Buddhism is the Teaching of the Buddha, or as one may equally well say of the Buddhas. For "Buddha" is the little of one endowed with certain menial capacities. The mental Atmosphere in which the Buddha arose may he briefly characterized as follows: a feeling of life as suffering, fermenting throughout the entire Indian people; a firm belief in the transmigration of the Soul and the endless prolongation of this suffering conditioned thereby; the conviction that asceticism purifies, alter the effected purification from old guilt, heaps up merit, assures re-birth in heaven, and finally procures deliverance from Samsara, this terrible, ceaseless wandering from existence to existence. Life is suffering, or to say the least of it, some-what doubtful blessing. Buddha thought out to an end, one thought -- the thought of transiency. One may not call his teaching the grandest or the deepest of all teachings. Grand, likewise, is Heraklitus's teaching of the All-becoming; deep, likewise, is the Vedanta teaching of the All-one in Brahman; but the teaching of the Buddha is more than this-it is actual. For there is only one thing that is compelling-truth; and there is only one thing that is true-actuality. Buddhism is the teaching of actuality, and actuality has no antitheses, because itself the union of antitheses.
The Buddha laid hold of actuality there whore alone it can be laid hold of -- in one's own. Through this its truthfulness, his teaching has conquered half a world; not by Fire and sword hut even as Truth conquers, by demonstration, by teaching. Buddhism is a pure evolution, a process of mental development in which thought, so to speak passes a culminating point and works on with reversed signs. This reversal of all life-values has set in with a new point of view, from which the struggle for no more existence, so unintelligible for us. follows as a logical necessity. Henceforth truth is no more the servitor of life, but life of truth. As a candle manifests itself through itself, by consuming itself in expending itself in thinking. Let him know then at the very outset, that here he enters the realm of a man who seeks not life but truth - a man for whom life has no value in itself but only as an instrument of truth. Buddhism is not only the oldest of the three world-religions, but also the only one of the three that is of Aryan origin. The significance of this fact lies not in the racial question, but in the mailer of language.
The Tongue in which the Buddha preached, taught, and thought, whether it was the Pali itself or some dialect related to it, belongs to the Indo-Germanic stem. The root-words, the grammatical constructions, are akin to those found in European languages. Without any more said, we see how deep the lie that binds us to the Buddha is. Mental life can mix and blend with mental life only through the medium of language. If no congruity exists between one Language and another, neither can there be any congruity of thought. The thinking of the Indo-Gcermanic peoples, or rather of the Indo-Germanic root language, has set itself against this bald crudity from the very beginning. Buddhism is the teaching of actuality, and its language also -- the Pali as regards content of actuality, takes a leading place among languages. The Pali is a language of an eminently actual character. It is owing to this content of actuality in Buddhism and its language that so many expressions are found in it for which a filling translation is scarcely or not at all to be found. In language, also, a gradual stiffening process is taking place amongst us which renders us ever more capable in definition and ever more incapable in the comprehension of actuality.
Encyclopaedia of Buddhism A World Faith, Volume XIX, Interdependence and Interrelatedness, M.G. Chitkara, APH Publishing, Hardcover, 327 pages, 2007, $75.00