"If A Bikkhu should desire, O brethren, to call to mind his various temporary states in days gone by - such as one birth, two births, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, one hundred, or one thousand, or one hundred thousand births,-in all their modes and all their details, let him be devoted to quietude of heart, - let him look through things, let him be much alone." - Akankheyya Sutta.


Were I to ask any reflecting Occidental, who had passed some years in the real living atmosphere of Buddhism, what fundamental idea especially differentiates Oriental modes of thinking from our own, I am sure he would answer: "The Idea of Pre-existence." It is this idea, more than any other, which permeates the whole mental being of the Far East. It is universal as the wash of air: it colors every emotion; it influences, directly or indirectly, almost every act. Its symbols are perpetually visible, even in details of artistic decoration; and hourly by day or night, some echoes of its language float uninvited to the ear. The utterances of the people, - their household sayings, their proverbs, their pious or profane exclamations, their confessions of sorrow, hope, joy, or despair, - are all informed with it. It qualifies equally the expression of hate or the speech of affection; and the term ingwa, or innen, - meaning karma as inevitable retribution, - comes naturally to every lip as an interpretation, as a consolation, or as a reproach. The peasant toiling up some steep road, and feeling the weight of his handcart straining every muscle, murmurs patiently: "Since this is ingwa, it must be suffered." Servants disputing, ask each other, "By reason of what ingwa must I now dwell with such a one as you?" The incapable or vicious man is reproached with his ingwa; and the misfortunes of the wise or the virtuous are explained by the same Buddhist word. The law-breaker confesses his crime, saying: "That which I did I knew to be wicked when doing; but my ingwa was stronger than my heart." Separated lovers seek death under the belief that their union in this life is banned by the results of their sins in a former one; and, the victim of an injustice tries to allay his natural anger by the self-assurance that he is expiating some forgotten fault which had to, be expiated in the eternal order of things.... So likewise even the commonest references to a spiritual future imply the general creed of a spiritual past. The mother warns her little ones at play about the effect of wrong-doing upon their future births, as the children of other parents. The pilgrim or the street-beggar accepts your alms with the prayer that your next birth may be fortunate. The aged inkyo, whose sight and hearing begin to fail, talks cheerily of the impending change that is to provide him with a fresh young body. And the expressions Yakusoku, signifying the Buddhist idea of necessity; mae no yo, the last life; akirame, resignation, recur as frequently in Japanese common parlance as do the words "right" and "wrong" in English popular speech.

After long dwelling in this psychological medium, you find that it has penetrated your own thought, and has effected therein various changes. All concepts of life implied by the idea of preexistence, - all those beliefs which, however sympathetically studied, must at first have seemed more than strange to you, - finally lose that curious or fantastic character with which novelty once invested them, and present themselves under a perfectly normal aspect. They explain so many things so well as even to look rational; and quite rational some assuredly are when measured by the scientific thought of the nineteenth century. But to judge them fairly, it is first necessary to sweep the mind clear of all Western ideas of metempsychosis. For there is no resemblance between the old Occidental conceptions of soul - the Pythagorean or the Platonic, for example - and the Buddhist conception; and it is precisely because of this unlikeness that the Japanese beliefs prove themselves reasonable. The profound difference between old-fashioned Western thought and Eastern thought in this regard is, that for the Buddhist the conventional soul - the single, tenuous, tremulous, transparent inner man, or ghost - does not exist. The Oriental Ego is not individual. Nor is it even a definitely numbered multiple like the Gnostic soul. It is an aggregate or composite of inconceivable complexity, - the concentrated sum of the creative thinking of previous lives beyond all reckoning.


