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THE 
IDEALS OF EAST & WEST 



LONDON 

Cambridge University Press 

FETTER LANE 

NEW YORK ' TORONTO 
BOMBAY * CALCUTTA MADRAS 

Macmiilan 

TOKYO 

Maruzen Company Ltd 

Copyrighted in the United 

States of America by the 

Macmiilan Company 

All rights reserved 



THE 
IDEALS OF EAST & WEST 



by 



KENNETH SAUNDERS, LliT.D. 

fcv"-~ 

Author of 'A Pageant of Asia/ 'Epochs of 
Buddhist History/ etc. 



CAMBRIDGE 
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 

1934 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 



TO 

H.H. THE MAHARAJA GAEKWAR 

THIS ESSAY IS 
AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED 

AND TO 

MY STUDENTS 
EASTERN AND WESTERN 



CONTENTS 

Preface page ix 

Prologue: An Evening at Ephesus xv 

Chap. I. The Ethics of India .... i 

II. the Chinese ... 42 

III. die Japanese ... 82 

IV. the Greeks . 108 

V. the Hebrews . . .166 

VI. Christian Ethics ..... 203 

Epilogue: A Meeting at Chang-an .... 239 
Index of Principal Teachers ..... 247 
Index of Subjects 248 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

The author wishes to make the following acknowledgments for per- 
mission to quote from works in copyright. In a few cases, careful 
inquiry has tailed to discover the translator of a passage, and in those 
cases the author offers his apology if he has omitted to make due 
acknowledgment. Many short extracts in verse or prose have been 
translated from the originals by the author and his students. 

To Messrs T. & T. Clark for an extract from The Encyclopaedia of 
Religion and Ethics. 

To the Delegates of the Clarendon Press, the Jowett Copyright 
Trustees and the Master of Balliol for extracts from Benjamin Jowett's 
Plato and from the Oxford translation of Aristotle. 

To the Oxford University Press for extracts from the Sacred Books 
of the East, V. A. Smith's Asoka (Rulers of India series), H. A. Popley's 
Sacred Kurral, A. W. Mair's Hesiod, and C. E. Robinson's Genius of the 
Greek Drama. 

To the Oxford University Press and the Y.M.C.A. Publishing 
House, Calcutta, for extracts from the Heritage of India Series. 

To Mr John Murray for extracts from the Wisdom of the East Series. 

To Luzac & Co. for extracts from Indian Wisdom, by Monier 
Williams. 

To the University of Chicago Press for extracts from A. W. 
Ryder's Panchatantra. 

To the Open Court Publishing Co. for extracts from Henke's 
Philosophy of Wang Yang Ming and from Creel's Sinism. 

To Messrs Probsthain & Co. for extracts from the Works of Mo-Tse, 
by Y. P. Mei. 

To Messrs Heinemann for extracts from Chinese Literature, by H. A. 
Giles, and from Japanese Literature, by W. G. Aston. 

To Messrs George Routledge and Sons, Ltd. for extracts from 
Dr Hu Shih's Development of Logical Method in China. 

To the Cresset Press for extracts from Sansom's Japan. 

To Messrs Macmillan & Co. for an extract from Oedipus Rex, by 
E. D. A. Morshead. 

To Messrs G. Bell & Sons for extracts from B. Rogers' translation 
of Aristophanes and from J. S. Watson's translation of Xenophon. 

To Messrs Longmans Green & Co. Ltd. for an extract from 
Things New and Old, by Dean Inge, and for extracts from W, G. 
Aston's Shinto. 



PREFACE 

"Men are alike in nature sundered by custom." 

This little book does not aim at completeness or claim 
originality. Undertaken at the suggestion of His Highness 
the Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda its aim is to be useful in an 
age of transition, when ethical ideals, like everything else 
which has come down to us, are being tried and tested. 
"What is likely to elevate conduct should be perpetuated", 
said the great Chinese altruist Mo-tse in the sixth century 
before Christ, and there are things in the traditional ethical 
systems which cannot be shaken, for they are rooted in the 
nature of man, and come like that from the hand of God. 

Not only in the parallels and similarities between these 
great systems but in the contrasts which emerge from a 
comparative study is there useful matter for thought and 
conduct. For while human nature may develop along similar 
lines, and the truth which each nation finds come closer 
to that of other nations as each comes closer to the centre of 
truth, yet we shall find a marked difference between these 
ideals, each of which has been moulded and shaped by its 
environment. 

I have therefore given some account of the context of 
each developing system as well as a brief anthology. And 
in these I have sought to bring out not only the high peaks 
reached by each people but the lower levels through which 
they have struggled, and at which the masses have often 
remained. "Not only from the garden of the cultivated 
but from the common fields of the people", not only from 
their great classic teachers but from proverbial wisdom 
and songs. For a double process is always at work. Not 
only do the fertilizing rivers pour down from the great 
mountain peaks; these mountains themselves draw their 
snows from the mists of the plains. So great classical teachers 
have returned to the people their own popular ideals sub- 



x PREFACE 

limated and purified. In our own time we have seen a Tagore 
giving back in songs for the people what he has himself culled 
from the people's songs. The great founders of religion, even 
those supreme and sublime figures Jesus of Nazareth and 
Gotama Buddha, were heard by the people gladly, because 
they gave back in new and perfect form common ideals, 
such as loyalty and courage and kindliness, changed, it is 
true, by a new relation to the Eternal, yet familiar and 
lovable. To put this in another way we must seek the roots 
of Socratic wisdom in the confused ideals of Homeric bards, 
and the high intuitions of Upanishad and Sutta are to be 
found in germ in the parallel anthology of Vedic times. So 
in China Confucius is ever drawing upon the Odes, the 
ancient bardic wisdom of his people, which he makes a 
source book for his principles. 

It is very interesting to see how the ideals of these 
teachers differ from one another. The Christian ideal of the 
Suffering Servant, drawn as it is from Hebrew vision and 
experience, is very different from that of the Superior Man 
of Aristotle and from the Chun-tse of Confucius: yet how 
closely at times it approaches the Mahatma and the bodhi- 
sattva of India. The Buddha again has affinities with Jesus as 
well as with Confucius and Socrates, and in the long succes- 
sion of the torch-bearers of each race certain types of ethical 
ideal recur. 

If East and West are to enter into real partnership these 
great teachers must be understood by all men of good- 
will to-day. "Men cannot work together", says Confucius, 
"until they have similar principles" : or, we might add, until 
they understand where their principles differ. 

