguish between the conscious and the unconscious apprehension of a philosophic truth. The sense of law and order in Nature is not only common to all human beings, from the savant in his laboratory to the "burnt child" that "dreads the fire," but is also present, however dimly or inchoately, in every organism, however lowly, which adapts itself with any measure of success to the world in which it lives. But, whereas in the West the conception of natural law has in the main been applied to the outward and visible world, in the East, where the outward and visible world owes such reality as it possesses to its own inward and

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spiritual life, the conception of law has not merely been applied to the inward and spiritual life, but has been more intimately associated with it than with any other aspect of Nature. In the Universe, as the popular thought of the West conceives of it, there are two worlds,--the natural, which is under the dominion of law, and the supernatural, which is under the sway of an arbitrary and irresponsible despot, who can also suspend or modify at will the laws of the natural world. But Eastern thought, in conceiving of the inward life as the real self of Nature, conceived of it also as the ultimate and eternal source of all natural law. Indeed, it is in and through the inward life that Nature--the totality of things--is transformed from a chaos into a Cosmos, from an aggregate of atoms into an organic Whole.

Now the Universal Soul is not only the real self of the whole Universe, but is also, more particularly, the real self of each individual soul. This fundamental fact determines the destiny of Humanity, and the duty (or individualized destiny) of each particular man. Applying to the life of the human soul the highest of all natural laws--that of organic growth--the thinkers of the East evolved a sublime idealism which may be said to have centred in the following "sovereign dogma." As the destiny of every animal and plant is to find its true self, or, in other words, advance towards the perfection of which its nature is capable,--so the destiny of man, as a "living soul," is to find his true self, by growing into oneness with the Divine or Universal Soul,

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which is in very truth the ideal perfection of all soul-life.

Having set man this tremendous task, they gave him ample time in which to accomplish it. There is no respect in which the Eastern mind differs so widely from the Western as in the range of their respective visions. The temporal horizon of Western thought had never, until the discoveries of physical science transformed its conceptions, been more than a few hundreds or, at most, thou-sands of years from the mental eye of the spectator. A generation ago, it was possible for learned men to believe, in all seriousness, that the Universe was created 4004 years before the birth of Christ. Nor did this grotesque belief begin to fall into discredit until Science had convinced men that the changes which are registered in the strata of the earth's surface had taken millions of years to accomplish. The idea that cons are needed for the spiritual development of each individual man is one which is still foreign to the Western mind. That a single earth-life, or fraction of a life on earth (for it is never too late for the sinner to repent and be "saved"), can fit the soul for "eternal life," can fit it, in other words, either for immediate admission into the pure light of God's unclouded presence, or for entrance into that Purgatorial world which is the ante-room of Heaven,--this, with the correlative belief that one brief earth-life can earn for a man the tremendous penalty of eternal damnation, is one of the accepted doctrines of all the Christian churches. The very glibness with which the pious Christian talks of dwelling

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in Heaven "for ever," is the outcome of his spiritual myopia. Eternity, as he calls it, is but a high-sounding name for the wall of darkness which bounds his vision as he looks down the vista of soul-life.

But the Eastern mind has always moved with ease through vast cycles of time; and as its philosophy brings all things--spiritual as well as physical--under the dominion of natural law, and therefore forbids it, in any sphere of thought, to pass from finite causes to infinite effects, it has always instinctively assumed that the process of growth which is to transform the individual into the Universal Self is, speaking generally, of practically immeasurable duration. In other words, it has always believed that the soul will pass through innumerable lives on its way to its divine goal. That many of these lives must be passed on earth has always been taken for granted. The obvious fact that in one earth-life man can learn but little of what earth has to teach him, and the further fact that most men die with the desire for the goods and pleasures of earth still strong in their hearts, lead one to expect (once the idea of a plurality of lives has been accepted) that the soul, in the course of its wanderings, will return to earth again and again,--will return, partly in order to widen and enrich its experience, partly in response to attractive forces which it has not yet learned to control. It was in this way that the doctrine of re-incarnation--of a re-incarnating self or Ego--became one of the cardinal articles of the faith of the East.


