AND EVOLUTION OF RELIGION
E. Washburn Hopkins, 1923
The Buddhistic trinity reverts to an incredibly simple beginning, namely, to the formula of confirmation which the professing Buddhist took when he became a member of the Congregation (Church): "I take my refuge in (Gotama) Buddha and in the Dhamma (Law) and in the Church. I I This was the formula when Gotama Buddha, a venerable but not divine teacher, was instructing the world that there was no God and that man did not have an immortal soul. Later, yet still early, came the conception of Buddha as Supreme Lord, of the Bodhisat as the corporeal but superior Holy Spirit, and of Gotama (the man Buddha) as an incarnation of the divine Buddha. These, be it observed, are both triads, Teacher, Law, and Congregation, and Supreme Lord, Holy Spirit, Incarnate Savior. But in what way could this second triad arise from the first?
To the primitive Buddhist, the mainstay of his religion was the personal Gotama Buddha, who was already a superman and after his death naturally became exalted as a spiritual Lord, adored, in pious fancy, by all divine beings, as he was revered on earth with an almost monotheistic devotion. While living, his personality was magnetic; he must have been a wonderful man, spiritual, sympathetic, wise, and tender; one can see that, even at this distance. Such a man, dead though he was, could not die. Personal devotion to the man, the superman, was transferred to him as a spirit. The man Buddha became secondary. To the later churchman of the Congregation the only "refuge" was the Supreme Spiritual Being, to whom he gave the same title, Buddha. So Gotama became a spiritual Power. As for the Law, the Word of the earthly master was left to his Congregation as the inspired Law which he himself had dictated and which after his death should represent him; he thus became incorporate in the Law.
Hence the early Church said, " The Law is the Buddha." Again, as for the Church, the more profound members of the Church, versed in the wisdom of the master and, like him, endowed (it was thought) with superhuman powers, were known as Bodhisats, Illuminati, attached to transcendent illumination (but also, by virtue of their power, wizards, wiseacres), whom, as a group, the Church idealized. These Bodhisats rose as the master, in historical advance, was exalted from human to superhuman, from superhuman to divine or superdivine, until, when Buddha had become a supreme spiritual Lord, the Bodhisats, representing his Church, still accompanied him (in the thought of the devout) as spiritual powers that surrounded him and were "almost as wise" as he. They were, in fact, in a manner to be explained immediately, conceived as one with himself. Thus, since the Law was Buddha and the Church in Bodhisat form was Buddha, the primitive triad of confirmation became the symbol of a metaphysical One Buddha, who was at once the Supreme Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and the Incarnate Spirit. The Bodhisats were now no longer the perfected saints of early belief ; they had become higher than the angels, a host of spirits, each of whom was in fact an embryonic Buddha. It was believed that they came into being only through Karma as a hidden cause, no outward cause being known, but they were without parents, corporeal existences beyond phenomena, who, if they would, could exercise all magical powers, becoming invisible, passing through solids, walking on water, travelling through space, not to speak of the lesser powers that were shared even by human adepts, such as causing earthquakes. But an earthquake always ensues "whenever a Bodhisat deliberately leaves his heaven to be reborn on earth I as an incarnate Buddha.
In this last statement lies the implication of the oneness of the Buddha and the Bodhisat, who began by being a saint of the Yogi type but was admired even by the primitive Congregation as a perfected heavenly being, corporeal and capable of performing magical acts. As the crown of saintliness the Bodhisat deliberately lowers himself to be born of a woman and appear on earth as the savior of men. In other words, Buddha has a precedent stage as a Bodhisat. The Supreme Being called Tathagata (Buddha) is a perfected Bodhisat. The High Council, circa 300 B. C., in which was the nucleus of the High Church (called Mahayana), had already interpreted Buddha as the supernatural, omniscient, spiritual Buddha, who lived on earth as Gotama after a precedent heavenly existence as a Bodhisat. The difference between a Buddha and a Bodhisat otherwise is merely one of relative wisdom or knowledge. A Bodhisat knows almost everything, but a Buddha knows everything. The Bodhisat forms known as Avalokiteshvara, etc., are not yet Buddhas. Such great spirits stand to right and left of the Buddha, fanning him in sign of devotion and inferiority.
