CENTURY IMPRESSIONS OF BURMA.
the thistle-seed gives rise to thistles only, and the good rice to rice alone, so is it with the lives of men and animalsafor through all life, causation reigns supreme. If, then, you would avoid those low, base, wretched, and ignoble lives aor others yet the sages wot of, lives filled with horror and remorse and pain for evil deeds gone byathen you must practise Sila, virtue, true morality ; that is the one method of escape from all that threatening mass of pain.
But to the man whoaalbeit from the basest of all motives fearapractises even the mere Five Precepts, there comes an inward growth which makes of him a nobler, hence a happier man. For all that sila is really self-renunciation ; and when, growing thus wiser, the
humblest follower of the Master comes to the second stage in growth, then the law speaks a new, a greater message : the message of dana, charity and love. aIt is not enough,a it says, a Only to secure your freedom from the lower pain-filled lives ; there is a greater hope than this. If, in addition to mere abstention from the evil, you will fulfil and practise good: if you will feed the holy poorathose who are sick and weak and Ald ; if you will give of your substance to the world about you, then again will the great law act in its inevitable sequences. % avoiding evil, you escape from base and evil lives ; by practising charity you further ensure to yourself lives full of happiness and
joy ; lives full of earthly bliss, or, higher yet than you can think of, the lives of the bright Heaven-dwelling ones a the feeders upon happiness.a And so that manastill for no very high motive, yet one not all so base as fearaso that man, out of self-interest, thinking, aThus will I, giving now a little of my wealth, secure unbounded riches in the lives to come,a sets out in practice of the second step, gives of his goods, his wealth, his help, his care to those less fortunate in life than he.
But here again the law of life acts and re-acts upon the heart of him who givesa for such is the essence of love, which, like a magnet, grows but the stronger the more it is employed in imparting its magnetism to
other bars of steel. Starting to give for love of self, of self alone, the very contact with the lives and needs of others widens the erstwhile petty limits of self. Giving to the poor, the weak, the desolate, giving to the holyathose who have given all the world holds dear for sake of truth and love of alla giving to these he enters into somewhat of the lives of others, and so his own grows wider every day. This is the second, deeper truth the Dhamma has to teach ; and nowhere in the world of man is that great truth more understoodaand so more followed athan in Burma. Never was a race of men more generous, more full of charity than thisait has been the wonder of every author who
has truly gained an insight into the hearts and lives of this most fascinating race. All the land is covered with the tokens of their charityafrom the golden glory of the vast fabric of the Shwe Dagon Pagodaagilded every few years at a cost of lakhs of rupees, by voluntary offerings of the peopleato the village well or monastery or rest-house for chance travellersato the little stand containing a few chatties of clear cool water, which even the poorest can set up by the roadside for the benefit of thirsty travellers.
In a land where charity holds so high a place, not in the talking, but the doing of its daughters and its sons, such poverty as India, as all Western countries experience, is utterly unknown. True, in a sense, the vast majority of the peasantry are poorapoor, that is, as judged by the European standard of living, with its manifold and unceasing a wants.a But of the poverty that is cruel, harsh, base, and sordid ; the poverty of an Indian village or a London slum, there is naught at all. The poverty that curses Western nations, breeds crime and cruelty, starves even little children to the death, such is unknown in Burma, and will remain so as long as they shall hold fast to their love-teaching faith. There is always food to be obtained, if not in the laymanas house, then in the monastery; and the doors of the monastery travelleras rest-house stand ever open to the poorest wanderer, be he a layman or a monk. True it is that in much of the ceaseless tide of Burmese charity is somewhat of wastefulness ; pagoda added to pagoda, shrine built by very side of shrine, great meals preparedatoo great by far for their recipients, the monks and monaetery-poor to eat, so that when all have fed, the very dogs can scarce devour the remains ; but the Burman would justly answer that one cannot have too much of what is truly good ; and he does not merely talk of charityahe lives it in the smallest detail of his daily life, wTith growing national wisdom afor the Burmese as yet are but a youthful race, filled with youthas joy in life, having the failings as well as the virtues and enthusiasms of youth, with greater experience and wider understanding the Burmese will grow, not less, but more wisely charitable. As it is, this second teaching of their law, their truth, is so lived up to by them as to be a wonder to all who have seen what it means.
Thirdly and lastly in our text we read :a
a To purify the mind aaand here we enter on that domain which differentiates Buddhism from all other faiths ; the realm of its teaching as to the nature, content, and the goal of life ; the view-point of its doctrinal structure. Here it is we enter a religion so alien, so strangea To purify the mind a a and here we enter on that domain which differentiates Buddhism from all other faiths ; the realm of its teaching as to the nature, content, and the goal of life ; the view-point of its doctrinal structure. Here it is we enter a religion so alien, so strange