The Religion of the Samurai by Kaiten Nukariya - HTML preview

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The same is the case with the third and the fourth class of people who are assumed as non-moral or purely immoral. There is no person, however morally degraded he may be, but reveals some good nature in his whole course of life. It is our daily experience that we find a faithful friend in the person even of a pickpocket, a loving father even in a burglar, and a kind neighbour even in a murderer. Faith, sympathy, friendship, love, loyalty, and generosity dwell not merely in palaces and churches, but also in brothels and gaols. On the other hand, abhorrent vices and bloody crimes often find shelter under the silk hat, or the robe, or the coronet, or the crown. Life may fitly be compared with a rope made of white and black straw, and to separate one from the other is to destroy the rope itself; so also life entirely independent of the duality of good and bad is no actual life. We must acknowledge, therefore, that the third and the fourth propositions are inconsistent with our daily experience of life, and that only the second proposition remains, which, as seen above, breaks down at the origin of morality.

7. Where, then, does the Error Lie?

Where, then, does the error lie in the four possible propositions respecting man's nature? It lies not in their subject, but in the predicate-that is to say, in the use of the terms 'good' and 'bad.' Now let us examine how does good differ from bad. A good action ever promotes interests in a sphere far wider than a bad action. Both are the same in their conducing to human interests, but differ in the extent in which they achieve their end. In other words, both good and bad actions are performed for one end and the same purpose of promoting human interests, but they differ from each other as to the extent of interests. For instance, burglary is evidently bad action, and is condemned everywhere; but the capturing of an enemy's property for the sake of one's own tribe or clan or nation is praised as a meritorious conduct. Both acts are exactly the same in their promoting interests; but the former relates to the interests of a single individual or of a single family, while the latter to those of a tribe or a nation. If the former be bad on account of its ignoring others' interests, the latter must be also bad on account of its ignoring the enemy's interests. Murder is considered bad everywhere; but the killing of thousands of men in a battle-field is praised and honoured, because the former is perpetrated to promote the private interests, while the latter those of the public. If the former be bad, because of its cruelty, the latter must also be bad, because of its inhumanity.

The idea of good and bad, generally accepted by common sense, may be stated as follows: 'An action is good when it promotes the interests of an individual or a family; better when it promotes those of a district or a country; best when it promotes those of the whole world. An action is bad when it inflicts injury on another individual or another family; worse when it is prejudicial to a district or a country; worst when it brings harm on the whole world. Strictly speaking, an action is good when it promotes interests, material or spiritual, as intended by the actor in his motive; and it is bad when it injures interests, material or spiritual, as intended by the actor in his motive.'

According to this idea, generally accepted by common sense, human actions may be classified under four different heads: (1) Purely good actions; (2) partly good and partly bad actions; (3) neither good nor bad actions; (4) purely bad actions. First, purely good actions are those actions which subserve and never hinder human interests either material or spiritual, such as humanity and love of all beings. Secondly, partly good and partly bad actions are those actions which are both for and against human interests, such as narrow patriotism and prejudiced love. Thirdly, neither good nor bad actions are such actions as are neither for nor against human interests--for example, an unconscious act of a dreamer. Lastly, purely bad actions, which are absolutely against human interests, cannot be possible for man except suicide, because every action promotes more or less the interests, material or spiritual, of the individual agent or of
someone else. Even such horrible crimes as homicide and parricide are intended to promote some interests, and carry out in some measure their aim when performed. It follows that man cannot be said to be good or bad in the strict sense of the terms as above defined, for there is no human being who does the first class of actions and nothing else, nor is there any mortal who does the fourth class of actions and nothing else. Man may be called good and bad, and at the same time be neither good nor bad, in that he always performs the second and the third class of actions. All this, nevertheless, is a more play of words. Thus we are driven to conclude that the common-sense view of human nature fails to grasp the real state of actual life.

8. Man is not Good-natured nor Bad-natured, but Buddha-natured.

We have had already occasion to observe that Zen teaches Buddha-nature, which all sentient beings are endowed with. The term 'Buddha-nature,'[FN#165] as accepted generally by Buddhists, means a latent and undeveloped nature, which enables its owner to become Enlightened when it is developed and brought to actuality.[FN#166] Therefore man, according to Zen, is not good-natured nor bad-natured in the relative sense, as accepted generally by common sense, of these terms, but Buddha-natured in the sense of non-duality. A good person (of common sense) differs from a bad person (of common sense), not in his inborn Buddha-nature, but in the extent of his expressing it in deeds. Even if men are equally endowed with that nature, yet their different states of development do not allow them to express it to an equal extent in conduct. Buddha-nature may be compared with the sun, and individual mind with the sky. Then an Enlightened mind is like the sky in fair weather, when nothing prevents the beams of the sun; while an ignorant mind is like the sky in cloudy weather, when the sun sheds faint light; and an evil mind is like the sky in stormy weather, when the sun seems to be out of existence. It comes under our daily observation that even a robber or a murderer may prove to be a good father and a loving husband to his wife and children. He is an honest fellow when he remains at home. The sun of Buddha-nature gives light within the wall of his house, but without the house the darkness of foul crimes shrouds him.

[FN#165] For a detailed explanation of Buddha-nature, see the chapter entitled Buddha-nature in Sho-bo-gen-zo.

 

[FN#166] Mahaparinirvana-sutra may be said to have been written for the purpose of stating this idea.

 

9. The Parable of the Robber Kih.[FN#167]

Chwang Tsz (So-shi) remarks in a humorous way to the following effect: "The followers of the great robber and murderer Kih asked him saying: 'Has the robber also any moral principles in his
proceedings?' He replied: 'What profession is there which has not its principles? That the robber comes to the conclusion without mistake that there are valuable deposits in an apartment shows his wisdom; that he is the first to enter it shows his bravery; that he makes an equal division of the plunder shows his justice; that he never betrays the fellow-robbers shows his faithfulness; and that he is generous to the followers shows his benevolence. Without all these five qualities no one in the world has ever attained to become a great robber.'" The parable clearly shows us Buddha-nature of the robber and murderer expresses itself as wisdom, bravery, justice, faithfulness, and benevolence in his society, and that if he did the same outside it, he would not be a great robber but a great sage. [FN#167] The parable is told for the purpose of undervaluing Confucian doctrine, but the author thereby accidentally touches human nature. We do not quote it here with the same purpose as the author's.

10. Wang Yang Ming (O-yo-mei) and a Thief.

One evening when Wang was giving a lecture to a number of students on his famous doctrine that all human beings are endowed with Conscience,[FN#168] a thief broke into the house and hid himself in the darkest corner. Then Wang declared aloud that every human being is born with Conscience, and that even the thief who had got into the house had Conscience just as the sages of old. The burglar, overhearing these remarks, came out to ask the forgiveness of the master; since there was no way of escape for him, and he was half-naked, he crouched behind the students. Wang's willing forgiveness and cordial treatment encouraged the man to ask the question how the teacher could know such a poor wretch as he was endowed with Conscience as the sages of old. Wang replied: "It is your Conscience that makes you ashamed of your nakedness. You yourself are a sage, if you abstain from everything that will put shame on you." We firmly believe that Wang is perfectly right in telling the thief that he was not different in nature from the sages of old. It is no exaggeration. It is a saving truth. It is also a most effective way of saving men out of darkness of sin. Any thief ceases to be a thief the moment he believes in his own Conscience, or Buddha-nature. You can never correct criminals by your severe reproach or punishment. You can save them only through your sympathy and love, by which you call forth their inborn Buddha-nature. Nothing can produce more pernicious effects on criminals than to treat them as if they were a different sort of people and confirm them in their conviction that they are bad-natured. We greatly regret that even in a civilized society authorities neglecting this saving truth are driving to perdition those criminals under their care, whom it is their duty to save.

[FN#168] It is not conscience in the ordinary sense of the term. It is 'moral' principle, according to Wang, pervading through the Universe. 'It expresses itself as Providence in Heaven, as moral nature in man, and as mechanical laws in things.' The reader will notice that Wang's Conscience is the nearest approach to Buddha-nature.
11. The Bad are the Good in the Egg.

This is not only the case with a robber or a murderer, but also with ordinary people. There are many who are honest and good in their homesteads, but turn out to be base and dishonest folk outside them. Similarly, there are those who, having an enthusiastic love of their local district, act unlawfully against the interests of other
districts. They are upright and honourable gentlemen within the boundary of their own district, but a gang of rascals without it. So also there are many who are Washingtons and William Tells in their own, but at the same time pirates and cannibals in the other countries. Again, there are not a few persons who, having racial prejudices, would not allow the rays of their Buddha-nature to pass through a coloured skin. There are civilized persons who are humane enough to love and esteem any human being as their brother, but so unfeeling that they think lower creatures as their proper food. The highly enlightened person, however, cannot but sympathize with human beings and lower creatures as well, as Shakya Muni felt all sentient beings to be his children.

These people are exactly the same in their Buddha-nature, but a wide difference obtains among them in the extent of their expressing that nature in deeds. If thieves and murderers be called bad-natured, reformers and revolutionists should be called so. If, on the other hand, patriotism and loyalty be said to be good, treason and insurrection should likewise be so. Therefore it is evident that a so-called good person is none but one who acts to promote wider interests of life, and a so-called bad person is none but one who acts to advance narrower ones. In other words, the bad are the good in the egg, so to speak, and the good are the bad on the wing. As the bird in the egg is one and the same as the bird on the wing, so the good in the egg is entirely of the same nature as the bad on the wing. To show that human nature transcends the duality of good and evil, the author of Avatamsaka-sutra declares that 'all beings are endowed with the wisdom and virtue of Tathagata.' Kwei Fung (Kei-ho) also says: "All sentient beings have the Real Spirit of Original Enlightenment (within themselves). It is unchanging and pure. It is eternally bright and clear, and conscious. It is also named Buddha-nature, or Tathagata-garbha."

12. The Great Person and Small Person.

For these reasons Zen proposes to call man Buddha-natured or Good-natured in a sense transcendental to the duality of good and bad. It conveys no sense to call some individuals good in case there is no bad individual. For the sake of convenience, however, Zen calls man good, as is exemplified by Shakya Muni, who was wont to address his hearers as 'good men and women,' and by the Sixth Patriarch in China, who called everybody 'a good and wise one.' This does not imply in the least that all human beings are virtuous, sinless, and saintly-nay, the world is full of vices and crimes. It is an undeniable fact that life is the warfare of good against evil, and many a valiant hero has fallen in the foremost ranks. It is curious, however, to notice that the champions on the both sides are fighting for the same cause. There can be no single individual in the world who is fighting against his own cause or interest, and the only possible difference between one party and the other consists in the extent of interests which they fight for. So-called bad persons, who are properly designated as 'small persons' by Chinese and Japanese scholars, express their Buddha-nature to a small extent mostly within their own doors, while so-called good persons, or 'great persons' as the Oriental scholars call them, actualize their Buddha-nature to a large extent in the whole sphere of a country, or of the whole earth.

Enlightened Consciousness, or Buddha-nature, as we have seen in the previous chapter, is the mind of mind and the consciousness of consciousness, Universal Spirit awakened in individual minds, which realizes the universal brotherhood of all beings and the unity of individual lives. It is the real self, the guiding principle, the Original Physiognomy[FN#169] (nature), as it is called by Zen, of man. This real self lies dormant under the threshold of
consciousness in the minds of the confused; consequently, each of them is inclined to regard petty individual as his self, and to exert himself to further the interests of the individual self even at the cost of those of the others. He is 'the smallest person' in the world, for his self is reduced to the smallest extent possible. Some of the less confused identify their selves with their families, and feel happy or unhappy in proportion as their families are happy or unhappy, for the sake of which they sacrifice the interests of other families. On the other hand, some of the more enlightened unite their selves through love and compassion with their whole tribe or countrymen, and consider the rise or fall of the tribe or of the country as their own, and willingly sacrifice their own lives, if need be, for the cause of the tribe or the country. When they are fully enlightened, they can realize the unity of all sentient lives, and be ever merciful and helpful towards all creatures. They are 'the greatest persons' on earth, because their selves are enlarged to the greatest extent possible.
[FN#169] The expression first occurs in Ho-bo-dan-kyo of the Sixth Patriarch, and is frequently used by later Zenists.

13. The Theory of Buddha-Nature adequately explains the Ethical States of Man.

This theory of Buddha-nature enables us to get an insight into the origin of morality. The first awakening of Buddha-nature within man is the very beginning of morality, and man's ethical progress is the gradually widening expression of that nature in conduct. But for it morality is impossible for man. But for it not only moral culture or discipline, but education and social improvement must be futile. Again, the theory adequately explains the ethical facts that the standard of morality undergoes change in different times and places, that good and bad are so inseparably knit together, and that the bad at times become good all on a sudden, and the good grow bad quite unexpectedly. First, it goes without saying that the standard of morality is raised just in proportion as Buddha-nature or real self extends and amplifies itself in different times and places.
Secondly, since good is Buddha-nature actualized to a large extent, and bad is also Buddha-nature actualized to a small extent, the existence of the former presupposes that of the latter, and the mess of duality can never be got rid of. Thirdly, the fact that the bad become good under certain circumstances, and the good also become bad often unexpectedly, can hardly be explained by the dualistic theory, because if good nature be so arbitrarily turned into bad and bad nature into good, the distinction of good and bad nature has no meaning whatever. According to the theory of Buddha-nature, the fact that the good become bad or the bad become good, does not imply in the least a change of nature, but the widening or the narrowing of its actualization. So that no matter how morally degenerated one may be, he can uplift himself to a high ethical plane by the widening of his self, and at the same time no matter how morally exalted one may be, he can descend to the level of the brute by the narrowing of his self. To be an angel or to be a devil rests with one's degrees of enlightenment and free choice. This is why such infinite varieties exist both among the good and the bad. This is why the higher the peak of enlightenment the people climb, the more widely the vista of moral possibilities open before them.
14. Buddha-Nature is the Common Source of Morals.

Furthermore, Buddha-nature or real self, being the seat of love and the nucleus of sincerity, forms the warp and woof of all moral actions. He is an obedient son who serves his parents with sincerity and love. He is a loyal subject who serves his master with sincerity and love. A virtuous wife is she who loves her husband with her sincere heart. A trustworthy friend is he who keeps company with others with sincerity and love. A man of righteousness is he who leads a life of sincerity and love. Generous and humane is he who sympathizes with his fellow-men with his sincere heart. Veracity, chastity, filial piety, loyalty, righteousness, generosity, humanity, and what not-all-this is no other than Buddha-nature applied to various relationships of human brotherhood. This is the common source, ever fresh and inexhaustible, of morality that fosters and furthers the interests of all. To-ju[FN#170] expresses the similar idea as follows:

"There exists the Inexhaustible Source (of morality) within me. It is an invaluable treasure.
It is called Bright Nature of man.
It is peerless and surpasses all jewels.
The aim of learning is to bring out this Bright Nature. This is the best thing in the world.
Real happiness can only be secured by it."

Thus, in the first place, moral conduct, which is nothing but the expression of Buddha-nature in action, implies the assertion of self and the furtherance of one's interests. On this point is based the half-truth of the Egoistic theory. Secondly, it is invariably accompanied by a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction when it fulfils its end. This accidental concomitance is mistaken for its essence by superficial observers who adhere to the Hedonistic theory. Thirdly, it conduces to the furtherance of the material and spiritual interests of man, and it led the Utilitarians to the confusion of the result with the cause of morality. Fourthly, it involves the control or sacrifice of the lower and ignoble self of an individual in order to realize his higher and nobler self. This gave rise to the half-truth of the Ascetic theory of morality.