The interpretative power of Buddhism, and the singular accord of its theories with the facts of modern science, appear especially in that domain of psychology whereof Herbert Spencer has been the greatest of all explorers. No small part of our psychological life is composed of feelings which Western theology never could explain. Such are those which cause the still speechless infant to cry at the sight of certain faces, or to smile at the sight of others. Such are those instantaneous likes or dislikes experienced on meeting strangers, those repulsions or attractions called "first impressions," which intelligent children are prone to announce with alarming frankness, despite all assurance that "people must not be judged by appearances": a doctrine no child in his heart believes. To call these feelings instinctive or intuitive, in the theological meaning of instinct or intuition, explains nothing at all - merely cuts off inquiry into the mystery of life, just like the special creation hypothesis. The idea that a personal impulse or emotion might be more than individual, except through demoniacal possession, still seems to old-fashioned orthodoxy a monstrous heresy. Yet it is now certain that most of our deeper feelings are superindividual, - both those which we classify as passional, and those which we call sublime. The individuality of the amatory passion is absolutely denied by science; and what is true of love at first sight is also true of hate: both are superindividual. So likewise are those vague impulses to wander which come and go with spring, and those vague depressions experienced in autumn, - survivals, perhaps, from an epoch in which human migration followed the course of the seasons, or even from an era preceding the apparition of man. Superindividual also those emotions felt by one who, after having passed the greater part of a life on plain or prairies, first looks upon a range of snow-capped peaks; or the sensations of some dweller in the interior of a continent when he first beholds the ocean, and hears its eternal thunder. The delight, always toned with awe, which the sight of a stupendous landscape evokes; Or that speechless admiration, mingled with melancholy inexpressible, which the splendor of a tropical sunset creates, - never can be interpreted by individual experience. Psychological analysis has indeed shown these emotions to be prodigiously complex, and interwoven with personal experiences of many kinds; but in either case the deeper wave of feeling is never individual: it is a surging up from that ancestral sea of life out of which we came. To the same psychological category possibly belongs likewise a peculiar feeling which troubled men's minds long before the time of Cicero, and troubles them even more betimes in our own generation, - the feeling of having already seen a place really visited for the first time. Some strange air of familiarity about the streets of a foreign town, or the forms of a foreign landscape, comes to the mind with a sort of soft weird shock, and leaves one vainly ransacking memory for interpretations. Occasionally, beyond question, similar sensations are actually produced by the revival or recombination of former relations in consciousness; but there would seem to be many which remain wholly mysterious when we attempt to explain them by individual experience.

Even in the most common of our sensations there are enigmas never to be solved by those holding the absurd doctrine that all feeling and cognition belong to individual experience, and that the mind of the child newly-born is a tabula rasa. The pleasure excited by the perfume of a flower, by certain shades of color, by certain tones of music; the involuntary loathing or fear aroused by the first sight of dangerous or venomous life; even the nameless terror of dreams, - are all inexplicable upon the old-fashioned soul-hypothesis. How deeply-reaching into the life of the race some of these sensations are, such as the pleasure in odors and in colors, Grant Allen has most effectively suggested in his "Physiological Aesthetics," and in his charming treatise on the Color-Sense. But long before these were written, his teacher, the greatest of all psychologists, had clearly proven that the experience-hypothesis was utterly inadequate to account for many classes of psychological phenomena. "If possible," observes Herbert Spencer, "it is even more at fault in respect to the emotions than to the cognitions. The doctrine that all the desires, all the sentiments, are generated by the experiences of the individual, is so glaringly at variance with facts that I cannot but wonder how any one should ever have ventured to entertain it." It was Mr. Spencer, also, who showed us that words like "instinct," "intuition," have no true signification in the old sense; they must hereafter be used in a very different one. Instinct, in the language of modern psychology, means "organized memory," and memory itself is "incipient instinct," - the sum of impressions to be inherited by the next succeeding individual in the chain of life. Thus science recognizes inherited memory: not in the ghostly signification of a remembering of the details of former lives, but as a minute addition to psychological life accompanied by minute changes in the structure of the inherited nervous system. "The human brain is an organized register of infinitely numerous experiences received during the evolution of life, or rather, during the evolution of that series of organisms through which the human organism has been reached. The effects of the most uniform and frequent of these experiences have been successively bequeathed, principal and interest; and have slowly amounted to that high intelligence which lies latent in the brain of the infant - which the infant in after-life exercises and perhaps strengthens or further complicates - and which, with minute additions, it bequeaths to future generations(1)." Thus we have solid physiological ground for the idea of pre-existence and the idea of a multiple Ego. It is incontrovertible that in every individual brain is looked up the inherited memory of the absolutely inconceivable multitude of experiences received by all the brains of which it is the descendant. But this scientific assurance of self in the past is uttered in no materialistic sense. Science is the destroyer of materialism: it has proven matter incomprehensible; and it confesses the mystery of mind insoluble, even while obliged to postulate an ultimate unit of sensation. Out of the units of simple sensation, older than we by millions of years, have undoubtedly been built up all the emotions and faculties of man. Here Science, in accord with Buddhism, avows the Ego composite, and, like Buddhism, explains the psychical riddles of the present by the psychical experiences of the past.