What does each people mean by the ideal it has evolved? 
Where can one supplement the other? In the history of 
civilization what matters most is the spiritual and moral core, 
and we must seek to understand this central strand in the life 
of the great peoples. By choosing characteristic figures and 
ideals I hope I do not give a false emphasis, or suggest that 
these are exclusive of one another. The process of mutual 



PREFACE xi 

give and take began long since, and the great peoples them- 
selves are too complex for any one ideal type to satisfy them. 
China, of whom Confucius is the Norm, has also produced 
the great mystic anarchist Lao-tse and for two thousand 
years has reverenced Sakyamuni, India's greatest son. Japan 
has learnt almost everything from these three, as she is now 
learning from Jesus : but all have adapted as well as adopted 
the ideal built up on another soil. The samurai of Japan is a 
new type rooted in Confucian ideals of loyalty and good- 
form, but also learning much from Buddhist quietism, and 
is to-day being transformed from the servant of the overlord 
to the servant of the people. It is by such adaptation and 
modification that old ideals continue to be of value, and 
it is fascinating to watch the twofold process by which a 
nation at once expresses its natural genius in such ideals, and 
corrects and ennobles that genius by importing new teach- 
ings from outside. The warlike northern peoples of Europe 
have produced their own ideal of romantic courage and 
hospitality and loyalty, but they have also turned wistfully 
to the Sermon on the Mount with its corrective ideals of 
meekness and forbearance and its passion for righteousness. 
The "mild Hindu", who finds this man of the Beatitudes 
akin to his own ideal of the saint, has turned with equal en- 
thusiasm to the Gita with its emphasis upon the duty of the 
warrior and the claims of the nation. So pacifism and civic 
duty, nationalism and internationalism are seen with their 
rival claims to loyalty; and this conflict is another interesting 
aspect of our study. Out of it emerge certain great contrasted 
leaders in India : an Asoka is seen face to face with a Kautilya 
with his somewhat Macchiavellian Realpolitik; so in China 
the rationalist is confronted with the mystic, the orthodox 
teacher of Confucian morals with the cynic and the sceptic, 
the teacher of other-worldly wisdom with the utilitarian ; 
and in Japan the wise and gentle Shotoku who is her Asoka, 
and from whose activities has sprung so much of the true 
and beautiful in her life, finds his pietism confronted with a 
whole school of Confucian humanists. Nowhere to-day is 

6-2 



xii PREFACE 

the conflict more acute between nationalism and inter- 
nationalism, militarism and pacifism, the rights of the 
common people and the power of the privileged. 

It is very significant to see in China how the people are 
demanding intellectual leadership, and are asking "What is 
philosophy?" and "Which teacher shall we follow?" This 
scene is to be contrasted with that of Indian peasants adoring, 
and often obeying, their Mahatma; while Japanese crowds 
are looking to the Christian Kagawa for leadership in social 
reform and in peaceful revolution. 

The ideal type, in other words, is still the sage teacher in 
China, the other-worldly saint in India, and the practical 
reformer in Japan. 

In the western world, which draws its ideals so largely 
from Greece and Palestine, there is a curious fusion taking 
place of the ideal of the seeker after scientific truth and of the 
religious teacher. The walls between religion and science are 
wearing thin, and there are many who are finding religious 
and moral inspiration in the man of science detached and 
seeking no rewards other than those of his quest for truth. 
This is the Greek Ideal. Yet the Jewish type of Saint, suffering 
for a great cause and identifying himself with the common 
people, has still an immense appeal, and it is perhaps in these 
two types that the western world is making its greatest con- 
tribution to Asia, whose contemplative ideal has turned its 
eyes too much from this world to the unseen, but whose 
mysticism will undoubtedly reinforce that of Europe. 

In making a selection from the rich material at hand I have 
chosen, then, passages which reveal a conflict of ideals as well 
as those which may be said to resolve this conflict, and I have 
attempted to suggest that from the great age of the Bards 
with their intuitive guesses at truth and their half-formulated 
ideals of conduct there emerge the philosophical and re- 
ligious Masters who become classic and formative for sub- 
sequent ages: and following selections from these great seers 
and teachers I have set proverbs and aphorisms in which their 
peoples embodied the impression which they made upon 



PREFACE xiii 

them, and the ideals which have emerged at later periods 
from the impact of their lofty idealism upon the more pagan 
ideals of the masses. Thus the Gita is quoted, but also 
the equally popular Panchatantra, the dialogues of Plato 
but also the Memorabilia of Xenophon and the satires of 
Aristophanes, the prophets but also the sages and psalmists 
of Israel. Nor have I hesitated to note the weakness as well 
as the strength of these peoples and of their ideals. 

"It is by observing man's faults that we come to realize his 
virtues'*, says Confucius, and only if we realize the vice of 
Greeks, the vindictiveness of Jews, the fatalism of Hindus, 
and the caprice of Chinese can we realize what a Socrates, 
an Isaiah, a Gotama, or a Confucius accomplished in their 
immense task of correction and sublimation. 

These are great and creative teachers of ethics whom all 
must know. They belong to us all: and East and West must 
cease from provincialism in a world now made one. 

As in the West it is from Greek and Hebrew that we derive 
our ethics so Asia derives hers from Indian and Chinese 
teachers. With these four gifted peoples this book deals, and 
with the derivative systems Christian on the one hand, 
Japanese on the other. 

That both these show profound and creative originality 
in choosing and in remoulding is clear: and that these ideals 
are now in the process of cross-fertilization and conflict. 

As in the West Christianity marks a great new era so in 
the East Buddhism. I have paid therefore special attention 
to them and to the notes of originality in them. 

To my students I am indebted for help with translations 
and to others acknowledged in the text, especially to Dr 
Hu Shih of China and Dr M. Anesaki of Japan. Given as Earl 
Lectures at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Cali- 
fornia, and at the University of London, these short chapters 
on great themes depend much upon these illustrative readings. 

K.J. S. 

London School of Economics 
Easter, 1933 



O Thou great Sculptor of the Soul of man, 
In fear of whom the Jew grew wise and meek, 
Thine are the Beauty and the Truth Divine 
Which lured the eager footsteps of the Greek : 
Thine is the Gentleness of India: Thine 
Are China's Reason and her ordered plan 
Of human life: the Courage of Japan 
And her high Loyalty Thou canst refine 
To serve mankind. May Christians also seek 
To reach that lofty Way of which they speak, 
That Love which transmutes pagan attitudes 
To something nearer the Beatitudes. 
Give us the single eye, the loving heart 
To see Thy light, and in it do our part. 



PROLOGUE 

AN EVENING AT EPHESUS 

(first century A.D.) 

I 

In the City of Ephesus there lived a Jewish merchant Mor- 
decai, given to hospitality, and living at peace with his Greek 
neighbours. Himself partly Hellenized, he was yet a devout 
member of the Synagogue, and much interested in religious 
discussion. Towards the close of the first century of our era 
we find him developing a great trade in silk, as a middle-man 
between the Chinese caravans and the Greek-Roman world. 

To his house there gathered one evening Li-Feng, a 
Chinese, his associate the Hindu Ramananda, and the Greek 
Sosthenes. They began to talk of Alexander's dream of unit- 
ing East and West, and Ramananda showed them a coin on 
which the Macedonian posed as Zeus, thunderbolt in hand. 
"To me", said his host, "that is enough to explain his failure; 
but as one of our rabbis has said, 'Let thy house be a meeting 
place for the wise, and drink their words with thirst'; let 
me hear from you how God is thought of in your lands, and 
what is the meaning of man's life. Another of our rabbis has 
said, ' Upon three things the world stands, Truth, Judgment, 
and Peace', and we hold that these are the gift of God." "I 
suggest", said the Greek, "that our friend from China who 
has travelled farthest, and whose people are the most ancient 
should speak first. I have long desired to hear of Truth and 
Beauty as that gifted nation see them." 

