Epochs in Buddhist History: The Haskell Lectures, 1921

Epochs in Buddhist History: The Haskell Lectures, 1921

Epochs in Buddhist History: The Haskell Lectures, 1921

Epochs in Buddhist History: The Haskell Lectures, 1921

Excerpt

That Buddhism is a stream which has its source in the complex and elusive system of Brahmanism known today as Hinduism; that it is rightly called by the name of Gotama Buddha, the great moral reformer of the sixth century B.C. because he shaped its course and purified its waters; that as the stream flowed in an ever widening bed out over the Eastern World, tributaries poured into it from every side, swelling, coloring, and sometimes defiling it -- all this is generally accepted. This book is an attempt to describe that remarkable process; and as in the case of the great sister-religion, Christianity, it is difficult to say anything which does not need qualification. The tributaries of both religions are many and diverse, and the streams are very complex. In Buddhism, in the first place, there are several philosophical systems, ranging from a naôve realism to a subtle mystical pantheism, and all claiming to be derived from the words of Sākyamuni. The person of the Founder has, in the second place, played a widely different rôle in different schools, from that of an ethical teacher, "supernormal perhaps but not supernatural," to that of supreme god among the gods. In the third place, the moral reform for which he is so justly famous has been variously interpreted, as different emphasis has been placed now upon one and now upon another part of his teachings, until the Buddhist world finds itself divided between the ideals of a self-centered, individualistic mind-culture, on the one hand, and a passionate, altruistic self-sacrifice, on the other.

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