The Lotus of the Good Law, a text composed in the first centuries of our era, calls them "sons of the Lord of the world," lokddhipatisya putrds, and says that the Tathagata Buddha "from the beginning," dditas, roused them to become Bodhisats (Saddh., 14, 37). In this Lotus of the Good Law, Buddha, as "king of law," says of himself: "I am the Father of the world, the self-born, the Healer, the protector of all creatures." In other words, Buddha has here taken the place of the Brahmanic Creator-Father, as, like him also, Buddha is enthroned upon a lotus-seat. In plain imitation of the Bhagavadgita, the Lotus says that the Lord I' does not rest," though he might do so; that he neither loves nor hates anyone and is indifferent toward morality and immorality, heresy and orthodoxy: "I am the Lord who appear in the world to save it; I love none, hate none; I feel the same toward the moral and the immoral, the heretic and the true believer." 1
But Buddha is not yet an everlasting personal God. He is one of a series of an almost endless succession of cyclic Buddhas. The Buddha of today as a form is rather paeneternal than sempiternal. Yet when the Lord says he is everlasting he means that other Buddhas before and after are forms of himself. There is one Buddha, who appears in successive cycles in successive forms. Between this Supreme Buddha and the incarnate Buddha (such as Gotama), the Bodhisat is a connecting link; he is an apparitional corporeal body whose reflex is the earthly Buddha. This idea of precedent Buddhas is quite primitive; they were at first, however, limited, to three, to six, to thirty-four, till later they became innumerable and were recognized as forms of one universal Buddha. The belief practically amounted to this, that each cycle (and by human computation a cycle is a little eternity) has in turn its Supreme Lord Buddha, its special Bodhisat, and its earthly incarnate Buddha.
The Lotus itself glorifies as risen Lord the once incarnate Gotama, while the later appendix rather glorifies Avalokiteshvara, who is also revered in the Karanda-
1 Lotus, 5, 22 f.; 14, 43 (dditas) ; 15, 2 1. Chapters 21-26 axe in the nature of an appendix. The Lotus was translated into Chinese c. 265-316 A. D. and may be referred to about 200 A. D.; the appendix is perhaps fifty years later. Its conception of Bodhisats is still in part that of elders, as if still earthly saints. Cf. ibid., 3, and 18, 17. For the Gita, compare 3, 22~ and 9, 29, "no man is hateful [to God] nor beloved" (for himself). See Kern's Lotus, Introduction, SBE. XXI
Vyuha, where he is regarded as an emanation from the original Buddha and as the savior who goes to hell to save sinners from their merited sufferings. This view is based on the belief that out of an infinite store of merit the savior can transfer his credit to the sinner, whose ransom is thus paid by the savior. In his mercy and kindness every Bodhisat resolves to sacrifice his own immediate felicity by vowing to save the world through the voluntary bestowal of his own merit for the salvation of all sinners. As Christ in Gnostic belief went to hell, so the Bodhisat goes to hell, to endure unmerited suffering, that thereby he may save the world. In his infinite compassion he takes upon himself all sins and thus redeems all sinners. He "gives himself in exchange; for it is better that one should suffer than that the multitude should suffer." Hence his vow: "Through my own suffering I will redeem the world f rom hell and from rebirth. May all the sorrows of the world be mine, for the benefit of all creatures. I will be the ransom for all and become a Buddha, not for my own sake, but to deliver the world. May all the sorrows of the world come to an end with me."