"Your courtesy is as great as your hospitality, and my 
poor words must be unworthy of this occasion", said Li- 
Feng, "for I am but a humble follower of Truth, and much 
occupied in business. Yet I concede that in our trade we 
have many opportunities of learning Truth, not only in just 



xvi PROLOGUE 

dealings, but in seeing with our own eyes something of other 
nations. I have been travelling through the Uplands into 
India, and I go on to Rome with gifts from the Emperor of 
Han. Him we call the Son of Heaven, which we conceive 
to be just but inscrutable. We seek to order society in accord- 
ance with its will, and in accordance with reason. I under- 
stand that the Emperor of the Romans claims, like Alexander, 
to be a god; but we in China hold that the Emperor is a Son 
of Heaven so long as he behaves in a heavenly way. He 
should be as the Pole Star to his people; our loyalty is to him 
as it is to our ancestors and to our parents, so long as he is a 
father to us/* 

"Our great Emperor Asoka claimed that he was the father 
of his subjects, but he sought worship of no man; and indeed 
our Indian theory is that the King is elected to do service to 
the people. We have, however, another theory expressed in 
the legend that the gods created and appointed kings, and 
our dharma assigns to each man his sphere and his duties. 
Can you give us in a sentence the whole duty of man?" 

"One of the disciples of Confucius said that in duty to 
others and in loyalty to self lies man's happiness, and in India 
a monk of the Middle Path of the Buddha gave me as his 
ideal of life this saying of his Master 'To cease from evil, to 
do good, to purify the innermost heart'. This ideal and those 
of peace and harmlessness are not unlike the teachings of our 
great sage Lao-tse, who said that man must follow nature's 
law, and that gentleness and non-resistance are the way of 
wisdom and happiness. My friend and I, as we have travelled 
together, have indeed found much in common. Shall we 
not hear from him?" 

"As I have said we too conceive of a way, the dharma, 
which means Nature, but also Custom. Our life is regulated 
by custom, and by v arna. This is the law which divides our 
society into four great groups, each having its special duties. 
According to the sastras, the Creator made the merchants 
from his thighs, the ruling group from his arms and chest, 



PROLOGUE xvii 

the Brahmins from his head, and the sudras from his 
feet." 

"Like our free men and slaves ?" asked Sosthenes. 

"Or rather like our philosophers, merchants, farmers and 
soldiers", said Li-Feng. 

"Yes and no ; for we place the soldier high; and our lower 
class, the sudras, while their duty is service, are not slaves. 
But there is a deeper difference, for we believe that each is 
born into the group which he has merited by his former 
deeds. I, who am a trader and indeed outcasted by my 
travels, may at some distant date be reborn as a warrior, or 
even as a brahmin. Our view of the Unseen is that it is the 
One reality, unlike all that we know, yet best described as 
Truth, Consciousness and Bliss. Man reaches true happiness 
when he knows that he is it, and not separate from it. 'Then 
evil falls away from him, and sorrow.' The Buddhists teach 
that the great enemy is Thirst or Evil Desire; and we accept 
this, but our ways of overcoming it differ. They reject all 
ritual and offerings to the gods, and especially animal sacri- 
fices. Life is sacrosanct to them: and I, as a silk merchant, 
have to take the life of countless creatures, and so I should 
not be accepted as a Buddhist; nor will they acknowledge 
the duty of soldiers to fight, and we maintain that no nation 
can live according to these gentle ideals. Yet our religious 
teachers also insist on the meditative life, and on detachment 
from desire, and one of our sages, when the Macedonian 
invited him to return, told him that he was too much occu- 
pied with things of this world to understand Truth." 

"Ah", said their host, "that was well spoken. One is the 
wisdom of this world, another is the heavenly wisdom. We 
Hebrews conceive this world to be but a corridor to the next. 
We are but fragments of the Divine, whose Wisdom has 
taught us through great tribulation that our people are to be 
glorified in suffering, and are to spread His fight among the 
nations, until the earth is full of His righteousness as the 
waters cover the sea." 



xviii PROLOGUE 

"We Greeks also believe that it is our mission to spread 
the light of Truth and Beauty. Was not Socrates guided by 
his daemon; and was not Alexander, the pupil of Aristotle, 
inspired by a great vision of making humanity one?" 

"Asoka too sought to spread the Buddha's dharma as a 
bond binding all peoples. They say that his ambassadors 
reached the courts of Antiochus and of Ptolemy, inviting 
them to accept this way." 

At these names the Jew could hardly restrain a shudder, 
as he remembered the "abominations" of the Egyptians, 
and the revolt of the Maccabees against the House of Antio- 
chus. "It is easy", he said, "to speak of friendship between 
the peoples, and of the spread of civilization from one to 
another, but for us Hebrews there has sounded down the 
ages the Word of Yahweh, 'Come ye out from among them'. 
While we live at peace with our neighbours in this city, 
there are many things in its worship and its practices which 
are anathema to us " 

The Chinese at this point tactfully interposed, "The 
people of Han believe that as to the Chinese, 'all within the 
Four Seas are brothers'; but they also have another teaching 
of Confucius that there is a tatung, or a Great Brotherhood, 
where men are guided by the principle ofshu, or Sympathy. 
And Mo-tse went further, and taught Universal Love. He 
opposed war and saw its futility as well as its unreasonable- 
ness. For this he was bitterly attacked: and I am not con- 
vinced. If each of the peoples is to spread its ideas and ideals 
it can only be by war, as Alexander believed, or by the slow 
spread of the better overcoming the good. Is there a third 
way?" 

"Nay", said the Hebrew, "unless it be the way of a people 
carried off into captivity, to be at once the leaven and the 
atonement for all nations. As the Prophet saith of the suffer- 
ing nation, * Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our 
iniquities'. But come, I have allowed my spirit to become 
bitter within me, and there is in this city an aged Saint, by 



PROLOGUE xix 

birth a Hebrew, who as a young man joined the Sect of the 
Nazarenes, and to him many are resorting; for he loves men, 
and they say he is a Daniel for wisdom." 

"Another Socrates'', said the Greek. 

"Another Confucius?" asked the Chinese. 

"Well", said the Indian, "let us by all means go and ask 
him concerning the Way of Life." 

II 

After a visit to the Gymnasium the four friends crossed the 
great square of Ephesus, and watched the crowds going up 
to the Temple of Artemis, and coming down from the 
Stadium. "How restless they are", said Mordecai, "they 
come seeking Oracles, or looking for salvation in the 
mysteries, or consulting wizards in the Temple. Well do 
I remember the riot in this city when the makers of images, 
enraged by the preaching of Paul the Christian, kept shouting 
* Great is Artemis of the Ephesians ! ' It was then that the aged 
John attached himself as a learner to the Sect of the Naza- 
renes. Men say that he is filled with the madness of his 
teacher, Saul, whom may Yahweh forgive, that in this 
Joshua whom the Romans killed the Eternal Himself dwelt 
among men." 

" We have the teaching of Avatara, that God, who cannot 
be seen or named, appears from age to age when the world 
has most need of him. And indeed I have with me a copy of 
our Gita, which I must show you. 'I am the eternal: I in- 
carnate myself: says Krishna, 'Whoso loveth me, him I 
love'. This is die way of salvation for us who are busy and 
cannot spend long hours in meditation." 

"It is not strange to us either", said Sosthenes, "for we 
have in the mysteries a way of salvation in ecstatic devotion 
to the gods, and we have conceived Hermes as the Divine 
Logos." 

"What is logos*" asked Li-Feng. 

"It means Word or Reason." 



xx PROLOGUE 

"We call it tao, the Way of Nature, I think", said Li- 
Feng, "it is in listening to this voice that man attains wisdom. 
4 Let the tao speak through thee, as the wind speaks through 
a flute', says the poet." 

