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|The following brief summary of some points essential to a right understanding of Buddhism may prove of use to those who are not familiar with the Sacred Books of the Buddhists which have been made accessible to the Western world by translation.
|1. Gotama arrived at three conclusions, sometimes called the Three Characteristics which are applicable to inanimate as well as to animate nature:
|The Three Conclusions.
|That all the constituents of being are transitory.
|That all the constituents of being are misery.
|That all the elements of being are lacking in an Ego.1
|2. The only ideal worth striving after is the ideal of a perfect life, here and now in this present world, in Saintship.
|The only ideal.
|And this ideal is to be reached by emancipation from Desire.
|3. Salvation or Deliverance comes not by belief in the miraculous or by so-called supernatural agencies, but by knowledge and the keeping of the Precepts.
|Man must be awake, strenuous, ardent.
|The meditative life of the recluse is no more effective p. vi than the ordinary life of the wordly man, unless it is exclusively devoted to the attainment of Enlightenment.
|"To commit no evil, to do good,"
|"To purify the heart, this is the teaching of the Perfect One," is one of the most solemn texts in use by Buddhists.
|4. Nirvâna is one of a large number of epithets used as names for the Buddhist ideal of life. It implies the "going out" in the heart of Lust, Illwill, and Dulness or Stupidity.
|5. Buddhism nowhere expressly denies an Infinite First Cause. Its position in this connection is adumbrated by the saying: "If thou knowest the Uncreate, thou hast found Deliverance."
|A First Cause.
|6. The trend of Buddhist Psychology may be inferred from the following passages;
|"All that we are is the result of what we have thought."
|"In this little fathom-long mortal frame with its thinkings and its notions, I declare, is the world."
|7. The "Four Unthinkables" concerning which Gotama deprecated speculation are:
|The Four Unthinkables.
|The origin of matter.
|The abnormal powers acquired by suppression of the molecular activities of the brain.
|The omniscience of the Enlightened One.
|The operation of Karma.
|8. Speculations as to existence or non-existence after death and all discussion as to ultimate soul-problems, starting from predicates of material form, were pronounced vain and unprofitable, because "they do not conduce to progress in holiness, because they do not contribute to peace and enlightenment. What contributes to peace and enlightenment p. vii the Perfect One has taught his own; the truth of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, the truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering."
|Existence after death.
|The only continuity of identity of which we have any experience is the transition of the effects of the words, deeds and thoughts of an individual (by their embodiment in other sentient beings) to future generations.
|This process forms an essential part of the doctrine of Karma and tends to make the general idea of the perpetuation of character without identity of substance appear reasonable. The influences shed by one who has not stamped out desire for existence go, by the action of Karma, to produce in others that 'clinging to existence' which obstructs the way to deliverance from embodiment.1
|In the case of the perfected saint, the Arahat, that particular function of Karma which produces this 'clinging to existence' ceases, because he has detached himself from all conditions good and bad.2 Karma in him has lost its fertilizing power and has become barren. Hence the perfected saint is said to be reborn no more.
|9. In the ancient pictorial representations by Buddhist artists of the cyclic or evolutionary theory of existence, the ape is said to stand for that period of evolution when rudimentary p. viii man is becoming anthropoid, but still an unreasoning automaton.
|10. There is presumptive evidence that the Buddha, in his purview of the Cosmos, included the origination and dissolution of innumerable solar-systems after a Kalpa, or almost an eternity of countless ages.
|11. These are not localities, but states of woe and states of bliss.
|Hell and Heaven.
|8, Drummond Place, D. M. S. Edinburgh.
1 "Buddha made a stupendous and astonishing effort to sever the growth of philosophic and religious thought from Aristoteleian substantialism or animism" (Manual of Buddhist Psychological Ethics). Caroline Rhys Davids.
1 "According to Buddhist belief there is no propagation of species. Life in indivisible; hence the child is no relation to its parents, as the wandering individual finds its family through its own inherent Karma." (L. A. Waddell. J. R. A. S. April 94)
2 "And, ye Brethren, learn by the parable of the raft ye must put away good conditions, let alone bad." With reference to this saying of the Buddha, Mrs. Rhys Davids remarks in the Preface to her Manual of Buddhist Psychological Ethics (P. XCIV); "The good is as a raft bearing one across the stream of danger. It is not easy for us, who have learnt from Plato to call our Absolute the good, and our ideal a Summum Bonum, to sympathize really with this moral standpoint."