Let us follow this doctrine into some of its

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momentous consequences. The prospect of attaining, in the fullness of time, to the infinite bliss of conscious union with the Divine Life must needs disparage the attractions of earth. Those who believe that they will never again return to earth may well cling fondly to this temporal life,--so fondly that they will even project it in imagination into the Heaven to which they look forward. But for the Eastern mind each temporal life was (and is) a stage in a long and toilsome journey,--a journey which seemed to grow ever longer and more toilsome, in proportion as the grandeur of the destiny that awaited the journeying soul was more and more vividly realized. Hence it was that a kind of high-souled impatience, a "divine home-sickness" (to use Heine's beautiful words), took possession of the nobler spirits in the Eastern world; and the desire to shorten the journey, to escape as early as possible from the "whirlpool of rebirth," grew up and made its presence felt. The Western mind, which is constitutionally incapable of seeing more than a few years into the future, finds much to satisfy it in the pleasures and pursuits of earth. But the far-sighted Eastern mind, looking beyond the immediate horizon of man's aims and interests, sees that disillusionment and disappointment are the inevitable sequels to success; sees that there is nothing of earth worth possessing, except what is intrinsically unattainable in any earth-life,--nothing, except those prizes which will not be won until the soul, after many wanderings, has entered into possession of its kingdom,--nothing, in fine, except Beauty and Love.

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But how was the journey to the inward and spiritual Heaven to be shortened? It was by the actual growth of the soul, with the concomitant expansion of its consciousness, that the goal was to be reached. When the individual consciousness had become all-embracing, the union of the soul with God would obviously be complete. What if the process of soul-expansion could be abridged? What if the soul could be made to realize--in this or in any future life--to realize fully, finally, and with unfaltering certitude, that all outward things are unsubstantial as shadows, that all the pleasures and interests of earth are evanescent as breaking bubbles, that its own individuality is an illusion,--that nothing, in fine, is real, either in the inward or in the outward world, except the Universal Self, the all-embracing One? If the hollowness and unreality of earth and its treasures could once be realized, would not the attractive force of earth--that subtle power by which it draws the soul back to itself again and again--have ceased to act? Would not the cycle of births and deaths have come to an end? Would not the "peace that passeth all understanding" have been won?

The Upanishads are dominated by this idea. The beautiful story of Nachiketas and Death has one burden,--that "he who sees seeming difference" (he who thinks that differences are real, and cannot see the One for the Many) "goes from death to death," whereas he who knows the One, the "all-comprehending One" who is "far beyond distinction's power," escapes from death and inherits

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eternal life. It is desire for the things of earth that draws man back to earth; and desire for the things of earth is generated by belief in their reality. Know that they are unreal, and you will cease to desire them. Cease to desire them, and they will no longer draw you back to earth. "When all desires that linger in his heart are driven forth, the mortal immortal becomes, here Brahman he verily wins. When every knot of earth is here unloosed, then mortal immortal becomes." He who would escape from death must turn his eye away from outward things, and "behold the inner self." "After outward longings fools pursue, they tumble into death's wide-spreading net; whereas, the wise, sure deathlessness conceiving, want nothing here below among uncertain things." The vision of the One discredits the reality of the Many, and in doing so frees the soul from bondage to desire, and therefore to death and re-birth. "Sole sovereign, inner self of all creation, who makes the one form manifold--the wise who gaze on him within their self, theirs and not others is the bliss that aye endures." To say that knowledge of reality subdues desires for outward .things, is to say, in simpler and homelier language, that reason teaches man self-control. "The man who is subject to reason and mindful, constantly pure, he unto that goal truly reacheth from which he is not born again. Aye, the man who hath reason for driver, holding tight unto impulse's reins, he reacheth the end of the journey, that home of the Godhead supreme." But the man "who is the prey of unreason, unmindful, ever impure, to that

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goal such a man never reacheth, he goeth to births and to deaths."


It is clear, from these and kindred passages, that the thinkers of the East attached immense importance to the effort and initiative of the individual soul. It is also clear that the highest achievement of the soul (as they conceived it) was to know the real from the unreal, and to translate that knowledge into feeling and action. Knowledge of reality was at once the goal of the soul's wanderings, and the path that led to the goal; and, that being so, the goal had but to become fully realized in order to make a sudden and final end of the path that led to itself.