(1) Principles of Psychology: "The Feelings."


To many persons it must seem that the idea of Soul as an infinite multiple would render impossible any idea of religion in the Western sense; and those unable to rid themselves of old theological conceptions doubtless imagine that even in Buddhist countries, and despite the evidence of Buddhist texts, the faith of the common people is really based upon the idea of the soul as a single entity. But Japan furnishes remarkable proof to the contrary. The uneducated common people, the poorest country-folk who have never studied Buddhist metaphysics, believe the self composite. What is even more remarkable is that in the primitive faith, Shinto, a kindred doctrine exists; and various forms of the belief seem to characterize the thought of the Chinese and of the Koreans. All these peoples of the Far East seem to consider the soul compound; whether in the Buddhist sense, or in the primitive sense represented by Shinto (a sort of ghostly multiplying by fission), or in the fantastic sense elaborated by Chinese astrology. In Japan I have fully satisfied myself that the belief is universal. It is not necessary to quote here from the Buddhist texts, because the common or popular beliefs, and not the philosophy of a creed, can alone furnish evidence that religious fervor is compatible and consistent with the notion of a composite soul. Certainly the Japanese peasant does not think the psychical Self nearly so complex a thing as Buddhist philosophy considers it, or as Western science proves it to be. But he thinks of himself as multiple. The struggle within him between impulses good and evil he explains as a conflict between the various ghostly wills that make up his Ego; and his spiritual hope is to disengage his better self or selves from his worse selves, - Nirvana, or the supreme bliss, being attainable only through the survival of the best within him. Thus his religion appears to be founded upon a natural perception of psychical evolution not nearly so remote from scientific thought as are those conventional notions of soul held by our common people at home. Of course his ideas on these abstract subjects are vague and unsystematized; but their general character and tendencies are unmistakable; and there can be no question whatever as to the earnestness of his faith, or as to the influence of that faith upon his ethical life.

Wherever belief survives among the educated classes, the same ideas obtain definition and synthesis. I may cite, in example, two selections from compositions, written by students aged respectively twenty-three and twenty-six. I might as easily cite a score; but the following will sufficiently indicate what I mean: -

"Nothing is more foolish than to declare the immortality of the soul. The soul is a compound; and though its elements be eternal, we know they can never twice combine in exactly the same way. All compound things must change their character and their conditions."

"Human life is composite. A combination of energies make the soul. When a man dies his soul may either remain unchanged, or be changed according to that which it combines with. Some philosophers say the soul is immortal; some, that it is mortal. They are both right. The soul is mortal or immortal according to the change of the combinations composing it. The elementary energies from which the soul is formed are, indeed, eternal; but the nature of the soul is determined by the character of the combinations into which those energies enter."

Now the ideas expressed in these compositions will appear to the Western reader, at first view, unmistakably atheistic. Yet they are really compatible with the sincerest and deepest faith. It is the use of the English word "soul," not understood at all as we understand it, which creates the false impression. "Soul," in the sense used by the young writers, means an almost infinite combination of both good and evil tendencies, - a compound doomed to disintegration not only by the very fact of its being a compound, but also by the eternal law of spiritual progress.