[FN#170] To-ju Naka-e (died A.D. 1649), the founder of the Japanese Wang School of Confucianism, known as the Sage of Omi. 15. The Parable of a Drunkard.

Now the question arises, If all human beings are endowed with Buddha-nature, why have they not come naturally to be Enlightened? To answer this question, the Indian Mahayanists[FN#171] told the parable of a drunkard who forgets the precious gems put in his own pocket by one of his friends. The man is drunk with the poisonous liquor of selfishness, led astray by the alluring sight of the sensual objects, and goes mad with anger, lust, and folly. Thus he is in a state of moral poverty, entirely forgetting the precious gem of Buddha-nature within him. To be in an honourable position in society as the owner of that valuable property, he must first get rid himself of the influence of the liquor of self, and detach himself from sensual objects, gain control over his passion, restore peace and sincerity to his mind, and illumine his whole existence by his inborn divine light. Otherwise he has to remain in the same plight to all eternity.

[FN#171] Mahaparinirvana-sutra.

Lot us avail ourselves of another figure to explain more clearly the point at issue. Universal Spirit may fitly be likened to the universal water, or water circulating through the whole earth. This universal water exists everywhere. It exists in the tree. It exists in the grass. It exists in the mountain. It exists in the river. It exists in the sea. It exists in the air. It exists in the cloud.

Thus man is not only surrounded by water on all sides, but it penetrates his very body. But be can never appease his thirst without drinking water. In like manner Universal Spirit exists everywhere. It exists in the tree. It exists in the grass. It exists in the ground. It exists in the mountain. It exists in the river. It exists in the sea. It exists in the bird. It exists in the beast. Thus man is not merely surrounded by Spirit on all sides, but it permeates through his whole existence. But he can never be Enlightened unless he awakens it within him by means of Meditation. To drink water is to drink the universal water; to awaken Buddha-nature is to be conscious of Universal Spirit.

Therefore, to get Enlightened we have to believe that all beings are Buddha-natured--that is, absolutely good-natured in the sense that transcends the duality of good and bad. "One day," to cite an example, "Pan Shan (Ban-zan) happened to pass by a meat-shop. He heard a customer saying: 'Give me a pound of fresh meat.' To which the shopkeeper, putting down his knife, replied: Certainly, sir. Could there be any meat that is not fresh in my shop?' Pan Shan, hearing these remarks, was Enlightened at once."

16. Shakya Muni and the Prodigal Son.

A great trouble with us is that we do not believe in half the good that we are born with. We are just like the only son of a
well-to-do, as the author of Saddharma-pundarika-sutra[FN#172] tells us, who, being forgetful of his rich inheritance, leaves his home and leads a life of hand-to-mouth as a coolie. How miserable it is to see one, having no faith in his noble endowment, burying the precious gem of Buddha-nature into the foul rubbish of vices and crimes, wasting his excellent genius in the exertion that is sure to disgrace his name, falling a prey to bitter remorse and doubt, and casting himself away into the jaw of perdition. Shakya Muni, full of fatherly love towards all beings, looked with compassion on us, his prodigal son, and used every means to restore the half-starved man to his home. It was for this that he left the palace and the beloved wife and son, practised his self-mortification and prolonged Meditation, attained to Enlightenment, and preached Dharma for forty-nine years; in other words, all his strength and effort were focussed on that single aim, which was to bring the prodigal son to his rich mansion of Buddha-nature. He taught not only by words, but by his own actual example, that man has Buddha-nature, by the unfoldment of which he can save himself from the miseries of life and death, and bring himself to a higher realm than gods. When we are Enlightened, or when Universal Spirit awakens within us, we open the inexhaustible store of virtues and excellencies, and can freely make use of them at our will.

[FN#172] See 'Sacred Books of the East,' vol. xxi., chap. iv., pp. 98-118.

 

17. The Parable of the Monk and the Stupid Woman.

The confused or unenlightened may be compared with a monk and a stupid woman in a Japanese parable which runs as follows: "One evening a monk (who was used to have his head shaved clean), getting drunk against the moral precepts, visited a woman, known as a blockhead, at her house. No sooner had he got into her room than the female fell asleep so soundly that the monk could not wake her nap. Thereupon he made up his mind to use every possible means to arouse her, and searched and searched all over the room for some instrument that would help him in his task of arousing her from death-like slumber. Fortunately, he found a razor in one of the drawers of her mirror stand. With it he gave a stroke to her hair, but she did not stir a whit. Then came another stroke, and she snored like thunder. The third and fourth strokes came, but with no better result. And at last her head was shaven clean, yet still she slept on. The next morning when she awoke, she could not find her visitor, the monk, as he had left the house in the previous night. 'Where is my visitor, where my dear monk?' she called aloud, and waking in a state of somnambulation looked for him in vain, repeating the outcry. When at length her hand accidentally touched her shaven head, she mistook it for that of her visitor, and exclaimed: 'Here you are, my dear, where am I myself gone then?" A great trouble with the confused is their forgetting of real self or Buddha-nature, and not knowing 'where it is gone.' Duke Ngai, of the State of Lu, once said to Confucius: "One of my subjects, Sir, is so much forgetful that he forgot to take his wife when be changed his residence." "That is not much, my lord," said the sage, "the Emperors Kieh[FN#173] and Cheu[FN#174] forgot their own selves."[FN#175]

[FN#173] The last Emperor of the Ha dynasty, notorious for his vices. His reign was 1818-1767 B.C.

 

[FN#174] The last Emperor of the Yin dynasty, one of the worst despots. His reign was 1154-1122 B.C.

 

[FN#175] Ko-shi-ke-go.

 

18. 'Each Smile a Hymn, each Kindly Word a Prayer.'

The glorious sun of Buddha-nature shines in the zenith of Enlightened Consciousness, but men still dream a dream of illusion. Bells and clocks of the Universal Church proclaim the dawn of Bodhi, yet men, drunk with the liquors of the Three Poisons[FN#176] Still slumber in the darkness of sin. Let us pray to Buddha, in whose bosom we live, for the sake of our own salvation. Let us invoke Buddha, whose boundless mercy ever besets us, for the Sake of joy and peace of all our fellow-beings. Let us adore Him through our sympathy towards the poor, through our kindness shown to the suffering, through our thought of the sublime and the good.
"O brother man, fold to thy heart thy brother; Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there; To worship rightly is to love each other, Each smile a hymn, each kindly word a prayer."
--Whittier.

Let, then, your heart be so pure that you may not be unworthy of the sunshine beaming upon you the light of Universal Spirit. Let your thought be so noble that you may deserve fair flowers blooming before you, reminding you of merciful Buddha. Let your life be so good that you may not be ashamed of yourself in the presence of the Blessed One. This is the piety of Mahayanists, especially of Zenists.

[FN#176] Lust, anger, and folly.

 

19. The World is in the Making.

Our assertion is far from assuming that life is now complete, and is in its best state. On the contrary, it is full of defects and shortcomings. We must not be puffed up with modern civilization, however great victory it has scored for its side. Beyond all doubt man is still in his cradle. He often stretches forth his hands to get at his higher ideal, yet is still satisfied with worthless playthings. It is too glaring a fact to be overlooked by us that faith in religion is dying out in the educated circles of society, that insincerity, cowardice, and double-tongue are found holding high positions in almost ever community, that Lucrese and Ezzeling are looking down upon the starving multitude from their luxurious palace, that Mammon and Bacchus are sometimes preying on their living victims, that even religion often sides with Contention and piety takes part in Cruelty, that Anarchy is ever ready to spring on the crowned beings, that philosophy is disposed to turn the deaf ear to the petition of peace, while science provides fuel for the fire of strife.

Was the golden age of man, then, over in the remote past? Is the doomsday coming instead? Do you bear the trumpet call? Do you feel the earth tremble? No, absolutely no, the golden age is not passed. It is yet to come. There are not a few who think that the world is in completion, and the Creator has finished His work. We witness, however, that He is still working and working, for actually we hear His hammer-strokes resounding through heaven above and earth beneath.

Does He not show us new materials for His building? Does He not give new forms to His design? Does He not surprise us with novelties, extraordinaries, and mysteries? In a word, the world is in progress, not in retrogression.

A stream does not run in a straight line. It now turns to the right, now to the left, now leaps down a precipice, now waters rich fields, now runs back towards its source; but it is destined to find its outlet in the ocean. So it is with the stream of life. It now leaps down the precipice of revolution. Now it enriches the fertile field of civilization. Now it expands itself into a glassy lake of peace. Now it forms the dangerous whirlpool of strife. But its course is always toward the ocean of Enlightenment, in which the gems of equality and freedom, jewels of truth and beauty, and treasures of wisdom and bliss can be had.

20. The Progress and Hope of Life.

How many myriads of years have passed since the germs of life first made appearance on earth none can tell; how many thousands of summers and winters it has taken to develop itself into higher animals, no scientist can calculate exactly. Slowly but steadily it has taken its swerving course, and ascending stop by step the series of evolution, has reached at length the plane of the rational animal. We cannot tell how many billions of years it takes to develop
ourselves and become beings higher than man himself, yet we firmly believe that it is possible for us to take the same unerring course as the organic germs took in the past. Existing humanity is not the same as primitive one. It is quite another race. Our desires and hopes are entirely different from those of primitive man. What was gold for them is now iron for us. Our thoughts and beliefs are what they never dreamed of. Of our knowledge they had almost none. That which they kept in veneration we trample under our feet. Things they worshipped as deities now serve us as our slaves. Things that troubled and tortured them we now turn into utilities. To say
nothing of the customs and manners and mode of living which underwent extraordinary change, we are of a race in body and mind other than the primitive forefathers of good old days.
In addition to this we have every reason to believe in the betterment of life. Let us cast a glance to the existing state of the world.
While the Turco-Italian war was raising its ferocious outcry, the Chinese revolution lifted its head before the trembling throne. Who can tell whether another sanguinary affair will not break out before the Bulgarian bloodshed comes to an end? Still we believe that, as fire drives out fire, to borrow Shakespeare's phrase, so war is driving out war. As an ocean, which separated two nations in the past, serves to unite them now, so a war, which separated two people in the past, brings them to unity now. It goes without saying, that every nation groans under the burden of cannons and warships, and heartily desires peace. No nation can willingly wage war against any other nation. It is against the national conscience. It is no exaggeration to say the world is wholly the ear to hear the news from the goddess of peace. A time will surely come, if our purpose be steady and our resolution firm, when universal peace will be restored, and Shakya Muni's precept, 'not to kill,' will be realized by all mankind.

21. The Betterment of Life.

Again, people nowadays seem to feel keenly the wound of the economical results of war, but they are unfeeling to its moral injuries. As elements have their affinities, as bodies have their attractions, as creatures have their instinct to live together, so men have their inborn mutual love. 'God divided man into men that they might help each other.' Their strength lies in their mutual help, their pleasure is in their mutual love, and their perfection is in their giving and receiving of alternate good. Therefore Shakya Muni says: "Be merciful to all living beings." To take up arms against any other person is unlawful for any individual. It is the violation of the universal law of life.

We do not deny that there are not a few who are so wretched that they rejoice in their crimes, nor that there is any person but has more or less stain on his character, nor that the means of committing crimes are multiplied in proportion as modern civilization advances; yet still we believe that our social life is ever breaking down our wolfish disposition that we inherited from our brute ancestors, and education is ever wearing out our cannibalistic nature which we have in common with wild animals. On the one hand, the signs of social morals are manifest in every direction, such as asylums for orphans, poorhouses, houses of correction, lodgings for the penniless, asylums for the poor, free hospitals, hospitals for domestic animals, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, schools for the blind and the dumb, asylums for the insane, and so forth; on the other hand, various discoveries and inventions have been made that may contribute to the social improvement, such as the discovery of the X rays and of radium, the invention of the wireless telegraph and that of the aeroplane and what not. Furthermore, spiritual wonders such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, etc., remind us of the possibilities of further spiritual unfoldment in man which he never dreamed of. Thus life is growing richer and nobler step by step, and becoming more and more hopeful as we advance in the Way of Buddha.

22. The Buddha of Mercy.

 

Milton says:

"Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt; Surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled. But evil on itself shall back recoil,
And mix no more with goodness. If this fail, The pillared firmament is rottenness, And earth's base built on stubble."

The world is built on the foundation of morality, which is another name for Universal Spirit, and moral order sustains it. We human beings, consciously or unconsciously, were, are, and will be at work to bring the world into perfection. This idea is allegorically expressed in the Buddhist sutra,[FN#177] which details the advent of a merciful Buddha named Maitreya in the remote future. At that time, it says, there will be no steep hills, no filthy places, no epidemic, no famine, no earthquake, no storm, no war, no revolution, no bloodshed, no cruelty, and no suffering; the roads will be paved smoothly, grass and trees always blooming, birds ever singing, men contented and happy; all sentient beings will worship the Buddha of Mercy, accept His doctrine, and attain to Enlightenment. This prophecy will be fulfilled, according to the sutra, 5,670,000,000 years after the death of Shakya Muni. This evidently shows us that the Mahayanist's aim of life is to bring out man's inborn light of Buddha-nature to illumine the world, to realize the universal brotherhood of all sentient beings, to attain to Enlightenment, and to enjoy peace and joy to which Universal Spirit leads us.

[FN#177] See Nanjo's Catalogue, Nos. 204-209.

 

CHAPTER VI ENLIGHTENMENT

 

1. Enlightenment is beyond Description and Analysis.

In the foregoing chapters we have had several occasions to refer to the central problem of Zen or Enlightenment, whose content it is futile to attempt to explain or analyze. We must not explain or analyze it, because by doing so we cannot but mislead the reader. We can as well represent Enlightenment by means of explanation or analysis as we do personality by snapshots or by anatomical operations. As our inner life, directly experienced within us, is anything but the shape of the head, or the features of the face, or the posture of the body, so Enlightenment experienced by Zenists at the moment of their highest Samadhi[FN#178] is anything but the psychological analysis of mental process, or the epistemological explanation of cognition, or the philosophical generalization of concepts. Enlightenment can be realized only by the Enlightened, and baffles every attempt to describe it, even by the Enlightened themselves. The effort of the confused to guess at Enlightenment is often likened by the Zenists to the effort of the blind who feel an elephant to know what it looks like. Some of them who happen to feel the trunk would declare it is like a rope, but those who happen to feel the belly would declare it is like a huge drum; while those who happen to feel the feet would declare it is like the trunk of a tree. But none of these conjectures can approach the living elephant.

[FN#178] Abstract Contemplation, which the Zenists distinguish from Samadhi, practised by the Brahmins. The author of 'An Outline of Buddhist Sects' points out the distinction, saying: "Contemplation of outside religionists is practised with the heterodox view that the lower worlds (the worlds for men, beasts, etc.) are disgusting, but the upper worlds (the worlds for Devas) are desirable; Contemplation of common people (ordinary lay believers of Buddhism) is practised with the belief in the law of Karma, and also with disgust (for the lower worlds) and desire (for the upper worlds); Contemplation of Hinayana is practised with an insight into the truth of Anatman (non-soul); Contemplation of Mahayana is practised with an insight of Unreality of Atman (soul) as well as of Dharma (thing); Contemplation of the highest perfection is practised with the view that Mind is pure in its nature, it is endowed with unpolluted wisdom, free from passion, and it is no other than Buddha himself."
2. Enlightenment implies an Insight into the Nature of Self.

