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forms acted and reacted on one another, with the result that the retribution theory of the former had to be reconciled with the belief of the totemist in a posthumous transformation into the shape of the plant or animal totem. “Thus in the Chāndogya Upanishad we read : “ Those whose conduct has been good will quickly attain some good birth, birth as a Brāhmaṇa or as a Kshatriya or a Vaisya; ... 'and in the Kaustutaki Brāhmana Upanishad :'. .. he is born either as a worm, or a grasshopper, or a fish, or a bird, or a lion, or a boar, or a serpent, or a tiger, or a man, or some other creature, according to his deeds and his knowledge.'”i Here we have a genuine theory of transmigration of souls: the simple totemist belief has been enlarged so as to meet the views of those who, not being totemists, were not bound to be changed into any one particular animal, and man has been introduced into the list of metamorphoses. But though, in India as in Egypt, the totemist faith has been generalised and dissociated from the totem animal, and though in both countries the migrating soul may return to human form, here all resemblance ceases. In Egypt, metempsychosis was first made a means of rewarding the righteous exclusively, and then exclusively an instrument for punishing the wicked. But in India it was applied to both good and bad alike: the retribution theory was infused into metem psychosis—all men were born again, but the good got a good birth, the bad a bad one, according to their deeds and deserts. In the next place, there was a cycle of transformations in Egypt, with the possibility of escape on the completion of the cycle. But in India there was no cycle and no escape : the good got a good birth, and then bad behaviour might cause him to be reborn lower in the scale—but whether the soul behaved well or ill, it always had to be born again.
Now, to the pessimist the prospect of living for ever, in one form or another, is an evil. It was a pessimist, therefore, Gotama, who revolted against the Brahminist doctrine of the transmigration of souls. Gotama, the “enlightened,” the Buddha, struck at the root of the theory he attacked by denying the existence of the soul altogether—he also denied the existence of a God—therefore there could be no transmigration of souls. What did take place, according to the Buddha, was transmission (not transmigration) of karma, character (not soul). The good and evil that men do live after them—not in the changes, good or bad, which their actions bring about during their own lifetime, or in the effects they produce on their contemporaries or in the memory of those who come after them, but—in a fresh individuality, a fresh ego, which never would have come into being at all, had it not been for the desire of existence entertained by the previous member of the chain, and which is good or bad according as he was good or bad. Plato's doctrine-based upon the Egyptian view—is similar and simpler: he allows the existence of a soul, which is enamoured of the delights of the body, and so even when it has escaped from one body returns to another, because it craves after existence and the bodily delights that go therewith. According to Buddhism, there is no soul : it is the craving after existence and corporeal pleasures which results in renewed existence; and therefore it is the extinction (nirvana) of this craving (not the extinction of the soul, for there is no soul) which is the Buddhist's object. This extinction of the desires men can accomplish by being righteous. Thus the motive of the Buddhist is annihilation, the giving up of the craving for a future life of any kind, even in heaven. In any given chain of existences, the karma of that chain is transmitted ; and if the karma take the form of an everweakening desire for existence and ever-increasing righteousness, there will come a time when the desire will cease, and " then no new link will be formed in the chain of existence; there will be no more birth; for birth, decay, and death, grief, lamentation, and despair, will have come, so far as regards that chain of lives, for ever to an end." 2
1 Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lecture, 81.
Thus the goal of Buddhism was the extinction of existence, just as in Egypt the transmigration of the soul was terminated by the dissolution of the individual in the vague of the One, the All, the divine essence, Osiris. But this external resemblance must not blind us to the real difference between the two theories. In Egypt it was only the bad, not all men, who were doomed to transmigration. In Egypt 1 Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lecture, 88–109.
. Ibid. 99.
there was a cycle of changes to be suffered ; in Buddhism karma is transmitted in a direct line, which may be continued to infinity. In Egypt escape is possible only on the completion of the cycle, and then it is, first, conditional on the favourable judgment of the god Osiris, and is, next, effected by union with Osiris; whereas in Buddhism, which denies the existence both of the soul and of God, escape neither depends on divine judgment nor consists in the absorption of the soul into the divine essence.
In connection with the theory of metem psychosis, and as a preliminary to our investigation of the subject of the Mysteries, it remains for us to give a short account of Pythagoreanism.