That the idea, which has been for thousands of years so vast a factor in Oriental thought-life, should have failed to develop itself in the West till within, our own day, is sufficiently explained by Western theology. Still, it would not be correct to say that theology succeeded in rendering the notion of pre-existence absolutely repellent to Occidental minds. Though Christian doctrine, holding each soul specially created out of nothing to fit each new body, permitted no avowed beliefs in pre-existence, popular common-sense recognized a contradiction of dogma in the phenomena of heredity. In the same way, while theology decided animals to be mere automata, moved by a sort of incomprehensible machinery called instinct, the people generally recognized that animals had reasoning powers. The theories of instinct and of intuition held even a generation ago seem utterly barbarous to-day. They were commonly felt to be useless as interpretations; but as dogmas they served to check speculation and to prevent heresy. Wordsworth's "Fidelity" and his marvelously overrated "Intimations of Immortality" bear witness to the extreme timidity and crudeness of Western notions on these subjects even at the beginning of the century. The love of the dog for his master is indeed "great beyond all human estimate," but for reasons Wordsworth never dreamed about; and although the fresh sensations of childhood are certainly intimations of something much more wonderful than Wordsworth's denominational idea of immortality, his famous stanza concerning them has been very justly condemned by Mr. John Morley as nonsense. Before the decay of theology, no rational ideas of psychological inheritance, of the true nature of instinct, or of the unity of life, could possibly have forced their way to general recognition.

But with the acceptance of the doctrine of evolution, old forms of thought crumbled; new ideas everywhere arose to take the place of worn-out dogmas; and we now have the spectacle of a general intellectual movement in directions strangely parallel with Oriental philosophy. The unprecedented rapidity and multiformity of scientific progress during the last fifty years could not have failed to provoke an equally unprecedented intellectual quickening among the non-scientific. That the highest and most complex organisms have been developed from the lowest and simplest; that a single physical basis of life is the substance of the whole living world; that no line of separation can be drawn between the animal and vegetable; that the difference between life and non-life is only a difference of degree, not of kind; that matter is not less incomprehensible than mind, while both are but varying manifestations of one and the same unknown reality, - these have already become the commonplaces of the new philosophy. After the first recognition even by theology of physical evolution, it was easy to predict that the recognition of psychical evolution could not be indefinitely delayed; for the barrier erected by old dogma to keep men from looking backward had been broken down. And to-day for the student of scientific psychology the idea of pre-existence passes out of the realm of theory into the realm of fact, proving the Buddhist explanation of the universal mystery quite as plausible as any other. "None but very hasty thinkers," wrote the late Professor Huxley, "will reject it on the ground of inherent absurdity. Like the doc-trine of evolution itself, that of transmigration has its roots in the world of reality; and it may claim such support as the great argument from analogy is capable of supplying(1)."

Now this support, as given by Professor Huxley, is singularly strong. It offers us no glimpse of a single soul flitting from darkness to light, from death to rebirth, through myriads of millions of years; but it leaves the main idea of pre-existence almost exactly in the form enunciated by the Buddha himself. In the Oriental doctrine, the psychical personality, like the individual body, is an aggregate doomed to disintegration By psychical personality I mean here that which distinguishes mind from mind, - the "me" from the "you": that which we call self. To Buddhism this is a temporary composite of illusions. What makes it is the karma. What reincarnates is the karma, - the sum-total of the acts and thoughts of countless anterior existences, - each existences, - each one of which, as an integer in some great spiritual system of addition and subtraction, may affect all the rest. Like a magnetism, the karma is transmitted from form to form, from phenomenon to phenomenon, determining conditions by combinations. The ultimate mystery of the concentrative and creative effects of karma the Buddhist acknowledges to be inscrutable; but the cohesion of effects he declares to be produced by tanha, the desire of life, corresponding to what Schopenhauer called the "will" to live. Now we find in Herbert Spencer's "Biology" a curious parallel for this idea. He explains the transmission of tendencies, and their variations, by a theory of polarities, - polarities of the physiological unit between this theory of polarities and the Buddhist theory of tanha, the difference is much less striking than the resemblance. Karma or heredity, tanha or polarity, are inexplicable as to their ultimate nature: Buddhism and Science are here at one. The fact worthy of attention is that both recognize the same phenomena under different names.