The Bodhisat is thus not a mediator, but of his own free will he is a savior, though his thought stirs in answer to the Buddha's thought. The "gift of merit" was not unknown to primitive Buddhism; but in the High Church of later Buddhism it became a constant motive. Love for mankind, not, as in primitive Buddhism, desire of personal salvation, is the keynote of the High Church, and this love is expressed by self-sacrifice. In the Hina (or Low Church), though it was recognized that Gotama Buddha was himself a living example of self-sacrifice, yet the ideal was rather that of self-centred absorption in one Is own salvation. 2
2 Partly because the Mahayana treats the Hina as low (the Lotus uses the word hina of low occupations and condemns the.Hina ideal as expressed by Arhats and Praty-eka hermits) and partly because the difference between the two Yanas (churches as means of salvation) is not without analogy to our Low and High Churches, it is possible to render by these terms Hina and Mahayana. But as with us, the two schools or churches never broke apart; they were always one Congregation of the Lord, however much they differed. Reformation did not sunder the spiritual union.
It is interesting and not unimportant as a matter of religious history to know the origin of the names given to the various spiritual powers known as Buddhas and Bodhisats. In sum, these names are largely titles of Hindu gods. In other words, we find here a phenomenon parallel to the conversion of old Slavic gods into angels and saints of the Slavic Christian Church and the perpetual worship of Demeter in Greece (till the year 1801) under the name of Saint Demetra. Moreover, this loan from Hinduism to Buddhism is not confined to names of spirits. The hymn to Buddha in Mahavastu, 1, 163 f., breathes the very spirit of Puranic, Hinduism. In short, as was to be expected, Buddhism in India caught up from its environment many Hindu features anew, as it had retained without questioning their validity the doctrines of innumerable gods and spirits and of hell as a place of future punishment.
The greatest of these names is that of the Bodhisat Avalokiteshvara, which, contrary to modern opinion, really means what tradition says it is, the Lord looking down with pity" (not "lord of the seen" or "revealed lord"). This is an echo of the old Vedic idea of a god looking down with pity, as this Bodhisat Is other appellation, Lokanatha, "lord of the world," is also an old epithet of Vishnu.3 The figure of Avalokiteshvara in the Lalitavistara is essentially that of a great and merciful Bodhisat; but neither this work nor the older Mahavastu
3 So 'Juggernaut,' jagannatha, is epithet of both Buddha and Vishnu as "Lord of the universe."
knows a Bodhisat of this name. He surpasses the Hina Bodhisat Maitreya and appears almost as great as Amitablia, the Buddha of "endless light," to whom he stands, however, in the relation of sunlight to infinite light; though as ruler of the Western Paradise he practically usurps the commanding position of Amitablia. It is, of course, especially his compassion which gives him religious vogue, as Mary, because of her compassion, became a Syrian deity. And Avalokiteshvara himself becomes female in the Far East, which, having inherited a Buddhism mixed with Shivaism, created out of Avalokiteshvara its I I goddess of mercy I (Kuanyin, Kuannon) in China and Japan, where the Bodhisat is sometimes male or sexless but is generally female, very likely identified with a corresponding local deity of female form.4 In Tibet, it is Avalokiteshvara who is incarnate in the Dalai lama.
Other epithets of these great spiritual powers, which have become their regular names, are "holder of the thunderbolt," an epithet taken directly from Indra; "far-shining," an old epithet of the sun-god, and the companion epithet "endless light," also of solar origin. A triad of venerable figures is sometimes made of Gotama (who was), Avalokiteshvara (who is), and Maitreya (who is to be), comparable to the time series expressed by Brahman, Vishnu, Shiva; but such a group is not intended as a trinity. There are several such ftiads. One, which is popular in North India, is composed of Avalokiteshvara, as the spirit of mercy, Vajradhara (or Vajrapani, "holder of the thunderbolt"), as the spirit of power, and Manjushri, as the savior-teacher. This Manjushri (Shri is a complimentary title meaning his Grace)
4 In Wu-Tai, Buddha himself is worshipped as Mother Buddha (to be distinguished from the "Mother of Buddhas," a personification of the philosophic 'void').
was probably a missionary, who traversed the wild country north of India proper and (like Buddha himself) has become practically deified (as Bodhisat); he is still adored with a cult in the Buddhist Japanese Kegon sect. The name Maitreya means (lord of) love or "lovingly disposed" and is an epic title of the sun, conjoined with one meaning "compassionate"; it refers always to a Bodhisat who is to come, a prediction of a Spirit of Love ruling the universe.