We cannot pass over, however, this weighty problem without saying a word. We shall try in this chapter to present Enlightenment before the reader in a roundabout way, just as the painter gives the fragmentary sketches of a beautiful city, being unable to give even a bird's-eye view of it. Enlightenment, first of all, implies an insight into the nature of Self. It is an emancipation of mind from illusion concerning Self. All kinds of sin take root deep in the misconception of Self, and putting forth the branches of lust, anger, and folly, throw dark shadows on life. To extirpate this
misconception Buddhism[FN#179] strongly denies the existence of the individual soul as conceived by common sense-that is, that unchanging spiritual entity provided with sight, hearing, touch, smell, feeling, thought, imagination, aspiration, etc., which survives the body. It teaches us that there is no such thing as soul, and that the notion of soul is a gross illusion. It treats of body as a temporal
material form of life doomed to be destroyed by death and reduced to its elements again. It maintains that mind is also a temporal spiritual form of life, behind which there is no immutable soul.

[FN#179] Both Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism teach the doctrine of Anatman, or Non-self. It is the denial of soul as conceived by common sense, and of Atman as conceived by Indian heterodox thinkers.

Some Mahayanists believe in the existence of real Self instead of individual self, as we see in Mahaparinirvana-sutra, whose author says: "There is real self in non-self." It is worthy of note that the Hinayanists set forth Purity, Pleasure, Atman, and Eternity, as the four great misconceptions about life, while the same author regards them as the four great attributes of Nirvana itself.

An illusory mind tends either to regard body as Self and to yearn after its material interests, or to believe mind dependent on soul as Ego. Those who are given to sensual pleasures, consciously or unconsciously, bold body to be the Self, and remain the life-long slave to the objects of sense. Those who regard mind as dependent on soul as the Self, on the other hand, undervalue body as a mere tool with which the soul works, and are inclined to denounce life as if unworthy of living. We must not undervalue body, nor must we overestimate mind. There is no mind isolated from body, nor is there any body separated from mind. Every activity of mind produces chemical and physiological changes in the nerve-centres, in the organs, and eventually in the whole body; while every activity of body is sure to bring out the corresponding change in the mental function, and eventually in the whole personality. We have the inward experience of sorrow when we have simultaneously the outward appearance of tears and of pallor; when we have the outward appearance of the fiery eyes and short breath, we have simultaneously the inward feeling of anger. Thus body is mind observed outwardly in its relation to the senses; mind is body inwardly experienced in its relation to introspection. Who can draw a strict line of demarcation between mind and body? We should admit, so far as our present knowledge is concerned, that mind, the intangible, has been formed to don a garment of matter in order to become an intelligible existence at all; matter, the solid, has faded under examination into
formlessness, as that of mind. Zen believes in the identification of mind and body, as Do-gen[FN#180] says: "Body is identical with mind; appearance and reality are one and the same thing."

Bergson denies the identification of mind and body, saying:[FN#181] "It (experience) shows us the interdependence of the mental and the physical, the necessity of a certain cerebral substratum for the psychical state-nothing more. From the fact that two things are mutually dependent, it does not follow that they are equivalent. Because a certain screw is necessary for a certain machine, because the machine works when the screw is there and stops when the screw is taken away, we do not say that the screw is equivalent of the machine." Bergson's simile of a screw and a machine is quite inadequate to show the interdependence of mind and body, because the screw does cause the machine to work, but the machine does not cause the screw to work; so that their relation is not interdependence. On the contrary, body causes mind to work, and at the same time mind causes body to work; so that their relation is perfectly
interdependent, and the relation is not that of an addition of mind to body, or of body to mind, as the screw is added to the machine. Bergson must have compared the working of the machine with mind, and the machine itself with body, if be wanted to show the real fact. Moreover, he is not right in asserting that "from the fact that two things are mutually dependent, it does not follow that they are equivalent," because there are several kinds of interdependence, in some of which two things can be equivalent. For instance, bricks, mutually dependent in their forming an arch, cannot be equivalent one with another; but water and waves, being mutually dependent, can be identified. In like manner fire and heat, air and wind, a machine and its working, mind and body.[FN#182]

[FN#180] The master strongly condemns the immortality of the soul as the heterodox doctrine in his Sho-bo-gen-zo. The same argument is found in Mu-chu-mon-do, by Mu-so Koku-shi. [FN#181] 'Creative Evolution,' pp. 354, 355.

[FN#182] Bergson, arguing against the dependence of the mind on brain, says: "That there is a close connection between a state of consciousness and the brain we do not dispute. But there is also a close connection between a coat and the nail on which it hangs, for if the nail is pulled out, the coat will fall to the ground. Shall we say, then, that the shape of the nail gave the shape of the coat, or in any way corresponds to it? No more are we entitled to conclude, because the psychical fact is hung on to a cerebral state, that there is any parallelism between the two series, psychical and physiological." We have to ask, in what respects does the interrelation between mind and body resemble the relation between a coat and a nail?

3. The Irrationality of the Belief of Immortality.

Occidental minds believe in a mysterious entity under the name of soul, just as Indian thinkers believe in the so-called subtle body entirely distinct from the gross body of flesh and blood. Soul, according to this belief, is an active principle that unites body and mind so as to form an harmonious whole of mental as well as bodily activities. And it acts through the instrumentality of the mind and body in the present life, and enjoys an eternal life beyond the grave. It is on this soul that individual immortality is based. It is immortal Self.
Now, to say nothing of the origin of soul, this long-entertained belief is hardly good for anything. In the first place, it throws no light upon the relation of mind and body, because soul is an empty name for the unity of mind and body, and serves to explain nothing. On the contrary, it adds another mystery to the already mysterious relationships between matter and spirit. Secondly, soul should be conceived as a psychical individual, subject to spacial
determinations--but since it has to be deprived by death of its body which individualizes it, it will cease to be individuality after death, to the disappointment of the believer. How could you think anything purely spiritual and formless existing without blending together with other things? Thirdly, it fails to gratify the desire, cherished by the believer, of enjoying eternal life, because soul has to lose its body, the sole important medium through which it may enjoy life. Fourthly, soul is taken as a subject matter to receive in the future life the reward or the punishment from God for our actions in this life; but the very idea of eternal punishment is inconsistent with the boundless love of God. Fifthly, it is beyond all doubt that soul is conceived as an entity, which unifies various mental faculties and exists as the foundation of individual personality. But the existence of such soul is quite incompatible with the well-known pathological fact that it is possible for the individual to have double or treble or multiple personalities. Thus the belief in the existence of soul conceived by the common sense turns out not only to be irrational, but a useless encumbrance on the religious mind. Therefore Zen declares that there is no such thing as soul, and that mind and body are one. Hwui Chung (Ye-chu), a famous disciple of the Sixth Patriarch in China, to quote an example, one day asked a monk: "Where did you come from?" "I came, sir, from the South," replied the man. "What doctrine do the masters of the South teach?" asked Hwui Chung again. "They teach, sir, that body is mortal, but mind is immortal," was the answer. "That," said the master, "is the heterodox doctrine of the Atman!" "How do you, sir," questioned the monk, "teach about that?" "I teach that the body and mind are one," was the reply.[FN#183]

[FN#183] For further explanation, see Sho-bo-gen-zo and Mu-chu-mon-do.

Fiske, [FN#184] in his argument against materialism, blames the denial of immortality, saying: "The materialistic assumption that there is no such state of things, and that the life of the soul ends accordingly with the life of the body, is perhaps the most colossal instance of baseless assumption that is known to the history of philosophy." But we can say with equal force that the common-sense assumption that the life of soul continues beyond the grave is, perhaps, the most colossal instance of baseless assumption that is known to the history of thought, because, there being no scientific evidences that give countenance to the assumption, even the spiritualists themselves hesitate to assert the existence of a ghost or soul. Again he[FN#185] says: "With this illegitimate hypothesis of annihilation the materialist transgresses the bounds of experience quite as widely as the poet who sings of the New Jerusalem with its river of life and its street of gold. Scientifically speaking, there is not a particle of evidence for either view." This is as much as to say there is not a particle of evidence, scientifically speaking, for the common-sense view of soul, because the poet's description of the New Jerusalem is nothing but the result of the common-sense belief of immortality.
[FN#184] 'The Destiny of Man,' p. 110.

[FN#185] 'The Destiny of Man,' pp. 110, 111.

 

4. The Examination of the Notion of Self.

The belief in immortality is based on the strong instinct of
self-preservation that calls forth an insatiable longing for
longevity. It is another form of egoism, one of the relics of our brute forefathers. We must bear in mind that this illusion of the individual Self is the foundation on which every form of immorality has its being. I challenge my readers to find in the whole history of mankind any crime not based on egoism. Evil-doers have been as a rule pleasure-hunters, money-seekers, seekers after self-interests, characterized by lust, folly, and cruelty. Has there been anyone who committed theft that he might further the interests of his villagers?

Has there been any paramour who disgraced himself that lie might help his neighbours? Has there been any traitor who performed the ignoble conduct to promote the welfare of his own country or society at large?

To get Enlightened, therefore, we have to correct, first of all, our notions concerning Self. Individual body and mind are not the only important constituents of Self. There are many other indispensable elements in the notion of Self. For instance, I have come into existence as another form of my parents. I am theirs, and may justly be called the reincarnation of them. And again, my father is another form of his parents; my mother of hers; his and her parents of theirs; and ad infinitum. In brief, all my forefathers live and have their being in me. I cannot help, therefore, thinking that my physical state is the result of the sum total of my good and bad actions in the past lives I led in the persons of my forefathers, and of the influence I received therein;[FN#186] and that my psychical state is the result of that which I received, felt, imagined, conceived, experienced, and thought in my past existences in the persons of my ancestors.

[FN#186] This is the law of Karma.

Besides this, my brothers, my sisters, my neighbours--nay, all my follow-men and fellow-women are no other than the reincarnation of their parents and forefathers, who are also mine. The same blood invigorated the king as well as the beggar; the same nerve energized the white as well as the black men; the same consciousness vitalized the wise as well as the unwise. Impossible it is to conceive myself independent of my fellow-men and fellow-women, for they are mine and I am theirs--that is, I live and move in them, and they live and move in me.

It is bare nonsense to say that I go to school, not to be educated as a member of society, but simply to gratify my individual desire for knowledge; or that I make a fortune, not to lead the life of a well-to-do in society, but to satisfy my individual money-loving instinct; or that I seek after truth, neither to do good to my contemporaries nor to the future generations, but only for my individual curiosity or that I live neither to live with my family nor with my friends nor with anyone else, but to live my individual life. It is as gross absurdity to say that I am an individual absolutely independent of society as to say I am a husband with no wife, or I am a son to no parents. Whatever I do directly or indirectly I contribute to the common fortune of man; whatever anyone else does directly or indirectly determines my fate. Therefore we must realize that our Selves necessarily include other members of the community, while other members' Selves necessarily comprehend us.

5. Nature is the Mother of All Things.

Furthermore, man has come into existence out of Nature. He is her child. She provided him food, raiment, and shelter. She nourishes him, strengthens him, and vitalizes him. At the same time she disciplines, punishes, and instructs him. His body is of her own formation, his knowledge is of her own laws, and his activities are the responses to her own addresses to him. Modern civilization is said by some to be the conquest of man over Nature; but, in fact, it is his faithful obedience to her. "Bacon truly said," says Eucken,[FN#187] "that to rule nature man must first serve her. He forgot to add that, as her ruler, he is still destined to go on serving her." She can never be attacked by any being unless he acts in strict conformity to her laws. To accomplish anything against her law is as impossible as to catch fishes in a forest, or to make bread of rock. How many species of animals have perished owing to their inability to follow her steps! How immense fortunes have been lost in vain from man's ignorance of her order! How many human beings disappeared on earth from their disobedience to her unbending will! She is, nevertheless, true to those who obey her rules. Has not science proved that she is truthful? Has not art found that she is beautiful?
[FN#187] Eucken's 'Philosophy of Life,' by W. R. Royce Gibbon, p. 51.

Has not philosophy announced that she is spiritual? Has not religion proclaimed that she is good? At all events, she is the mother of all beings. She lives in all things and they live in her. All that she possesses is theirs, and all that they want she supplies. Her life is the same vitality that stirs all sentient beings. Chwang
Tsz[FN#188] (So-shi) is right when he says: "Heaven, Earth, and I were produced together, and all things and I are one." And again: "If all things be regarded with love, Heaven and Earth are one with me." Sang Chao (So-jo) also says: "Heaven and Earth are of the same root as we. All things in the world are of one substance with Me."[FN#189]

[FN#188] Chwang Tsz, vol. i., p. 20.

 

[FN#189] This is a favourite subject of discussion by Zenists.

 

6. Real Self.

If there be no individual soul either in mind or body, where does personality lie? What is Real Self? How does it differ from soul? Self is living entity, not immutable like soul, but mutable and ever-changing life, which is body when observed by senses, and which is mind when experienced by introspection. It is not an entity lying behind mind and body, but life existent as the union of body and mind. It existed in our forefathers in the past, is existing in the present, and will exist in the future generations. It also discloses itself to some measure in vegetables and animals, and shadows itself forth in inorganic nature. It is Cosmic life and Cosmic spirit, and at the same time individual life and individual spirit. It is one and the same life which embraces men and nature. It is the self-existent, creative, universal principle that moves on from eternity to eternity. As such it is called Mind or Self by Zenists. Pan Shan (Ban-zan) says: "The moon of mind comprehends all the universe in its light." A man asked Chang Sha (Cho-sha): "How can you turn the phenomenal universe into Self ?" "How can you turn Self into the phenomenal universe?" returned the master.

When we get the insight into this Self, we are able to have the open sesame to the mysteries of the universe, because to know the nature of a drop of water is to know the nature of the river, the lake, and the ocean--nay, even of vapour, mist, and cloud; in other words, to get an insight into individual life is the key to the secret of Universal Life. We must not confine Self within the poor little person called body. That is the root of the poorest and most miserable egoism. We should expand that egoism into family-egoism, then into nation-egoism, then into race-egoism, then into human-egoism, then into living-being-egoism, and lastly into universe-egoism, which is not egoism at all. Thus we deny the immortality of soul as conceived by common sense, but assume immortality of the Great Soul, which animates, vitalizes, and spiritualizes all sentient beings. It is Hinayana Buddhism that first denied the existence of atman or Self so emphatically inculcated in the Upanisads, and paved the way for the general conception of Universal Self, with the eulogies of which almost every page of Mahayana books is filled.

7. The Awakening of the Innermost Wisdom.

Having set ourselves free from the misconception of Self, next we must awaken our innermost wisdom, pure and divine, called the Mind of Buddha,[FN#190] or Bodhi,[FN#191] or Prajnya[FN#192] by Zen masters. It is the divine light, the inner heaven, the key to all moral
treasures, the centre of thought and consciousness, the source of all influence and power, the seat of kindness, justice, sympathy, impartial love, humanity, and mercy, the measure of all things. When this innermost wisdom is fully awakened, we are able to realize that each and everyone of us is identical in spirit, in essence, in nature with the universal life or Buddha, that each ever lives face to face with Buddha, that each is beset by the abundant grace of the Blessed One, that He arouses his moral nature, that He opens his spiritual eyes, that He unfolds his new capacity, that He appoints his mission, and that life is not an ocean of birth, disease, old age, and death, nor the vale of tears, but the holy temple of Buddha, the Pure Land,[FN#193] where be can enjoy the bliss of Nirvana.

[FN#190] Zen is often called the Sect of Buddha-mind, as it lays stress on the awakening of the Mind of Buddha. The words 'the Mind of Buddha' were taken from a passage in Lankavatara-sutra.