(1) Evolution and Ethics, p.61 (ed 1894).


The prodigious complexity of the methods by which Science has arrived at conclusions so strangely in harmony with the ancient thought of the East, may suggest the doubt whether those conclusions could ever be made clearly comprehensible to the mass of Western minds. Certainly it would seem that just as the real doctrines of Buddhism can be taught to the majority of believers through forms only, so the philosophy of science can be communicated to the masses through suggestion only, - suggestion of such facts, or arrangements of fact, as must appeal to any naturally intelligent mind. But the history of scientific progress assures the efficiency of this method; and there is no strong reason for the supposition that, because the processes of the higher science remain above the mental reach of the unscientific classes, the conclusions of that science will not be generally accepted. The dimensions and weights of planets; the distances and the composition of stars; the law of gravitation; the signification of heat, light, and color; the nature of sound, and a host of other scientific discoveries, are familiar to thousands quite ignorant of the details of the methods by which such knowledge was obtained. Again we have evidence that every great progressive movement of science during the century has been followed by considerable modifications of popular beliefs. Already the churches, though clinging still to the hypothesis of a specially-created soul, have accepted the main doctrine of physical evolution; and neither fixity of belief nor intellectual retrogression can be rationally expected in the immediate future. Further changes of religious ideas are to be looked for; and it is even likely that they will be effected rapidly rather than slowly. Their exact nature, indeed, cannot be predicted; but existing intellectual tendencies imply that the doctrine of. psychological evolution must be accepted, though not at once so as to set any final limit to ontological speculation; and that the whole conception of the Ego will be eventually transformed through the consequently developed idea of pre-existence.


More detailed consideration of these probabilities may be ventured. They will not, perhaps, be acknowledged as probabilities by persons who regard science as a destroyer rather than a modifier. But such thinkers forget that religious feeling is something infinitely more profound than dogma; that it survives all gods and all forms of creed; and that it only widens and deepens and gathers power with intellectual expansion. That as mere doctrine religion will ultimately pass away is a conclusion to which the study of evolution leads; but that religion as feeling, or even as faith in the unknown power shaping equally a brain or a constellation, can ever utterly die, is not at present conceivable. Science wars only upon erroneous interpretations of phenomena; it only magnifies the cosmic mystery, and proves that everything, however minute, is infinitely wonderful and incomprehensible. And it is this indubitable tendency of science to broaden beliefs and to magnify cosmic emotion which justifies the supposition that future modifications of Western religious ideas will be totally unlike any modifications effected in the past; that the Occidental conception of Self will orb into something akin to the Oriental conception of Self; and that all present petty metaphysical notions of personality and individuality as realities per se will be annihilated. Already the growing popular comprehension of the facts of heredity, as science teaches them, indicates the path by which some, at least, of these modifications will be reached. In the coming contest over the great question of psychological evolution, common intelligence will follow Science along the line of least resistance; and that line will doubtless be the study of heredity, since the phenomena to be considered, however in themselves uninterpretable, are familiar to general experience, and afford partial answers to countless old enigmas. It is thus quite possible to imagine a coming form of Western religion supported by the whole power of synthetic philosophy, differing from Buddhism mainly in the greater exactness of its conceptions, holding the soul as a composite, and teaching a new spiritual law resembling the doctrine of karma.

An objection to this idea will, however, immediately present itself to many minds. Such a modification of belief, it will be averred, would signify the sudden conquest and transformation of feelings by ideas. "The world," says Herbert Spencer, "is not governed by ideas, but by feelings, to which ideas serve only as guides." How are the notions of a change, such as that supposed, to be reconciled with common knowledge of existing religious sentiment in the West, and the force of religious emotionalism?

