d. 1894 Terrien de Lacouperie.

The children of China. Written for the children of England online

. (page 12 of 18)
Online Libraryd. 1894 Terrien de LacouperieThe children of China. Written for the children of England → online text (page 12 of 18)
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behaviour to each other of men in different rauks. Knowledge —
learning of all kinds, but especialty the knowledge of men and
of yourself. Faith — truthfulness and trust in other people.

Confucius has had more power over the minds of men than
any other man who was not taught by God what he tauglit to
others, so it is a very good thing that he gave such wise rules as
he did. Like most heathen teachers, he did not think very highly

of women ; he thought they were worth about as much as slaves,
and were quite as hard to manage.

The Confucian priests are all chosen and paid by the govern-

The greatness and wealth of China is very greatly owing to
the people being guided by so wise a man as Confucius. This
makes one very great difficulty for the missionaries ; it is so hard
to persuade the Chinese that an}^ religion can be better than their

Next to Confucius, the teacher most respected in China is


Mencius, who was born b.c. 371 and died b.c. 288. He taught
the same things as Confacius and wrote the Fourth Book. It is
said to have been his mother's teaching and care that made him
such a good man. As soon as he was old enough, she sent him
to school, and she herself stayed at home to earn a living for them
both b}' spinning. Her son did not get on very well at school,
60 she went to the schoolmaster and asked how it was. He told
her it was because the boy was lazy and would not learn, so she
went home and tore to pieces the silk she was spinning, partly
because she was angry, and partly because she thought it would
be a good way of teaching the boy a lesson. For of course he
wondered w^hy she was wasting her work, and asked her what she
meant by it ; she told him that if he did not take pains with his
lessons, all his time at school would be as useless as that which
she had spent in spinning her silk, and then destroying it. The
boy took the hint, and began to work hard, and became a very
wise man.

One da}^ he saw some animals being killed, and asked his
mother why it was done. She said, " To feed you ; " but after-
wards she wdshed she had not said this, for she thought, as
Mencius would most likely never eat any part of those particular
animals, she might be teaching him by her example to tell lies,
so she bought some of the meat and gave it to him, to make her
words true. The Chinese always hold her up as a pattern mother.

Mencius did not get much honour till after he had been dead
twelve hundred years ; then au Emperor built a temple to him in
the place wdiere he w^as buried, and after that had a niclie made
for him in the temples of Confucius.

One of the sayings in Mencius' book is the answer he gave,
when it was said that an unjust tax ought to be lightened — " This
is like a man wuo should steal his neighbour's goods, and on being
found fault with sliould say, ' I will steal a little less every montli,
and next year I will stop stealing.' If you know a thing to be


unjust, give it up instantly." Let us who belong to Jesus follow
the counsel of Mencius. If the Lord shows us that anything
we have been doing is wrong, let us give it up altogether at once,
not a little bit at a time ; and do not let us stop to think about it,
for all the while we wait, it will get more and more difficult to
give it up ; it will be easier to let it go to-day than to-morrow, and
easier just this minute than it will be five minutes later ; let us
be all for Jesus, and always for Jesus.




HIS religion did not have its beginning in Chiua, but
in India, tliougli now there are not nearly so many
Buddhists in India as in China.

The Indian story of the beginning of Buddhism is,
that about a thousand years before Christ a man named
Buddha tried to take away some of the power of the
Brahmins and also to make them better. He was of royal birth,
but chose to live very plainly. Many of the princes of India gave
up their belief in Brahminism and followed Buddha ; they gave up
caste too, which was one of the things Buddha did not bcheve in.
Very soon, as you would suppose, the Brahmins rose up against
the Buddhists, and each sect tried to put the other down ; in the
end the Brahmins got the best of it; and the Buddhists were
driven out of India. Buddhism was brought into China about
A.D. 65. The Chinese Emperor Ming-ty, when reading the books of
Confucius, C8me to someihing which he thought meant that about
this time a great prophet w^ould appear in the w^est, so he sent
some men to see if they could find or hear anything of him.

