Page images

understanding. The "collective opinion" of the Three Councils, the so-called Theravada-interpretation, as it is preserved in the Island of Lankā (Ceylon), is the sole standard of truth. Here, thus, we have exactly the standpoint of the Catholic Church which likewise forbidding all individual explanations of the Bible, for a thousand years has held valid only the explanation of this Bible given through the Councils. Of a truth Deussen is right when he says: "The Buddhism of to-day is a magnifying mirror of the mistakes of Catholicism." To be sure, one thing only is lacking, namely, that the Southern Buddhist Church should entirely forbid to its faithful the reading of the Buddha-word in the original, and refer them exclusively to the so-anxiously guarded Theravadainterpretation, as, in fact, the Catholic Church forbids to its laity the reading of the Bible alone. Is not that mental emasculation? Is it not a travesty of the Buddha who has set forth Sammãditthi, the winning of Right Understanding, as the first and most fundamental member of his select Eightfold Path; and who ever and again declares that we must only adopt that which we ourselves have recognised to be right? "Then, monks, what you have just said is only what you yourselves have recognised, what you yourselves have comprehended, what you yourselves have understood; is it not so?" "It is even so, Lord."*


So then the prophecy of the Buddha that his teaching would decline five hundred years after his death has actually been fulfilled. What for the last two thousand years has

* Majjhima Nikaya, 38th Discourse.-The word "Ditthipatinissagga," Renunciation of Cognition, upon which the Southern Church relies, has a radically different meaning. It is precisely through the acquisition of right cognition that we must overcome also every thirst for cognition and thereby every activity of the mind, in exactly the same way that willing is overcome by willing:-"Chanden' eva chandam pajahati." (Cf, below, p. 356; further, the 117th Discourse of the Majjhima Nikaya!)

been presented in Asia as Buddhism is as little the old Buddha-teaching as that any one of the present-day Christian sects represents the Christianity of Christ. As well the Northern as the Southern Buddhism of Asia are, in the sense of the above-quoted words of Deussen, independent developments of the original teaching of the Buddha which already had set in not very long after his death.

In contrast thereto the present work sets forth the original, genuine teaching of the Buddha. This, to be sure, is a very bold claim. But the author has an infallible criterion for it, furnished by the Buddha himself. The Buddha, in fact, calls his teaching the dhamma anitiha, the truth that carries its confirmation within itself, stands in no need of external authorization. Elsewhere the Buddha-doctrine is called, "The cognised in itself, the doctrine of actuality to be seen with one's own eyes." According to this, the genuine Buddha-doctrine is a securely self-contained, incontestable system of iron logic, in which latter precisely is mirrored the internal evidence of the structure of the teaching.* Just such an incontestable system, self-evident in itself, does the present work set forth. In doing so, it builds exclusively upon the sayings of the Buddha himself, and his leading disciples who lived contemporaneously with him. So, then, it presents itself as the original teaching of the Buddha as surely as that there cannot be a duplicate truth.

Looked out upon from this watch-tower, the reader obtains also immediate certainty as to whether the passages from the Canon relied upon by the author are really the genuine words of the Master and of his disciples. For the criterion of their genuineness here lies in their known objective truth, certainly the most elevated criterion one can have, compared with which all philologico-historical formal criticism,

* Therefore the doctrine of the Buddha bears also the epithet "vibhajjavāda," which Childers and Rhys Davids render, "Religion of Logic or Reason."

altogether apart from its general barrenness, becomes quite superfluous.

A simile may serve to illustrate how the author, out of the Buddhist Canon has reconstructed the old Buddhadoctrine.

Men have been digging in the ruins of an ancient city. According to tradition there stood in the middle a great temple, the ground-plan of which is still recognisable. The investigators now apply themselves to the identification of the huge blocks of stone lying around, as forming part of the temple. Concerning almost every single stone a learned contention is spun out as to whether or not it belongs to the temple, so that no end to the disputing seems in sight. An architect for a long time listens in silence. Then he comes to a bold resolve: he will build up the temple again with the original stones. So he has workmen come; points out stone after stone; has each fitted into its proper place, until at last the whole temple without a gap anywhere, is reconstructed in all its splendour and in a pleasing harmony of all its parts, wherein every block exactly fits in with every other. Is not the whole contention as to the genuineness of each separate stone thereby decided in the simplest and surest manner?

Perhaps the reader will recognise even as immediately, in the passages quoted in "The Doctrine of the Buddha" under his hands, the original blocks of the words of the Master, and in the whole system, the dhamma anitiha. Assuredly he has recognised it if in the reading of the book he has also experienced in himself the truth of those other words, that the teaching of the Buddha is like the paw of the lion: "What it strikes, be it lofty or low, that it strikes soundly."

And so, may the Teaching of "the greatest among gods and men," anew in undiminished strength shed abroad its glowing radiance and still bestow blessing on all that are of

good will, even as gold loses nothing of its lustre though it has lain buried in the ground for thousands of


The printing of the present work has been made possible by the generosity of Mr. Basile Giurkowsky. To him therefore in this place is expressed the heartiest thanks.




« PreviousContinue »