Were the ideas of pre-existence and of the soul as multiple really antagonistic to Western religious sentiment, no satisfactory answer could be made. But are they so antagonistic? The idea of pre-existence certainly is not; the Occidental mind is already prepared for it. It is true that the notion of Self as a composite, destined to dissolution, may seem little better than the materialistic idea of annihilation, - at least to those still unable to divest themselves of the old habits of thought. Nevertheless, impartial reflection will show that there is no emotional reason for dreading the disintegration of the Ego. Actually, though unwittingly, it is for this very disintegration that Christians and Buddhists alike perpetually pray. Who has not often wished to rid himself of the worse parts of his nature, of tendencies to folly or to wrong, of impulses to say or do unkind things, - of all that lower inheritance which still clings about the higher man, and weighs down his finest aspirations? Yet that of which we so earnestly desire the separation, the elimination, the death, is not less surely a part of psychological inheritance, of veritable Self, than are those younger and larger faculties which help to the realization of noble ideals. Rather than an end to be feared, the dissolution of Self is the one object of all objects to which our efforts should be turned. What no new philosophy can forbid us to hope is that the best elements of Self will thrill on to seek loftier affinities, to enter into grander and yet grander combinations, till the supreme revelation comes, and we discern, through infinite vision, - through the vanishing of all Self, - the Absolute Reality.

For while we know that even the so-called elements themselves are evolving, we have no proof that anything utterly dies. That we are is the certainty that, we have been and will be. We have survived countless evolutions, countless universes. We know that through the Cosmos all is law. No chance decides what units shall form the planetary core, or what shall feel the sun; what shall be locked in granite and basalt, or shall multiply in plant and in animal. So far as reason can venture to infer from analogy, the cosmical history of every ultimate unit, psychological or physical, is determined just as surely and as exactly as in the Buddhist doctrine of karma.


The influence of Science will not be the only factor in the modification of Western religious beliefs: Oriental philosophy will certainly furnish another. Sanscrit, Chinese, and Pali scholarship, and the tireless labor of philologists in all parts of the East, are rapidly familiarizing Europe and America with all the great forms of Oriental thought; Buddhism is being studied with interest throughout the Occident; and the results of these studies are yearly showing themselves more and more definitely in the mental products of the highest culture. The schools of philosophy are not more visibly affected than the literature of the period. Proof that a reconsideration of the problem of the Ego is everywhere forcing itself upon Occidental minds, may be found not only in the thoughtful prose of the time, but even in its poetry and its romance. Ideas impossible a generation ago are changing current thought, destroying old tastes, and developing higher feelings. Creative art, working under larger inspiration, is telling what absolutely novel and exquisite sensations, what hitherto unimaginable pathos, what marvelous deepening of emotional power, may be gained in literature with the recognition of the idea of pre-existence. Even in fiction we learn that we have been living in a hemisphere only; that we have been thinking but half-thoughts; that we need a new faith to join past with future over the great parallel of the present, and so to round out our emotional world into a perfect sphere. The clear conviction that the self is multiple, however paradoxical the statement seem, is the absolutely necessary step to the vaster conviction that the many are One, that life is unity, that there is no finite, but only infinite. Until that blind pride which imagines Self unique shall have been broken down, and the feeling of self and of selfishness shall have been utterly decomposed, the knowledge of the Ego as infinite, - as the very Cosmos, - never can be reached.

