ALL animated beings that live (under the sun) have an origin, while each of inanimate things, countless in number, owes its existence to some source. There can never be (any being nor) any thing that has (no origin, as there can be no) branch which has no root. How could man, the most spiritual of the Three Powers exist without an origin?
(It is said), moreover, that that which knows others is intellect, and that that which knows itself is wisdom. Now if I, being born among men, know not whence I came (into this life), how could I know whither I am going in the after-life? How could I understand all human affairs, ancient and modern, in the world? So, for some scores of years I learned under many different tutors, and read extensively (not only) the Buddhist (but also) outside books. By that means I tried to trace my Self, and never stopped my research till I attained, as I had expected, to its origin.
[1. The author treats the origin of life and of the universe, but the book was entitled as we have seen in the preface.
2. The same idea and expression are found in Tao Teh King (Do-toku-kyo), by Lao Tsz (Ro-shi, 604-522 B.C.).
3. The Three Powers are-(1) Heaven, that has the power of revolution; (2) Earth, that has the power of production; and (3) Man, that has the power of thought.
4. The sentence is a direct quotation of Tao Teh King.]
Confucianists and Taoists of our age, nevertheless, merely know that our nearest origin is the father or the grandfather, as we are descended from them, and they from their fathers in succession. (They say) that the remotest (origin) is the undefinable (primordial) Gas in the state of chaos; that it split itself into the two (different) principles of the Positive and the Negative; that the two brought forth the Three Powers of Heaven, Earth, and Man, which (in their turn) produced all other things; that man as well as other things originated in the Gas.
(Some) Buddhists, (however), maintain simply that the nearest (origin) is Karma, as we were born among men as the results of the Karma that we had produced in the past existences; and that the remotest (origin) is the Alaya-vijñana, (because) our Karma is brought forth by illusion, and (illusion by attachment), and so forth, in one word, the Alaya is the origin of life. Although all of (these scholars) claim that they have already grasped the ultimate truth, yet not in fact.
Confucius, Lao Tsz, and Shakya, however, were all the wisest of sages. Each of them gave his teachings in a way different from the other two, that they might meet the spiritual needs of his time and fit to the capacities of men. (So that) the Buddhist and the outside doctrines, each
[1. Such a statement concerning the creation of the universe as the one here given is found in I King (Eeki-kyo). The primordial substance is not exactly 'gas,' but we may conceive it as being something like a nebula.
2. Not all Buddhists, but some of them, are meant here-that is, Hinayanists and Dharma-laksanists.
3. According to Hinayanists, Karma (action) is that moral germ which survives death and continues in transmigration. It may be conceived as something like an energy, by the influence of which beings undergo metempsychosis.
4 According to the Dharma-laksana Sect, Alaya-vijñana (receptacle-knowledge) is the spiritual Substance which holds the 'seeds' or potentialities of all things.]
supplementing the other, have done good to the multitude. They were all (intended) to encourage thousands of virtuous acts by explaining the whole chain of causality. They were (also intended) to investigate thousands of things, and throw light on the beginning and on the end of their evolution. Although all these doctrines (might) answer the purpose of the sages, yet there must be some teachings that would be temporary, while others would be eternal. The first two faiths are merely temporary, while Buddhism includes both the temporary and the eternal. We may act according to the precepts of these three faiths, which aim at the peace and welfare (of man), in so far as they encourage thousands of virtuous acts by giving warning against evil and recommending good. (But) Buddhism (alone) is altogether perfect and best of all, in investigating thousands of things and in tracing them back to their first cause, in order to acquire thorough understanding of the natures of things and to attain to the ultimate truth.
Each of our contemporary scholars, nevertheless, adheres to one school of the (above mentioned) teachings. And there are some (even) among the Buddhists who mistake the temporary for the eternal doctrine. In consequence they are never successful in tracing Heaven, Earth, Man, and other things back to their First Cause. But I am now (going to show how) to infer an Ultimate Cause for thousands of things, not only from the Buddhist, but from outsiders' teachings. First I shall treat of the superficial doctrines, and then of the profound, (in order to) free the followers of the temporary faiths from those (prejudices that prove to be) obstructions in their way to the truth, and enable them to attain to the Ultimate Reality. Afterwards I shall point out, according to the perfect doctrine, how
[1. The temporary doctrine means the teaching preached by Shakya Muni to meet the temporary needs of the hearers. The term is always used in contrast with the real or eternal doctrine.]
things evolved themselves through one stage after another out of the First Cause (in order to) make the incomplete doctrines fuse into the complete one, and to enable the followers to explain the phenomenal universe.'
This essay is entitled 'Origin of Man,' and it consists of the (following) four chapters: (1) Refutation of Delusive and Prejudiced (Doctrine); (2) Refutation of Incomplete and Superficial (Doctrine); (3) Direct Explanation of the Real Origin; (4) Reconciliation of the Temporary with the Eternal Doctrine.
[1. A. 'That is, Heaven, Earth, Man, and other things.']