As we saw in the analysis of the Hindu trinity that it reverts not so much to a polytheistic basis as to a strong monotheistic trend in Hindu thought, so (as just explained) in Buddhism there was before the completed trinity an almost monotheistic expression, showh in the utterances of the Lotus, where a Father-god Creator Spirit is really the deity adored. This expression comes to the fore again in the mystic theory of trance-worlds. There are five groups of these trance-worlds and a separate trance-Buddha is assigned to each. Each tranceBuddha (Dhyani Buddha) then has his corresponding incarnate form and his Bodhisat. The first of the Buddhas is Vairocana, the "far-shining," who has virtually become God in Java and (as Biroshana) is revered in the Japanese Shingon sect. In the present age, the Buddha is Amitablia ("endless light"), his Bodhisat is Avalokiteshvara and his earthly incarnation is (the historical) Gotama. These powers were originally recognized by the early Church simply as spiritual manifestations.
The idea of an emanation, which marks this trance-theory, is palpably late, probably not older than the seventh century; some scholars refer it to the tenth. It is really a Gnostic view, according to which the second member is an emanation from the first, the third an emanation from the second, and so on. The five are only of one division of time and the number is not necessarily confined to the pentad. The idea of an Adi (original) Buddha may perhaps revert to the Lotus notion of the "Buddha from the beginning," aditas, already mentioned, combined with that of trance-Buddhas. In completed form this doctrine appears as that of the Hina (Nepal) Adi-Buddha, from whom emanate in five trances the five Buddhas of trance, each of whom by mental activity alone, after emerging from the Original or precedent Buddha, gives birth to the Bodhisat, who in turn creates the physical universe, all earthly Buddhas (such as Gotama) being reflexes of their Bodhisats. The Bodhisat and the incarnate Buddha are thus one with the Original Buddha. This whole system lacks the stamp of orthodoxy and appears to be more Taniric than Buddhistic, but it was influential in visioning the idea of One God, though under a mystic form.
We come now to the trinity. This is a further extension of the original triad in terms of metaphysics. The philosophy of primitive Buddhism was materialistic. It united, however, with the philosophy current among the Brahmans and developed into nihilism on the one hand but into idealism on the other. Now the two systems, of Brahmanism and Buddhism, are almost identical in the idealistic outcome. In Buddhistic idealism, there is no constant nature of things; distinctions are caused by the fallacy of the ego; all things are mental phenomena. Thus mental phenomena rest on the supreme reality of thought; undifferentiated thought is the basis of all being; it is the dhamma, the same word that is used in primitive Buddhism to designate Law. The Body of Law, or the Buddha as Law, thus becomes Buddha as the Absolute, just as in Shankara's pure idealism it is Brahma as pure intelligence. Moreover, just as in Brahmanism the self-conscious form of Brahma is the god Vishnu, so in Buddhistic idealism the Lord (Buddha) is the active, personal force of this Pure Being (or Absolute). At this point some modern interpreters argue that Pure Being itself, because of its operations in developed form, may be assumed to possess will and love.5
But this is not the current philosophical point of view; it is rather a religious interpretation thereof. Yet the Bodhisat, both as such and as Buddha in the developed stage, is an active personal Lord as form of the dhamma, to which or whom is given the name Body of Bliss. The third form is called the Body of Transformation, the "change form" of the same Absolute (equivalent to absolute Mind) in personal, incarnate appearance. That is, there is here, as in Brahmanism, a trinity of Mind, as the One, of active intelligence, as the Lord, and of Gotama, or any other superman or teacher (even an artist), as incarnate expression of the same Mind-as-Pure-Being. Gotama of course differg from Rama and Krishna in that these were divine before being conceived as forms of the trinity; but the adoring respect with which the historical Gotama Buddha was looked upon even in his lifetime made him at least a superhuman being.6
Modern writers, especially those belonging to the Buddhist faith, naturally are inclined to think that Brahmanic philosophy, as expressed by the theory of relative truth, was borrowed from the Buddhists and point to the opprobrium cast upon Shankara by his opponents (notably by Ramanuja's predecessor) as teaching, in his doctrine of illusion, merely "a hidden Buddhist doctrine."7 But on the other hand it must not be forgotten that, long before Shankara, the foremost Buddhist philosophers were converted Brahmans, who doubtless based their philosophy on what they had already believed as Brahmans as well as on what they received from the followers of their new faith.