Doubtless the simple emotional conviction that we have been in the past will be developed long before the intellectual conviction that the Ego as one is a fiction of selfishness. But the composite nature of Self must at last be acknowledged, though its mystery remain. Science postulates a hypothetical psychological unit as well as a hypothetical physiological unit; but either postulated entity defies the uttermost power of mathematical estimate, - seems to resolve itself into pure ghostliness. The chemist, for working purposes, must imagine an ultimate atom; but the fact of which the imagined atom is the symbol may be a force centre only, - nay, a void, a vortex, an emptiness, as in Buddhist concept. "Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form. What is form, that is emptiness; what is emptiness, that is form. Perception and conception, name and knowledge, - all these are emptiness." For science and for Buddhism alike the cosmos resolves itself into a vast phantasmagoria, - a mere play of unknown and immeasurable forces. Buddhist faith, however, answers the questions "Whence?" and "Whither?" in its own fashion, and predicts in every great cycle of evolution a period of spiritual expansion in which the memory of former births returns, and all the future simultaneously opens before the vision unveiled, even to the heaven of heavens. Science here remains dumb. But her silence is the Silence of the Gnostics, - Sige, the Daughter of Depth and the Mother of Spirit.

What we may allow ourselves to believe, with the full consent of Science, is that marvelous revelations await us. Within recent time new senses and powers have been developed, - the sense of music, the ever-growing faculties of the mathematician. Reasonably it may be expected that still higher unimaginable faculties will be evolved in our descendants. Again it is known that certain mental capacities, undoubtedly inherited, develop in old age only; and the average life of the human race is steadily lengthening. With increased longevity there surely may come into sudden being, through the unfolding of the larger future brain, powers not less wonderful than the ability to remember former births. The dreams of Buddhism can scarcely be surpassed, because they touch the infinite; but who can presume to say they never will be realized?


It may be necessary to remind some of those kind enough to read the foregoing that the words "soul," "self," "ego," "transmigration," "heredity," although freely used by me, convey meanings entirely foreign to Buddhist philosophy, "Soul," in the English sense of the word, does not exist for the Buddhist. "Self" is an illusion, or rather a plexus of illusions. "Transmigration," as the passing of soul from one body to another, is expressly denied in Buddhist texts of unquestionable authority. It will therefore be evident that the real analogy which does exist between the doctrine of karma and the scientific facts of heredity is far from complete. Karma signifies the survival, not of the same composite individuality, but of its tendencies, which recombine to form a new composite individuality. The new being does not necessarily take even a human form: the karma does not descend from parent to child; it is independent of the line of heredity, although physical conditions of life seem to depend upon karma. The karma-being of a beggar may have rebirth in the body of a king; that of a king in the body of a beggar; yet the conditions of either reincarnation have been predetermined by the influence of karma.

It will be asked, What then is the spiritual element in each being that continues unchanged, - the spiritual kernel, so to speak, within the shell of karma, - the power that makes for righteousness? If soul and body alike are temporary composites, and the karma (itself temporary) the only source of personality, what is the worth or meaning of Buddhist doctrine? What is it that suffers by karma; what is it that lies within the illusion, - that makes progress, - that attains Nirvana? Is it not a self? Not in our sense of the word. The reality of what we call self is denied by Buddhism. That which forms and dissolves the karma; that which makes for righteousness; that which reaches Nirvana, is not our Ego in our Western sense of the word. Then what is it? It is the divine in each being. It is called in Japanese Muga-no-taiga, - the Great Self-without-selfishness. There Is no other true self. The self wrapped in illusion is called Nyorai-zo, - (Tathagata-gharba), - the Buddha yet unborn, as one in a womb. The Infinite exists potentially in every being. That is the Reality. The other self is a falsity, - -a lie, - a mirage. The doctrine of extinction refers only to the extinction of Illusions; and those sensations and feelings and thoughts, which belong to this life of the flesh alone, are the illusions which make the complex illusive self. By the total decomposition of this false self, - as by a tearing away of veils, the Infinite Vision comes. There is no "soul": the Infinite All-Soul is the only eternal principle in any being; - all the rest is dream.

What remains in Nirvana? According to one school of Buddhism potential identity in the infinite, - so that a Buddha, after having reached Nirvana, can return to earth. According to another, identity more than potential, yet not in our sense "personal." A Japanese friend says: - "I take a piece of gold, and say it is one. But this means that it produces on my visual organs a single impression. Really in the multitude of atoms composing it each atom is nevertheless distinct and separate, and independent of every other atom. In Buddhahood even so are united psychical atoms innumerable. They are one as to condition; - yet each has its own independent existence."

