Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Buddha

1. He was the son of a king.

2. He lived between six and seven centuries before Christ.

3. He resigned his royal state and went to live in the jungle, and among the lowest and most unhappy classes, so as to learn the secret of human pain and misery by personal experience: tested every known austerity of the Hinḍū ascetics and excelled them all in his power of endurance: sounded every depth of woe in search of the means to alleviate it: and at last came out victorious, and showed the world the way to salvation.

4. What he taught may be summed up in a few words, as the perfume of many roses may be distilled into a few drops of attar: Everything in the world of Matter is unreal; the only reality is in the world of Spirit. Emancipate yourselves from the tyranny of the former; strive to attain the latter. The Rev. Samuel Beal, in his Catena of Buḍḍhist Scriptures from the Chinese puts it differently. "The idea underlying the Buddhist religious system is," he says, "simply this: 'all is vanity'. Earth is a show, and Heaven is a vain reward." Primitive Buḍḍhism was engrossed, absorbed, by one thought—the vanity of finite existence, the priceless value of the one condition of Eternal Rest.

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