" We too ", said the Hebrew, " live by the Divine Wisdom, 
and indeed Philo calls it logos. I often use his prayer, 
'Hasten my soul to become the abiding-place of God, pure 
and holy; strong where thou art weak, wise where thou art 
foolish, guided by reason where thou art wandering'." 

"And I", said the Greek, "use one which is not unlike it. 
It is the prayer of Socrates: * Beloved Pan, and all ye gods 
who haunt this place, grant me beauty of the inward soul, 
and make the outward and the inward man to be but one*. 
It is by such prayers, I think, that men become good; well 
has Seneca said, 'No man is good apart from God'. On this 
we all seem agreed, that human goodness must be patterned 
upon the Divine." 

By this time they had reached the house of the Elder John, 
and in the courtyard they found a company of men and 
women seated about a venerable figure who seemed blind, 
yet whose face was full of light. "My little children, love 
one another: if ye love not one another whom ye have seen, 
how can ye love God whom ye have not seen?" 

"We are answered", thought the Chinese. "Here is a 
sage indeed like our Mo-tse." 

The Saint went on to speak of one who had dwelt among 
men, full of Grace and Truth, who was the image of the 
unseen beauty, in whom men can see Light and find Life. 

"He has the mind of a good and true disciple of Plato", 
said the Greek to himself: and the Hindu seemed to under- 
stand clearly, as his face lit up, the great terms Light and Life : 
"jyoti", he murmured, "amritam". 

"I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. I, if I be lifted 
up, will draw all men unto me", continued the Saint, and 
he spoke to them of the great sacrifice of the Cross, and of 
love revealed in self-forgetfulness. 



PROLOGUE xxi 

As they went out into the starlight the four friends felt that 
a solemn and sacred influence was with them. The Indian 
was the first to break the silence. 

"Love truly is the way of life* ', he said, "but how hard 
to practise." 

"Without the grace of God", said the Jew, "it is im- 
possible." 

"Yet we four have found that in the quest for Truth race 
is no barrier", said Sosthenes. 

"If man would only live by reason", pondered the 
Chinese; "yet our scholars have rejected the universal love 
of Mo-tse, and we are continually at war, until our people 
perish for lack of peace and leisure to till their fields." 

"And ours", said Sosthenes, "are perishing of lust. It was 
Hubris and Evil Desire which laid Athens low, and within 
the Empire to-day slaves are the victims of lust, and prosti- 
tutes haunt these very temple courts. Evil is the corruption 
of the good, and in vain did Socrates seek to transmute lust 
into love." 

Ill 

Before they left Ephesus the three travellers paid a farewell 
visit to Mordecai. "We have been discussing the saintly 
John", said Sosthenes, "and seeking to discover the ideal for 
Man." 

"Our friend from China has told me of the Princely Man 
of K'ung: will you not repeat what you said last night?" 

" Willingly", said the Chinese, "for our Master has given 
us full details of the qualities of the Chun-tse. He is truly 
benevolent and free from care: truly wise and free from de- 
lusion: truly brave and free from fear." 

"These are the Master's own qualities: he lived a life of 
princely goodness, as a teacher who appealed to reason, yet 
transmitted ancient wisdom; harmonious and sincere, he 
was ever firm, but never contentious." 

"What in a word were his guiding principles?" asked the 



xxii PROLOGUE 

Hindu. "Li or good form was his inner rule: without this 
courtesy becomes ceremonious, prudence becomes timid, 
valour violent, and candour rude/' 

"Your teacher reminds one of the Superior Man of Aris- 
totle", said Sosthenes, "he too followed a golden mean, and 
taught men to live according to reason." 

"Yet it is better to be meek than proud, better to humble 
oneself before the wisdom of God. In His fear is the beginning 
of wisdom", said Mordecai. 

"Our Lao-tse would agree", said the Chinese, "he also 
spoke of three great qualities or jewels gentleness, frugality, 
and humility: and his words and spirit remind me of the 
Elder John, who says that his Master taught saying, 'Blessed 
are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth'." 

"It is a saying from our Wisdom books", said Mordecai, 
"John is a true son of Israel". "And worthy to be called 
a Hindu", said Ramananda, "for we too make much of 
ahimsa, gentleness, and of the strength of the meek." 

"He that bends himself shall be made straight, he that 
humbles himself shall be saved", says Lao-tse.. . ."Is man 
by nature a being of reason or of emotion? Is his nature good 
or evil?" asked Li-Feng. 

"Man is a shadow and vanity", said the Jew. "Yet God 
has made him a little lower than the angels." 

"He is by nature good", says Meng-tse; "what says the 
Indian wisdom? " " 'Man is part of the universal Soul, and 
must awake to his true nature. ' This is Salvation the true 
man is the yogi awake to reality." 

"Our Scriptures", said Mordecai, "hold that the greatest 
is the servant of all, and here too the Elder John is an Israelite 
indeed." 

"Let me be a very sweeper for humility, a doctor to the 
sick, a guide to the blind, a friend to all", quoted 
Ramananda. "So saith Job and we are all agreed that to 
serve man is to obey God." 

"Yet I dislike this emphasis on humility", said the Greek. 



PROLOGUE xxiii 

"That is for slaves, not for freemen. While we seek to avoid 
insolence we believe in a proper pride of station and of 
attainments." 

"I think I am with K'ung rather than with Lao-tse with 
Aristotle rather than with the Buddha", said the Chinese. 

" Yet Yahweh exalteth the meek and bringeth to nought 
the pride of man. We Jews are like the Indians more in- 
terested in the Divine Will than in human wisdom." 

"For that reason it may be", said Sosthencs, "that Greeks 
and Chinese have looked to Israel and to India for light 
complementary to our own." 

"And we of India have need of such light on man and his 
work. We have lost sight of the human in our quest for the 
Divine. Maybe in such brotherhood as we have enjoyed the 
peoples will see new light." 



CHAPTER I 
THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

"All other ways are not worth a fraction of love." THE BUDDHA 
" Ahimsa is India's greatest glory." SIR CHARLES ELIOT 

I 

As in Judaea so in India the coming of a great heresy marks 
the beginning of a new era and it is a new era in each case 
for half humanity. Whether it is India, China or Japan that 
we are considering, we may divide the history of Asia into 
the pre-Buddhist, the Buddhist, and the post-Buddhist 
epochs. 

As Christianity came to bring new light and life to the 
West, so Buddhism came to Asia: and the modern era begins 
for both when the ancient heritage is re-examined in the light 
of this new Way and a synthesis is made. 

In the pre-Buddhist epoch we see the Aryans becoming 
Indians as they settle in the north-west, and spread slowly 
east and south defending their culture against earlier settlers 
and aborigines, yet gradually fusing with them, and adopting 
n#ny of their ways and ideas. 

Then, as the priestly caste becomes dominant, we see them 
g&ter upon a more reflective stage, work out the doctrines 
of karma and samsara, rebirth according to action, and 
rationalize the caste-system, which had its roots in a colour- 
bar and in a division of function. 

This first period is from about the fourteenth century B.C. 
to the sixth, when Sakyamuni the Buddha by his new em- 
phasis on morals and his revolt against priestcraft ushers in a 
new era of freedom and of moderation, and paves the way 
for the Imperial house of the Mauryas. 

