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Translator: E. J. Thomas: Buddhist Scriptures - eBook

Buddhist Scriptures - eBook

The Buddhist scriptures, as preserved by the Buddhists of Ceylon and Further India, are in the Pali language, a language related to Sanskrit much as Italian is related to Latin; and for several centuries before and after Christ it was spoken in varying dialects over most of Northern India. Buddha, according to the Ceylon tradition, died 543 B.C., but it is generally agreed that this date is too early. The latest calculation by an Indian scholar, Mr. V. Gopala Aiyer, makes the date fifty-six years later, 487 B.C. Immediately after Buddha's death the first council is said to have been held at Rajagaha (now Rajgir in Behar on the borders of Bengal), where the Vinaya (discipline) and Dhamma (doctrine) were recited and fixed. The historical evidence for this council is much disputed, but it is extremely probable that some such collection was made about this time. Nothing was written down. It was preserved, as the Vedas had already been preserved for centuries, by memory. It is this very fact which strengthens the view that we possess a faithful picture of the preaching of Buddha, a preaching which extended over more than forty years. To determine to what extent the discourses have been worked up into other forms and added to, and especially how the rules of the Order have been gradually elaborated, is a work for future scholars.

 

In the third century B.C. the great king Asoka ruled over Magadha, and Buddhism became the established religion. Missionary embassies were sent out, and after the council of Patna, about 250 B.C., Asoka's own son Mahinda carried the faith to Ceylon. It was not until 160 years after his arrival that the text of the sacred books was written down.

 

Buddhism is no theory that the world is a concourse of fortuitous phenomena. It retained the Indian doctrines of rebirth and karma. Karma, "action," is the law of cause and effect applied to the moral world. Every action brings its fruit, either in this life or another. It makes possible the moral government of the world without a moral governor. But action can only lead to temporary happiness or misery. It cannot - any more than in the Christian system - bring salvation. Salvation, the freedom from the circle of birth and death, results from knowledge, and the saving knowledge which is the essence of positive Buddhist teaching consists in the four truths - the fact of suffering, the cause of suffering, the destruction of suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path leading thereto. This is the teaching which makes Buddhism a religion. Buddhism offers not merely a philosophy, but a theory of life for those who are suffering, for the weary and heavy-laden, which has for centuries met the religious needs of a great part of the human race. "In religion," said Hegel, "all that awakens doubt and perplexity, all sorrow and care, all limited interests of finitude, we leave behind us on the bank and shoal of time. . . It is in this native land of the spirit that the waters of oblivion flow, from which it is given to Psyche to drink and forget all her sorrows." In no religion has this been more deeply realised than in the perfect calm of the Buddhist saint, who in his earthly life has "crossed to the farther shore," and realised the eternal great Nirvana.

 

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PODROBEN OPIS

  • ISBN: 978-961-279-469-9
  • e-knjiga: DRM free
  • Prenosi: 4x ePUB & 4x AZW3 (Kindle) & 4x MOBI & 4x PDF
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