Hinduism and Buddhism, An Historical Sketch, Vol. 2 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 454 pages of information about Hinduism and Buddhism, An Historical Sketch, Vol. 2.
is believed to be everything.  But the various stages may influence one another[114] so that under a higher influence the mind which is involved in subjectivity begins to long for Nirvana.  Yet Nirvana is not something different from or beyond the world of experience; it does not really involve annihilation of the skandhas.  Just as in the Advaita he who has the true knowledge sees that he himself and everything else is Brahman, so for the Mahayanist all things are seen to be Nirvana, to be the Dharma-kaya.  It is sometimes[115] said that there are four kinds of Nirvana (a) absolute Nirvana, which is a synonym of the Dharma-kaya and in that sense universally present in all beings, (b) upadhisesha-nirvana, the state of enlightenment which can be attained during life, while the body with its limitations still remains, (c) anupadhisesha-nirvana, a higher degree of the same state attained after death when the hindrances of the body are removed, (d) Nirvana without abode or apratishthita-nirvana.  Those who attain to this understand that there is no real antithesis between Samsara and Nirvana:[116] they do not seek for rest or emancipation but devote themselves to beneficent activity and to leading their fellows to salvation.  Although these statements that Nirvana and Samsara are the same are not at all in the manner of the older Buddhism, yet this ideal of disinterested activity combined with Nirvana is not inconsistent with the portrait of Gotama preserved in the Pali Canon.

The Mahayanist Buddhism of the Far East makes free use of such phrases as the Buddha in the heart, the Buddha mind and the Buddha nature.  These seem to represent such Sanskrit terms as Buddhatva and Bodhicitta which can receive either an ethical or a metaphysical emphasis.  The former line of thought is well shown in Santideva[117] who treats Bodhicitta as the initial impulse and motive power of the religious life, combining intellectual illumination and unselfish devotion to the good of others.  Thus regarded it is a guiding and stimulating principle somewhat analogous to the Holy Spirit in Christianity.  But the Bodhicitta is also the essential quality of a Buddha (and the Holy Spirit too is a member of the Trinity) and in so far as a man has the Bodhicitta he is one with all Buddhas.

This conception is perhaps secondary in Buddhism but it is also as old as the Upanishads and only another form of the doctrine that the spirit in every man (antaryamin) is identical with the Supreme Spirit.  It is developed in many works still popular in the Far East[118] and was the fundamental thesis of Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen school.  But the practical character of the Chinese and Japanese has led them to attach more importance to the moral and intellectual side of this doctrine than to the metaphysical and pantheistic side.


[Footnote 100:  E.g. in Mahaparinib.  Sut.  IV. 57, the Buddha says “There has been laid up by Cunda the smith (who had given him his last meal) a karma, redounding to length of life, to good fortune, to good fame, to the inheritance of heaven, and of sovereign power.”]

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Hinduism and Buddhism, An Historical Sketch, Vol. 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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