[FN#191] That knowledge by which one becomes enlightened.

 

[FN#192] Supreme wisdom. [FN#193] Sukhavati, or the land of bliss.

Then our minds go through an entire revolution. We are no more troubled by anger and hatred, no more bitten by envy and ambition, no more stung by sorrow and chagrin, no more overwhelmed by melancholy and despair. Not that we become passionless or simply intellectual, but that we have purified passions, which, instead of troubling us, inspire us with noble aspirations, such as anger and hatred against injustice, cruelty, and dishonesty, sorrow and lamentation for human frailty, mirth and joy for the welfare of follow-beings, pity and sympathy for suffering creatures. The same change purifies our intellect. Scepticism and sophistry give way to firm conviction; criticism and hypothesis to right judgment; and inference and argument to realization.

What we merely observed before we now touch with heart as well. What we knew in relation of difference before we now understand in relation of unity as well. How things happen was our chief concern before, but now we consider as well bow much value they have. What was outside us before now comes within us. What was dead and indifferent before grows now alive and lovable to us. What was insignificant and empty before becomes now important, and has profound meaning. Wherever we go we find beauty; whomever we meet we find good; whatever we get we receive with gratitude. This is the reason why the Zenists not only regarded all their fellow-beings as their benefactors, but felt gratitude even towards fuel and water. The present writer knows a contemporary Zenist who would not drink even a cup of water without first making a salutation to it. Such an attitude of Zen toward things may well be illustrated by the
following example: Sueh Fung (Sep-po) and Kin Shan (Kin-zan), once travelling through a mountainous district, saw a leaf of the rape floating down the stream. Thereon Kin Shan said: "Let us go up, dear brother, along the stream that we may find a sage living up on the mountain. I hope we shall find a good teacher in him." "No,"
replied Sueh Fung, "for he cannot be a sage who wastes even a leaf of the rape. He will be no good teacher for us."

8. Zen is not Nihilistic.

Zen judged from ancient Zen masters' aphorisms may seem, at the first sight, to be idealistic in an extreme form, as they say: "Mind is Buddha" or, "Buddha is Mind," or, "There is nothing outside mind," or, "Three worlds are of but one mind." And it may also appear to be nihilistic, as they say: "There has been nothing since all eternity," "By illusion you see the castle of the Three Worlds"; "by Enlightenment you see but emptiness in ten directions."[FN#194] In reality, however, Zen[FN#195] is neither idealistic nor nihilistic. Zen makes use of the nihilistic idea of Hinayana Buddhism, and calls its students' attention to the change and evanescence of life and of the world, first to destroy the error of immutation, next to dispel the attachment to the sensual objects.

[FN#194] These words were repeatedly uttered by Chinese and Japanese Zenists of all ages. Chwen Hih (Fu-dai-shi) expressed this very idea in his Sin Wang Ming (Shin-o-mei) at the time of Bodhidharma.

[FN#195] The Rin-zai teachers mostly make use of the doctrine of unreality of all things, as taught in Prajnya-paramita-sutras. We have to note that there are some differences between the Mahayana doctrine of unreality and the Hinayana doctrine of unreality.

It is a misleading tendency of our intellect to conceive things as if they were immutable and constant. It often leaves changing and concrete individual objects out of consideration, and lays stress on the general, abstract, unchanging aspect of things. It is inclined to be given to generalization and abstraction. It often looks not at this thing or at that thing, but at things in general. It loves to think not of a good thing nor of a bad thing, but of bad and good in the abstract. This intellectual tendency hardens and petrifies the living and growing world, and leads us to take the universe as a thing dead, inert, and standing still. This error of immutation can be corrected by the doctrine of Transcience taught by Hinayana Buddhism. But as medicine taken in an undue quantity turns into poison, so the doctrine of Transcience drove the Hinayanists to the suicidal conclusion of nihilism. A well-known scholar and believer of Zen, Kwei Fung (Kei-ha) says in his refutation of nihilism:[FN#196]

"If mind as well as external objects be unreal, who is it that knows they are so? Again, if there be nothing real in the universe, what is it that causes unreal objects to appear? We stand witness to the fact that there is no one of the unreal things on earth that is not made to appear by something real. If there be no water of unchanging fluidity, how can there be the unreal and temporary forms of waves? If there be no unchanging mirror, bright and clean, bow can there be the various images, unreal and temporary, reflected in it? If mind as well as external objects be nothing at all, no one can tell what it is that causes these unreal appearances. Therefore this doctrine (of the unreality of all things) can never clearly disclose spiritual Reality. So that Mahabheri-harakaparivarta-sutra says: " All the sutras that teach the unreality of things belong to the imperfect doctrine " (of the Shakya Muni). Mahaprajnya-paramita-sutra says The doctrine of unreality is the entrance-gate of Mahayana."

[FN#196] See the appendix, chap. ii., 'The Mahayana Doctrine of Nihilism.'

 

9. Zen and Idealism.

Next Zen makes use of Idealism as explained by the Dharmalaksana School of Mahayana Buddhism.[FN#197] For instance, the Fourth Patriarch says: "Hundreds and thousands of laws originate with mind. Innumerable mysterious virtues proceed from the mental source." Niu Teu (Go-zu) also says: "When mind arises, various things arise; when mind ceases to exist, various things cease to exist." Tsao Shan (So-zan) carried the point so far that he cried out, on hearing the bell: "It hurts, it pains." Then an attendant of his asked "What is the matter?" "It is my mind," said he, that is struck."[FN#198]

[FN#197] Appendix, chap. ii., 'The Mahayana Doctrine of Dharmalaksana.'

 

[FN#198] Zen-rin-rui-shu.

We acknowledge the truth of the following considerations: There exists no colour, nor sound, nor odour in the objective world, but there are the vibrations of ether, or the undulations of the air, or the stimuli of the sensory nerves of smell. Colour is nothing but the translation of the stimuli into sensation by the optical nerves, so also sounds by the auditory, and odours by the smelling. Therefore nothing exists objectively exactly as it is perceived by the senses, but all are subjective. Take electricity, for example, it appears as light when perceived through the eye; it appears as sound when perceived through the ear; it appears as taste when perceived through the tongue; but electricity in reality is not light, nor sound, nor taste. Similarly, the mountain is not high nor low; the river is not deep nor shallow; the house is not large nor small; the day is not long nor short; but they seem so through comparison. It is not objective reality that displays the phenomenal universe before us, but it is our mind that plays an important part. Suppose that we have but one sense organ, the eye, then the whole universe should consist of colours and of colours only. If we suppose we were endowed with the sixth sense, which entirely contradicts our five senses, then the whole world would be otherwise.

Besides, it is our reason that finds the law of cause and effect in the objective world, that discovered the law of uniformity in Nature, and that discloses scientific laws in the universe so as to form a cosmos. Some scholars maintain that we cannot think of non-existence of space, even if we can leave out all objects in it; nor can we doubt the existence of time, for the existence of mind itself presupposes time. Their very argument, however, proves the subjectivity of time and space, because, if they were objective, we should be able to think them non-existent, as we do with other external objects. Even space and time, therefore are no more than subjective.

10. Idealism is a Potent Medicine for Self-created Mental Disease.

In so far as Buddhist idealism refers to the world of sense, in so far as it does not assume that to to be known is identical with to be, in so far as it does not assert that the phenomenal universe is a dream and a vision, we may admit it as true. On the one hand, it serves us as a purifier of our hearts polluted with materialistic desires, and uplifts us above the plain of sensualism; on the other hand, it destroys superstitions which as a rule arise from ignorance and want of the idealistic conception of things.
It is a lamentable fact that every country is full of such
superstitions people as described by one of the New Thought writers: 'Tens of thousands of women in this country believe that if two people look in a mirror at the same time, or if one thanks the other for a pin, or if one gives a knife or a sharp instrument to a friend, it will break up friendship. If a young lady is presented with a thimble, she will be an old maid. Some people think that after leaving a house it is unlucky to go back after any article which has been forgotten, and, if one is obliged to do so, one should sit down in a chair before going out again; that if a broom touches a person while someone is sweeping, bad luck will follow; and that it is unlucky to change one's place at a table. A man took an opal to a New York jeweller and asked him to buy it. He said that it had brought him nothing but bad luck, that since it had come into his possession he had failed in business, that there bad been much sickness in his family, and all sorts of misfortune had befallen him.

He refused to keep the cursed thing any longer. The jeweller examined the stone, and found that it was not an opal after all, but an imitation.'

Idealism is a most potent medicine for these self-created mental diseases. It will successfully drive away devils and spirits that frequent ignorant minds, just as Jesus did in the old days. Zen makes use of moral idealism to extirpate, root and branch, all such idle dreams and phantasmagoria of illusion and opens the way to Enlightenment.

11. Idealistic Scepticism concerning Objective Reality.

But extreme Idealism identifies 'to be' with 'to be known,' and assumes all phenomena to be ideas as illustrated in
Mahayana-vidyamatra-siddhi-tridaca-castra[FN#199] and Vidyamatra-vincati-castra,[FN#200] by Vasubandhu. Then it necessarily parts company with Zen, which believes in Universal Life existing in everything instead of behind it. Idealism shows us its dark side in three sceptic views: (1) scepticism respecting objective reality; (2) scepticism respecting religion; (3) scepticism respecting morality.

[FN#199] A philosophical work on Buddhist idealism by Vasubandhu, translated into Chinese by Hiuen Tsang in A.D. 648. There exists a famous commentary on it, compiled by Dharmapala, translated into Chinese by Hiuen Tsang in A.D. 659. See Nanjo's Catalogue, Nos. 1197 and 1125.

[FN#200] A simpler work on Idealism, translated into Chinese by Hiuen Tsang in A.D. 661. See Nanjo's Catalogue, Nos. 1238, 1239, and 1240.

First it assumes that things exist in so far as they are known by us. It is as a matter of course that if a tree exists at all, it is
known as having a trunk long or short, branches large or small,
leaves green or yellow, flowers yellow or purple, etc., all of which
are ideas. But it does not imply in the least that 'to be known' is
equivalent to 'to be existent.' Rather we should say that to be
known presupposes to be existent, for we cannot know anything
non-existent, even if we admit that the axioms of logic subsist. Again, a tree may stand as ideas to a knower, but it can stand at the same time as a shelter in relation to some birds, as food in relation to some insects, as a world in relation to some minute worms, as a kindred organism to other vegetables. How could you say that its relation to a knower is the only and fundamental relation for the existence of the tree? The disappearance of its knower no more affects the tree than of its feeder; nor the appearance of its knower affects the tree any more than that of kindred vegetables.

Extreme idealism erroneously concludes that what is really existent, or what is directly proved to be existent, is only our sensations, ideas, thoughts; that the external world is nothing but the images reflected on the mirror of the mind, and that therefore objective reality of things is doubtful-nay, more, they are unreal, illusory, and dreams. If so, we can no longer distinguish the real from the visionary; the waking from the dreaming; the sane from the insane; the true from the untrue. Whether life is real or an empty dream, we are at a loss to understand.

12. Idealistic Scepticism concerning Religion and Morality.

Similarly, it is the case with religion and morality. If we admit extreme idealism as true, there can be nothing objectively real. God is little more than a mental image. He must be a creature of mind instead of a Creator. He has no objective reality. He is when we think He is. He is not when we think He is not. He is at the mercy of our thought. How much more unreal the world must be, which is supposed to have been created by an unreal God! Providence, salvation, and divine grace--what are they? A bare dream dreamed in a dream!

What is morality, then? It is subjective. It has no objective validity. A moral conduct highly valued by our fathers is now held to be immoral by us. Immoral acts now strongly denounced by us may be regarded as moral by our posterity. Good deeds of the savage are not necessarily good in the eyes of the civilized, nor evil acts of the Orientals are necessarily evil before the face of the
Occidentals. It follows, then, that there is no definite standard of morality in any place at any time.

If morality be merely subjective, and there be no objective standard, how can you distinguish evil from good? How can you single out angels from among devils? Was not Socrates a criminal? Was not Jesus also a criminal? How could you know Him to be a Divine man different from other criminals who were crucified with Him? What you honour may I not denounce as disgrace? What you hold as duty may I not condemn as sin? Every form of idealism is doomed, after all, to end in such confusion and scepticism. We cannot embrace radical idealism, which holds these threefold sceptical views in her womb.

13. An Illusion concerning Appearance and Reality.

To get Enlightened we must next dispel an illusion respecting appearance and reality. According. to certain religionists, all the phenomena of the universe are to succumb to change. Worldly things one and all are evanescent. They are nought in the long run. Snowcapped mountains may sink into the bottom of the deep, while the sands in the fathomless ocean may soar into the azure sky at some time or other. Blooming flowers are destined to fade and to bloom again in the next year. So destined are growing trees, rising generations, prospering nations, glowing suns, moons, and stars. This, they would say, is only the case with phenomena or appearances, but not with reality. Growth and decay, birth and death, rise and fall, all these are the ebb and flow of appearances in the ocean of reality, which is always the same. Flowers may fade and be reduced to dust, yet out of that dust come flowers. Trees may die out, yet they are reproduced somewhere else. The time may come when the earth will become a dead sphere quite unsuitable for human habitation, and the whole of mankind will perish; yet who knows that whether another earth may not be produced as man's home? The sun might have its beginning and end, stars, moons, theirs as well; yet an infinite universe would have no beginning nor end.

Again, they say, mutation is of the world of sense or phenomenal appearances, but not of reality. The former are the phases of the latter shown to our senses. Accordingly they are always limited and modified by our senses, just as images are always limited and modified by the mirror in which they are reflected. On this account appearances are subject to limitations, while reality is limitless. And it follows that the former are imperfect, while the latter is perfect; that the former is transient, while the latter is eternal; that the former is relative, while the latter is absolute; that the former is worldly, while the latter is holy; that the former is knowable, while the latter is unknowable.

These considerations naturally lead us to an assertion that the world of appearances is valueless, as it is limited, short-lived, imperfect, painful, sinful, hopeless, and miserable; while the realm of reality is to be aspired for, as it is eternal, perfect,
comfortable, full of hope, joy, and peace-hence the eternal divorce of appearance and reality. Such a view of life tends to make one minimize the value of man, to neglect the present existence, and to yearn after the future.

Some religionists tell us that we men are helpless, sinful, hopeless, and miserable creatures. Worldly riches, temporal honours, and social positions-nay, even sublimities and beauties of the present existence, are to be ignored and despised. We have no need of caring for those things that pass away in a twinkling moment. We must prepare for the future life which is eternal. We must accumulate wealth for that existence. We must endeavour to hold rank in it. We must aspire for the sublimity and beauty and glory of that realm.

14. Where does the Root of the Illusion Lie?

Now let us examine where illusion lies hidden from the view of these religionists. It lies deeply rooted in the misconstruction of reality, grows up into the illusive ideas of appearances, and throws its dark shadow on life. The most fundamental error lies in their construing reality as something unknowable existing behind appearances.

According to their opinion, all that we know, or perceive, or feel, or imagine about the world, is appearances or phenomena, but not reality itself. Appearances are 'things known as,' but not 'things as they are.' Thing-in-itself, or reality, lies behind appearances permanently beyond our ken. This is probably the most profound metaphysical pit into which philosophical minds have ever fallen in their way of speculation. Things appear, they would say, as we see them through our limited senses; but they must present entirely different aspects to those that differ from ours, just as the vibration of ether appears to us as colours, yet it presents quite different aspects to the colour-blind or to the purblind. The phenomenal universe is what appears to the human mind, and in case our mental constitution undergoes change, it would be completely otherwise.

