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the disciples of that old philosopher with whom Confucius had conversed, men who still maintained that the Reason was something divine and mysterious in each person and would lead him into inward contemplation not make him the handy instrument in a State machinery. But these people had little faith, except in themselves. The effect of their mysterious knowledge upon others seemed chiefly exhibited in charms and incantations and magic arts, which interfered with the good order of the State, rather than promoted it. Something else was wanted. The emperor heard of a great teacher and prophet somewhere in India. In spite of the remonstrances of wise men, who shewed how grievously he was departing from Chinese maxims in preferring foreign to native culture, the Buddhist faith was imported into the empire. A religion resting upon communion with the unseen world, in all its outward and many of its inward characteristics the direct opposite of the Confucian system, gained footing on the soil which that system ruled. The result was what might have been expected. The new faith took hold of popular sympathy and has retained that sympathy to the present day. It was and is despised by the great mandarins, by the functionaries of government, by the adorers of social order. But it is more than tolerated by the government as such; it is recognized as deserving of respect, even of homage. Though the emperor cannot allow the Lama to interfere with his own supreme rule, and has procured the appointment of a
THE BUDDHIST AND CONFUCIAN DOCTRINE. 91
deputy Lama who shall be really the head of the Buddhist society in his dominions, and his subject, he yet sends embassies to the high priest in Thibet, and asks his intercessions for China. Evidently Buddhism is felt, even by the disciples of Confucius, to be an element of society in China which cannot be dispensed with, and for which their own system, much as they may prefer it, offers no substitute.
I have said, that in most of its inward, as well as outward characteristics, the Buddhist and the Confucian doctrine are opposed. I used this language, because it is evident that in one respect they are not opposed. Different as are the functions which are assigned to the intellect of man in the three Chinese systems, that intellect is still an object of profound veneration to all. Wisdom is viewed as wholly social and experimental in the first, internal and mystical in the second, strangely mixed with the idea of what is super-human and eternal in the third. Had it been otherwise, had there been nothing common in these faiths, it is scarcely possible to conceive of them dwelling together in such an empire; or to suppose that one should at all supply the gaps in the other.
And which, then, of these three faiths, shall we say can be described by that comprehensive formula, a mere attempt to explain the phenomena of the universe? All three do attempt that, doubtless, Buddhism, especially. But, does the faith of the Buddhist consist in this? Is it this which in his inmost heart he wants to know?
Every enquiry we have made has led us to the opposite conclusion. He is obliged to question the universe, because he does not know what else he should question. He has questioned it, and to every problem which disturbs him it has returned a more confused answer. He has asked, what that is within him which is higher than it, what that is which seeks a knowledge which it cannot give? He is sure that he is above the world—that it was never meant to be his master -that the spirit in him must have its ground elsewhere. But where? What is this ground? Is it anything? Is it nothing? Who will tell him? That which has asked the question cannot give the answer. With deepest solicitude, he cries, "Do Thou, of whom I see the footmarks in natural things, but most of all in human beings, in those who have thoughts, and reasons, and wills-in those who feel that these are not meant to be the servants of their senses, or of the things with which their senses deal,-do Thou tell me who Thou art, and how I may draw nigh to Thee. Tell me what Thou hast to do with man, for something Thou must have. Tell me if there be a man, and where he is, in whom I may behold Thee; One who is not here to-day, and gone tomorrow; but who, amidst all changes of times, the disappearance of generations, lives on. Tell me if there be indeed a King and High Priest of the universe a man actually Divine. And this, too, I need to know: What that Light is which dwells in me; whether it is self-derived, or, as my
THE RESULTS OF BUDDHISM.
inward heart tells me, derived from Thee. Whether there be any Spirit coming forth from Thee to dwell in men, and bind them together-to make them gentle, and gracious, and wise-to be the common life of all, and still the life of each. And if these things be so, tell me how these things can be reconciled, as my reason has whispered that they can be, though as yet I see not how, with that Unity-the essential condition of Thy Being that which divides Thee from all the multitude of things and persons with whom in this world we converse.' I say that Buddhism, rightly interpreted, is a prayer of this kind—an earnest prayer, consciously or unconsciously uttered by three hundred millions of people. And yet we are told that it is honouring the faith of these people, shewing tenderness and respect for them to believe that there is not any Revelation, save that which man procures for himself. In other words, that this prayer never has been, never can be, answered. Only if we have really brought ourselves to this contempt for the thoughts of so many human beings, can we patiently think of this faith working out, as the phrase is, its own results. It has been working out its results for all these thousands of years—and what have they been? The worship of the intellect has not caused the intellect to grow-not even to grow to an ordinary human or earthly stature; I say nothing of that Divine stature which it feels that it may reach. The priest of Buddha, of the Intelligence, is rarely an intelligent man. That mighty portion of the
globe over which Buddhism rules is nearly the most ignorant portion of it. And yet in it lie the seeds of all highest, noblest culture, if only we can really address ourselves to that which is within the hearts of those who hold this faith, if we can only tell them that which they crave to know. That it is a vain and cruel thing merely to carry our own notions among them-our notions upon any subject, divine, human, earthly, I admit readily. If we do not know that which will solve their riddle-if we cannot tell themHere is that which will turn doubt and confusion into clearness; here is that which is not our notion, but which has come from God to confound our notions, to confound our pride; and which is meant, not for us, but for mankind: for mercy's sake, let us be silent-the Buddhists are better as they are.
So also of the Confucian scheme. That cannot be charged with want of practical results. Yet that something is wanting, China itself has confessed. Can it be supplied from within ? When we fancy it I think we commit a great injustice. Mr. Medhurst, the author of an interesting book on China, the result of his own observations, expresses his wonder and even indignation, that Confucius, having dwelt so beautifully on the rights and duties of a father, should not have carried up his thoughts to the Great Father of all. I confess that I feel quite unable to adopt this language. It seems to me evidence of Confucius being a sincere man, that he did not