Page images
PDF
EPUB

his self-meditation, which is able to dissipate illusions, i. e., which is above all (parama) and contains the true understanding (artha).

II. The world, or the Samsara, must be renounced, not because it is a source of sorrow and pain, as Sakyamuni himself and the Hinayana followers say, but on account of its unreality, as it contains nothing which can satisfy the mind.

III. Besides the cleaving to existing objects, even thinking of any object or properties whatever, is sufficient to hinder final perfection, and the obtaining of the intelligence (Bodhi) of a Buddha. Man must, therefore, not only curb his passions and abstain from the pleasures of life, but it is not even permissible for him to allow any notion to become the object of his meditation.

IV. Ordinary morality is not sufficient for deliverance from metempsychosis. Those who really strive after final emancipation, must assiduously practise the six transcendental, or cardinal virtues.

These cardinal virtues are:—1

1. Charity. 3. Patience. 5. Meditation.

2. Morality. 4. Industry, or earnest application. 6. Ingenuity.

V. The term "Bodhisattva" has almost entirely lost its original meaning, and is now used in a double sense. In the one sense it is applied to all those who practise the six Paramitas; in the other to the perfect beings who pass between the different worlds. We find

1 In numerous religious books four more virtues are added: 1. Method, or manner; 2. Wish, or prayer; 3. Fortitude; 4. Fore-knowledge, or knowledge. See Csoma, in As Res.. Vol. XX., p. 399; Burnouf, "Le Lotus de la Bonne Loi," p. 544.

[merged small][ocr errors]

them in the legends contemporaneous with the Buddhas, travelling with them, and listening to the words of the Buddhas, who occasionally send them to remote regions to deliver a message, or receive particular instructions. These Bodhisattvas are subdivided into several classes, the most sublime among them being nearly equal to the Buddhas, from whom also it is possible they may have emanated; to some of them indeed a rank seems to have been assigned (though apparently without success) which is superior even to that of the Buddhas. They have fulfilled all the conditions for the attainment of the Buddhaship, and might immediately become most perfect Buddhas, did they not prefer, from unlimited charity towards animated beings, to remain still subject to the law of metempsychosis, and to re-incorporate themselves in human shape for the benefit of man. When once arrived at the estate of a most perfect Buddha it would be beyond their power to contribute to man's salvation, the Buddhas caring no longer for the world when they have once left it.1 In cases of need, therefore, prayers for assistance are addressed not to the Buddhas, but to the Bodhisattvas, who have shown themselves so friendly and well^towardsXdispqsed^ man. The addressing of prayers to the Buddhas residing in other regions, we must consider as only a further development of Mahayana Buddhism.2

1 Concerning this important dogma see Hardy "Eastern Monachism," p. 228.

* The dogma of celestial Bodhisattvas, the progeny of such Buddhas, has been developed only in mysticism, and not in the genuine Mahayana system.

VI. The Mahayana system does not exclude laymen from Nirvana; it admits every one, layman as well as priest, to the condition of a supreme Buddha, and applies this name to all who have attained Nirvana. With regard to the nature of the Buddhas, their definition is materially altered: they are no longer entirely deprived of every personality, and are believed to have a body with certain qualities, and to possess various faculties. By the Mahayanas they have three different kinds of bodies ascribed to them, and, on leaving the world to return to the higher regions, are supposed to strip off only the last and least sublime of these earthly encumbrances, called the Nirmanakava. These bodies are styled:—

1. Nirmanakaya (Tib. Prulpai ku), which is the Nirvana with the remains, or body in which the Bodhisattva appears upon earth in order to teach man, after entering by the six Paramitas, the path, or career of the Buddhas.

2. Sambhogakaya (Tib. Longchod dzogpai ku), or the body of bliss and the reward of fulfilling the three conditions of perfection.

3. Dharmakaya (Tib. Chos ku), or the Nirvana without any remains. This ideal body (the most sublime one) is obtained by the Buddha who abandons the world for ever, and leaves behind everything that has any connexion with it.1

1 Schott, "Buddhaismus," p. 9; Csoma, "Notices" in Jouni. As. Soc. Bcng., Vol. VII., p. 142; Schmidt, "Unmdlehren," in Memoires de l'Academie dc St. Petersbourg, Vol. I., pp. 224 et seq. For the Tibetan terms, see A. Scliiefncr, "Buddhistischc Triglotte," leaf 4.

[merged small][ocr errors]

The Contemplative Majiayana (Yogacharya)

system.

The contemplative system.is described in those works which, in viewing the doctrine of the Paramitas, have started from the consideration that the three worlds exist only in imagination (Tib. Semtsamo). Such works are the Ghanavyuha (the Gandavyuha of Burnouf), the Mahasamaya, and certain others. The saints Nanda (lib. (iavo), Utarasena (Tib. Dampai de), and Samyaksatya (Tib. Yangdag den), are probably among the number teaching in this sense previous to Aryasanga; the latter, however, must be considered as the real founder of the system.1

Like the preceding, the present system also requires abstinence from every kind of reflection, as interfering with clear comprehension; but the most important dogma established by this theory is decidedly the personification of the voidness. by supposing that a soul, Alaya (Tib. Tsang. also Nyingpo), is the basis of every thing. This soul exists from time immemorial, and in every object; "it reflects itself in every thing, like the moon in clear and tranquil water." It was the loss of its original purity that caused it to wander about in the various spheres of existence. The restoration of the soul to its purity can be attained by the same means as in the preceding system; but now the motive and the success become evident; ignorance is annihilated and the illusion that anything can be real is dissipated; man understands at

1 VVassiljcw, 1. c., pp. 143 et acq.; 161, 171. iWl-17.

length clearly, that the three worlds are but ideal; he gets rid of impurity, and returns to his original nature, and it is thus that he becomes emancipated from metempsychosis. Of course, as with everything belonging to the world, this nature also is only ideal; but the dogma once established that an absolute pure nature exists, Buddhism soon proceeded in the mystical school further to endow it with the character of an all-embracing deity.1 A material modification of its original character was thus established.

This idea of the soul, Alaya, is the chief dogma of the Yogacharya system, which is so called because "he who is strong in the Yoga (meditation) is able to introduce his soul by means of the Yoga into the true nature of existence." There occur, however, amongst the Tibetans, several explanations of this term, as well as other titles given to this school; but this name is the most common, and the line of arguments already instanced is ascribed to Aryasanga. To the importance which, from the very first, this school has attributed to meditation, may be traced the germs which subsequently led to its losing itself in mysticism.

Aryasanga and his successors managed to endow their doctrines with such splendour, that the Nagarjuna school with the principles taught by it (which had been adopted by the Madhyamikas, Tib. Bumapa) had sunk almost entirely into oblivion for many centuries. It revived, however,

1 Japanese Buddhism also speaks of a supreme Buddha, who sits throned in the diamond world and has created all the Buddhas. See Hoffmann, "Buddha Pantheon von Nippon," in v. Sicbold's "Btschreibung von Japan," Vol. II.. p. 57.

« PreviousContinue »