This argument, however, is far from proving that the reality is unknowable, or that it lies hidden behind appearances or presentations. Take, for instance, a reality which appears as a ray of the sun. When it goes through a pane of glass it appears to be colourless, but it exhibits a beautiful spectrum when it passes through a prism. Therefore you assume that a reality appearing as the rays of the sun is neither colourless nor coloured in itself, since these appearances are wholly due to the difference that obtains between the pane of glass and the prism.

We contend, however, that the fact does not prove the existence of the reality named the sun's ray beyond or behind the white light, nor its existence beyond or behind the spectrum. It is evident that the reality exists in white light, and that it is known as the white light when it goes through a pane of glass; and that the same reality exists in the spectrum, and is known as the spectrum when it goes through the prism. The reality is known as the white light on the one hand, and as the spectrum on the other. It is not unknowable, but knowable.

Suppose that one and the same reality exhibits one aspect when it stands in relation to another object; two aspects when it stands in relation in two different objects; three aspects when it stands in relation to three different objects. The reality of one aspect never proves the unreality of another aspect, for all these three aspects can be equally real. A tree appears to us as a vegetable; it appears to some birds as a shelter; and it appears to some worms as a food. The reality of its aspect as a vegetable never proves the unreality of its aspect as food, nor the reality of its aspect as food disproves the reality of its aspect as shelter. The real tree does not exist beyond or behind the vegetable. We can rely upon its reality, and make use of it to a fruitful result. At the same time, the birds can rely on its reality as a shelter, and build their nests in it; the worms, too, can rely on its reality as food, and eat it-to their satisfaction. A reality which appears to me as my wife must appear to my son as his mother, and never as his wife. But the same real woman is in the wife and in the mother; neither is unreal.

15. Thing-in-Itself means Thing-Knowerless.

How, then, did philosophers come to consider reality to be unknowable and hidden behind or beyond appearances? They investigated all the possible presentations in different relationships, and put them all aside as appearances, and brooded on the thing-in-itself, shut out from all possible relationship, and declared it unknowable. Thing-in-itself means thing cut off from all possible relationships. To, put it in another way: thing-in-itself means thing deprived of its relation to its knower--that is to say, thing-knower-less. So that to declare thing-in-itself unknowable is as much as to declare thing-unknowable unknowable; there is no doubt about it, but what does it prove?

Deprive yourself of all the possible relationships, and see what you are. Suppose you are not a son to your parents, nor the husband to your wife, nor the father to your children, nor a relative to your kindred, nor a friend to your acquaintances, nor a teacher to your students, nor a citizen to your country, nor an individual member to your society, nor a creature to your God, then you get
you-in-yourself. Now ask yourself what is you-in-yourself? You can never answer the question. It is unknowable, just because it is cut off from all knowable relations. Can you thus prove that you-in-yourself exist beyond or behind you?

In like manner our universe appears to us human beings as the phenomenal world or presentation. It might appear to other creatures of a different mental constitution as something else. We cannot ascertain how it might seem to Devas, to Asuras, to angels, and to the Almighty, if there be such beings. However different it might seem to these beings, it does not imply that the phenomenal world is unreal, nor that the realm of reality is unknowable.

'Water,' the Indian tradition has it, 'seems to man as a drink, as emerald to Devas, as bloody pus to Pretas, as houses to fishes.' Water is not a whit less real because of its seeming as houses to fishes, and fishes' houses are not less real because of its seeming as emerald to Devas. There is nothing that proves the unreality of it. It is a gross illusion to conceive reality as transcendental to appearances. Reality exists as appearances, and appearances are reality known to human beings. You cannot separate appearances from reality, and hold out the latter as the object of aspiration at the cost of the former. You must acknowledge that the so-called realm of reality which you aspire after, and which you seek for outside or behind the phenomenal universe, exists here on earth. Let Zen teachers tell you that "the world of birth and death is the realm of Nirvana"; "the earth is the pure land of Buddha."

16. The Four Alternatives and the Five Categories.

There are, according to Zen, the four classes of religious and philosophical views, technically called the Four
Alternatives,[FN#201] of life and of the world. The first is 'the deprivation of subject and the non-deprivation of object' that is to say, the denial of subject, or mind, or Atman, or soul, and the non-denial of object, or matter, or things--a view which denies the reality of mind and asserts the existence of things. Such a view was held by a certain school of Hinayanism, called Sarvastivada, and still is held by some philosophers called materialists or
naturalists. The second is the 'deprivation of object and the non-deprivation of subject'--that is to say, the denial of object, or matter, or things, and the non-denial of subject, or mind, or spirit-a view which denies the reality of material object, and asserts the existence of spirit or ideas. Such a view was held by the Dharmalaksana School of Mahayanism, and is still held by some philosophers called idealists. The third is 'the deprivation of both subject and object'--that is to say, the denial of both subject or spirit, and of object or matter-a view which denies the reality of both physical and mental phenomena, and asserts the existence of reality that transcends the phenomenal universe. Such a view was held by the Madhyamika School of Mahayanism, and is still held by some religionists and philosophers of the present day. The fourth is 'the non-deprivation of both subject and object'--that is to say, the non-denial of subject and object--a view which holds mind and body as one and the same reality. Mind, according to this view, is reality experienced inwardly by introspection, and body is the selfsame reality observed outwardly by senses. They are one reality and one life. There also exist other persons and other beings belonging to the same life and reality; consequently all things share in one reality, and life in common with each other. This reality or life is not transcendental to mind and body, or to spirit and matter, but is the unity of them. In other words, this phenomenal world of ours is the realm of reality. This view was held by the Avatamsaka School of Mahayanism, and is still held by Zenists. Thus Zen is not materialistic, nor idealistic, nor nihilistic, but realistic and
monistic in its view of the world.

[FN#201] Shi-rya-ken in Japanese, the classification mostly made use of by masters of the Rin Zai School of Zen. For the details, see Ki-gai-kwan, by K. Watanabe.

There are some scholars that erroneously maintain that Zen is based on the doctrine of unreality of all things expounded by Kumarajiva and his followers. Ko-ben,[FN#202] known as Myo-ye Sho-nin, said 600 years ago: "Yang Shan (Kyo-zan) asked Wei Shan (I-san): 'What shall we do when hundreds, thousands, and millions of things beset us all at once?' 'The blue are not the yellow,' replied Wei Shan, 'the long are not the short. Everything is in its own place. It has no business with you.' Wei Shan was a great Zen master. He did not teach the unreality of all things. Who can say that Zen is nihilistic?"

[FN#202] A well-known scholar (1173-1232) of the Anatamsaka School of Mahayanism.

Besides the Four Alternatives, Zen uses the Five Categories[FN#203] in order to explain the relation between reality and phenomena. The first is 'Relativity in Absolute,' which means that the universe appears to be consisting in relativities, owing to our relative knowledge; but these relativities are based on absolute reality. The second is 'Absolute in Relativity,' which means Absolute Reality does not remain inactive, but manifests itself as relative phenomena. The third is 'Relativity out of Absolute,' which means Absolute Reality is all in all, and relative phenomena come out of it as its secondary and subordinate forms. The fourth is 'Absolute up to Relativity,' which means relative phenomena always play an important part on the stage of the world; it is through these phenomena that Absolute Reality comes to be understood. The fifth is the 'Union of both Absolute and Relativity,' which means Absolute Reality is not fundamental or essential to relative phenomena, nor relative phenomena subordinate or secondary to Absolute Reality--that is to say, they are one and the same cosmic life, Absolute Reality being that life experienced inwardly by intuition, while relative phenomena are the same life outwardly observed by senses. The first four Categories are taught to prepare the student's mind for the acceptance of the last one, which reveals the most profound truth.

[FN#203] Go-i in Japanese, mostly used by the So-To School of Zen. The detailed explanation is given in Go-i-ken-ketsu.

 

17. Personalism of B. P. Bowne.

B. P. Bowne[FN#204] says: They (phenomena) are not phantoms or illusions, nor are they masks of a back-lying reality which is trying to peer through them." "The antithesis," he continues,[FN#205] "of phenomena and noumena rests on the fancy that there is something that rests behind phenomena which we ought to perceive but cannot, because the masking phenomena thrusts itself between the reality and us." Just so far we agree with Bowne, but we think he is mistaken in sharply distinguishing between body and self, saying:[FN#206] "We ourselves are invisible. The physical organism is only an instrument for expressing and manifesting the inner life, but the living self is never seen." "Human form," he argues,[FN#207] "as an object in space apart from our experience of it as the instrument and expression of personal life, would have little beauty or attraction; and when it is described in anatomical terms, there is nothing in it that we should desire it. The secret of its beauty and its value lies in the
invisible realm." "The same is true," he says again, "of literature.

It does not exist in space, or in time, or in books, or in libraries . . . all that could be found there would be black marks on a white paper, and collections of these bound together in various forms, which would be all the eyes could see. But this would not be literature, for literature has its existence only in mind and for mind as an expression of mind, and it is simply impossible and meaningless in abstraction from mind." "Our human history"--he gives another illustration[FN#208]--"never existed in space, and never could so exist. If some visitor from Mars should come to the earth and look at all that goes on in space in connection with human beings, he would never get any hint of its real significance. He would be confined to integrations and dissipations of matter and motion. He could describe the masses and grouping of material things, but in all this be would get no suggestion of the inner life which gives significance to it all. As conceivably a bird might sit on a telegraph instrument and become fully aware of the clicks of the machine without any suspicion of the existence or meaning of the message, or a dog could see all that eye can see in a book yet without any hint of its meaning, or a savage could gaze at the printed score of an opera without ever suspecting its musical import, so this supposed visitor would be absolutely cut off by an impassable gulf from the real seat and significance of human history. The great drama of life, with its likes and dislikes, its loves and hates, its ambitions and strivings, and manifold ideas, inspirations,
aspirations, is absolutely foreign to space, and could never in any way be discovered in space. So human history has its seat in the invisible."

[FN#204] 'Personalism,' p. 94.

 

[FN#205] Ibid., p. 95.

 

[FN#206] Ibid., p. 268.

 

[FN#207] Ibid., p. 271.

[FN#208] 'Personalism,' pp. 272, 273. In the first place, Bowne's conception of the physical organism as but an instrument for the expression of the inner, personal life, just as the telegraphic apparatus is the instrument for the expression of messages, is erroneous, because body is not a mere instrument of inner personal life, but an essential constituent of it. Who can deny that one's physical conditions determine one's character or personality? Who can overlook the fact that one's bodily conditions positively act upon one's personal life? There is no physical organism which remains as a mere passive mechanical instrument of inner life within the world of experience. Moreover, individuality, or personality, or self, or inner life, whatever you may call it, conceived as absolutely independent of physical condition, is sheer abstraction. There is no such concrete personality or individuality within our experience.

In the second place, he conceives the physical organism simply as a mark or symbol, and inner personal life as the thing marked or symbolized; so he compares physical forms with paper, types, books, and libraries, and inner life, with literature. In so doing he
overlooks the essential and inseparable connection between the physical organism and inner life, because there is no essential inseparable connection between a mark or symbol and the thing marked or symbolized. The thing may adopt any other mark or symbol. The black marks on the white paper, to use his figure, are not essential to literature. Literature may be expressed by singing, or by speech, or by a series of pictures. But is there inner life expressed, or possible to be expressed, in any other form save physical organism? We must therefore acknowledge that inner life is identical with physical organism, and that reality is one and the same as appearance.

18. All the Worlds in Ten Directions are Buddha's Holy Land.

We are to resume this problem in the following chapter. Suffice it to say for the present it is the law of Universal Life that
manifoldness is in unity, and unity is in manifoldness; difference is in agreement, and agreement in difference; confliction is in harmony, and harmony in confliction; parts are in the whole, and the whole is in parts; constancy is in change, and change in constancy; good is in bad, and bad in good; integration is in disintegration, and disintegration is in integration; peace is in disturbance, and disturbance in peace. We can find something celestial among the earthly. We can notice something glorious in the midst of the base and degenerated.
'There are nettles everywhere, but are not smooth, green grasses more common still?' Can you recognize something awe-inspiring in the rise and fall of nations? Can you not recognize something undisturbed and peaceful among disturbance and trouble? Has not even grass some meaning? Does not even a stone tell the mystery of Life? Does not the immutable law of good sway over human affairs after all, as Tennyson says

"I can but trust that good shall fall At last-far off-at last, to all."

Has not each of us a light within him, whatever degrees of lustre there may be? Was Washington in the wrong when he said: "Labour to keep alive in your heart that little spark of celestial fire called conscience."

We are sure that we can realize the celestial bliss in this very world, if we keep alive the Enlightened Consciousness, of which Bodhidharma and his followers showed the example. 'All the worlds in ten directions are Buddha's Holy Lands!' That Land of Bliss and Glory exists above us, under us, around us, within us, without us, if we open our eyes to see. 'Nirvana is in life itself,' if we enjoy it with admiration and love. "Life and death are the life of Buddha," says Do-gen. Everywhere the Elysian gates stand open, if we do not shut them up by ourselves. Shall we starve ourselves refusing to accept the rich bounty which the Blessed Life offers to us? Shall we perish in the darkness of scepticism, shutting our eyes to the light of Tathagata? Shall we suffer from innumerable pains in the self-created hell where remorse, jealousy, and hatred feed the fire of anger? Let us pray to Buddha, not in word only, but in the deed of generosity and tolerance, in the character noble and loving, and in the personality sublime and good. Let us pray to Buddha to save us from the hell of greed and folly, to deliver us from the thraldom of temptation. Let us 'enter the Holy of Holies in admiration and wonder.'

CHAPTER VII

 

LIFE 1. Epicureanism and Life.

There are a good many people always buoyant in spirit and mirthful in appearance as if born optimists. There are also no fewer persons constantly crestfallen and gloomy as if born pessimists. The former, however, may lose their buoyancy and sink deep in despair if they are in adverse circumstances. The latter, too, may regain their brightness and grow exultant if they are under prosperous conditions.

As there is no evil however small but may cause him to groan under it, who has his heart undisciplined, so there is no calamity however great but may cause him to despair, who has his feelings in control. A laughing child would cry, a crying child would laugh, without a sufficient cause. 'It can be teased or tickled into anything.' A grown-up child is he who cannot hold sway over his passions.

He should die a slave to his heart, which is wayward and blind, if he be indulgent to it. It is of capital importance for us to discipline the heart,[FN#209] otherwise it will discipline us. Passions are like legs. They should be guided by the eye of reason. No wise serpent is led by its tail, so no wise man is led by his passion. Passions that come first are often treacherous and lead us astray. We must guard ourselves against them. In order to gratify them there arise mean desires-the desires to please sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. These five desires are ever pursuing or, rather, driving us. We must not spend our whole lives in pursuit of those mirage-like objects which gratify our sensual desires. When we gratify one desire, we are silly enough to fancy that we have realized true happiness. But one desire gratified begets another stronger and more insatiable. Thirst allayed with salt water becomes more intense than ever.

[FN#209] Compare Gaku-do-yo-jin-shu, chap. i., and Zen-kwan-saku shin.

Shakya Muni compared an Epicurean with a dog chewing a dry bone, mistaking the blood out of a wound in his mouth for that of the bone. The author of Mahaparinirvana-sutra[FN#210] has a parable to the

following effect: 'Once upon a time a hunter skilled in catching monkeys alive went into the wood. He put something very sticky on the ground, and hid himself among the bushes. By-and-by a monkey came out to see what it was, and supposing it to be something eatable, tried to feed on it. It stuck to the poor creature's snout so firmly that he could not shake it off. Then he attempted to tear it off with both his paws, which also stuck to it. Thereupon he strove to kick it off with both his hind-legs, which were caught too.