Hinduism replies to the dharma or Way of the Buddha, 
and in the third epoch the life of India is unified by a re- 
si i 



2 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

formed dhartna, and a new fusion of the secular and the 
religious is fully worked out as a social code binding on all 
Hindus. From about the second century A.D. to the seventh 
this creative period is at its height: but it continues to 
the present time with intervals of stagnation. Barbarian 
invaders, Great Moguls and the commercial West are all in- 
cidents in this reformation of Hinduism which is the central 
core of the Indian Renaissance as the reformation of 
Christianity is of the Renaissance in Europe, and of Con- 
fucianism of the Renaissance in China. 

If this view is too schematic it is convenient, and accurate 
enough for our purpose the study of ethics. The pre- 
Buddhist era sees the ethical ideals of India develop from the 
folk-ways of a nomadic people to those of settled communi- 
ties; from a naive to a reasoned stage, and from a lay to a 
priestly emphasis. Yet the ethic is always twofold. For the 
layman there is one set of duties, for the religious there is 
another: and by the beginning of the Buddhist era there is a 
fairly clean-cut distinction between the duties of the various 
castes and of the various stages of the individual life. This is 
a distinctive note of great importance in Indian ethics: moral 
ideals are relative, regulated by the sanctions of an all- 
encompassing religious Norm the Web of Hindu custom. 



Of the earliest settlers in the Indus Valley we have now 
enough remains to know that they were not a primitive 
people. Their fine brick cities, their great baths (perhaps for 
ritual ablutions), their use of bronze, their many works of 
art vigorous statues and seals of great beauty prove that 
by the fourth millennium B.C. this part of India, the Indus 
Valley, was at an advanced stage of culture. But mingling 
with its higher elements are more primitive things such as 
tree-worship, human-sacrifice, and phallicism, indicating 
that their religious and moral ideals were in a state of transi- 
tion; and something of the same sort is found when we come, 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 3 

nearly 2000 years latter, to India's earliest writings, the Rig- 
Veda and the Atharva-Veda. These are the hymns and charms 
of an aristocratic group of nomads of Aryan stock. They are 
concerned with the worship and placation of the gods, who 
are themselves not fully moralized, and some of whom re- 
flect only too faithfully the greed and drunkenness of an 
army on the march. Yet these early invaders (who seem to 
know nothing of their "Sumerian" predecessors) have their 
moral standards. Distinguishing between the " straight" and 
the "crooked", 1 they are brave and cheerful; they condemn 
the phallic worships which they find; and they despise the 
niggardliness of the merchants, who even "withhold from 
the gods fitting gifts". We get glimpses of their cheerful 
pastoral and agricultural life, of their rather high ideal of 
marriage, of the large but vague powers of the father, and 
above all, of an emerging sense of righteousness, and of sin 
as separating man from his gods, thought of as closely akin 
and often called ' ' Brother ' ' and * ' Father ' * as well as ' ' Friend ". 
If Indra is a brawler and a drunkard, Varuna is a just god 
whose forgiveness they are continually seeking. Yet it is 
necessary to notice that this righteous god, who "stretches 
the wide heavens like a tent" and looks in upon the guilty 
conscience of his worshippers, ready to hear their claims and 
to forgive, gives way to the parricide and drunkard Indra. 
In other words the concept ofrita, a natural and moral order 
which seems to have come with them into India (for it is 
found also among their Persian cousins, and is akin to the 
Greek concept of moira, harmony), has to struggle against 
gods who sit loosely to it, yet are gradually brought under 
its sway. Of these gods there are variously said to be thirty- 
three, seventy-six and even 3300: but the lines between 
them are not clearly drawn, and of many of them it is claimed 
in turn that he is "first among the gods". The Aryan sense 
of order, however, keeps them within their orbits, eleven of 

Riju and vrijna words akin to our right and wrong. This distinction 
is already made among pre-Indian Aryans. 



4 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

the main deities belonging to each of the three storeys of the 
sky. 

As in the Homeric hymns we have to seek among the 
inchoate ideas of the people for the germs of the Socratic 
principles of courage, temperance, and justice, so in the Vedic 
hymns we find germs of certain great moral concepts emerg- 
ing. There is first the idea oftapas or heat, which comes to be 
used metaphorically of the fervour of devotion, and then of 
the fire of austerity, burning up evil. In the tenth book of 
the Rig- Veda we meet a company of long-haired monks 
wearing yellow garments, who attain fellowship with the 
gods by their austerities. Here is the germ of Indian monasti- 
cism. Here too is the beginning ofbhakti, passionate devotion 
to a god, which was to yield some of the noblest and also some 
of the most ignoble fruits. If it developed into romantic 
mysticism it also degenerated into eroticism. If it is given 
to-day to the Krishna of the Gita it is even more lavishly given 
to the Krishna of the Purana a lewd godling. 

The ideas of sacrifice and of gifts to the priests are also in 
the Rig- Veda: these produce merit which man will find wait- 
ing for him after death in the highest heavens. 1 From such 
sources develop the master-thoughts of later India that by 
asceticism and by alms man attains rebirth in the heavens: 
and that devotion to a god is an even better way. 

We may say then that by about 1000 B.C. India has arrived 
at certain vague concepts which are to become articulate as 
the age of poetry passes into that of speculation; and by this 
time, when Israel was developing her ideal of a theocratic 
kingdom, India begins to ask who is the One behind the 
many, to demand order in the chaos of her pantheon, and 
to seek an ethical concept great enough to guide the gods 
themselves to truth. 

She finds this first in the idea of a Creator of gods 
and men, and then in the intuition of a Supreme Reality, 
Brahman-Atman as at once "that from which words turn 
1 R.-V. x, 14, 8. 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 5 

back" and "that from which evil turns back" 1 the In- 
effable and the Pure. Somewhere between the ninth and the 
seventh centuries B.C. we see her struggling through the 
swamps of magic and ritual to the high peaks of mysticism. 
The Upanishads are, almost solely, concerned with this one 
reality; and the old legend that Uma, beautiful daughter of 
the Himalayas, revealed it to the gods, embodies more than 
a poetic idea. For it is a pictorial expression of the truth that 
these forest-dwellers in her high mountain-fastnesses dis- 
covered what the gods themselves had sought in vain. 

The ethical ideals which spring from this monism are 
characteristic of India: individuality is an illusion: hurting 
others I harm myself. But there is no self and no others; 
and morality is regarded sometimes as a means to the end of 
mystical realization, sometimes as a hindrance. It is a ladder 
which the bold climber must leave behind. 

The law of karma and samsara which is hinted at in the 
earlier Upanishads is the law that rebirth follows action in 
exact retribution: "As a man sows so shall he reap". This 
now begins to mould all thought. Two great steps were 
taken in the sixth century when two reformers, both of the 
Gautama clan, systematized on the one hand this law of 
karma, and on the other the dharma or way of moral living 
which would ensure either a good rebirth or emancipation 
from the whole process. The dharma of the Gautama whom 
we know as Buddha the Enlightened is one great moral 
system: the dharma of his namesake and contemporary is 
another. Both accept samsara as the evil to be escaped, and 
karma as the way of escape : but one is orthodox, the other 
heretical in his interpretation. 

Karma is a concept of great ethical significance. From it 
follows the teaching that salvation is not a gift of capricious 
gods to erring men, but that it can be won by earnest seeking 
and self-discipline. "According to his deeds and to his mystic 
insight is a man born as worm or insect, as fish or bird, as lion 
1 Chandogya Up. vra, 4. 



6 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

or boar or serpent or tiger, as man or some higher being. ' 
Similarly dharma is a developed concept of rita the fitting 
or orderly is the basis of the Law or Norm of conduct. 