But in Japan the primitive religion has so affected the common class of Buddhist beliefs that it is not incorrect to speak of the Japanese "idea of self." It is only necessary that the popular Shinto idea be simultaneously considered. In Shinto we have the plainest possible evidence of the conception of soul. But this soul is a composite, - not a mere "bundle of sensations, perceptions, and volitions," like the karma-being, but a number of souls united to form one ghostly personality. A dead man's ghost may appear as one or as many. It can separate its units, each of which remains capable of a special independent action. Such separation, however, appears to be temporary, the various souls of the composite naturally cohering even after death, and reuniting after any voluntary separation. The vast mass of the Japanese people are both Buddhists and Shintoists; but the primitive beliefs concerning the self are certainly the most powerful, and in the blending of the two faiths remain distinctly recognizable. They have probably supplied to common imagination a natural and easy explanation of the difficulties of the karma-doctrine, though to what extent I am not prepared to say. Be it also observed that in the primitive as well as in the Buddhist form of belief the self is not a principle transmitted from parent to offspring, - not an inheritance always dependent upon physiological descent.

These facts will indicate how wide is the difference between Eastern ideas and our own upon the subject of the preceding essay. They will also show that any general consideration of the real analogies existing between this strange combination of Far-Eastern beliefs and the scientific thought of the nineteenth century could scarcely be made intelligible by strict philosophical accuracy in the use of terms relating to the idea of self. Indeed, there are no European words capable of rendering the exact meaning of the Buddhist terms belonging to Buddhist Idealism.

Perhaps it may be regarded as illegitimate to wander from that position so tersely enunciated by Professor Huxley in his essay on "Sensation and the Sensiferous Organs:" "In ultimate analysis it appears that a sensation is the equivalent in terms of consciousness for a mode of motion of the matter of the sensorium. But if inquiry is pushed a stage further, and the question is asked, What, then, do we know about matter and motion? there is but one reply possible. All we know about motion is that it is a name for certain changes in the relations of our visual, tactile, and muscular sensations; and all we know about matter is that it is the hypothetical substance of physical phenomena, the assumption of which is as pure a piece of metaphysical speculation as is that of a substance of mind." But metaphysical speculation certainly will not cease because of scientific recognition that ultimate truth is beyond the utmost possible range of human knowledge. Rather, for that very reason, it will continue. Perhaps it will never wholly cease. Without it there can be no further modification of religious beliefs, and without modifications there can be no religious progress in harmony with scientific thought. Therefore, metaphysical speculation seems to me not only justifiable, but necessary.

Whether we accept or deny a substance of mind; whether we imagine thought produced by the play of some unknown element through the cells of the brain, as music is made by the play of wind through the strings of a harp; whether we regard the motion itself as a special mode of vibration inherent in and peculiar to the units of the cerebral structure, - still the mystery is infinite, and still Buddhism remains a noble moral working- hypothesis, in deep accord with the aspirations of mankind and with the laws of ethical progression. Whether we believe or disbelieve in the reality of that which is called the material universe, still the ethical significance of the inexplicable laws of heredity - of the transmission of both racial and personal tendencies in the unspecialized reproductive cell - remains to justify the doctrine of karma. Whatever be that which makes consciousness, its relation to all the past and to all the future is unquestionable. Nor can the doctrine of Nirvana ever cease to command the profound respect of the impartial thinker. Science has found evidence that known substance is not less a product of evolution than mind, - that all our so-called "elements" have been evolved out of "one primary undifferentiated form of matter." And this evidence is startlingly suggestive of some underlying truth in the Buddhist doctrine of emanation and illusion, - the evolution of all forms from the Formless, of all material phenomena from immaterial Unity, - and the ultimate return of all into "that state which is empty of lusts, of malice, of dullness, - that state in which the excitements of individuality are known no more, and which is therefore designated THE VOID SUPREME."