Then the hunter came out, and thrusting his stick through between the paws and hind-legs of the victim, and thus carrying it on his shoulder, went home.' In like manner an Epicurean (the monkey), allured by the objects of sense (something sticky), sticks to the five desires (the snout and the four limbs), and being caught by Temptation (the hunter), loses his life of Wisdom.

[FN#210] The sutra translated by Hwui Yen and Hwui Kwan, A.D. 424-453.

We are no more than a species of monkeys, as evolutionists hold. Not a few testify to this truth by their being caught by means of 'something eatable.' We abolished slavery and call ourselves civilized nations. Have we not, nevertheless, hundreds of life-long slaves to cigars among us? Have we not thousands of life-long slaves to spirits among us? Have we not hundreds of thousands of life-long slaves to gold among us? Have we not myriads of lifelong slaves to vanity among us? These slaves are incredibly loyal to, and incessantly work for, their masters, who in turn bestow on them incurable diseases, poverty, chagrin, and disappointment.

A poor puppy with an empty can tied to his tail, Thomas Carlyle wittily observes, ran and ran on, frightened by the noise of the can.

The more rapidly he ran, the more loudly it rang, and at last he fell exhausted of running. Was it not typical of a so-called great man of the world? Vanity tied an empty can of fame to his tail, the hollow noise of which drives him through life until he falls to rise no more. Miserable!

Neither these men of the world nor Buddhist ascetics can be optimists. The latter rigorously deny themselves sensual gratifications, and keep themselves aloof from all objects of pleasure. For them to be pleased is equivalent to sin, and to laugh, to be cursed. They would rather touch an adder's head than a piece of money.[FN#211] They would rather throw themselves into a fiery furnace than to come in contact with the other sex. Body for them is a bag full of blood and pus;[FN#212] life, an idle, or rather evil, dream. Vegetarianism and celibacy are their holy privileges. Life is unworthy of having; to put an end to it is their
deliverance.[FN#213] Such a view of life is hardly worth our refutation.
[FN#211] Such is the precept taught in the Vinaya of Hinayanists.

[FN#212] See Mahasatiptthana Suttanta, 2-13.

 

[FN#213] This is the logical conclusion of Hinayanism.

 

2. The Errors of Philosophical Pessimists and Religious Optimists.

Philosophical pessimists[FN#214] maintain that there are on earth many more causes of pain than of pleasure; and that pain exists positively, but pleasure is a mere absence of pain because we are conscious of sickness but not of health; of loss, but not of possession. On the contrary, religious optimists insist that there must not be any evil in God's universe, that evil has no independent nature, but simply denotes a privation of good--that is, evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound.'

[FN#214] Schopenhauer, 'The World as Will and Idea' (R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp's translation, vol. iii., pp. 384-386); Hartman, 'Philosophy of the Unconsciousness' (W. C. Coupland's translation, vol. iii., pp. 12-119).

No matter what these one-sided observers' opinion may be, we are certain that we experience good as well as evil, and feel pain and pleasure as well. Neither can we alleviate the real sufferings of the sick by telling them that sickness is no other than the absence of health, nor can we make the poor a whit richer by telling them that poverty is a mere absence of riches. How could we save the dying by persuading them that death is a bare privation of life? Is it possible to dispirit the happy by telling them that happiness is unreal, or make the fortunate miserable by telling them that fortune has no objective reality, or to make one welcome evil by telling one that it is only the absence of good?

You must admit there are no definite external causes of pain nor those of pleasure, for one and the same thing causes pain at one time and pleasure at another. A cause of delight to one person turns out to be that of aversion to another. A dying miser might revive at the sight of gold, yet a Diogenes would pass without noticing it. Cigars and wine are blessed gifts of heaven to the intemperate,[FN#215] but accursed poison to the temperate. Some might enjoy a long life, but others would heartily desire to curtail it. Some might groan under a slight indisposition, while others would whistle away a life of serious disease. An Epicure might be taken prisoner by poverty, yet an Epictetus would fearlessly face and vanquish him. How, then, do you distinguish the real cause of pain from that of pleasure? How do you know the causes of one are more numerous than the causes of the other?

[FN#215] The author of Han Shu (Kan Sho) calls spirits the gift of Heaven.

Expose thermometers of several kinds to one and the same temperature. One will indicate, say, 60°, another as high as 100°, another as low as
15°. Expose the thermometers of human sensibilities, which are of
myriads of different kinds, to one and the same temperature of
environment. None of them will indicate the same degrees. In one
and the same climate, which we think moderate, the Eskimo would be
washed with perspiration, while the Hindu would shudder with cold.
Similarly, under one and the same circumstance some might be
extremely miserable and think it unbearable, yet others would be
contented and happy. Therefore we may safely conclude that there are
no definite external causes of pain and pleasure, and that there must
be internal causes which modify the external.

3. The Law of Balance.

Nature governs the world with her law of balance. She puts things ever in pairs,[FN#216] and leaves nothing in isolation. Positives stand in opposition to negatives, actives to passives, males to females, and so on. Thus we get the ebb in opposition to the flood tide; the centrifugal force to the centripetal; attraction to repulsion; growth to decay; toxin to antitoxin; light to shade; action to reaction; unity to variety; day to night; the animate to the inanimate. Look at our own bodies: the right eye is placed side by side with the left; the left shoulder with the right; the right lung with the left; the left hemisphere of the brain with that of the right; and so forth.

[FN#216] Zenists call them 'pairs of opposites.' It holds good also in human affairs: advantage is always accompanied by disadvantage; loss by gain; convenience by inconvenience; good by evil; rise by fall; prosperity by adversity; virtue by vice; beauty by deformity; pain by pleasure; youth by old age; life by death. 'A handsome young lady of quality,' a parable in Mahaparinirvana-sutra tells us, 'who carries with her an immense treasure is ever accompanied by her sister, an ugly woman in rags, who destroys everything within her reach. If we win the former, we must also get the latter.' As pessimists show intense dislike towards the latter and forget the former, so optimists admire the former so much that they are indifferent to the latter.

4. Life Consists in Conflict.

Life consists in conflict. So long as man remains a social animal he cannot live in isolation. All individual hopes and aspirations depend on society. Society is reflected in the individual, and the individual in society. In spite of this, his inborn free will and love of liberty seek to break away from social ties. He is also a moral animal, and endowed with love and sympathy. He loves his fellow-beings, and would fain promote their welfare; but he must be engaged in constant struggle against them for existence. He sympathizes even with animals inferior to him, and heartily wishes to protect them; yet he is doomed to destroy their lives day and night. He has many a noble aspiration, and often soars aloft by the wings of imagination into the realm of the ideal; still his material desires drag him down to the earth. He lives on day by day to continue his life, but he is unfailingly approaching death at every moment.

The more he secures new pleasure, spiritual or material, the more he incurs pain not yet experienced. One evil removed only gives place to another; one advantage gained soon proves itself a disadvantage. His very reason is the cause of his doubt and suspicion; his intellect, with which he wants to know everything, declares itself to be incapable of knowing anything in its real state; his finer sensibility, which is the sole source of finer pleasure, has to experience finer suffering. The more he asserts himself, the more he has to sacrifice himself. These conflictions probably led Kant to call life "a trial time, wherein most succumb, and in which even the best does not rejoice in his life." "Men betake themselves," says Fichte, "to the chase after felicity. . . . But as soon as they withdraw into themselves and ask themselves, 'Am I now happy?' the reply comes distinctly from the depth of their soul, 'Oh no; thou art still just as empty and destitute as before!' . . . They will in the future life just as vainly seek blessedness as they have sought it in the present life."

It is not without reason that the pessimistic minds came to conclude that 'the unrest of unceasing willing and desiring by which every creature is goaded is in itself unblessedness,' and that 'each creature is in constant danger, constant agitation, and the whole, with its restless, meaningless motion, is a tragedy of the most piteous kind.' 'A creature like the carnivorous animal, who cannot exist at all without continually destroying and tearing others, may not feel its brutality, but man, who has to prey on other sentient beings like the carnivorous, is intelligent enough, as hard fate would have it, to know and feel his own brutal living.' He must be the most miserable of all creatures, for he is most conscious of his own misery. Furthermore, 'he experiences not only the misfortunes which actually befall him, but in imagination he goes through every possibility of evil.' Therefore none, from great kings and emperors down to nameless beggars, can be free from cares and anxieties, which 'ever flit around them like ghosts.'

5. The Mystery of Life.

Thus far we have pointed out the inevitable conflictions in life in order to prepare ourselves for an insight into the depth of life. We are far from being pessimistic, for we believe that life consists in confliction, but that confliction does not end in confliction, but in a new form of harmony. Hope comes to conflict with fear, and is often threatened with losing its hold on mind; then it renews its life and takes root still deeper than before. Peace is often disturbed with wars, but then it gains a still firmer ground than ever. Happiness is driven out of mind by melancholy, then it is re-enforced by favourable conditions and returns with double strength. Spirit is dragged down by matter from its ideal heaven, then, incited by shame, it tries a higher flight. Good is opposed by evil, then it gathers more strength and vanquishes its foe. Truth is clouded by falsehood, then it issues forth with its greater light. Liberty is endangered by tyranny, then it overthrows it with a splendid success.

Manifoldness stands out boldly against unity; difference against agreement; particularity against generality; individuality against society. Manifoldness, nevertheless, instead of annihilating, enriches unity; difference, instead of destroying agreement, gives it variety; particularities, instead of putting an end to generality, increase its content; individuals, instead of breaking the harmony of society, strengthen the power of it.

Thus 'Universal Life does not swallow up manifoldness nor extinguish differences, but it is the only means of bringing to its full development the detailed content of reality; in particular, it does not abolish the great oppositions of life and world, but takes them up into itself and brings them into fruitful relations with each other.' Therefore 'our life is a mysterious blending of freedom and necessity, power and limitation, caprice and law; yet these opposites are constantly seeking and finding a mutual adjustment.'

6. Nature Favours Nothing in Particular.

There is another point of view of life, which gave the present writer no small contentment, and which he believes would cure one of pessimistic complaint. Buddha, or Universal Life conceived by Zen, is not like a capricious despot, who acts not seldom against his own laws. His manifestation as shown in the Enlightened Consciousness is lawful, impartial, and rational. Buddhists believe that even Shakya Muni himself was not free from the law of retribution, which includes, in our opinion, the law of balance and that of causation.

Now let us briefly examine how the law of balance holds its sway over life and the world. When the Cakravartin, according to an Indian legend, the universal monarch, would come to govern the earth, a wheel would also appear as one of his treasures, and go on rolling all over the world, making everything level and smooth. Buddha is the spiritual Cakravartin, whose wheel is the wheel of the law of balance, with which he governs all things equally and impartially. First let us observe the simplest cases where the law of balance holds good. Four men can finish in three days the same amount of work as is done by three men in four days. The increase in the number of men causes the decrease in that of days, the decrease in the number of men causes the increase in that of days, the result being always the same. Similarly the increase in the sharpness of a knife is always accompanied by a decrease in its durability, and the increase of durability by a decrease of sharpness. The more beautiful flowers grow, the uglier their fruits become; the prettier the fruits grow, the simpler become their flowers. 'A strong soldier is ready to die; a strong tree is easy to be broken; hard leather is easy to be torn. But the soft tongue survives the hard teeth.' Horned creatures are destitute of tusks, the sharp-tusked creatures lack horns. Winged animals are not endowed with paws, and handed animals are provided with no wings. Birds of beautiful plumage have no sweet voice, and sweet-voiced songsters no feathers of bright colours. The finer in quality, the smaller in quantity, and bulkier in size, the coarser in nature.

Nature favours nothing in particular. So everything has its advantage and disadvantage as well. What one gains on the one hand one loses on the other. The ox is competent in drawing a heavy cart, but he is absolutely incompetent in catching mice. A shovel is fit for digging, but not for ear-picking. Aeroplanes are good for aviation, but not for navigation. Silkworms feed on mulberry leaves and make silk from it, but they can do nothing with other leaves. Thus everything has its own use or a mission appointed by Nature; and if we take advantage of it, nothing is useless, but if not, all are useless. 'The neck of the crane may seem too long to some idle on-lookers, but there is no surplus in it. The limbs of the tortoise may appear too short, but there is no shortcoming in them.' The centipede, having a hundred limbs, can find no useless feet; the serpent, having no foot, feels no want.

7. The Law of Balance in Life.

It is also the case with human affairs. Social positions high or low, occupations spiritual or temporal, work rough or gentle, education perfect or imperfect, circumstances needy or opulent, each has its own advantage as well as disadvantage. The higher the position the graver the responsibilities, the lower the rank the lighter the obligation. The director of a large bank can never be so careless as his errand-boy who may stop on the street to throw a stone at a sparrow; nor can the manager of a large plantation have as good a time on a rainy day as his day-labourers who spend it in gambling. The accumulation of wealth is always accompanied by its evils; no Rothschild nor Rockefeller can be happier than a poor pedlar.

A mother of many children may be troubled by her noisy little ones and envy her sterile friend, who in turn may complain of her loneliness; but if they balance what they gain with what they lose, they will find the both sides are equal. The law of balance strictly forbids one's monopoly of happiness. It applies its scorpion whip to anyone who is given to pleasures. Joy in extremity lives next door to exceeding sorrow. "Where there is much light," says Goethe, "shadow is deep." Age, withered and disconsolate, lurks under the skirts of blooming youth. The celebration of birthday is followed by the commemoration of death. Marriage might be supposed to be the luckiest event in one's life, but the widow's tears and the orphan's sufferings also might be its outcome. But for the former the latter can never be. The death of parents is indeed the unluckiest event in the son's life, but it may result in the latter's inheritance of an estate, which is by no means unlucky. The disease of a child may cause its parents grief, but it is a matter of course that it lessens the burden of their livelihood. Life has its pleasures, but also its pains. Death has no pleasure of life, but also none of its pain. So that if we balance their smiles and tears, life and death are equal. It is not wise for us, therefore, to commit suicide while the terms of our life still remain, nor to fear death when there is no way of avoiding it.

Again, the law of balance does not allow anyone to take the lion's share of nature's gifts. Beauty in face is accompanied by deformity in character. Intelligence is often uncombined with virtue. "Fair girls are destined to be unfortunate," says a Japanese proverb, "and men of ability to be sickly." "He makes no friend who never makes a foe." "Honesty is next to idiocy." "Men of genius," says
Longfellow, "are often dull and inert in society; as the blazing meteor when it descends to earth is only a stone." Honour and shame go hand in hand. Knowledge and virtue live in poverty, while ill health and disease are inmates of luxury.

Every misfortune begets some sort of fortune, while every good luck gives birth to some sort of bad luck. Every prosperity never fails to sow seeds of adversity, while every fall never fails to bring about some kind of rise. We must not, then, despair in days of frost and snow, reminding ourselves of sunshine and flowers that follow them; nor must we be thoughtless in days of youth and health, keeping in mind old age and ill health that are in the rear of them. In brief, all, from crowns and coronets down to rags and begging bowls, have their own happiness and share heavenly grace alike.

8. The Application of the Law of Causation to Morals.

Although it may be needless to state here the law of causation at any length, yet it is not equally needless to say a few words about its application to morals as the law of retribution, which is a matter of dispute even among Buddhist scholars. The kernel of the idea is very simple-like seed, like fruit; like cause, like effect; like action, like influence--nothing more. As fresh air strengthens and impure air chokes us, so good conduct brings about good consequence, and bad conduct does otherwise.[FN#217]

[FN#217] Zen lays much stress on this law. See Shu-sho-gi and Ei-hei-ka-kun, by Do-gen.