To those who would escape rebirth, goodness is defined 
as "penance and fasting, gifts and purification". Our illus- 
trative readings will make clear the moral qualities of the 
earnest seeker; it is the glory of India that ahimsa harming 
no sentient being is early found amongst them, and is one 
of the essentials of the good life. It is arresting that this em- 
phasis on gentleness is most characteristic of men of the 
warrior-caste Krishna, Sakyamuni, Asoka. It is not weak- 
ness but strength. 

The dharma has as its basis a fourfold division of Hindu 
society, the first in which the boy passes from the free life of 
his father's home to the austere school of his guru or teacher, 
the second in which he goes on to the no less disciplined life 
of the householder, and the third in which he is largely de- 
tached from any duty but meditation, until he is ready for a 
whole-time devotion to religious truth. This is the hall-mark 
of Indian ethic that it is relative to the age and to the station 
of each. 

Another great development of dharma is the system of 
caste, which has played so great a part in Indian society, and 
which is her characteristic social achievement. In an early 
hymn, which is recited daily from every Vaishnavite altar, 
is found the claim that the Brahmins are sprung from the 
head of the primaeval man, the Kshatriyas from his chest and 
arms, the Vaisyas from his thighs, and the Sudras from his 
feet. 1 And soon there follows the more philosophic theory 
that men are born into a caste fitting their deeds : "They who 
have done well will soon be born as Brahmin or Kshatriya 
or Vaisya, but they who have done ill will soon be born 
as dog or hog or outcast". 2 Thus within the wheel of 
transmigration moral conduct determines all; the caste- 

1 The Purusa-sukta hymn of Rig- Veda. 

2 Chandogya Up. v, 10, 7. 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 7 

system is rationalized; duties accompany privilege, and an 
ethical ideal is provided for each group: the Brahmin and 
Kshatriya are expected to live on a higher moral plane. 

But soon, in the Brahmanas or priestly writings, Brahmin 
claims are becoming so preposterous that Indian ethics are 
to concern themselves for many centuries with protest and 
reform. And against morality and true religion magic asserts 
itself as the priests claim to be gods, and to control the world 
by the power of sacrifice and the magic of mantras or charms. 
The background for these claims is to be found in the settled 
order of society in the holy land of the Brahmins between 
Indus and Jumna, and in the passing of the old family-cult 
into the exclusive keeping of the priesthood. Thus by the 
beginning of the sixth century B.C. we find India passing 
through a transition period in which childish cosmogonies 
accompany sublime speculation, magic and mysticism strive 
for the mastery, and religion seeks to control all life. But 
moral principles all round the globe are also beginning to 
penetrate ritual and animism, and it is of great interest to 
watch the process at work. We see, for example, the 
teacher in one Upanishad interpreting the rumblings of the 
thunder as meaning da (damyata) self-discipline, da (datta) 
charity, and da (dayadhvam) alms. This is childish enough, 1 
yet towards the Vedic period thunder is still believed to be 
the elephants of Indra clashing in battle with the Demon of 
drought, and the new idea has some moral notes. Progress 
is now rapid: as in Israel the eighth century is a great flower- 
ing period in India. 

In the Katha Upanishad we find Death himself revealing 
to the boy who has been sacrificed to him that knowledge 
of the eternal is only for the pure and self-controlled, and 
that man must guide the chariot of the senses with wisdom 
for his charioteer : so only will he come to the goal of his 

1 Curiously enough it has attracted the mind of T. S. Eliot most 
intellectual of modern poets. 



8 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

journey. 1 This is a great advance from the dim Vedic con- 
cept of an underworld or "world of the fathers" which 
awaits the soul after death, and from the hell of the Atharva- 
Veda, which is a place of darkness and torture, where those 
who injure Brahmins are seen seated in rivers of blood, 
eating human hair, and tortured with all the ingenuity of the 
Inferno. 

Another great advance has been made in the concept of 
Thirst or Desire, trishna, as the great enemy, a thought 
soon to be worked out by the Buddha, and by contem- 
porary Upanishadic teachers. These early thinkers see that 
egoism rather than individuality is the root of evil, and they 
hold out as the ideal man the muni, or wandering friar who 
has "risen above the desire for sons, for wealth and for 
domination". From such "forest-dwellers" indeed many 
of the Upanishads proceed, and it is noteworthy that in this 
period laymen, especially of the warrior-caste, begin to play 
a great part, challenging the supremacy of the Brahmins; and 
that women are among the teachers and seekers whom we 
meet at the courts of kings in argument and debate. It is only 
by a late and deliberate forgery that an early hymn is changed 
in the sense that wives are to be burned upon the funeral pyre 
of their husbands, and at this early stage India knows nothing 
of tabus against beef, or of unnatural practices such as child- 
marriage. 

But we have to wait till the Gita (first century B.C. to first 
century A.D.) for an articulate and systematic statement of 
Hindu ethical teachings. This book, which is India's great 
source-book for lay religion and ethics, faces concrete issues 
raised by war and by pacifism, by "nationalism" and early 
attempts at internationalism, by the conflict between the 
monastic and the secular life, and especially by the competing 
systems which are now to demand the attention of the 
masses. It is part of the Great Epic, which is itself a fruitful 

1 Katha Up. n, 7; m, 9. From this source the Greeks may have got the 
simile. 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 9 

field for the ethical ideals of the people, and we see the 
dharma or social code emerging from their folk-ways and 
customary ethics. But before this great book can be under- 
stood we must look at the Buddhist and Jain reforms 
and their characteristic ethical concepts, and at the great 
figure of Asoka who raised the issues faced in a concrete 
form. 

Salvation is the object of all alike, and India has come to a 
clear sense of a connection between sin and suffering, and 
between moral discipline and emancipation. Escape from 
rebirth by overcoming evil this is common ground to the 
great Upanishadic seers and to the heretical teachers. But 
Buddhism and Jainism were distinct in what they denied as 
well as in new emphases. Ahimsa harmlessness, for ex- 
ample, is expressly commanded in the early Upanishads : 
men are to take no life except for sacrifices. This exception 
the new movements condemn, but like the Upanishads they 
make much of asceticism and contemplation: without these 
there is no wisdom. 



Ill 



The great reform movement which Sakyamuni initiated 
must be understood in the light of the Upanishads as well as 
of the religion of the masses. Both, in his judgment, had gone 
to extremes, and his was a Middle Path between them. It 
was a Middle Path between credulity and scepticism, but also 
between the life of indulgence and the life of austerity. It is 
thus largely an ethical reform, and the ethics of the Buddhists 
have become one of the great systems of the world. But it 
must not be forgotten that Buddhism was, from the be- 
ginning, a religion as well as an ethic, and that it became the 
vehicle for Indian culture to the Far East and to Southern 
Asia. Thus while its ethical ideals are to-day more Asiatic 
than Indian, and it belongs to Southern and Eastern Asia 
more than to the land of its birth, yet they are in origin and 
in essence the spiritual and moral ideals of India expressing 



io THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

themselves through her greatest son. He is in the line of 
succession of her great rishis or seers, as Jesus is in the line 
of the great prophets of Israel, and Socrates in that of the 
sophists of Greece. 

