If our scientists are unable to imitate the mummy-embalming of the Egyptians, how much greater would be their surprise to see, as we have, dead bodies preserved by alchemical art, so that after the lapse of centuries, they seem as though the individuals were but sleeping. The complexions were as fresh, the skin as elastic, the eyes as natural and sparkling as though they were in the full flush of health, and the wheels of life had been stopped but the instant before. The bodies of certain very eminent personages
are laid upon catafalques, in rich mausoleums, sometimes overlaid with gilding or even with plates of real gold; their favorite arms, trinkets, and articles of daily use gathered about them, and a suite of attendants, blooming young boys and girls, but still corpses, preserved like their masters, stand as if ready to serve when called. In the convent of Great Kouren, and in one situated upon the Holy Mountain (Bohté Oula) there are said to be several such sepulchres, which have been respected by all the conquering hordes that have swept through those countries. Abbé Huc heard that such exist, but did not see one, strangers of all kinds being excluded, and missionaries and European travellers not furnished with the requisite protection, being the last of all persons who would be permitted to approach the sacred places. Huc's statement that the tombs of Tartar sovereigns are surrounded with children "who were compelled to swallow mercury until they were suffocated," by which means "the color and freshness of the victims is preserved so well that they appear alive," is one of these idle missionary fables which impose only upon the most ignorant who accept on hearsay. Buddhists have never immolated victims, whether human or animal. It is utterly against the principles of their religion, and no Lamaist was ever accused of it. When a rich man desired to be interred in company, messengers were sent throughout the country with the Lama-embalmers, and children just dead in the natural way were selected for the purpose. Poor parents were but too glad to preserve their departed children in this poetic way, instead of abandoning them to decay and wild beasts.
At the time when Abbé Huc was living in Paris, after his return from Thibet, he related, among other unpublished wonders, to a Mr. Arsenieff, a Russian gentleman, the following curious fact that he had witnessed during his long sojourn at the lamasery of Kounboum. One day while conversing with one of the lamas, the latter suddenly stopped speaking, and assumed the attentive attitude of one who is listening to a message being delivered to him, although he (Huc) heard never a word. "Then, I must go"; suddenly broke forth the lama, as if in response to the message.
"Go where?" inquired the astonished "lama of Jehovah" (Huc). "And with whom are you talking?"
"To the lamasery of * * *," was the quiet answer. "The Shaberon wants me; it was he who summoned me."
Now this lamasery was many days' journey from that of Kounboum, in which the conversation was taking place. But what seemed to astonish Huc the most was, that, instead of setting off on his journey, the lama simply walked to a sort of cupola-room on the roof of the house in which they lived, and another lama, after exchanging a few words, followed them to the terrace by means of the ladder, and passing between them, locked and barred his companion in. Then turning to Huc after a few seconds of meditation, he smiled and informed the guest that "he had gone."
"But how could he? Why you have locked him in, and the room has no issue?" insisted the missionary.
"And what good would a door be to him?" answered the custodian. "It is he himself who went away; his body is not needed, and so he left it in my charge."
Notwithstanding the wonders which Huc had witnessed during his perilous journey, his opinion was that both of the lamas had mystified him. But three days later, not having seen his habitual friend and entertainer, he inquired after him, and was informed that he would be back in the evening. At sunset, and just as the "other lamas" were preparing to retire, Huc heard his absent friend's voice calling as if from the clouds, to his companion to open the door for him. Looking upward, he perceived the "traveller's" outline behind the lattice of the room where he had been locked in. When he descended he went straight to the Grand Lama of Kounboum, and delivered to him certain messages and "orders," from the place which he "pretended" he had just left. Huc could get no more information from him as to his aerial voyage. But he always thought, he said, that this "farce" had something to do with the immediate and extraordinary preparations for the polite expulsion of both the missionaries, himself and Father Gabet, to Chogor-tan, a place belonging to the Kounboum. The suspicion of the daring missionary may have been correct, in view of his impudent inquisitiveness and indiscretion.
If the Abbé had been versed in Eastern philosophy, he would have found no great difficulty in comprehending both the flight of the lama's astral body to the distant lamasery while his physical frame remained behind, or the carrying on of a conversation with the Shaberon that was inaudible to himself. The recent experiments with the telephone in America, to which allusion was made in Chapter V. of our first volume, but which have been greatly perfected since those pages went to press, prove that the human voice and the sounds of instrumental music may be conveyed along a telegraphic wire to a great distance. The Hermetic philosophers taught, as we have seen, that the disappearance from sight of a flame does not imply its actual extinction. It has only passed from the visible to the invisible world, and may be perceived by the inner sense of vision, which is adapted to the things of that other and more real universe. The same rule applies to sound. As the physical ear discerns the vibrations of the atmosphere up to a certain point, not yet definitely fixed, but varying with the individual, so the adept whose interior hearing has been developed, can take the sound at this vanishing-point, and hear its vibrations in the astral light indefinitely. He needs no wires, helices, or sounding-boards; his will-power is all-sufficient. Hearing with the spirit, time and distance offer no impediments, and so he may converse with another adept at the antipodes with as great ease as though they were in the same room.
Fortunately, we can produce numerous witnesses to corroborate our statement, who, without being adepts at all, have, nevertheless, heard the sound of aerial music and of the human voice, when neither instrument nor speaker were within thousands of miles of the place where we sat. In their case they actually heard interiorly, though they supposed their physical organs of hearing alone were employed. The adept had, by a simple effort of will-power, given them for the brief moment the same perception of the spirit of sound as he himself constantly enjoys.