Over against these generalizations we raise no objection, but there are many cases, in practical life, of doubtful nature. An act of charity, for example, might do others some sort of damage, as is often the case with the giving of alms to the poor, which may produce the undesirable consequence of encouraging beggary. An act of love might produce an injurious effect, as the mother's love often spoils her children. Some[FN#218] may think these are cases of good cause and bad effect. We have, however, to analyze these causes and effects in order to find in what relation they stand. In the first case the good action of almsgiving produces the good effect of lessening the sufferings of the poor, who should be thankful for their benefactor. The giver is rewarded in his turn by the peace and satisfaction of his conscience. The poor, however, when used to being given alms are inclined to grow lazy and live by means of begging. Therefore the real cause of the bad effect is the thoughtlessness of both the giver and the given, but not charity itself. In the second case the mother's love and kindness produce a good effect on her and her children, making them all happy, and enabling them to enjoy the pleasure of the sweet home; yet carelessness and folly on the part of the mother and ingratitude on the part of the children may bring about the bad effect.

[FN#218] Dr. H. Kato seems to have thought that good cause may bring out bad effect when he attacked Buddhism on this point.

History is full of numerous cases in which good persons were so unfortunate as to die a miserable death or to live in extreme poverty, side by side with those cases in which bad people lived in health and prosperity, enjoying a long life. Having these cases in view, some are of the opinion that there is no law of retribution as believed by the Buddhists. And even among the Buddhist scholars themselves there are some who think of the law of retribution as an ideal, and not as a law governing life. This is probably due to their misunderstanding of the historical facts. There is no reason because he is good and honourable that he should be wealthy or healthy; nor is there any reason because he is bad that he should be poor or sickly. To be good is one thing, and to be healthy or rich is another. So also to be bad is one thing, And to be poor and sick is another. The good are not necessarily the rich or the healthy, nor are the bad necessarily the sick or the poor. Health must be secured by the strict observance of hygienic rules, and not by the keeping of ethical precepts; nor can wealth ever be accumulated by bare morality, but by economical and industrial activity. The moral conduct of a good person has no responsibility for his ill health or poverty; so also the immoral action of a bad person has no concern with his wealth or health. You should not confuse the moral with the physical law, since the former belongs only to human life, while the latter to the physical world.

The good are rewarded morally, not physically; their own virtues, honours, mental peace, and satisfaction are ample compensation for their goodness. Confucius, for example, was never rich nor high in rank; he was, nevertheless, morally rewarded with his virtues, honours, and the peace of mind. The following account of him,[FN#219] though not strictly historical, well explains his state of mind in the days of misfortune:

"When Confucius was reduced to extreme distress between Khan and Zhai, for seven days he had no cooked meat to eat, but only some soup of coarse vegetables without any rice in it. His countenance wore the appearance of great exhaustion, and yet be kept playing on his lute and singing inside the house. Yen Hui (was outside) selecting the vegetables, while Zze Lu and Zze Kung were talking together, and said to him: 'The master has twice been driven from Lu; he had to flee from Wei; the tree beneath which he rested was cut down in Sung; he was reduced to extreme distress in Shang and Kau; he is held in a state of siege here between Khan and Zhai; anyone who kills him will be held guiltless; there is no prohibition against making him a prisoner. And yet he keeps playing and singing, thrumming his lute without ceasing. Can a superior man be without the feeling of shame to such an extent as this?' Yen Hui gave them no reply, but went in and told (their words) to Confucius, who pushed aside his lute and said: 'Yu and Zhze are small men. Call them here, and I will explain the thing to them.'

[FN#219] The account is given by Chwang Tsz in his book, vol. xviii., p. 17.

"When they came in, Zze Lu said: 'Your present condition may be called one of extreme distress!' Confucius replied: 'What words are these? When the superior man has free course with his principles, that is what we call his success; when such course is denied, that is what we call his failure. Now I hold in my embrace the principles of righteousness and benevolence, and with them meet the evils of a disordered age; where is the proof of my being in extreme distress? Therefore, looking inwards and examining myself, I have no difficulties about my principles; though I encounter such difficulties (as the present), I do not lose my virtue. It is when winter's cold is come, and the hoar-frost and snow are falling, that we know the vegetative power of the pine and cypress. This distress between Khan and Zhai is fortunate for me.' He then took back his lute so that it emitted a twanging sound, and began to play and sing.

(At the same time) Zze Lu hurriedly seized a shield and began to dance, while Zze Kung said: 'I did not know (before) the height of heaven nor the depth of earth!'"

Thus the good are unfailingly rewarded with their own virtue, and the wholesome consequences of their actions on society at large. And the bad are inevitably recompensed with their own vices, and the injurious effects of their actions on their fellow-beings. This is the unshaken conviction of humanity, past, present, and future. It is the pith and marrow of our moral ideal. It is the crystallization of ethical truths, distilled through long experiences from time immemorial to this day. We can safely approve Edwin Arnold, as he says:

"Lo I as hid seed shoots after rainless years, So good and evil, pains and pleasures, hates And loves, and all dead deeds come forth again, Bearing bright leaves, or dark, sweet fruit or sour."

Longfellow also says:

"No action, whether foul or fair, Is ever done, but it leaves somewhere A record-as a blessing or a curse."

9. Retribution[FN#220] in the Past, the Present, and the Future Life.

Then a question suggests itself: If there be no soul that survives body (as shown in the preceding chapter), who will receive the retributions of our actions in the present life? To answer this question, we have to restate our conviction that life is one and the same; in other words, the human beings form one life or one self--that is to say, our ancestors in the past formed man's past life. We ourselves now form man's present life, and our posterity will form the future life. Beyond all doubt, all actions of man in the past have brought their fruits on the present conditions of man, and all actions of the present man are sure to influence the conditions of the future man. To put it in another way, we now reap the fruits of what we sowed in our past life (or when we lived as our fathers), and again shall reap the fruits of what we now sow in our future life (or when we shall live as our posterity).

There is no exception to this rigorous law of retribution, and we take it as the will of Buddha to leave no action without being retributed. Thus it is Buddha himself who kindles our inward fire to save ourselves from sin and crimes. We must purge out all the stains in our hearts, obeying Buddha's command audible in the innermost self of ours. It is the great mercy of His that, however sinful,
superstitious, wayward, and thoughtless, we have still a light within us which is divine in its nature. When that light shines forth, all sorts of sin are destroyed at once. What is our sin, after all? It is nothing but illusion or error originating in ignorance and folly. How true it is, as an Indian Mahayanist declares, that 'all frost and the dewdrops of sin disappear in the sunshine of wisdom!'[FN#221] Even if we might be imprisoned in the bottomless bell, yet let once the Light of Buddha shine upon us, it would be changed into heaven. Therefore the author of Mahakarunika-sutra[FN#222] says: "When I climb the mountain planted with swords, they would break under my tread. When I sail on the sea of blood, it will be dried up. When I arrive at Hades, they will be ruined at once."

[FN#220] The retribution cannot be explained by the doctrine of the transmigration of the soul, for it is incompatible with the
fundamental doctrine of non-soul. See Abhidharmamahavibhasa-castra, vol. cxiv.

[FN#221] Samantabhadra-dhyana-sutra.

 

[FN#222] Nanjo's Catalogue, No. 117.

 

10. The Eternal Life as taught by Professor Munsterberg.

Some philosophical pessimists undervalue life simply because it is subject to limitation. They ascribe all evils to that condition, forgetting that without limitation life is a mere blank. Suppose our sight could see all things at once, then sight has no value nor use for us, because it is life's purpose to choose to see one thing or another out of many; and if all things be present at once before us through sight, it is of no purpose. The same is true of intellect, bearing, smell, touch, feeling, and will. If they be limitless, they cease to be useful for us. Individuality necessarily implies limitation, hence if there be no limitation in the world, then there is no room for individuality. Life without death is no life at all.

Professor Hugo Munsterberg finds no value, so it seems to me, in 'such life as beginning with birth and ending with death.' He says:[FN#223] "My life as a causal system of physical and psychological processes, which lies spread out in time between the dates of my birth and of my death, will come to an end with my last breath; to continue it, to make it go on till the earth falls into the sun, or a billion times longer, would be without any value, as that kind of life which is nothing but the mechanical occurrence of physiological and psychological phenomena had as such no ultimate value for me or for you, or for anyone, at any time. But my real life, as a system of interrelated-will-attitudes, has nothing before or after because it is beyond time. It is independent of birth and death because it cannot be related to biological events; it is not born, and will not die; it is immortal; all possible thinkable time is enclosed in it; it is eternal."

[FN#223] 'The Eternal Life,' p. 26.

Professor Munsterberg tries to distinguish sharply life as the causal system of physiological and psychological processes, and life as a system of interrelated-will-attitudes, and denounces the former as fleeting and valueless, in order to prize the latter as eternal and of absolute value. How could he, however, succeed in his task unless he has two or three lives, as some animals are believed to have? Is it not one and the same life that is treated on the one hand by science as a system of physiological and psychological processes, and is conceived on the other by the Professor himself as a system of interrelated-will-attitudes? It is true that science treats of life as it is observed in time, space, and causality, and it estimates it of no value, since to estimate the value of things is no business of science. The same life observed as a system of
interrelated-will-attitudes is independent of time, space, and causality as he affirms. One and the same life includes both phases, the difference being in the points of view of the observers. Life as observed only from the scientific point of view is bare abstraction; it is not concrete life; nor is life as observed only in the interrelated-will-attitude point of view the whole of life. Both are abstractions. Concrete life includes both phases. Moreover, Professor Munsterberg sees life in the relationship entirely independent-of time, space, and causality, saying: "If you agree or disagree with the latest act of the Russian Czar, the only significant relation which exists between him and you has nothing to do with the naturalistic fact that geographically 'an ocean lies between you; and if you are really a student of Plato, your only important relation to the Greek philosopher has nothing to do with the other naturalistic fact that biologically two thousand years lie between you"; and declares life (seen from that point of view) to be immortal and eternal. This is as much as to say that life, when seen in the relationship independent of time and space, is independent of time and space-that is, immortal and eternal. Is it not mere tautology? He is in the right in insisting that life can be seen from the scientific point of view as a system of physiological and psychological processes, and at the same time as a system of interrelated-will-attitudes independent of time and space. But he cannot by that means prove the existence of concrete individual life which is eternal and immortal, because that which is independent of time and space is the relationship in which he observes life, but not life itself. Therefore we have to notice that life held by Professor Munsterberg to be eternal and immortal is quite a different thing from the eternal life or immortality of soul believed by common sense.

11. Life in the Concrete.

Life in the concrete, which we are living, greatly differs from life in the abstract, which exists only in the class-room. It is not eternal; it is fleeting; it is full of anxieties, pains, struggles, brutalities, disappointments, and calamities. We love life, however,
-not only for its smoothness, but for its roughness; not only for its pleasure, but for its pain; not only for its hope, but for its fear; not only for its flowers, but for its frost and snow. As
Issai[FN#224] (Sato) has aptly put it: "Prosperity is like spring, in which we have green leaves and flowers wherever we go; while adversity is like winter, in which we have snow and ice. Spring, of course, pleases us; winter, too, displeases us not." Adversity is salt to our lives, as it keeps them from corruption, no matter how bitter to taste it way be. It is the best stimulus to body and mind, since it brings forth latent energy that may remain dormant but for it. Most people hunt after pleasure, look for good luck, hunger after success, and complain of pain, ill-luck, and failure. It does not occur to them that 'they who make good luck a god are all unlucky men,' as George Eliot has wisely observed. Pleasure ceases to be pleasure when we attain to it; another sort of pleasure displays itself to tempt us. It is a mirage, it beckons to us to lead us astray. When an overwhelming misfortune looks us in the face, our latent power is sure to be aroused to grapple with it. Even delicate girls exert the power of giants at the time of emergency; even robbers or murderers are found to be kind and generous when we are thrown into a common disaster. Troubles and difficulties call forth our divine force, which lies deeper than the ordinary faculties, and which we never before dreamed we possessed.

[FN#224] A noted scholar (1772-1859) and author, who belonged to the Wang School of Confucianism. See Gen-shi-roku.

 

12. Difficulties are no Match for the Optimist.

How can we suppose that we, the children of Buddha, are put at the mercy of petty troubles, or intended to be crushed by obstacles? Are we not endowed with inner force to fight successfully against obstacles and difficulties, and to wrest trophies of glory from hardships? Are we to be slaves to the vicissitudes of fortune? Are we doomed to be victims for the jaws of the environment? It is not external obstacles themselves, but our inner fear and doubt that prove to be the stumbling-blocks in the path to success; not material loss, but timidity and hesitation that ruin us for ever.

Difficulties are no match for the optimist, who does not fly from them, but welcomes them. He has a mental prism which can separate the insipid white light of existence into bright hues. He has a mental alchemy by which he can produce golden instruction out of the dross of failure. He has a spiritual magic which makes the nectar of joy out of the tears of sorrow. He has a clairvoyant eye that can perceive the existence of hope through the iron walls of despair. Prosperity tends to make one forget the grace of Buddha, but adversity brings forth one's religious conviction. Christ on the cross was more Christ than Jesus at the table. Luther at war with the Pope was more Luther than he at peace. Nichi-ren[FN#225] laid the foundation of his church when sword and sceptre threatened him with death. Shin-ran[FN#226] and Hen-en[FN#227] established their respective faiths when they were exiled. When they were exiled, they complained not, resented not, regretted not, repented not, lamented not, but contentedly and joyously they met with their inevitable calamity and conquered it. Ho-nen is said to have been still more joyous and contented when be bad suffered from a serious disease, because he had the conviction that his desired end was at hand.

[FN#225] The founder (1222-1282) of the Nichi Ren Sect, who was exiled in 1271 to the Island of Sado. For the history and doctrine of the Sect, see I A Short History of the Twelve Japanese Buddhist Sects,' by B. Nanjo, pp. 132-147.

[FN#226] The founder (1173-1262) of the Shin Sect, who was banished to the province of Eechigo in 1207. See Nanjo's 'History,' pp. 122-131.

[FN#227] The founder (1131 1212) of the Jo Do Sect, who was exiled to the Island of Tosa in 1207. See Nanjo's 'History,' pp. 104-113.

A Chinese monk, E Kwai by name, one day seated himself in a quiet place among hills and practised Dhyana. None was there to disturb the calm enjoyment of his meditation. The genius of the hill was so much stung by his envy that he made up his mind to break by surprise the mental serenity of the monk. Having supposed nothing ordinary would be effective, he appeared all on a sudden before the man, assuming the frightful form of a headless monster. E Kwai being disturbed not a whit, calmly eyed the monster, and observed with a smile: "Thou hast no head, monster! How happy thou shouldst be, for thou art in no danger of losing thy head, nor of suffering from headache!"

Were we born headless, should we not be happy, as we have to suffer from no headache? Were we born eyeless, should we not be happy, as we are in no danger of suffering from eye disease? Ho Ki Ichi,[FN#228] a great blind scholar, was one evening giving a lecture, without knowing that the light had been put out by the wind.

When his pupils requested him to stop for a moment, he remarked with a smile: "Why, how inconvenient are your eyes!" Where there is contentment, there is Paradise.

[FN#228] Hanawa (1746-1821), who published Gun-sho-rui-zu in 1782.