Born in 563 B.C. Sakyamuni of the Gautama family be- 
longed to the north-east country of the foothills, and is 
sometimes claimed as of Mongolian stock. But his language 
was a dialect of what we know as Sanskrit, and his whole 
setting is Indian. One hall-mark of his movement was its 
call to moral earnestness. He saw that the mystic ideal of the 
Upanishads was often "beyond good and evil" as the Vedic 
gods were often below them, and that the masses were 
perishing for lack of clear guidance. "Not of one essence are 
good and evil" is one of his great sayings, and another is 
"Know truth as truth and untruth as untruth". Himself of 
the warrior-caste he saw that men needed a guide to action, 
and himself a mystic he realized that insight depends upon 
purity of life. In this lay not only the way to freedom, but 
freedom itself. Thus while he accepted the doctrines of karma 
and samsara act and rebirth he filled them with new moral 
content, teaching that salvation was primarily liberation from 
evil, and that if man was to find reality he must be guided to 
right living. To lose himself he must first find himself. So he 
analysed the hydra-headed monster of desire, tank a, into its 
constituent parts, raga (lust), dosa (malice), moha (stupidity), 
and taught that nibbana or freedom consists in the ending 
of these evils as well as in escape from samsara. The arhat, 
"who has cut the bonds", is accordingly the ideal man of this 
early Buddhism, akin to the free man of the Stoics, and like 
him seeking a kingdom of the mind. He is the old Indian 
rishi fully awake to moral values: nibbana is enlightenment 
and emancipation from evil: it is more ethical than its 
Upanishadic equivalent. 

But the Buddha himself was no stoic, in the sense of de- 
tachment from the world: he had too deep a sympathy with 
misguided and sorrowing humanity, and led too active a life 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 11 

of preaching to be confined within this ideal. Dr Anesaki 
has given the following account of him: 1 

He was a mystic visionary, but he lived nearly fifty years of his 
ministry in constant activities. He sometimes passed nights under 
forest trees, conversing with spirits or angels, as it is told; he lived 
often, in complete seclusion among the woods of Icchanangala, 
or elsewhere, for weeks and months. But more significant were 
his activities as the teacher and benefactor of mankind. Visiting 
of sick people, itinerating in the regions attacked by pestilence, 
mediation between two combatants, consolation of mothers 
afflicted by loss of children these and other things are frequently 
told in the Pali books. His care for health caused him to instruct 
his disciples in the number of meals to be taken, or in the method 
of bathing, and even in the minutiae of using the tooth-pick. 
Though he himself did not go outside of India, some of his disciples 
emulated his missionary spirit and went to the west and north- 
west, beyond the Indus. Thus, the two sides of training self- 
culture and action found a perfect union in the person of the 
Buddha, but it was inevitable that there should exist differences 
in the character and tendency among his disciples, as described in 
the Anguttara and shown in the poems ascribed to them. 2 The 
consequence is easy to see. It resulted in the division of the Sangha 
into the conservative and liberal sections, and finally in the con- 
trast between the ideals of arhat-ship and bodhisattva-ship. Though 
these divisions were not precisely the direct results of the different 
characters, we may roughly say that the former represents the 
tendency to self-seclusion, while the latter is daring enough to 
emphasize the sanctity of lay morality. 

Thus in the Buddha's own personality monk and layman 
unite, and if in the early texts we find the teaching of detach- 
ment (upekha) we find also the teaching of metta (love), 
and karund (sympathy). 

Seeking a right understanding of him his disciples began 
not only to call him "elder brother of men" and " great 

1 Encycl ofRel and Ethics, "Buddhist Morality". 

2 Anguttara, i, 14 (vol. i, pp. 23-6); "Thera und Theri-gatha", trans. 
K. E. Neumann, Die Lieder aer Monche und Nonnen (Berlin, 1899). 



12 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

monk", but also to find in the folk-lore of India stories of 
self-sacrifice which seemed to fit him. After his death at 
the age of eighty they remembered how he had endured 
hardship, and had actually given his life by his kindliness 
in accepting the hospitality of a poor blacksmith and eating 
the impossible meal prepared for him. Gradually they 
filled out the story, until he was said to have died "from 
compassion for the world" (lokassa anukampaya). They began 
also to tell of his lives in many forms, now as a hare dying to 
feed a Brahmin, now as a monkey-king giving his life for 
his tribe, and teaching men that it is better to preserve life 
than to take it; now as a monk, hurling himself from the 
cliffs to feed a hungry tigress who had no milk for her cubs. 
These old stories were full of didactic material, arid they 
began to preach very early from the sculptured walls of 
Buddhist chapels. They are, in fact, a source-book of morals, 
and India was soon to see Asoka converted from militarism 
to pacifism, and to realize that the Buddha's Middle Path 
was a practical way of life with lessons for the laity as well 
as for the friars or mendicants of his Order. 

His leaving home, his quest for truth, his toils to preach 
the truth that he had found, his formation of a brotherhood 
of preachers were themselves not new to India. What was 
new was the moderation, the broad humanity, the tone of 
authority which proceeded from an authentic experience. 
Others had prayed the prayer 

From the unreal to the real, 
From the darkness to light, 
From death to the undying. 

He had found reality and light and a quality of life which he 
too called amritam (ambrosia). He is described as of so shin- 
ing and so serene a countenance that men immediately began 
to ask what was the source of these great and luminous 
qualities. His own summaries admirably express the dual 
purpose of his mission: "one thing only do I teach, 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 13 

sorrow and freedom from sorrow" and again "to depart 
from evil, to lay hold of good, to cleanse the inner heart". 
His religion existed in a word to impart the mystical ex- 
perience ofnibbdna, or freedom, and to teach the path leading 
to it by moral conduct. To the inner circle of his disciples he 
taught the more difficult way of "the eightfold noble path", 
which was to lead them from the transient to the eternal, and 
from sorrow to bliss. By sorrow he meant the disharmony 
of things, and by bliss that inner peace which is the goal of 
all mystic search : and his eightfold path, which begins in right 
views, is a ladder for the mystic, a series of moral steps, insist- 
ing upon right thoughts and occupations, but culminating in 
transcendental and ecstatic bliss. 

Buddhism has, like Hinduism, more than one ethical ideal. 
Side by side from the beginning and on through the ages 
are these monastic rules and formulae and the lay ethic of 
such ancient documents as the edicts of the great pacifist 
ruler Asoka, written upon rocks and pillars about 250 B.C. 
They are of first-hand importance as ancient and authentic 
evidence to illustrate the lay passages which are embedded 
in the monastic books. They emphasize filial piety and the 
duties of citizens, and make it clear that not all men were 
expected to be monks, but that when they did join the 
Order they were to tread the more difficult way of the 
dhamtna. This is epitomized in anthologies such as the 
Dhammapada or "Verses of the Law ", and Buddhism is seen 
to be not only a Middle Path but also a twofold path. Our 
selections from these anthologies reveal an ideal severe but 
not ascetic, detached yet kindly, an ideal of happiness yet not 
of the pursuit of happiness; and there is no doubt that these 
early monks and nuns had found unspeakable joy in breaking 
from their earthly ties, or rather in exchanging them for the 
spiritual ties of the new Order. 

