Buddhism: Its Essence and Development

Buddhism: Its Essence and Development

Buddhism: Its Essence and Development

Buddhism: Its Essence and Development

Excerpt

Buddhism is an Eastern form of spirituality. Its doctrine, in its basic assumptions, is identical with many other teachings all over the world, teachings which may be called 'mystical.' The essence of this philosophy of life has been explained with great force and clarity by Thomas a Kempis, in his Imitation of Christ. What is known as 'Buddhism' is a part of the common human heritage of wisdom, by which men have succeeded in overcoming this world, and in gaining immortality, or a deathless life.

During the last two centuries, spiritual interests have in Europe been relegated into the background by preoccupations with economic and social problems. The word 'spiritual' seems vague nowadays. It is, indeed, not easy to define. It is easier to state by what means one gets to the spiritual realm than to say what it is in itself. Three avenues of approach to the spiritual are, I think, handed down by the almost universal tradition of the sages:

to regard sensory experience as relatively unimportant;
to try to renounce what one is attached to;
to try to treat all people alike--whatever their looks,
intelligence, colour, smell, education, etc.

The collective effort of the European races during the last centuries has gone into channels which by this definition are not 'spiritual.'

It is often assumed that there is some fundamental and essential difference between East and West, between Europe and Asia, in their attitude to life, in their sense of values, and in the functioning of their souls. Christians who regard Buddhism as unsuitable for European conditions . . .

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