 

13. Do Thy Best and Leave the Rest to Providence.

There is another point of view which enables us to enjoy life. It is simply this, that everything is placed in the condition best for itself, as it is the sum total of the consequences of its actions and reactions since the dawn of time. Take, for instance, the minutest grains of dirt that are regarded by us the worst, lifeless,
valueless, mindless, inert matter. They are placed in their best condition, no matter how poor and worthless they may seem. They can never become a thing higher nor lower than they. To be the grains of dirt is best for them. But for these minute microcosms, which, flying in the air, reflect the sunbeams, we could have no azure sky. It is they that scatter the sun's rays in mid-air and send them into our rooms. It is also these grains of dirt that form the nuclei of raindrops and bring seasonable rain. Thus they are not things worthless and good for nothing, but have a hidden import and purpose in their existence. Had they mind to think, heart to feel, they should be contented and happy with their present condition.

Take, for another example, the flowers of the morning glory. They bloom and smile every morning, fade and die in a few hours. How fleeting and ephemeral their lives are! But it is that short life itself that makes them frail, delicate, and lovely. They come forth all at once as bright and beautiful as a rainbow or as the Northern light, and disappear like dreams. This is the best condition for them, because, if they last for days together, the morning glory shall no longer be the morning glory. It is so with the cherry-tree that puts forth the loveliest flowers and bears bitter fruits. It is so with the apple-tree, which bears the sweetest of fruits and has ugly blossoms. It is so with animals and men. Each of them is placed in the condition best for his appointed mission.

The newly-born baby sucks, sleeps, and cries. It can do no more nor less. Is it not best for it to do so? When it attained to its boyhood, he goes to school and is admitted to the first-year class. He cannot be put in a higher nor lower class. It is best for him to be the first-year class student. When his school education is over, he may get a position in society according to his abilities, or may lead a miserable life owing to his failure of some sort or other. In any case he is in a position best for his special mission ordained by Providence or the Hum-total of the fruits of his actions and reactions since all eternity. He should be contented and happy, and do what is right with might and main. Discontent and vexation only make him more worthy of his ruin Therefore our positions, no matter, how high or low, no matter how favourable or unfavourable our environment, we are to be cheerful. "Do thy best and leave the rest to Providence," says a Chinese adage. Longfellow also says:

"Do thy best; that is best. Leave unto thy Lord the rest."

 

CHAPTER VIII

 

THE TRAINING OF THE MIND AND THE PRACTICE OF MEDITATION

 

1. The Method of Instruction Adopted by Zen Masters.

Thus far we have described the doctrine of Zen inculcated by both Chinese and Japanese masters, and in this chapter we propose to sketch the practice of mental training and the method of practising Dhyana or Meditation. Zen teachers never instruct their pupils by means of explanation or argument, but urge them to solve by themselves through the practice of Meditation such problems as--'What is Buddha?' What is self?' 'What is the spirit of Bodhidharma?' 'What is life and death?' 'What is the real nature of mind?' and so on. Ten Shwai (To-sotsu), for instance, was wont to put three questions[FN#229] to the following effect: (1) Your study and discipline aim at the understanding of the real nature of mind. Where does the real nature of mind exist? (2) When you understand the real nature of mind, you are free from birth and death. How can you be saved when you are at the verge of death? (3) When you are free from birth and death, you know where you go after death. Where do you go when your body is reduced to elements? The pupils are not requested to express their solution of these problems in the form of a theory or an argument, but to show how they have grasped the profound meaning implied in these problems, how they have established their conviction, and how they can carry out what they grasped in their daily life.

[FN#229] The famous three difficult questions, known as the Three Gates of Teu Shwai (To Sotsu San Kwan), who died in 1091. See Mu Mon Kwan, xlvii.

A Chinese Zen master[FN#230] tells us that the method of instruction adopted by Zen may aptly be compared with that of an old burglar who taught his son the art of burglary. The burglar one evening said to his little son, whom he desired to instruct in the secret of his trade: "Would you not, my dear boy, be a great burglar like myself?" "Yes, father," replied the promising young man." "Come with me, then. I will teach you the art." So saying, the man went out, followed by his son. Finding a rich mansion in a certain village, the veteran burglar made a hole in the wall that surrounded it. Through that hole they crept into the yard, and opening a window with complete ease broke into the house, where they found a huge box firmly locked up as if its contents were very valuable articles. The old man clapped his hands at the lock, which, strange to tell, unfastened itself. Then he removed the cover and told his son to get into it and pick up treasures as fast as he could. No sooner had the boy entered the box than the father replaced the cover and locked it up. He then exclaimed at the top of his voice: "Thief! thief! thief! thief!" Thus, having aroused the inmates, he went out without taking anything. All the house was in utter confusion for a while; but finding nothing stolen, they went to bed again. The boy sat holding his breath a short while; but making up his mind to get out of his narrow prison, began to scratch the bottom of the box with his finger-nails. The servant of the house, listening to the noise, supposed it to be a mouse gnawing at the inside of the box; so she came out, lamp in hand, and unlocked it. On removing the cover, she was greatly surprised to find the boy instead of a little mouse, and gave alarm. In the meantime the boy got out of the box and went down into the yard, hotly pursued by the people. He ran as fast as possible toward the well, picked up a large stone, threw it down into it, and hid himself among the bushes. The pursuers, thinking the thief fell into the well, assembled around it, and were looking into it, while the boy crept out unnoticed through the hole and went home in safety. Thus the burglar taught his son how to rid himself of overwhelming difficulties by his own efforts; so also Zen teachers teach their pupils how to overcome difficulties that beset them on all sides and work out salvation by themselves.

[FN#230] Wu Tsu (Go So), the teacher of Yuen Wu (En Go).

 

2. The First Step in the Mental Training.

Some of the old Zen masters are said to have attained to supreme Enlightenment after the practice of Meditation for one week, some for one day, some for a score of years, and some for a few months. The practice of Meditation, however, is not simply a means for Enlightenment, as is usually supposed, but also it is the enjoyment of Nirvana, or the beatitude of Zen. It is a matter, of course, that we have fully to understand the doctrine of Zen, and that we have to go through the mental training peculiar to Zen in order to be Enlightened.

The first step in the mental training is to become the master of external things. He who is addicted to worldly pleasures, however learned or ignorant he may be, however high or low his social position may be, is a servant to mere things. He cannot adapt the external world to his own end, but he adapts himself to it. He is constantly employed, ordered, driven by sensual objects. Instead of taking possession of wealth, he is possessed by wealth. Instead of drinking liquors, he is swallowed up by his liquors. Balls and music bid him to run mad. Games and shows order him not to stay at home. Houses, furniture, pictures, watches, chains, hats, bonnets, rings, bracelets, shoes--in short, everything has a word to command him. How can such a person be the master of things? To Ju (Na-kae) says: "There is a great jail, not a jail for criminals, that contains the world in it. Fame, gain, pride, and bigotry form its four walls. Those who are confined in it fall a prey to sorrow and sigh for ever."

To be the ruler of things we have first to shut up all our senses, and turn the currents of thoughts inward, and see ourselves as the centre of the world, and meditate that we are the beings of highest intelligence; that Buddha never puts us at the mercy of natural forces; that the earth is in our possession; that everything on earth is to be made use of for our noble ends; that fire, water, air, grass, trees, rivers, hills, thunder, cloud, stars, the moon, the sun, are at our command; that we are the law-givers of the natural phenomena; that we are the makers of the phenomenal world; that it is we that appoint a mission through life, and determine the fate of man.

3. The Next Step in the Mental Training.

In the next place we have to strive to be the master of our bodies. With most of the unenlightened, body holds absolute control over Self. Every order of the former has to be faithfully obeyed by the latter. Even if Self revolts against the tyranny of body, it is easily trampled down under the brutal hoofs of bodily passion. For example, Self wants to be temperate for the sake of health, and would fain pass by the resort for drinking, but body would force Self into it. Self at times lays down a strict dietetic rule for himself, but body would threaten Self to act against both the letter and spirit of the rule. Now Self aspires to get on a higher place among sages, but body pulls Self down to the pavement of masses. Now Self proposes to give some money to the poor, but body closes the purse tightly. Now Self admires divine beauty, but body compels him to prefer sensuality. Again, Self likes spiritual liberty, but body confines him in its dungeons.

Therefore, to got Enlightened, we must establish the authority of Self over the whole body. We must use our bodies as we use our clothes in order to accomplish our noble purposes. Let us command body not to shudder under a cold shower-bath in inclement weather, not to be nervous from sleepless nights, not to be sick with any sort of food, not to groan under a surgeon's knife, not to succumb even if we stand a whole day in the midsummer sun, not to break down under any form of disease, not to be excited in the thick of
battlefield--in brief, we have to control our body as we will.

Sit in a quiet place and meditate in imagination that body is no more bondage to you, that it is your machine for your work of life, that you are not flesh, that you are the governor of it, that you can use it at pleasure, and that it always obeys your order faithfully. Imagine body as separated from you. When it cries out, stop it instantly, as a mother does her baby. When it disobeys you, correct it by discipline, as a master does his pupil. When it is wanton, tame it down, as a horse-breaker does his wild horse. When it is sick, prescribe to it, as a doctor does to his patient. Imagine that you are not a bit injured, even if it streams blood; that you are entirely safe, even if it is drowned in water or burned by fire.

E-Shun, a pupil and sister of Ryo-an,[FN#231] a famous Japanese master, burned herself calmly sitting cross-legged on a pile of firewood which consumed her. She attained to the complete mastery of her body. Socrates' self was never poisoned, even if his person was destroyed by the venom he took. Abraham Lincoln himself stood unharmed, even if his body was laid low by the assassin. Masa-shige was quite safe, even if his body was hewed by the traitors' swords. Those martyrs that sang at the stake to the praise of God could never be burned, even if their bodies were reduced to ashes, nor those seekers after truth who were killed by ignorance and superstition. Is it not a great pity to see a man endowed with divine spirit and power easily upset by a bit of headache, or crying as a child under a surgeon's knife, or apt to give up the ghost at the coming of little danger, or trembling through a little cold, or easily laid low by a bit of indisposition, or yielding to trivial temptation?

[FN#231] Ryo an (E-myo, died 1411), the founder of the monastery of Sai-jo-ji, near the city of Odawara. See To-jo-ren-to-roku.

It is no easy matter to be the dictator of body. It is not a matter of theory, but of practice. You must train your body that you may enable it to bear any sort of suffering, and to stand unflinched in the face of hardship. It is for this that So-rai[FN#232] (Ogiu) laid himself on a sheet of straw-mat spread on the ground in the coldest nights of winter, or was used to go up and down the roof of his house, having himself clad in heavy armour. It is for this that ancient Japanese soldiers led extremely simple lives, and that they often held the meeting-of-perseverance,[FN#233] in which they exposed themselves to the coldest weather in winter or to the hottest weather in summer. It is for this that Katsu Awa practised fencing in the middle of night in a deep forest.[FN#234]

[FN#232] One of the greatest scholars of the Tokugawa period, who died in 1728. See Etsu-wa-bun-ko.

 

[FN#233] The soldiers of the Tokugawa period were used to hold such a meeting.

 

[FN#234] Kai-shu-gen-ko-roku.

Ki-saburo, although he was a mere outlaw, having his left arm half cut at the elbow in a quarrel, ordered his servant to cut it off with a saw, and during the operation he could calmly sit talking and laughing with his friends. Hiko-kuro (Takayama),[FN#235] a Japanese loyalist of note, one evening happened to come to a bridge where two robbers were lying in wait for him. They lay fully stretching themselves, each with his head in the middle of the bridge, that he might not pass across it without touching them. Hiko-kuro was not excited nor disheartened, but calmly approached the vagabonds and passed the bridge, treading upon their heads, which act so frightened them that they took to their heels without doing any harm to him.[FN#236]

[FN#235] A well-known loyalist in the Tokugawa period, who died in 1793.

[FN#236] Etsu-wa-bun-ko. The history of Zen is full of the anecdotes that show Zen priests were the lords of their bodies. Here we quote a single example by way of illustration: Ta Hwui (Dai-ye), once having had a boil on his hip, sent for a doctor, who told him that it was fatal, that he must not sit in Meditation as usual. Then Ta Hwui said to the physician: "I must sit in Meditation with all my might during my remaining days, for if your diagnosis be not mistaken, I shall die before long." He sat day and night in constant Meditation, quite forgetful of his boil, which was broken and gone by itself.[FN#237]

[FN#237] Sho-bo-gen-zo-zui-mon-ki, by Do-gen.

 

4. The Third Step in the Mental Training.

To be the lord of mind is more essential to Enlightenment, which, in a sense, is the clearing away of illusions, the putting out of mean desires and passions, and the awakening of the innermost wisdom. He alone can attain to real happiness who has perfect control over his passions tending to disturb the equilibrium of his mind. Such passions as anger, hatred, jealousy, sorrow, worry, grudge, and fear always untune one's mood and break the harmony of one's mind. They poison one's body, not in a figurative, but in a literal sense of the word. Obnoxious passions once aroused never fail to bring about the physiological change in the nerves, in the organs, and eventually in the whole constitution, and leave those injurious impressions that make one more liable to passions of similar nature.

We do not mean, however, that we ought to be cold and passionless, as the most ancient Hinayanists were used to be. Such an attitude has been blamed by Zen masters. "What is the best way of living for us monks?" asked a monk to Yun Ku (Un-go), who replied: "You had better live among mountains." Then the monk bowed politely to the teacher, who questioned: "How did you understand me?" "Monks, as I understood," answered the man, "ought to keep their hearts as immovable as mountains, not being moved either by good or by evil, either by birth or by death, either by prosperity or by adversity." Hereupon Yun Ku struck the monk with his stick and said: "You forsake the Way of the old sages, and will bring my followers to perdition!" Then, turning to another monk, inquired: "How did you understand me?"

"Monks, as I understand," replied the man, "ought to shut their eyes to attractive sights and close their ears to musical notes." "You, too," exclaimed Yun Ka, "forsake the Way of the old sages, and will bring my followers to perdition!" An old woman, to quote another example repeatedly told by Zen masters, used to give food and clothing to a monk for a score of years. One day she instructed a young girl to embrace and ask him: "How do you feel now?" "A lifeless tree," replied the monk coolly, "stands on cold rock. There is no warmth, as if in the coldest season of the year." The matron, being told of this, observed: "Oh that I have made offerings to such a vulgar fellow for twenty years!" She forced the monk to leave the temple and reduced it to ashes.[FN#238]

[FN#238] These instances are quoted from Zen-rin-rui-shu.

If you want to secure Dhyana, let go of your anxieties and failures in the past; let bygones be bygones; cast aside enmity, shame, and trouble, never admit them into your brain; let pass the imagination and anticipation of future hardships and sufferings; let go of all your annoyances, vexations, doubts, melancholies, that impede your speed in the race of the struggle for existence. As the miser sets his heart on worthless dross and accumulates it, so an unenlightened person clings to worthless mental dross and spiritual rubbish, and makes his mind a dust-heap. Some people constantly dwell on the minute details of their unfortunate circumstances, to make themselves more unfortunate than they really are; some go over and over again the symptoms of their disease to think themselves into serious illness; and some actually bring evils on them by having them constantly in view and waiting for them. A man asked Poh Chang (Hyaku-jo): "How shall I learn the Law?" "Eat when you are hungry," replied the teacher; " sleep when you are tired. People do not simply eat at table, but think of hundreds of things; they do not simply sleep in bed, but think of thousands of things."[FN#239]

[FN#239] E-gen and Den-to-roku.