The Chinese were not the only people who at this time were
looking for a great king to appear ; if the messengers had only
gone a little further, they w^ould have heard about the " Teacher
come from God " who had come into the world sixtj" years
before. Who called Jesus by that name, and were do we
read it? ( )


When they got to India, asking as they went whether anyone
could tell them wdiere to find this prophet, they met some
Buddhists, who told them that their Buddha must he the prophet
they were looking for, so they went hack to their own country
and took some Buddhists with them to teach their religion. The
Chinese say that in the country of the west (that is, India) Buddha
was hotli a priest and king, with a queen whom he made into a
goddess ; that he was obliged to leave his throne, and live in
secret for twelve years, in which time he taught about the trans-
migration of souls ; that is, about the soul of man passing, wdien
his body dies, either into an animal, or into another man; this
Buddlia would find in the Hindu books ; afterwards, some of the
Chinese stories say, he came back to his throne, and died when
he was a very old man, and was at once made into a god called
Fu, or Buddha.

The Stoey of Buddha.

There are few stories of Buddha, as a little boy or a young
man, and it is difficult to say how much of the story that is told of
him afterwards is true and how much is made up. I will tell it
to you just as it is told to Indian and Chinese children. It is said
that he married when he was nineteen, and that nothing more is
kuown of him till he was twenty-nine ; then he left home and gave
up all his time to studying religion. His reason for doing this
was that a little son had just been born, and Buddha was afraid
he should love him too much, so he ran away the same night.
Before going he went to have a last look at his wife and baby, who
were both asleep ; he wanted to take the little boy in his arms
just once more, but he was afraid of w^aking his wife, so he went
away wdtli only a look ; one of his servants named Chauna
went with him. They had not gone far before they met an evil
spirit, wdio tried hard to persuade Buddha to go back, and
promised to do wonderful things for him if he would, but Buddha

BUDD/r/S.U. 305

said no. He rode a long way, and then he stopped and took off
his garments, and gave them with his horse to Channa, telling him
to take tliem hack to his home. Channa wauted to stay with his
master, hut Buddha would not keep him, as he wanted his father
and mother to know what he had done, and there was only
Channa to tell them, so he sent him back. When Channa was
gone, Buddha cut off all his hair and changed clothes with a poor
man, and began his life as a beggar.

Several liermits had made their homes in the caves of
mountains, so Buddha went to one of these for teaching, but as
he did not l)eUeve he taught the truth, he went to another, who
gave him lessons in the Hindu religion, telling him amongst other
things that if he wanted to be very good he must fast a great deal,
and hurt himself as much as he could. So Buddha went into some
jungles with five of his disciples, and lived there for six years,
fasting and cutting himself, and doing all tlie dreadful things he
could think of to himself till he was quite ill and wasted, but at
the end of the six years he found that although he had made
himself very famous, he had not made himself happy.

A great many people have tried, like Buddha, to make them-
selves good, and to find happiness through their own works, but
they have found, as Buddha did, that neither holiness nor happi-
ness can be gained by anything people can do for themselves.
There was no one to tell Buddha the real way of holiness and
peace, as we have it told to us in the Bible, where w^e read that
the way is Jesus Himself, and that if we only come to Him in
our sinfulness and weakness, and take Him for our own, we
shall find everything we want in Him, to make us holy and
happy too.

One day, Buddha was walking up and down thinking, when
all at once he staggered and fell under a tree. For a long while his
disciples thought he was dead, but by-and-hye he came to himself,
and said he had learned that men could not make themselves lioly


or liappy by hurting themselves and going without food, so he
was not going to do either any longer. His disciples were so
angry with him for this that they all left him.

A little wdiile after this a devil came to him, with a great
many wicked angels, who all began to fight him with all kinds
of weapons ; the stars fell from the sky, and there were clouds
and darkness and earthquakes. The devil tried to persuade him
to give up seeking for holiness and to go home ; he stayed with
him all day, but in the end religion got the better of the devil,
and religion to Buddha meant from this time self-control and
love to others, which was good so far as it went ; but the highest
love of all, love to God, caused by the knowledge of God's love
to man, Buddha could not teach about, because he had never
heard about it.

