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NUMBERS AND Liturgy OF THE BUDHists. 251
cution. They propagated their doctrines principally by books and tracts, rather than by collecting schools or disciples in their temples; the quiet indolent life they led, apparently absorbed in books and worship, and yet not altogether estranged from the world, likewise held out charms to some people. China is full of temples, in most of which Budhist priests are found, but it is not quite the true inference to suppose that all the buildings were erected or the priests hired, because the people wished to do reverence to Budha. It is impossible to state the proportion in which Budhist priests are found; there are 124 in Canton alone, containing idols of every name and attribute, in most of which they live and act as the mediators and assistants of whoever comes to worship. The tenets of Budhism require a renunciation of the world, and the observance of austerities to overcome evil passions, and fit its disciples for future happiness. A vow of celibacy is taken, and the priests dwell together for mutual assistance in attaining perfection by worshipping Budha, and calling upon his name. They shave the entire head as a token of purity, but not the whole body, as the ancient Egyptian priests did; they profess to eat no animal food, wear no skin or woollen garments, and get their living by begging, by the alms of worshippers, and the cultivation of the grounds of the temple. Much of their support is derived from the sale of incense sticks, gilt paper, and candles, and fees for services at funerals. In the monasteries of this sect, like the Hai-chwangsz' at Honam, the people only occasionally worship, the priests performing the whole service; but in other temples, they contrive to gain a livelihood, and many of those better situated, derive a large portion of their income from entertaining strangers of wealth and distinction. The sale of charms, the profits of theatrical exhibitions, the fees paid by neighborhoods for feeding hungry ghosts on All-Souls' day, and other incidental services performed for the living or the dead, also furnish resources. Their largest monasteries contain extensive libraries, and a portion of the fraternity are well acquainted with letters, though numbers of them are ignorant even of their own books. Their moral character, as a class, is on a par with their countrymen, and many of them are respectable, intelligent, and sober minded persons, who seem to be sincerely desirous of making themselves better, if possible, by their religious observances.
The liturgy is in the language of Fan or Sanscrit, with which the majority are unacquainted, nor have they many bilingual glossaries or dictionaries to explain the words. Dr. Milne, speaking of the use of unknown tongues in liturgies, thus remarks: “There is something to be said in favor of those Christians who believe in the magic powers of foreign words, and who think a prayer either more acceptable to the Deity, or more suited to common edification, because the people do not generally understand it. They are not singular in this belief. Some of the Jews had the same opinion; the followers of Budha and Mohammed all cherish the same sentiment. From the chair of his holiness at Rome, and eastward through all Asia to the mountain retreats of the Yama-bus in Japan, this opinion is espoused. The bloody Druids of ancient Europe, the gymnosophists of India, the Mohammedan hatib, the Budhists of China, the talapoins of Siam, and the bonzes of Japan, the Romish clergy, the vartabeds of the Armenian church, and the priests of the Abys. sinian and Greek communions, all entertain the notion, that the mysteries of religion will be the more revered the less they are’ understood, and the devotions of the people (performed by proxy) the more welcome in heaven, for being dressed in the garb of a foreign tongue. Thus the synagogue and mosque, the pagan temple and Christian church, seem all to agree in ascribing mar. vellous efficacy to the sounds of an unknown language; and, as they have Jews and Mohammedans, Abyssinians and pagans, on their side, those Christians, who plead for the use of an unknown tongue in the services of religion, have certainly the majority. That Scripture, reason, and common sense, should happen to be on the other side, is indeed a misfortune for them, but there is no help for it.” “
The following canon, delivered by Fuh, for exterminating mis. fortune, is extracted from the Budhist liturgy, and the priest, while repeating it, strikes upon a wooden drum shaped like a skull, to arouse the attention of the god.
* Penny Cyclopædia, Art. BUDDHA. Indochinese Gleaner, Wol. III., P. 141. Chinese Repository, Vol. IX., p. 640.