The unanimous voice of antiquity proclaimed that Pythagoras (in the sixth century B.C.) taught the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, and with how much truth may be questioned that he derived the doctrine from Egypt, and that he himself remembered his experiences in his previous states, which, if true, would have made it unnecessary, we might suppose, for him to learn the fact of transmigration from anyone else, Egyptian or other. Empedocles, a follower of Pythagoras, taught-doubtless in accord with his master's teaching—that the cause of transmigration was sin, that the term of transmigration was thirty thousand years, that he himself had served that term, and that finally his soul, like others in the same case, would become a god—which indeed it had been from the beginning. Pindar, who was a contemporary of Empedocles, and picked up some Pythagoreanism on his visits to Sicily, also lets us see that it was only the wicked who were doomed to transmigration, the good went straight to a happy otherworld; and that, after transmigration and return to human form, the soul had to be judged by Persephone, and might then enter the abodes of bliss. In quite recent years there have been discovered in graves near Thurii and Petelia, that is in the home of Pythagoreanism, three golden tablets bearing inscriptions. These inscriptions contain directions to the deceased Pythagorean with whom they were buried, to
1 Jevons, History of Greek Literature, 2 105.
enable him to find his way about in the underworld, thus : “On the left you will find a stream and near it a white poplar: go not near that stream; you will find another, cool water flowing from the mere of Memory; in front of it are guards. Say, 'I am the child of earth and starry sky; I am of heavenly origin, as ye yourselves know full well. I am parched and perishing with thirst; give me at once cool water flowing from the mere of Memory,' and they will give you of the divine stream to drink.”i The tablets were buried with the deceased, because they possessed a magical power to direct and protect him. The name of Persephone occurs on two of them, thus confirming what Pindar says; the cause of transmigration is said to be sin, its nature a cycle (wÚKhos), and the soul that escapes from the cycle becomes a god—thus confirming Empedocles. To this we must add that when the soul is said to become a god or God, and still more when it is said to be a child of earth and starry sky, the expression was one which could be taken in two senses, a religious sense and a philosophical sense. It could be taken by the Pythagorean to mean either that his individual personality would be dissolved in the One, the All, the sky; or that his personal identity would continue in a blissful life in a happy other-world. The latter is the view which commends itself to Pindar (in his second Olympian), the former makes itself felt in Euripides,+ and is expressed in the funeral inscription on the grave of the Athenians who fell at Potidæa in B.C. 431.5 But the average man did not distinguish the two views very clearly: whether the place was the sky, or the ether, or Olympus, or Elysium, he did not curiously inquire—he used all the terms convertibly.
This brief sketch will suffice to show that Pythagoreanism is very different, not only from Buddhism, which is not a belief in the transmigration of souls, but also from the Indian doctrine, which is. The idea that Pythagoreanism was borrowed from India is impossible: it differs from the Indian doctrine in all four of its cardinal points, namely, the cause of transmigration (sin), the nature (a cycle), the fact of escape, and the mode of escape (trial before a deity). Next, if Pythagoreanism were as independent, in its origin, of the Egyptian doctrine as it is of the Indian, it ought to differ equally in its character. But the four points in which it differs from the Indian theory are four points (not the only points) in which it is identical with the Egyptian. This, combined with the tradition of antiquity that Pythagoras derived his doctrine from Egypt, would suffice to prove its Egyptian origin. But there are further resemblances. The Egyptian philosophy which taught that the soul returns to the divine essence from which it sprang, is reproduced in the Pythagorean teaching that the soul emanated from and finally returns to the ether, the starry sky. And just as the Egyptian philosophers adopted religious terminology to convey their speculations, and taught that to become God or a god, Osiris or an Osiris, was the same thing as being merged in the divine essence, so Pythagoreanism taught that for the soul to become Oéos or dainwr was the same thing as for it to dissolve into ether or into the starry sky, of which it was the offspring. But even granting that Pythagoras could and did invent out of his own head a theory exactly resembling in its cardinal points a doctrine which in Egypt was the result of slow centuries of evolution, still we must think it strange that the minor details and non-essential accessories should be the same. Let us illustrate this point. In the Pythagorean inscription already quoted, the departed soul is represented as anxiously eager to drink of cool, flowing water. No such anxiety is ever expressed in literature, as far as I am aware, by any Greek ghost not holding Pythagorean doctrines. But in the inscriptions on tombs in ancient Egypt ? the deceased commonly prays for this lustral water. This may, however, be a fortuitous agreement, for libations of water are offered in ancestor-worship by the Hindus. But the Hindus did not
1 The inscription is in Kaibel, I. G. S. I. 641, and Dieterich, loc. cit.
5C. I. A. i. 442. 6 This is apparent from the various funeral inscriptions given in Dieterich, 106-7.