If our men of science could only be induced to test instead of deriding the ancient philosophy of the trinity of all the natural forces, they would go by leaps toward the dazzling truth, instead of creeping, snail-like, as at present. Prof. Tyndall's experiments off the South Foreland, at Dover, in 1875, fairly upset all previous theories of the transmission of sound, and those he has made with sensitive flames* bring him to the very threshold of arcane science. One step further, and he would comprehend how adepts can converse at great distances. But that step will not be taken. Of his sensitive — in truth, magical — flame, he says: "The slightest tap on a distant anvil causes it to fall to seven inches. When a bunch of keys is shaken, the flame is violently agitated, and emits a loud roar. The dropping of a sixpence into a hand already containing coin, knocks the flame down. The creaking of boots sets it in violent commotion. The crumpling or tearing of a bit of paper, or the rustle of a silk dress does the same. Responsive to every tick of a watch held near it, it falls and explodes. The winding up of a watch produces tumult. From a distance of thirty yards we may chirrup to this flame, and cause it to fall and roar. Repeating a passage from the Faerie Queene, the flame sifts and selects the manifold sounds of my voice, noticing some by a slight nod, others by a deeper bow,
* See his "Lectures on Sound."
while to others it responds by violent agitation."
Such are the wonders of modern physical science; but at what cost of apparatus, and carbonic acid and coal gas; of American and Canadian whistles, trumpets, gongs, and bells! The poor heathen have none such impedimenta, but — will European science believe it — nevertheless, produce the very same phenomena. Upon one occasion, when, in a case of exceptional importance, an "oracle" was required, we saw the possibility of what we had previously vehemently denied — namely, a simple mendicant cause a sensitive flame to give responsive flashes without a particle of apparatus. A fire was kindled of branches of the Beal-tree, and some sacrificial herbs were sprinkled upon it. The mendicant sat near by, motionless, absorbed in contemplation. During the intervals between the questions the fire burned low and seemed ready to go out, but when the interrogatories were propounded, the flames leaped, roaring, skyward, flickered, bowed, and sent fiery tongues flaring toward the east, west, north, or south; each motion having its distinct meaning in a code of signals well understood. Between whiles it would sink to the ground, and the tongues of flame would lick the sod in every direction, and suddenly disappear, leaving only a bed of glowing embers. When the interview with the flame-spirits was at an end, the Bikshu (mendicant) turned toward the jungle where he abode, keeping up a wailing, monotonous chant, to the rhythm of which the sensitive flame kept time, not merely like Prof. Tyndall's, when he read the Faerie Queene, by simple motions, but by a marvellous modulation of hissing and roaring until he was out of sight. Then, as if its very life were extinguished, it vanished, and left a bed of ashes before the astonished spectators.
Both in Western and Eastern Thibet, as in every other place where Buddhism predominates, there are two distinct religions, the same as it is in Brahmanism — the secret philosophy and the popular religion. The former is that of the followers of the doctrine of the sect of the Sutrantika.* They closely adhere to the spirit of Buddha's original teachings which show the necessity of intuitional perception, and all deductions therefrom. These do not proclaim their views, nor allow them to be made public.
"All compounds are perishable," were the last words uttered by the lips of the dying Gautama, when preparing under the Sal-tree to enter into Nirvana. "Spirit is the sole, elementary, and primordial unity, and each of its rays is immortal, infinite, and indestructible. Beware of the illusions of matter." Buddhism was spread far and wide over Asia, and even farther, by Dharm-Asoka. He was the grandson of the miracle-worker Chandragupta, the illustrious king who rescued the Punjab from the Macedonians — if they ever were at Punjab at all — and received Megasthenes at his court in Pataliputra. Dharm-Asoka was the greatest King of the Maurya dynasty. From a reckless profligate and atheist, he had become Pryadasi, the "beloved of the gods," and never
* From the compound word sutra, maxim or precept, and antika, close or near.
was the purity of his philanthropic views surpassed by any earthly ruler. His memory has lived for ages in the hearts of the Buddhists, and has been perpetuated in the humane edicts engraved in several popular dialects on the columns and rocks of Allahabad, Delhi, Guzerat, Peshawur, Orissa, and other places.* His famous grandfather had united all India under his powerful sceptre. When the Nagas, or serpent-worshippers of Kashmere had been converted through the efforts of the apostles sent out by the Sthaviras of the third councils, the religion of Gautama spread like wildfire. Gandhara, Cabul, and even many of the Satrapies of Alexander the Great, accepted the new philosophy. The Buddhism of Nepal being the one which may be said to have diverged less than any other from the primeval ancient faith, the Lamaism of Tartary, Mongolia, and Thibet, which is a direct offshoot of this country, may be thus shown to be the purest Buddhism; for we say it again, Lamaism properly is but an external form of rites.
The Upasakas and Upasakis, or male and female semi-monastics and semi-laymen, have equally with the lama-monks themselves, to strictly abstain from violating any of Buddha's rules, and must study Meipo and every psychological phenomenon as much. Those who become guilty of any of the "five sins" lose all right to congregate with
* It sounds like injustice to Asoka to compare him with Constantine, as is done by several Orientalists. If, in the religious and political sense, Asoka did for India what Constantine is alleged to have achieved for the Western World, all similarity stops there.
the pious community. The most important of these is not to curse upon any consideration, for the curse returns upon the one that utters it, and often upon his innocent relatives who breathe the same atmosphere with him. To love each other, and even our bitterest enemies; to offer our lives even for animals, to the extent of abstaining from defensive arms; to gain the greatest of victories by conquering one's self; to avoid all vices; to practice all virtues, especially humility and mildness; to be obedient to superiors, to cherish and respect parents, old age, learning, virtuous and holy men; to provide food, shelter, and comfort for men and animals; to plant trees on the roads and dig wells for the comfort of travellers; such are the moral duties of Buddhists. Every Ani or Bikshuni (nun) is subjected to these laws.
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