Buddha was afraid to tell people what he thought, for fear
they would not understand him, but at last he decided that out
of love to men he would tell, whether they believed or not ; and
first he thought he had better go to the two hermits who had
been his teachers, but he found they were both dead ; so he went
to Benares, where his former disciples were living, but they would
not have anything to do wath him, because he had given up
fasting ; however, when Buddha told them why he had done it,
they said he was right, and that they would learn from him again.
He told them that they must keejD to the middle path, between
seeking their own pleasure and trying to torment themselves.

Buddha stayed for some time in a wood, teaching all who
came to him, both men and women. After he had done this
for three months he called all his disciples together (there were
sixty of them by this time), and sent them all away to different
places to preach. He himself always spent the rainy season,
from June to October, in one place teaching his followers, and
the rest of the year he travelled about preaching.

Wl>ile he was doing this for the first time, he got a message


from liis father asking liim to come and see him before he died ;
so he started to go, and stoj^ped when he got to a grove outside
the to^YU where his home had been. His father and his other
rehxtious came there to see him, and were not at all pleased to
find that he was living as a beggar, and all went away without
giving him anything, though it was the custom for everyone to
give presents to religious beggars. The next day Buddha started
with his disciples, as was their custom, to go begging from house
to house, each carrying a bowl to hold what was given to him.

Buddha's father soon heard of this, and w^ent out to him and
scolded him for doing such things. Buddha answered, " This is
the custom of our race." His father asked him wdiat he meant,
and reminded him that he w^as descended from a race of great
warriors, and that not one of them had ever begged his bread;
to which Buddha answered, " You and your family may claim to
be descended from kings ; mij descent is from the Buddhas of
old (the word Buddha means a prophet), and they have always
begged ; but, father, when a man has found a hidden treasure,
it is his duty first to present his father with the most precious of
the jewels." Then he went on to teach his father that he should
seek to live a holy life.

The father did not answer ; he only took his son's bowl out
of his hand, and led him to the house, where all his friends came
to do him honour, except his wife, w^ho said, "If he cares very
much about me, he will come to me, and I would rather have
him all to myself." Buddha went to see her, and talked to her
about his religion ; she said she would be what he was, and she
became one of the first of the Buddhist nuns ; their son afterwards
became a inouk.

Buddha soon went away again to preach. Five years later
he heard that his father was ill, so he went again to see him ;
his father died of this illness at the age of ninety-seven.

The next year Buddha went to the world of spirits to preach


to his motlier, wlio had died a week after he was born. Then
he came back and went on teaching. In the forty-fifth rainy
season from the time when he first began to preach, he was taken
ill, and said he was sure he would not live long. When October
was past he went slowly about the country, telling his disciples
to keep to what he had taught them, and that he should die in
less than three months. At a place called Pava a goldsmith gave
him a meal of rice and pork, and this, the story says, must have
disagreed with him, for he died that night.

xlnother story says that Buddha's body was taken to his
father, who was still living, and that he had an image made of
his son, in gold and precious stones, and ordered all his people
to worship it.

About 950 A.D. the Chinese Emperor sent three hundred
Buddhist priests to India, to see if they could find any of Buddha's
books or any signs, of himself. They went to Ceylon, and said
they found there, on a mountain near the sea f called Adam's peak,
because the Saracens say Adam is buried there), the print of a
foot three cubits long. At the bottom of this hill is a temple,
where the body of Buddha is said to lie, and near it are his
teeth and other relics of him.

Buddhism was not exactly a new religion, for Buddha always
considered himself a Hindu, and many of his disciples were
Brahmins. All that he tried to do was to make Hinduism better,
and especially to do away with caste, which none of his disciples
observed. He said very wisely that men were all born of one
caste, for none of them was born with a sacred thread. He said,
too, " Not by birth does one become low caste ; not by birth does
one become a Brahmin. By his actions alone one becomes low
caste; by his actions alone one becomes a Brahmin." That is
as far as any teaching can go which is not received from God
Himself. He tells us of a new birth, by which we become sons
of God ( ). He tells us too that by our actions we


shall show whether we are born agaiu or not ( ).