5 This is the interpretation of Professor Suzuki, Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism (1907), though he admits that few will agree with him. The Buddhist Absolute seems to be rather a still inchoate intelligence in the form of law or religion yet undeveloped acting as "support." It is difficult to imagine dhamma as devoid of all its old religious connotation, though modern interpreters translate it by "support" or base of being.
6 Thus the earliest account of his death represents nature as convulsed with grief at the tragedy and the inhabitants of the various heavens, though gods themselves, as distracted with sorrow. The first Psalms of the primitive Buddhists also recognize that Gotama is " Kin of the Sun," a divine being.
The idealist, far from agreeing with the nihilist that "nothing can be affirmed," affirms the reality of mind and, according to some, even the reality of matter and individuality. To him, Buddha becomes a name for the real universe; the "void" becomes "empty thought," thought free of attributes, or pure mind, without subject, object, or conscious act; but, pragmatically, it may be identified for religious purposes with the idea of God; the quiescent Mind is the "womb of Buddha," from which issue all individualities. To the pious, earthly and heavenly bodies are real; to the philosopher, docetic displays. It is thus that religion is permitted to convert the (real) "apex of nothingness" into a Creative Power, the Body of Bliss being also the Body of Support. The Nepal theory of the Original Buddha fits into this scheme, as he is to be regarded as only a personification of the impersonal Buddha, while the Body of Bliss corresponds to the Dhyani-Buddhas and Bodhisats, though, in stricter interpretation, Dhyani-Buddhas are archetypes and not permanent and even the Original Buddha is only of this aeon;8 while the Body of Bliss belongs to all time.
7 Mayavadam asac chunam pracchannam bauddham ucyate. Compare, on this point, Louis de la Vallee-Poussin, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1908, p. 885.
8 One thousand million times ten thousand aeons (Kalpas) pass before a Buddha begins to grow old; but grow old he must and his time is not eternity. Ordinary Buddhas in the Adi-belief are emanations not docetic forms. That Gotaina was a docetic form is a theory found in both High and Low Churches (in the Vetulyaka and Sautrantika sects of the Hinayana).
The Original Buddha is not a god to be worshipped with prayer; he is pure light, self-existent, of all forms, and comes from the void. So Pure Mind is too impersonal to worship. Even as the full moonI it is said, is more glorious than the new moon and yet people worship not the full moon but the new moon, so do people worship not the impersonal Buddha but the Bodhisat, who owes his spiritual power to the Buddha and is thus, as it were, begotten by the Buddha; but, as Bodhisats become Buddhas, the Bodhisat is also the predecessor or original form of every Buddha. Only the debased Tantric belief converted the Bodhisat into a being begotten and born of "Buddha and his wife."
But in matters religious, philosophy is an intruder, which descends from a mental height and attempts to explain for its own satisfaction what the believer already knows. It is the innumerable Buddhists of this class who give us the religious evaluation of Buddhism. They recognize philosophy in so far as they recognize in Buddha the divine substratum of the world; but they see Buddha also as their real, wise, and loving savior, their personal Lord; and finally they believe that this Lord was incarnate in the person of the great human Teacher. On this point let Nichiren speak, whose Japanese theology is one modern expression of religious Buddhism: "These three, the Lord of eternity, the Spirit of Mercy, and Gotama Buddha, are a Trinity. The first is the Lord of life and glory illimitable, Amida. (Amida is the Japanese form of Amitabha, "of endless light," title of Buddha). The second is the Spirit of Mercy, Kuannon [above, p. 324]. The third is Saka (Gotama). But these three are one and this one is three." In the sects of the Happy Land (or Pure Land), which revert to the Lotus, the Happy Land, Sukhakara or Sukhavati, is the heaven of the Lord Amida, who by his grace grants salvation to that worshipper "who even remembers his name for a night."
