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on the other hand, they themselves with their doctrines always come into the most violent contradiction with the demands of this same reason; a fact which has found its classical expression in the saying "Credo quia absurdum est." This is becoming evident precisely in our time, when the conviction of the inadequacy of religions slowly begins to become a phenomenon of the multitude, and just in the direction here in question, the "shall-believe" is more and more opposed by the "want-to-know." But who is able to satisfy this craving, since all our philosophy too, here fails completely? Indeed, we seem to have come to the standpoint of many, that here all knowledge is impossible and, mere faith having become untenable, complete resignation remains the only possible thing. Yet here, just in time, in consequence of those secret conjunctions in the course of the world's events, thanks to which, help or compensation comes for every state that has grown untenable, salvation arises, as so often before, out of the East: ex oriente lux!
Let us once more call the situation to mind: "The age of science no longer wants to believe, but to know." More than that, it is no longer satisfied with that feebler kind of knowledge, namely, the purely abstract, gained by mere concepts or even consisting in mere concepts, as is particularly made evident by the rejection of every philosophy founded upon pure concepts, such as was in vogue during earlier days. Our age demands immediate insight; it also wants to base metaphysical concepts upon self-experience, accessible to everybody. For self-experience alone gives real certainty. Fully to understand this we must recall the incomparable elucidation of the relation between direct knowledge and abstract knowledge given by Schopenhauer, that diamond of his philosophy, which relation may be briefly explained thus:
Abstract knowledge receives its entire content only from
direct, sense-perceived knowledge; it borrows its materials entirely from the latter. Therefore it is not able to give really new knowledge, but only serves to condense our direct knowledge, once gained, into settled concepts, and thus to fix it and transmit it to others. Accordingly truth, that is, the adequate apprehension of something existing in the intellect of man, may ultimately be gained only through our own immediate perception. As Schopenhauer says: "Perception is not only the source of all knowledge, it is itself very knowledge. As out of the immediately radiated splendour of the sun we enter into the borrowed and reflected light of the moon, so do we pass from the sense-perceived, immediate representation bearing its own evidence and warrant in itself, to the abstract and discursive notions of reason which receive all their content only from this direct senseperceived knowledge, and in relation to the same. As long as we remain simply percipient, everything is clear, fixed and certain. There are neither questions, nor doubts, nor errors. One neither wants, nor is able, to go further; peace is found in immediate perception; contentment in the present. But with abstract knowledge, with reason, in the theoretical there arises doubt and error, and in the practical, sorrow and regret."
Thus, only direct sense-perceived knowledge gives complete satisfaction. Whoever possesses it, has no more need of faith, every form of faith melting before it like liquid wax; for him who possesses it, all merely abstract knowledge also, with all its sources of error, has become superfluous: he who has become certain of the existence of a thing through himself perceiving it, as little needs to believe in this existence, as to have it proved to him.
Only this highest degree of truth can permanently satisfy man with regard to the primal problem also, as to whether it is possible to overcome suffering and, above all, death.
This highest degree of truth our age demands, also in this connection.
And now, hearken! Thousands of years ago, there lived in India a man, who, as no other has done, succeeded in crystallizing out this great, primary problem of mankind in all its purity, free from all accessories of any kind, more especially, purified from other obscure, refuse by-products of the longing for metaphysical knowledge. He claimed for himself to have solved the problem in such a manner, that every one by his own direct perception, by his own immediate insight might convince himself of the correctness of the solution, and even at any time, if only he wishes to do so, may test it upon himself. Thus he does not, as do our religions, merely draw a bill of exchange payable after death in an uncertain future. And it happens that the doctrine of this man whom many call the greatest of the Aryans and therefore the greatest of men, precisely at this moment is making its way among us Europeans who look longingly for a teaching that on one hand may present to us the kernel of all religions and all metaphysics, pure and unmixed, and on the other that guarantees its solution in accordance with the methods of exact science, by self-experimentation. This is the doctrine of Gotama the Buddha, the Awakened One, the culminating point of Indian wisdom. Is it any wonder that all those who cannot pass with indifference over the great question of suffering culminating in death, or as children of an era that craves for knowledge, are no longer able to believe, but want to know, begin more and more to swarm round this doctrine which begins for them to take possession of the throne of religions that satisfy them no longer? Give me the name of another mortal who has set forth with equal clearness the great problem of mankind, how to escape suffering and death, and made it the exclusive theme of his doctrine and his life, as the Buddha has done!
The solution of this problem of suffering, from the very beginning was the great task he set himself. For its sake he who had the claim to the crown of his father, an Indian petty king, renounced this crown as well as riches, wife and child and "just entering on his princedom, in first manhood, in the bloom of youth, dark-haired, against the wish of his parents weeping and lamenting, with shorn hair and beard, clad in garb of yellow, he left home behind and retired from the household life to the homeless life," to find out if it were not possible to put an end to this whole chain of suffering. Though the story about the motives of his flight from the world in its details is nothing but a legend, still this legend is so beautiful and is so much in line with the spirit of his doctrine, marking out and defining its contents from the beginning so distinctly and faithfully, that it may be rendered here.
Already when Prince Siddhattha-this was the Buddha's original name was born, the Brahmins living as priests and astrologers at the court of his father, King Suddhodana, predicted the future destiny of the child. They prophesied: "If Prince Siddhattha mounts the throne, he will become a king of kings, a ruler of the world; but if he renounces the throne and chooses the life of an ascetic, then he will become an overcomer of the world, a perfect Buddha." And the ascetic Kaladevala came from the wilderness of the Himalaya and threw himself down before the child, speaking thus: "Truly, this child will some day become a most perfect Buddha and show men the way to liberation." And he wept, for he knew that at his advanced age, he could not live to see that day. But the king, by every means at his disposal sought to hinder the fulfiment of this prediction, as he wished Prince Siddhattha to become a monarch dominating the world. As the Brahmins had told him that the sight of human suffering and of earthly transitoriness would
cause the prince to fly from the world, he kept away from his son everything that might have given him knowledge of human misery and death. He furnished him with every kind of pleasure and all royal splendour, to chain him to worldly life as closely as possible. As he grew up a youth, his father had three palaces built for him, suited to the three seasons of the Indian climate, the hot, the cold, and the rainy. They were all furnished with magnificent splendour. Wide gardens and groves extended all around, with clear ponds girdled with lotus flowers, cool grottoes, murmuring cascades, and garden beds full of beautiful flowers. Within these gardens and groves the prince spent his youth, but he was not allowed to leave them; and to every poor, sick or old man, entrance to them was strictly prohibited. The sons of the country's most noble families were his companions. In his sixteenth year his father had him married to the Princess Yasodhara, and besides that, he provided him with a whole harem of beautiful girls skilled in all manner of dances and songs, and in all kinds of musical instruments in use among Indian princes. Then one day, in driving through the park, he suddenly noticed an infirm old man, his back bent down under the burden of many years, who with the aid of a staff crawled painfully along. Full of astonishment Siddhattha asked his driver Channa, what this curious creature might be, and Channa replied that it was an old man. "Was he born in this state?" the prince went on asking. "No, my Lord, once he was young and in full bloom like you." "Are there more of such old men?" the prince inquired, growing more and more astonished. "Very many, my Lord." "And how could he fall into this miserable state?" "Such is nature's course, that all men must become old and feeble, if they do not die young." "And I too, Channa?" "Yes, my Lord, you too." This accident put the young prince in such a pensive mood, that