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   THIS is the only Suttanta, among the thirteen translated in this volume, in which the discourse does not lead up to Arahatship. It leads up only to the so-called Brahma Vihâras--the supreme conditions--four states of mind held to result, after death, in a rebirth in the heavenly worlds of Brahmâ. Why is it--the Buddhist ideal being Arahatship, which leads to no rebirth at all--that this lower ideal is thus suddenly introduced?

   It would seem that the particular point here discussed was regarded as so important that it could scarcely be left out. And when we recollect that the highest teaching current before the Buddha, and still preserved in the pre-Buddhistic Upanishads, was precisely about union with Brahmâ; we may, without much danger of error, explain the position occupied in the series of dialogues by this Suttanta by the supposition that it was deliberately inserted here as the Buddhist answer to the Upanishad theory. In this respect it is noteworthy that the neuter Brahman is quietly ignored, That is quite in accordance with the method of the Suttantas. The Buddha is in them often represented as using, in his own sense, words familiar to his interlocutors in a different sense, The neuter Brahman is, so far as I am aware, entirely unknown in the Nikâyas, and of course the Buddha's idea of Brahmâ, in the masculine, really differs widely from that of the Upanishads.

   There is nothing original in the Buddhist belief that a man's habit of mind at the time of his death would determine, save only in the one case of the Arahat, the nature of his rebirth. It is an Indian--not an exclusively Buddhist--theory. The Buddhist texts represent it as held by non-Buddhists, and already long before the Buddha's time, and as accepted by all as a matter of course. And it is even not exclusively Indian. As I have pointed out elsewhere, it is

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ascribed by Plato to Socrates{1}. The essentially Buddhist parts of the theory are three. In the first place, the choice of the particular details they held essential to such a habit of mind as would lead to rebirth in the Brahmâ-worlds; secondly, their doctrine that there was not really any 'soul' to be reborn; and thirdly, that the highest ideal was not to be reborn at all (even only once, and into union with Brahmâ).

   The Gâtaka commentary in numerous passages states that the four Brahma Vihâras were practised, long before the time of the rise of Buddhism, by the sages of old. I have not found such a statement in the Nikâyas; and it is most probable therefore that the Gâtaka commentator is antedating the particular meditations in question. However this may be, they remained, throughout the long history of Buddhism, an essential part of Buddhist practice. They are even mentioned in the Gâtaka Mâlâ, a work usually supposed to be Mahâyânist, and dated about a thousand years later than the Buddha{2}. They are well known to-day in Burma, Siam, and Ceylon. And it would be interesting to know whether they still form a part of the regulated meditations which are known to be practised by Buddhists in Thibet, China, and Japan. But they have not been found in any Indian book not a Buddhist work, and are therefore almost certainly exclusively Buddhist. Even the most determined anti-Buddhist must admit the beauty of the language (in spite of its repetitions §§ 76-78), the subtle depth of the ideas, and the great value of the practice from the point of view of ethical self-training. He would probably rejoin, and with truth, that similar sentiments are met with in other (post-Buddhistic) Indian books. But it is one thing to give expression in isolated passages to such views, and quite another to have selected just these four as the four cornerstones of habitual endeavour.

   It should be recollected that the argument here is only an argumentum ad hominem. If you want union with Brahmâ--which you had much better not want--this is the way to attain to it{3}.

{1. Phaedo 69. The full context is given in my 'Hibbert Lectures,' Appendix viii.

2. In the well-known story of the Bodhisattva giving his body to feed a tigress (No. 1, verse 12).

3. See the remarks above on p. 206.}

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