The stress that the Sages of the Upanishads laid on knowledge, and the emancipative power that they ascribed to it, may seem strange to our Western minds. Our own ideas about knowledge have so long been dominated by the provisional assumptions of Physical Science, that there is now only one kind of knowledge--that which has scientific certitude for its counterpart--to which we are willing to apply the name. But, in truth, the range of knowledge is as wide as that of Nature, and the word has as many shades of meaning as there are degrees in that "diameter of being" which leads from the pole of abstract and impersonal theory to the anti-pole of actual oneness with reality. To know the supreme truth--that the Universal Self is the only reality, and is therefore the real self of each of us--delivers a man from the circle of life and death, and enables him to enter

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the great Peace. Were the thinkers of India justified in making salvation dependent on knowledge? Our answer to this question will depend on what we mean by knowledge. Such a truth as that in which the faith of India was rooted, may be apprehended in many ways. Let us consider four of these:

In the first place the truth may be apprehended notionally, as the conclusion to a chain of metaphysical argument.

In the second place it may be apprehended emotionally, as a living personal conviction, akin to the pious Christian's faith.

In the third place it may be apprehended intuitively, as the result of a sudden illumination of consciousness, which, while it lasts, gives a man perfect certitude, making him as sure of what he discerns as he is of his own existence.

In the fourth place it may be apprehended really. A man may become conscious--clearly, fully, and finally--of his own absolute oneness with the Universal Self. This is obviously the highest imaginable type of knowledge; and it is obviously the ultimate outcome of the whole process of soul-growth. It is not until the soul has become divine that it can realize its oneness with God.

Of these four types of knowledge, the sages of the East, in their quest of absolute truth, wavered between the first and the third. The second did not appeal to them, partly because the emotional apprehension of truth is generated and fed by personal influences and is therefore foreign to the impersonal mind of the East, and partly because

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the ultimate identity of the individual with the Universal Self is a truth too large and fundamental to be apprehended with anything of the nature of personal emotion. The fourth type of knowledge was, in a sense, the goal of their desire; but they believed that there were short cuts to it; and it was their very endeavour to find those short cuts that led some into the path of metaphysical speculation, and others into the path of mental discipline and inward illumination. The idea of at once following and abridging the path of soul-growth--the only path to the goal of real knowledge, and the one path which is open to all men--did not suggest itself to them. Yet one of the many advantages of that path is that by following it we necessarily abridge it; and it was inevitable that, sooner or later, some master-mind should discover and reveal to mankind this too obvious truth.

Meanwhile, those whose mental bias predisposed them to approach the sovereign dogma of Eastern philosophy from a dialectical standpoint, set to work to establish its truth by quasi-logical methods,--to demonstrate its soundness as a theory, to show that it was the last link in a flawless chain of metaphysical argument. But as, in the region of speculative thought, theory and counter-theory are always equal and opposite, each in turn evoking and being evoked by the other, the attempt to grasp the truth of things in a purely "notional" form plunged those who made it into a whirlpool of metaphysical strife. A truth which, if true at all, is the very counterpart of supreme reality, and which therefore needs, for its apprehension, an atmosphere

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of perfect mental serenity, became a war-cry in one of those dialectical controversies

"Where friend and foe are shadows in the mist"

and inflamed the angry passions of those whom it should have filled with inward peace. Apart from this, it is obvious that the "notional" apprehension of spiritual truth does not necessarily stimulate the soul to bring forth the fruits of good living; and that in any case it is far beyond the reach of ordinary men.

Other thinkers who had no turn for metaphysical speculation, or to whom the atmosphere of controversy was distasteful, tried to arrive at the truth of things by another and a more direct path. In various ways--by mental discipline, by ascetic practices, by concentrated meditation--they tried to realize that rare but very real experience, a sudden illumination of consciousness, an experience which, while it lasts, solves all riddles and mysteries by making the inner meaning of life as clear as the light of noon. Such a mode of seeking truth may seem to our Western minds to savour of madness. But there is always method in the madness of the East. It is possible that some of us, even in the West, have at one time or another experienced, if only for a fleeting moment, a feeling akin to that of which I speak; a feeling of absolute certitude with regard to the ultimate realities of existence; a sense of having been initiated into a mighty mystery, in which all the lesser mysteries that distress and bewilder us are obviously, and of inner necessity, summed up and solved; a sudden and