The older Japanese sects insisted on good works as a prerequisite for obtaining grace, but the later teaching dispenses with the requirement of "works" and makes faith the only means of salvation. To pronounce the name of Amida is a sufficient act of faith, a theory which is carried to such an extent that even if one pronounce his Blessed Name in blasphemy, the result is to ensure the sinner's bliss hereafter, which, it must be admitted, turns religion into magic. But with religious aberrations of this sort we are not at present concerned. This Japanese faith is old; it is embodied in scriptures translated into Chinese in the second century of our era. Buddha is a real and loving Lord and Father; as the Spirit of Mercy he has taken upon himself the sins of the world and redeemed men from the grip of hell and Karma; as Gotama, the earthly Teacher, he was born of a woman miraculously (some say in docetic form); 10 he is thus both divine and human. Theologians argue whether the human Gotama was "spiritual or real," and whether he was born laden with sin; but this discussion need not detain us. He is born possessed of the "thirty-two marks and eighty signs" of spiritual greatness, which exhibit a certain affinity with the "signs" of the god Vishnu. He stands (in time) between the Bodhisat and Lord Buddha, two forms of one apparitional supreme spiritual power. Moreover, in India, even the Madhyamika school of nihilism, which believed that all is a void of which nothing can be known,
10 The virgin birth of the incarnate Buddha Gotama is attested by the Mahavastu, a Ilina text, and is an article of faith in the Mahayana; but it is not a primitive belief of Buddhism. The worship of Buddha and Bodhisat is as old as the third century B. C.
yet admitted the doctrine of a transcendental soul or pure intelligence as immanent reality; and, if this was at first a concession implying that God is a mere name, it ended by being a tenet of faith. Thus Ramai Pandit, who, in the Middle Ages, was an earthly expounder of the 19 great void I I doctrine (and was soon afterwards revered as a worker of miracles, a supernatural power), addresses this "form of the void," shunyamurti, as "sole lord of all the worlds " and begs it as " highest god" to confer boons. The Krishna-cult in India amalgamated with Buddhism even in its nihilistic form to such an extent that Balarama Dasa (c. 1600) can say that "the great void assumed the form of a human being." At the same time the five Buddhas of the Adi-Buddha faith were interpreted as five forms of Vishnu, so that there was a complete coalescence of Brahmanism and Buddhism, even to the interpretation of the void as "Mother Void,"11and of this same void as synonymous with both Nirvana and "Vishnu's heaven."
In part this amalgamation was localy an inevitable result of a decadent faith relapsing into its primitive mythology; but it was far more an expression of the same religious needs which converted Shankara Is void in South India into Ramanuja's God. And the proof of this is that its counterpart is to be found outside of India, where no precedent Vishnu suggested the theistic interpretation. The immanent One, which transcends the limitation of phenomeuality, is not denied by the believer, but he puts his faith in the manifestation of it as a Power in which we have our being, a One with the
11 In Nepal, the figure of Dhaxma, dhamma, is regularly that of a female, that is, the creative power as female assumes the form of Dharma.
For an illuminating account of the modern "hidden Buddhism" of Orissa and Bengal and its amalgamation with Vishnuism and Krishnaism, see The Modern Buddhism of Nagendranath Vasu (1911).
aspects of intelligence and love as expressed in a Personal Lord, represented on earth in lesser degree by every superior soul, and supremely made manifest as the Spirit of Mercy, born on earth to redeem man as incarnate Teacher. The Buddha-citta of the Zen school in Japan is religiously the Holy Spirit of Christian belief. It is a curious fact that Vishnu (H. 2382) is also called Dharma (Buddhist Dhamma), but with the connotation of moral 'support.' He brings in righteousness and destroys sin in the world, as does Buddha.
