"Genuine Buddhism, overleaping the barrier between finite and infinite mind, urges its followers to aspire, by their own efforts, to that divine perfectibility of which it teaches that man is capable, and by attaining which man becomes a god," says Brian Houghton Hodgson.}
Dreary and sad were the ways, and blood-covered the tortuous paths by which the world of the Christians was driven to embrace the Irenean and Eusebian Christianity. And yet, unless we accept the views of the ancient Pagans, what claim has our generation to having solved any of the mysteries of the "kingdom of heaven"? What more does the most pious and learned of Christians know of the future destiny and progress of our immortal spirits than the heathen philosopher of old, or the modern "Pagan" beyond the Himalaya? Can he even boast that he knows as much, although he works in the full blaze of "divine" revelation? We have seen a Buddhist holding to the religion of his fathers, both in theory and practice; and, however blind may be his faith, however absurd his notions on some particular doctrinal points, later engraftings of an ambitious clergy, yet in practical works his Buddhism is far more Christ-like in deed and spirit than the average life of our Christian priests and ministers. The fact alone that his religion commands him to "honor his own faith, but never slander that of other
J "The Mahâvansa," vol. i., Introduction.
people,"* is sufficient. It places the Buddhist lama immeasurably higher than any priest or clergyman who deems it his sacred duty to curse the "heathen" to his face, and sentence him and his religion to "eternal damnation." Christianity becomes every day more a religion of pure emotionalism. The doctrine of Buddha is entirely based on practical works. A general love of all beings, human and animal, is its nucleus. A man who knows that unless he toils for himself he has to starve, and understands that he has no scapegoat to carry the burden of his iniquities for him, is ten times as likely to become a better man than one who is taught that murder, theft, and profligacy can be washed in one instant as white as snow, if he but believes in a God who, to borrow an expression of Volney, "once took food upon earth, and is now himself the food of his people."
"Of the tenets of the Druzes, nothing authentic has ever come to light; the popular belief amongst their neighbors is, that they adore an idol in the form of a calf."
King, The Gnostics and Their Remains
"O ye Lords of Truth without fault, who are forever cycling for eternity . . . save me from the annihilation of this Region of the Two Truths."
Egyptian Ritual of the Dead
"Pythagoras correctly regarded the 'Ineffable Name' of God . . . as the Key to the Mysteries of the universe."
Pancoast, Blue and Red Light
IN the next two chapters we shall notice the most important of the Christian secret sects — the so-called "Heresies" which sprang into existence between the first and fourth centuries of our era.
Glancing rapidly at the Ophites and Nazareans, we shall pass to their scions which yet exist in Syria and Palestine, under the name of Druzes of Mount Lebanon; and near Basra or Bassorah, in Persia, under that of Mendeans, or Disciples of St. John. All these sects have an immediate connection with our subject, for they are of kabalistic parentage and have once held to the secret "Wisdom Religion," recognizing as the One Supreme, the Mystery-God of the Ineffable Name. Noticing these numerous secret societies of the past, we will bring them into direct comparison with several of the modern. We
* The Five Articles of Faith.
will conclude with a brief survey of the Jesuits, and of that venerable nightmare of the Roman Catholic Church—modern Freemasonry. All of these modern as well as ancient fraternities—present Freemasonry excepted—were and are more or less connected with magic—practically, as well as theoretically; and, every one of them—Freemasonry not excepted—was and still is accused of demonolatry, blasphemy, and licentiousness.
Our object is not to write the history of either of them; but only to compare these sorely-abused communities with the Christian sects, past and present, and then, taking historical facts for our guidance, to defend the secret science as well as the men who are its students and champions against any unjust imputation.
One by one the tide of time engulfed the sects of the early centuries, until of the whole number only one survived in its primitive integrity. That one still exists, still teaches the doctrine of its founder, still exemplifies its faith in works of power. The quicksands which swallowed up every other outgrowth of the religious agitation of the times of Jesus, with its records, relics, and traditions, proved firm ground for this. Driven from their native land, its members found refuge in Persia, and to-day the anxious traveller may converse with the direct descendants of the "Disciples of John," who listened, on the Jordan's shore, to the "man sent from God," and were baptized and believed. This curious people, numbering 30,000 or more, are miscalled "Christians of St. John," but in fact should be known by their old name of
Nazareans, or their new one of Mend^ans.
To term them Christians, is wholly unwarranted. They neither believe in Jesus as Christ, nor accept his atonement, nor adhere to his Church, nor revere its "Holy Scriptures." Neither do they worship the Jehovah-God of the Jews and Christians, a circumstance which of course proves that their founder, John the Baptist, did not worship him either. And if not, what right has he to a place in the Bible, or in the portrait-gallery of Christian saints? Still further, if Ferho was his God, and he was "a man sent by God," he must have been sent by Lord Ferho, and in his name baptized and preached? Now, if Jesus was baptized by John, the inference is that he was baptized according to his own faith; therefore, Jesus too, was a believer in Ferho, or Faho, as they call him; a conclusion that seems the more warranted by his silence as to the name of his "Father." And why should the hypothesis that Faho is but one of the many corruptions of Fho or Fo, as the Thibetans and Chinese call Buddha, appear ridiculous? In the North of Nepaul, Buddha is more often called Fo than Buddha. The Book of Mahawansa shows how early the work of Buddhistic proselytism began in Nepaul; and history teaches that Buddhist monks crowded into Syria* and Babylon in the
* Not only did the Buddhist missionaries make their way to the Mesopotamian Valley, but they even went so far west as Ireland. The Rev. Dr. Lundy, in his work on "Monumental Christianity," referring to an Irish Round Tower, observes: "Henry O'Brien explains this Round Tower Crucifixion as that of Buddha; the animals as the elephant and the bull, sacred to Buddha, and into which his soul entered after death;
century preceding our era, and that Buddhasp (Bodhisatva) the alleged Chaldean, was the founder of Sabism or baptism. *
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