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overmastering conviction that the world has, after all, a real and sufficient meaning, and that life is, in its essence, a movement towards a glorious goal. Generated, as it ordinarily is, by the shock of an overwhelming sorrow or of an overwhelming joy,--a shock which for the moment benumbs all the mental faculties of the ordinary self, and wakes to consciousness a higher and more inward self,--the feeling too often passes away before one has had time to realize its presence. But, evanescent though it be, the memory of it is ineffaceable; and those who have once experienced it can understand the attraction which that esoteric pathway to reality had for the Indian sage. Nor are we to assume off-hand that the labours of those who tried to find and follow the pathway were wasted. It is possible and even probable that, in the search for inward illumination, important "psychical" discoveries were made; that some at least among the seekers were enabled to realize, each for himself, the presence in man of clairvoyant senses and occult powers; and that by exercising these they gained, in exceptional cases, clear insight into the very heart of their cherished truth. There is something in the philosophy of the East, even on its more popular and practical side, which suggests that those who expounded it spoke, not merely out of the abundance of their hearts and the conviction of their minds, but also out of a personal experience, which, though supernormal, was by no means supernatural, and which was at once convincingly actual and transcendently real. 1 But the pathway to the inward

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light is hard to find and easy to lose; and the methods by which recluses in Indian forests tried to acquire intuitive knowledge of the truth of truths, are not to be followed by ordinary men.

How, then, was that life-giving knowledge to be communicated to the rank and file of mankind? The solution which this problem received was in keeping with the esoteric tendency of Indian thought. The grand ideas in which the Soul of the East had found refuge could not be communicated as ideas to the average man, who was, ex hypothesi, as incapable of high thinking as of self-culture and mental self-control. Personal faith such as that which the devout Christian reposes in Christ, and in God the Father for Christ's sake, was not expected from him; for it was a vast conception that was presented to him, not a personality or a life. The truth of things must be taught to him, for he could neither evolve it nor discern it for himself; and though the notion of his growing, in the fulness of time, into oneness with that living truth of things which is the counterpart of supreme reality, was implicit in the creed of his teachers, the immediate bearing of the notion had not yet been realized. The truth of things must be taught to him; but it was not to be taught to him as abstract truth. What then? One course only remained. The truth must be taught to him symbolically. It must be embodied for him in a ceremonial system, and he must express his belief

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in it by the due discharge of a series of prescribed rites. This is what happened in India; and the seed which was thus sown bore its inevitable fruit. The inner meaning of the symbol was gradually forgotten, until at last the symbol was mistaken for the reality to which it bore witness. Then the forces in the East which periodically make for immobility asserted themselves without let or hindrance. The tyranny of ceremonialism--a tyranny which is inherent in the assumption that the truth of things is to be taught ab extra--extinguished spiritual feeling, and suspended, if it did not wholly destroy, the inner life of the people. "Deeper than ever plummet sounded," the Soul of India "lay (as it is lying now) inactive." The process of its evolution was arrested; and the last and safest pathway to reality--the pathway of soul-growth, of the actual expansion and vivification of consciousness--was closed to mankind.

What remedy was there for this state of things? There was a remedy; but it was too obvious to be easily found, and centuries had to pass before it could suggest itself to Eastern thought. The symbolical, equally with the formal, teaching of spiritual truth, ends at last in the substitution of machinery for life. The path of salvation lies else-where. If you want the rank and file of mankind to realize the truth of a given conception of life, get them to act--to order their own lives--on the assumption that it is true.


20:1 I start, as everyone instinctively does, by postulating the reality of both worlds,--the inward and the outward. The attempt to solve the problem of reality, whatever form it may take, will never stultify this primary postulate; for the real and the unreal are not alternatives, but polar opposites, and as such always co-exist, "varying together in inverse proportion." The dualistic and the monistic solutions of the problem are not solutions at all; for what they do to the problem is to transfer it to the false and impossible category of the existent and the non-existent.

23:1 The Upanishads were, no doubt, the work of many minds; but behind those many minds stands, if I am not mistaken, the shadowy form of one Master Thinker,

Il maestro di color the sanno.

23:2 Here and throughout this book (so far as what I say is the expression of my own thoughts) I use the word universal, and all kindred words, in a relative, not an absolute sense.

25:1 "The Secret of Death," by Sir Edwin Arnold.

25:2 Ibid.

39:1 The preternatural calmness with which the average Oriental p. 41 faces death is inexplicable, except on the assumption that those who taught him his philosophy of life had, in some sort, seen behind the veil, and had communicated to him something of the serenity of their faith.

Next: Chapter III. The Path of Life