The modern Buddhist's religious point of view is this: Every superior soul manifests the glory of the eternal wisdom but even such souls need the awakening of spirituality which comes through love or the desire for wisdom. The soul striving to join its archetype is usually too weighed down with lust and ignorance to do so. But Gotama was the ideal human being, filled with perfect love and wisdom. Love, it is said, is blind and wisdom is lame; each must help the other on; but love is more important than knowledge, for "knowledge begins with love." This is the teaching of the Buddhist, whose catholicity, not denying the incarnate divinity of other great teachers than his own, admits the divinity of Jesus and of Socrates, while he still finds the highest expression of that divinity in his own Gotama, to whom he ascribes as attributes supreme love and wisdom, representing them in personified form as his attendants. A group of figures found in Hina temples presents this idea by representing Buddha in the middle with Wisdom personified on his right hand and Love personified on his left.
[Such groups in triadic form are not trinitarian but are visible proof of the powerful hold which the personified Spirit of Love has upon the people. Buddha is often represented in groups of this sort, sometimes with more than three figures, either Bodhisats or personified Law (represented by a book) and personified Church. Early Japan kept the original triad. In Shotokuls laws (c. 600 A. D.) "priests, ritual, founder" represent thus Church, Law, and Gotama, an inverted form of the first triad. The Indic trinity is also liberally inclined to admit both Krishna and Rama as incarnate forms of God, while to these it adds Buddha and the founder of the Jain sect as other incarnations. For the view above, see Suzuki, op. cit.]
The theistic form of Buddhism found in the Lotus was brought to China in the second century and it has remained under the influence of philosophic speculation in trinitarian form, exactly as we have seen it expressed in Japan and India. The impersonal "undefinable pure being" of the philosopher has become a personal God. The empty One has become Nous; Buddha is threefold, pure being, pure blissful intellectual being, and pure human being.
The "Body of dhamma" in theistic Buddhism has become the omnipresent personal God, even in Japan, where (we are told) "philosophers prefer not to speak of God at all," because they believe that the Lord is a personal corporeal reflex of the impersonal world-intelligence, as docetic as Gotama, the earthly reflex. But this is to grant that God is as real as was Gotama Buddha, which is all that is needed to build religion upon. Belief in God has not been disturbed for the believer, Buddhist or Christian, by discussion of the relation between the Heavenly Father and the Absolute, the exalted Christ and the eternal Logos. Philosophers play a smaller part in religion than they imagine; religion is intuitive not ratiocinative, as is aptly stated in the Christian carol, "In order to know Him we first must adore." So the Spirit of Mercy and Love ousts in importance the first member of the traditional and philosophical triad and one worships Vairocana or Amitablia rather than Buddha as the Absolute, Vishnu rather than Brahma, and in the highest earthly type the believer everywhere sees a true reflection of the divine, let the philosophers say what they -will; as what they say is, after all, not so much a presentation of new truth as a restatement in their own language of a truth which is older than they."
[ The idea of redemption in Buddhism differs according to the sect. Primitive Buddhism recognized no redemption save that man through sufferiDg might work himself free of the bonds of Karma; but somewhat illogieally it permitted a transfer of merit whereby the living and the dead might benefit or be redeemed through the good works of others. This idea in the Mahayana grew into great proportions and permitted the assumption that the Bodhisat might in this way redeem the world through his own suffering. The idea of transfer of merit is not altogether absent from Christianity as it appears in the form of vicarious sanctification: "The unbelieving husband is sainctified by his wife" (I Cor. 7: 14). Hindu theology has a savior-god but he does not redeem the sinner, who is saved by faith or by good works or by knowledge, i.e., the realization of his union with the divine. The god-man sects ignore as salutary everything except faith. Even primitive Buddhism insisted on faith in Buddha and his teaching as the prerequisite of the religious life.]
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