That does not mean that by our actions we are to become children
of God, bat that after we are His children we are to show it by
onr actions ; not being holy so that we may be saved, but being
holy because we are saved. Yet how often we try to begin at
the wrong end, and serve God before we have given ourselves to
Him, but we can never do it. Let us go to God, if we have not
done it already, and tell Him about our sin, and ask Him to take
it all away, for the sake of what Jesus has done for us, and then
let us begin at once to serve Him, that we may show Him, and
show others, by our actions, that we love Him, and that we believe
in His love to us.

What Buddhism Teaches.

Now I must tell you what the Buddhists believe, for their
religion is not very much like Hinduism.

In most Buddhist temples, especially in the North of China,
there are three very large golden images, called " The Three
Precious Ones." If you were to ask a priest what they meant, he
would tell you that they were all images of Buddha — Buddha
Past, Buddha Present, and Buddha Future, but the common people
think they are three different gods. Others say that Buddha is
only one god, but that he has three forms. He is supposed to have
visited the earth in at least four hundred different shapes — first as
a snake, then a plant, then a butterfly, then in the bodies of larger
animals, and after thousands of years of transmigration, he came
as a man in the person of Buddha. He said himself that he was
only one of a long line of Buddhas who would appear from time
to time and teach the same things. There are in some of the
Buddhist books names of twent3^-four other Buddhas, who came
before this one of whom I have told you ; lie is called Buddha
Gautama, and it is taught that a new one will appear five
thousand years after Buddha Gautama discovered the truth under



tlie tree; his name is to be " Tlie Buddha of Kiuduess." It is
very likely that the list of the twenty-four before Buddha Gautama
has been made up since his death.

But you will want to know what Buddha taught. These
are some of his rules —

"You should not destroy life.

"You should not take what is not given.

" You should not tell lies.

" You should uot beg a drink of intoxicating liquors.

" You should not eat unwholesome food at nis^ht.

" Yon should not wear wTeaths or use perfumes.

" You should not sleep on a mat spread on the ground."

All Buddhists are obliged to keep the first four rules, and
they are advised to keep them all. They may make a vow to
keep them all their lives, or for a shorter time if they like, but it is
considered wrong to break any of them on a sacred day, of which
there are four every month — the first when the moon is new, the
second when it is half full, the third when it is quite full, and
the fourth when it is half-way back to new. There are two other
rules for beggars : —

" To give up dancing, music, singing, and acting.

"Not to use gold or silver."

Here are some more sayings of Buddha ; some of them are
very wise —

" Never in this world does hatred cease by hatred— hatred
ceases by love, this is always its nature." ( )

" Not where others fail, or do, or leave undone,

The wise should notice what himself has done or left undone.

( )

" Like a beautiful fiower full of colour without scent,

" The fine words of him who does not act accordingly are

fruitless, ( )

"Like a beautiful flower, full of colour and full of scent, the


fine words of him who acts accordingly, are full of fruit.

( )

"One may conquer a thousand men in battle; but he who
conquers himself alone is the greatest victor. ( )

"Let a man overcome anger by kindness, evil by good ; let
him conquer the stingy by a gift, the liar by truth ; let him speak
the truth ; let him not yield to anger ; let him give when asked,
even from the little he has." ( )

I could not help thinking (I wonder if you thought the same)
how much there is in these sayings of Buddha like what we read
in the Bible, and it made me feel more than ever what a wonderful
book our Bible is ; we find in it all the good things of other
religions, besides those wonderful things that no other religion
teaches anything about.

I thought of a text for nearly all those sayings of Buddha
that I have told you of, and I thought you would like to think of
them too, so I have left some spaces for you to write them in ;
if you cannot find them all, you must let me know^ and I will
tell you what 1 put.

There is nothing in Buddhism that does not change. Heaven
and hell, as well as earth, are always changing, and even the
gods are not always gods, but may become men again, or even
lower things.

