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قراءة كتاب Two Old Faiths Essays on the Religions of the Hindus and the Mohammedans

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‏اللغة: English
Two Old Faiths
Essays on the Religions of the Hindus and the Mohammedans

Two Old Faiths Essays on the Religions of the Hindus and the Mohammedans

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

portion of the earlier Hindu writings they have molded the thoughts of succeeding generations. Philosophy had thus begun.

The speculations of which we see the commencement and progress in the Upanishads were finally developed Six philosophic schools.and classified in a series of writings called the six Sastras or darsanas. These constitute the regular official philosophy of India. They are without much difficulty reducible to three leading schools of thought—the Nyaya, the Sankhya, and the Vedanta.

Roundly, and speaking generally, we may characterize these systems as theistic, atheistic, and pantheistic respectively.

It is doubtful, however, whether the earlier form The Nyaya.of the Nyaya was theistic or not. The later form is so, but it says nothing of the moral attributes of God, nor of his government. The chief end of man, according to the Nyaya, is deliverance from pain; and this is to be attained by cessation from all action, whether good or bad.

The Sankhya declares matter to be self-existent The Sankhya.and eternal. Soul is distinct from matter, and also eternal. When it attains true knowledge it is liberated from matter and from pain. The Sankhya holds the existence of God to be without proof.

But the leading philosophy of India is unquestionably the Vedanta. The name means "the end or scope of the Veda;" and if the Upanishads were the Veda, instead of treatises tacked on to The, the name would be correct; for the Vedanta, like the Upanishads, inculcates pantheism.

The form which this philosophy ultimately assumed is well represented in the treatise called the Vedanta Sara, or essence of the Vedanta. A few extracts will suffice to exhibit its character. "The unity of the soul and God—this is the scope of all Vedanta treatises." We have frequent references made to the "great saying," Tat twam—that is, That art thou, or Thou art God; and Aham Brahma, that is, I am God. Again it is said, "The whole universe is God." God is "existence (or more exactly an existent thing15), knowledge, and joy." Knowledge, not a knower; joy, not one who rejoices.

Every thing else has only a seeming existence, which is in consequence of ignorance (or It teaches absolute idealism.illusion). Ignorance makes the soul think itself different from God; and it also "projects" the appearance of an external world.

"He who knows God becomes God." "When He, the first and last, is discerned, one's own acts are annihilated."

Meditation, without distinction of subject and object, is the highest form of thought. It is a high attainment to say, "I am God;" but the consummation is when thought exists without an object.

There are four states of the soul—waking, dreaming, dreamless sleep, and the "fourth state," or pure intelligence. The working-man is in dense ignorance; in sleep he is freed from part of this ignorance; in dreamless sleep he is freed from still more; but the consummation is when he attains something beyond this, which it seems cannot be explained, and is therefore called the fourth state.

The name, which in later writings is most frequently Doctrine of "the Self."given to the "one without a second,"16 is Atman, which properly means self. Much is said of the way in which the self in each man is to recover, or discover, its unity with the supreme or real self. For as the one sun shining in the heavens is reflected, often in distorted images, in multitudes of vessels filled with water, so the one self is present in all human minds.17 There is not—perhaps there could not be—consistency in the statements of the relation of the seeming to the real. In most of the older books a practical or conventional Inconsistent statements.existence is admitted of the self in each man, but not a real existence. But when the conception is fully formulated the finite world is not admitted to exist save as a mere illusion. All phenomena are a play—a play without plot or purpose, which the absolute plays with itself.18 This is surely transcendent transcendentalism. One regrets that speculation did not take one step more, and declare that the illusion was itself illusory. Then we should have gone round the circle, and returned to sensus communis. We must be pardoned if we seem to speak disrespectfully of such fantastic speculations; we desire rather to speak regretfully of the many generations of men which successively occupied themselves with such unprofitable dreams; for this kind of thought is traceable even from Vedic days. It is more fully developed in the Upanishads. In them occurs the classical sentence so frequently quoted in later literature, which declares that the absolute being is the "one [thing] without a second."19

The book which perhaps above all others has molded the mind of India in more recent days is the Bhagavad Gita, or Song of the Holy One. It The written in stately and harmonious verse, and has achieved the same task for Indian philosophy as Lucretius did for ancient Epicureanism.20 It is eclectic, and succeeds, in a sort of way, in forcing the leading systems of Indian thought into seeming harmony.

Some have thought they could discern in these daring speculations indications of souls groping after God, and saddened because of the difficulty of finding him. Were it so, all our sympathies would at once be called forth. But no; we see in these writings Intellectual pride.far more of intellectual pride than of spiritual sadness. Those ancient dreamers never learned their own ignorance. They scarcely recognized the limitations of the human mind. And when reason could take them no farther they supplemented it by dreams and ecstasy until, in the Yoga philosophy, they rushed into systematized mysticisms and magic far more extravagant than the wildest theurgy of the degraded Neoplatonism of the Roman Empire.

A learned writer thus expresses himself: