LET US take one significant and far-reaching example of the barrier that Ecclesiasticism has reared between Buddhism and Christianity.
Mention has been made of the boundless compassion for all manifested forms of life taught by the Buddha. The hand of His priesthood has never grasped the sacrificial knife; nor is any Buddhist ever found in the ranks of those whose business, directly or indirectly, is slaughter. The trades of the soldier, hunter, butcher, slaughter man, fisherman, vivisector, monition-maker, battleship-builder, and publican, are outside the pale of Buddhism as right ways of earning a livelihood. For the very first of the five vows taken by the follower of the Buddha is the vow not to take the life of any man or animal. Now
this teaching of the Buddha’s is the practical outcome, translated into terms which the ordinary man can understand and act upon, of that true and inner doctrine of Pantheism which is the esoteric and real doctrine of the Bible and all Bibles or books of the Soul – a doctrine which Ecclesiasticism, in denying the divinity of Substance, has never failed to distort and condemn.
“All Ye Are Brethren”
The doctrine of Pantheism is properly thus defined: –
“All things are God in virtue of their constituent principles; but all things are not God in the condition of God. This is to say that, while God is Being, Being is God only when in a state of perfection. God – the God that man has it in him to become – is the product of Evolution. Proceeding from God by emanation, man returns to God by evolution. Thus his end is in his beginning.”
This is the root from which spring, consciously or unconsciously, all schemes and systems aiming at unity, co-operation, and brotherhood in the human family. This is the rock upon which all the Buddha’s humane precepts are founded; such as to kill not, but have regard to life, to cultivate a boundless friendly mind towards all beings, to preserve life and hurt no one, to slaughter no innocent victim in the vain attempt to atone for evil deeds. His attitude towards all embodied life was sympathy or love, and what is true love but “the recognition of the omnipresent self, the knowledge of God in others.” (1)
What has Christendom gained by its rejection of the divine doctrine of Pantheism and the scornful isolation of itself from the Buddha’s noble ideal and practice of compassion for all who draw the breath of life? The ghastly Jewish sacrificial system, relentlessly denounced by Jesus and the Prophets, has suffered change neither in extent or purpose, but only in respect of locality
and department. In all its crudity and cruelty it has been transferred, with the sanction and aid of Ecclesiasticism, from the temple of an earlier to the social edifice of a later civilisation and cemented therein with its appropriate element – blood.
The Slaughter of the Innocents
Behold throughout avowedly Christian countries the numerous physiological laboratories wherein vivisectors – those veritable high-priests of science – styling themselves “scientific researchers,” scientifically mutilate and maltreat the members and organs of myriads of living animals, or concoct from diseased animal bodies loathsome liquors wherewith to fortify the human organism, and all for the enhancement of wisdom and the upliftment and succour of mankind! While bishops and other ecclesiastical dignitaries – trained and accredited exponents every one of the Gospel of Life, Purity, and Love – patronise, applaud, accept the infernal work, or pass on indifferent!
Consider in these same countries the shambles and stews not of science only but of appetite; those dire temples dedicated to the eaters of flesh and blood, wherein the steaming odours and the plaintive cries arise to heaven unceasingly. See the abattoirs, private slaughter-houses, butchers’ shops; meat-packing works, cattle-ships, breeding ranches, live stock markets, and all the reeking armies and agencies of butchery whereby a vast host of sensitive and harmless creatures are continually forced into existence only to be violently and often agonisingly thrust out of it again – all in the useless and actually harmful satiation of a lust that is neither normal, necessary, nor human.
“Your Hands Are Full of Blood”
Reflect upon the work of the trappers, fur hunters, and bird-slayers as they go their savage and desolating rounds among the free wild creatures
of plain and forest in order that thoughtless women may veil and abjure their womanhood in the pillaged skins and pitiful plumage of those whose source of being is one with their own. As though one should choose to warm and ornament the body only by chilling and defacing the sympathies of the soul!
Look upon that meanest of all the blood brotherhood, the “sportsman” who kills for the sheer joy of the thing, as he blasts into senseless ruin and decay his sub-human kinsfolk, those furred and feathered miracles of beauty and design patiently evolved in the womb and nourished at the breast of the great mother.
The Church named of Christ has never repudiated or even discountenanced such deadly sins against, and perversions of, the principle and process of Christ. It has grown incapable of recognising them as an offence against the Law of that God Whom it declares to be Love, and as an affront to the standards of common decency and morality. Its membership, cleric and lay – with a few honourable exceptions – has not hesitated to profit materially by them, or to honour these modern tormentors and destroyers of life as it did their inquisitorial progenitors. Ecclesiasticism, indeed, cannot repudiate the shedding of innocent blood for selfish ends, since it itself, denying to man the one true means of salvation alike for his soul and body – regeneration by self-purification and amendment – has posited instead the incredible and revolting tenet of substitutory sacrifice or vicarious atonement, and so has built up its theology on a basis outraging man’s true nature and insulting to any conception beyond the lowest and most anthropomorphic of the nature of Deity.
“Thou Shalt Not Kill”
A civilisation whose official religion has such a travesty of the divine and universal doctrine of
Sacrifice as this for its cardinal precept, and such practices as these for outcome of its beliefs, is not one in which the seed of peace, national or international, can ever take sure root. From the systematic shedding of animal blood to the wholesale shedding of human blood the step is ever apt to be short, swift, and inevitable. And the spectacle afforded by Christendom in the year of its Lord 1915, with six of its great and three or four of its small Powers engaged in the most appalling war of destruction and bloodshed on record – a war wherein the first fifteen months of fighting have resulted in the slaughter of some five millions of human beings – is a spectacle in which among other evil systems that of Ecclesiasticism finds its crowning and most terrible indictment. (1) What its divorce from the unstained, swordless, passion-free, and ennobling doctrine of Buddhism has cost Christendom, let the bloody and tortured history of its church and its world say.
(28:1) Clothed With the Sun, Part I, Nº 3.
(31:1) It is significant that virtually the only
non-Christian power engaged in the war is