There is a great deal in Buddhism that is very hard to
understand. It teaches that there is no part of man which lives
for ever, and yet it teaches transmigration. But you will wonder
how it can teach transmigration at all, when I tell you that
learned Buddhists do not believe man has a soul, and by trans-
migration we mean a soul going out of one body into another,
when the body dies that it belonged to before.

The Buddliist religion teaches, that as soon as a man, or an
angel, or an animal dies, a new angel, or animal, or man is made,
either happier or more miserable than the old one, according to


whether that old one was had or good ; so it is a new soul, and
yet, in some way or other, it is tlie same as the old one ; that is
hard to understand, is it not ? You will he glad to know that the
Buddhist teachers themselves say that no one can understand it.

They say that just as you can light one flame by another,
so one life can come from another ; it is not the same, and yet it
would never have been but for the other.

You remember how much Buddha talked about holiness. He
said the path to it was divided into four stages. The first he
called " Entering upon the Stream," or conversion; that is, getting
into the Path. This, he said, is done by keeping company with
good people^ hearing the teaching about it, sensibly thinking about
it, and doing good things. The second is the path of those who
will only come to this world once after they have died ; those who
have got to this second stage are free from all doubts, do not rely
on forms and ceremonies, and have almost as little sin as it is
possible to have. The third is the path of those who will never
come back to the world wdien once they have died, because every
little bit of sin has been destroyed in them, and they have no wish
at ah to get good things for themselves ; and no wrong feeling
towards anybody else can ever come mto their hearts. The fourth
is called " The Path of the Holy Ones," and in this, it is said,
people do not wish to live any longer, either as men or angels or
anything else : they know nothing of sin, and do not care about
anything, hardly tliinli about anything. This state is called Nir-
vana; that is, the state in which everything is gone that would
. make a man wish to go on living after death. If a man can stay
in this state always, whenever he is awake, he is a perfect man,
so holy that he could never be better.

This is how it is explained — iVs a flame of a lamp cannot burn
without oil, so life only goes on while we cliug to earthly things.
If there is no oil in the lamp, the flame will go out, at least as
soon as it lias used up the oil that is left in the wick, then no new


llame can be lighted there. So if a man has uo siu, all his powers
and all himself will he dissolved, and no new being will be boru
from hinij the wise man will pass away, go oat like the flame of
a lamp. The body of the perfect man is still to be seen, living
and moving, though his soul has ceased to act, like the wick of
the lamp which burns for a little while, because some oil is left
in it ; but it will soon decay and pass away, and as no new body
will be formed fi'om it, where there was life there will soon be
nothing at all ; so death is not Nirvana, but Nirvana leads to
death. We are only told of one or two beggars and two laymen
(that is, men who were neither priests nor monks nor beggars)
who got to this state of Nirvana after Buddha's death.

So you see the very best thing a Buddhist can wish for after
this life, is to be nothing, and the best thing possible in this life,
is to care for nothing and think of nothing ; Nirvana is much
nicer than Paradise, he thinks, because a man may go to Paradise,
and then be sent back to earth, to go through another list of
transmigrations ; and yet some Buddhists are so anxious to get to
Paradise, that they kill themselves in the hope of being there
soon. The Buddhists say there are no women in Paradise ; they
must be born again as men, before they can get there. Paradise,
they think, is a beautiful country in the west, full of lovely lakes
with golden sands, with plenty of lotus flowers, and birds that
sing more sweetly than nightingales. All the people there get
their bodies born again out of lotus flowers, very beautiful, and their
hearts are full of wisdom, without any sorrow. One description
of Paradise says — "They dress not, and yet they are not cold;
they dress, and yet they are not hot ; they eat not, and yet they
ai-e not hungry ; they eat, and yet they are not full ; they are
without pain and sickness, and they never grow old." The reason
they use the lotus-flower so much in descriptions of heaven is,
that it is such a pure white, and yet it grows out of mud, I think »

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Online Libraryd. 1894 Terrien de LacouperieThe children of China. Written for the children of England → online text (page 12 of 18)