TENETS AND OBSERVANCES OF The BUDHISts., 253
This is as unintelligible to most Chinese Budhists as it is to the English reader, and similar invocations, with the name O-mí-to Fuh (Amida Budha) are repeated thousands and myriads of times to attain perfection, affording a good illustration of the propriety of our Savior's direction, “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do ; for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.” A plate in one Budhistic work contains 5048 open dots, arranged in the shape of a pear; each dot to be filled up when the name of Budha has been repeated a hundred or a thousand times, and then the paper to be burned to pass into the other world to the credit of the devotee. The Budhists have a system of merits and demerits, which Sir John Davis notices, and remarks, “that this method of keeping a score with heaven is as foolish and dangerous a system of morality as that of penances and indulgences in the Romish church.” In this Budhist scale of actions, “to repair a road, make a bridge, or dig a well, ranks as ten ; to cure a disease, or give enough ground for a grave, as thirty; to set on foot some useful scheme, ranks still higher. On the other hand, to reprove another unjustly, counts as three on the debtor side; to level a tomb, as fifty ; to dig up a corpse, as one hundred; to cut off a man's male heirs, as two hundred, and so on.” This notion of keeping accounts with heaven prevails among all classes of the Chinese, and the score is usually settled about the end of the year, by fasting and doing charitable acts, such as making a piece of road, repairing a temple, or distributing food, to prove their repentance, and benefit the world. Festival days are chosen by devout people to distribute alms to the poor, and on such occasions troops of beggars cluster about their doors, holding clap-dishes in their outstretched hands, while the donor stands behind the half opened door dealing out the rice. Considering how few restraints this religion imposes on the evil propensities of the human heart, and how easily it provides for the expiation of crimes, it is surprising that it has not had as great success among the Chinese, as among the Tibetans, Birmese, and Siamese. The probable explanation is, the thorough education in the reasonable teachings of the classics, and the want of filial duty, so repugnant to Chinese ideas of propriety, shown by celibates to their parents, in leaving them to take care of themselves. The priests have always had the better judgment of the people against them, and being shut out by their very profession from entering into society as companions or cquals, and ** regarded as servants, to be sent for when their services were o wanted, they can neither get nor maintain that influence over *
their countrymen, which would enable them to form a party, or a powerful sect. One of the officers of Chingtih of the Ming dynasty, Wang Yangning, who addressed a remonstrance to his sovereign against sending an embassy to India, to fetch thence books and priests of that faith, relies for his chief argument on a comparison between the precepts and tendency of the Budhist : faith, and the higher doctrines of the classics, proving to his own satisfaction that the latter contained all the good there was in the former, without its nonsense and evil. The opposition to Budhism ". on the part of the literati has been in fact a controversy between common sense, imperfectly enlightened indeed, and superstitious fear; the first inclines the person to look at the subject with refer. ence to the principles and practical results of the system, as exhibited in the writings and lives of its followers, while, not having themselves anything to look forward to beyond the grave, they are still led to entertain some of its dogmas, because there may be something in them after all, and they have themselves nothing better. The result is, as Dr. Morrison has observed, “Budhism in China is decried by the learned, laughed at by the profiigate, yet followed by all.” The paraphrase and commentary on the seventh of Kanghi's maxims against strange religions present a singular anomaly, for while the emperor decries Bud. hism and Rationalism, and exalts the “orthodox doctrine,” as he terms the teachings of the classics, he was himself a daily worshipper of Budhist idols served by the lamas. He inveighs against selling poor children to the priests, in no measured terms, and shows the inutility and folly of repeating the books or reciting the unintelligible charms written by the priests, where the person never thought of performing what was good. He speaks against the promiscuous assemblage of men and women at the temples, which leads to unseemly acts, and joins in with another of his own class, who remarked in reference to a festival, “That most of the worshippers are women, who like these worshipping days, because it gives them an opportunity to see and be seen in their fine clothes ; and most of the men who go there, go to amuse themselves and look at the women.”—“The sum of the whole is, these dissolute priests of Budha are lazy;
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they will neither labor in the fields, nor traffic in the markets, and being without food and clothing they set to work and invent means of deceiving people.” But though this upholder of the good old way well exhibits the follies of these idolatrous sects, he has nothing better to present his countrymen than “the two living divinities placed in the family,” nothing to lead their thoughts beyond this world; his best advice and consolation for their troubled and wearied souls is, “Seek not for happiness beyond your own sphere; perform not an action beyond the bounds of reason, attend solely to your own duty; then you will receive the protection of the gods.” The mutual forbearance exhibited by the different sects in China, is praiseworthy so far as it goes, but the government tolerates no denomination suspected of interfering with its own influence, and as none of the sects have any state patronage, none of them hold any power to wield for persecution, and the people soon tire of petty annoyances and unavailing invectives. The Budhists perpetuate their priesthood chiefly by purchasing orphans and poor children, and rearing them; persons occasionally enter late in life, weary with the vexations of the world; Mr. Milne was acquainted with one who had two sons when he took the vows upon him, but gave himself no care as to what had become of them. The only education which most of the acolytes receive consists in memorizing the prayers in the liturgy, and reading the canonical works, of which there is a vast collection. A few fraternities have tutors from whom they receive instruction. A few nunneries also exist, most of them under the patronage of the Holy Mother, Queen of Heaven. From the account given by Mr. Milne, who resided in one at Ningpo for a short time, it appears that the priests advocate their establishment as a good means of working upon the feelings of the more susceptible part of society, to whom they themselves cannot get admittance. The succession among the “sisters” is kept up by purchase, and by self-consecration; the feet of children bought young are not bandaged. The novice is not admitted to full orders till she is sixteen, though previous to this she adopts the garb of the sisterhood; the only difference consists in the front part of the head being shaved, and
• Milne's Sacred Edict, pages 133-143. Chinese Repository, Vol. I., page 297; Vol. II., page 265.