This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Additional distinctions

The Hinayana makes few concessions and is geared toward a minority who need neither the devotional comfort of the personal cult, nor the external supports of ritual and rite. The ‘Lesser’ way is the ‘pure’ or even ‘idealist’ way. One need only realize the truth, that is to say, knowledge is what saves. It represents the religious element that is highly exclusive.

The Mahayana emphasizes compassion and is the way of love, and what comes alongside this emphasis is the development of the cult of the Buddha since devotion requires a person for its object.

In spite of this contrast, it should be pointed out that the Mahayana does permit a realization by knowledge since, as we have already said, it addresses itself to all, and from the point of view of its adherents, it does not merely scoop up those whom the Hinayana passes by, but offers to all a possibility for salvation, and its teachers would insist that this does not exclude the path of knowledge. We could say that the two paths are not mutually exclusive—for only the Hinayana ‘excludes’. For this reason some Christians accuse the Hinayana as a ‘selfish’ teaching, but it is selfish in the same manner as the whole of the Christian monastic tradition, and it is clear upon reflection that although the Mahayana speaks more plainly about love of other beings, at the same time it is impossible to imagine a truly ‘selfish’ Arahat.

In the end we find that the two overlap, and that the disciple of love must realize in himself some degree of knowledge of the Truth in order to be saved; and on the other hand the disciple of knowledge will, if love is an aspect of the true, encounter it on the path of ‘self-realization’. We could recall the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, that one in fact must love himself properly before he can love another.

We should be wary of classifying which is the development and which is the degeneration of the Buddhist Gospel. Ananda Coomaraswamy was correct in his appraisal:

“The development of the Mahayana is in fact the overflowing of Buddhism from the limits of the Order into the life of the world; into whatever devious channels Buddhism may have ultimately descended, are we to say that that identification with the life of the world, with all its consequences in ethic and aesthetic, was a misfortune? Few who are acquainted with the history of Asiatic culture would maintain any such thesis.”[1]

[1] Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism, p. 228-229.

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