It is also clear that kings and rich men began very early to 
see the value of this Order, and to make gifts of land and 
buildings. Thus the insidious and unethical teaching of 



14 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

" merit" crept into early Buddhism, and Buddhist monks, 
like the Brahmin priests against whom the Buddha had re- 
volted, began to claim that they were the "field of merit", 
until even noble words like kusala (good) came to 
mean "that which produces merit". As calculation enters 
love departs, and the springtime of the movement passed 
into its autumn, until there grew to be a strong line of cleav- 
age between the ideal of the solitary seeking his own salvation, 
and the servant seeking the salvation of men, and between 
the laity whose duty was to support the monks, and the 
monks whose one duty was to exhort the laity. This mon- 
asticism and this dualism have been enemies of the Buddhist 
ethic, which in its purity insists upon detachment and dis- 
interestedness, upon the greatness of spiritual truth which is 
bought without money and without price, and teaches that 
the monk is to live in the village "like a bee visiting a flower 
garden", taking nothing except his food, and harming no 
man. It teaches too that spiritual truth is as pervasive as the 
fragrance of jasmine, and that neither monk nor layman is 
to injure others, but rather to overcome anger with kindliness, 
and to return good for evil. 

In the Buddha's own method of teaching there was a 
Socratic irony which might at times seem harsh, but which 
was surgery intended to heal, and in his own person are 
combined the true arhat with the true bodhisattva. If he 
is detached he is also full of compassion. A glance at our 
illustrative readings or a visit to one of the great museums 
will make it clear that these are complementary ideals, ex- 
pressing the rhythm of solitude and service, of meditation 
and labour, which we find in the Buddha as in Jesus : world- 
denying they are also world-affirming. The servant of 
humanity must have his periods of withdrawal from the 
world, and the Buddhist practice of retreat during the rainy 
season is but one example of the Buddha's recognition 
of this rhythm. In fact, his monastic rules were made as 
experience dictated, and it is this pragmatic quality which 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 15 

gave a sense of reality to all that he did. Glorified common- 
sense has a large part in all the great monastic systems. Thus 
while he seems to say harsh things about women he also says 
them about men. 1 For a monastic order of celibates of both 
sexes has to be as a disciplined army, and sex must be 
rigorously curbed. 

Like Ignatius Loyola, Sakyamuni was of the warrior-caste, 
and he taught that men must be ready to "endure hardness'*, 
and to be continually on the watch. 

He was also an artist in words, and his parables, though 
lacking the brevity and picturesqueness of those of Jesus, are 
often unforgettable. They embody both ethical and mystical 
teaching. Drawn from the life of village, or jungle, or court, 
they are in fact a form of fiction which was to find its most 
artistic expression in the great romance, "the Questions of 
King Menander", where an Indian sage answers, often in 
parabolic form, the questions of a Greek king. In this great 
work, which belongs to the first century B.C., we see that 
Buddhism was tending on the one hand to become more 
negative as it became more scholastic, and to become more 
monastic in the process. But side by side we see it in such 
books as the Lotus Scripture meeting the needs of the masses 
with its gracious figures of compassion, its promise of 
paradise to all the faithful, and its brilliant parables of the 
divine physician, and of the kind father disciplining his 
children. 

Reading these later books we see how the early contrasts 
become more marked, until Buddhism begins to reflect 
the one or the other. Thus the Lotus Scripture opens the 
doors of paradise to women, to outcasts and to others whom 
the more austere Path of the Elders would not recognize. 
We see too that the old meditation-hall develops into a 
cathedral, the relic-shrine into an altar, and the Buddha into 
a god upon the altar; and as corporate worship develops the 
walls of these cathedrals are decorated with magnificent 
1 Itivuttaka, i.e. obiter dicta of the Buddha. 



16 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

frescoes illustrating the contrast between the transient and 
the eternal, and setting forth the glory of self-sacrifice 
as well as the splendours of paradise. Compassion and 
innocence are the great lessons of these paintings, and 
they reveal a Buddhism of mystical piety as well as moral 
effort. 

From what does this great development grow? Germs of 
it are in the early emphasis upon compassion: "all other 
means to enlightenment are not worth one fraction of the 
way of love", says an early anthology, and even the scholas- 
tic southern commentator, Buddha-ghosa, sums up the 
Buddha-legend in the words "more than the ocean has he 
shed of his blood, more than the stars has he given of his 
eyes". There is an attempt on the part of some to insist that 
the spirit of service is to confine itself within the Order: "let 
the monk wait upon his sick companion, and he is serving 
me", says one very touching passage, in which the master 
finds his sick disciple lying in misery and loneliness on a bed 
of sickness. Indeed many monks insisted that to do anything 
other than preach was to miss the true meaning of their 
Order, so that the words "service" and "self-sacrifice" are 
not to be read in their western or Christian connotation. The 
Indian saint, whether Buddhist or Hindu, is, like the lotus 
undefiled by the mud in which it lives, unwetted by the 
water, and good works may entangle him no less than bad 
ones. 

Yet Buddhism does teach universal benevolence, and is 
contrasted by so critical and learned a scholar as E. W. 
Hopkins with its rivals in India in these striking words: 
"knowledge is wisdom to the Brahmin: asceticism is wisdom 
to the Jain: purity and love is the first wisdom of the Bud- 
dhist ". I For the Buddha embodied love and purity in a long 
life of friendliness and sincerity, which led rich and poor, man 
and woman, the simple and the learned, the sinner and the 
saint to find in his Order a new and creative movement. And 
1 Religions of India t p. 306. 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 17 

so great was his insight that they call him "eye of the world" 
as well as its "great elder brother" and "wise physician". 
He is arhat but also bodhisattva. The qualities of the bod- 
hisattva called paramitas are liberality, morality, forbear- 
ance, rapt contemplation, and transcendental wisdom and 
after the introduction of the decimal system (fourth century), 
they were increased by the addition of five others intuitive 
knowledge, strength, resolution, skill in teaching, and com- 
passion. These are not very different from the qualities of the 
arhat ; but the emphasis is upon liberality and compassion 
rather than upon stoic endurance and strength. 

These great qualities were exemplified in the Buddha's 
life, and nobly embodied in his death. 

Contrasting and comparing his death with that of Socrates 
and with that of Jesus, we shall see much which separates as 
well as much which unites these great teachers. The dying 
Socrates leaves as a last request to his friends that they shall 
punish his sons if they seem to care more for riches than for 
virtue, and if they seem something in their own eyes when 
they are nothing. He assures them that he has done no evil, 
and will never do what he knows to be wrong, that he can 
do no other than he has done, and that death after all is no 
great ill. "But, my friends, I think that it is a much harder 
thing to escape from wickedness than from death; for 
wickedness is swifter than death, and I who am old and slow 
have been overtaken by the slower: and my accusers who 
are clever and swift have been overtaken by the swifter 
pursuer." 

He assures them that the sign of God which he has been 
wont to receive at critical moments has not been manifest 
during his trial, and that for this reason he believes that what 
has befallen him is gain and not loss; and he ends with the 
words "And now the time has come for us to go hence, I to 
die and you to live. Whether life or death is better God 
knows and he alone". 

In this calm resignation to the will of God Socrates is akin 



18 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

to Jesus, who is reported to have said, "Into thy hands I 
commend my spirit", and to have prayed "Thy will be 
done". In his friendly attitude to his accusers and judges he 
is akin to the spirit in which Jesus prayed "Father forgive 
them for they know not what they do". Both preferred 
death to compromise, and both refused to acknowledge that 
they had done wrong, for both were illumined by an inner 
light which spoke with divine authority. 

The dying Sakyamuni shows the same calmness in the face 
of death, the same consideration for his friends, and the same 
sense of having accomplished his work. But there was at 
this time in India no concept of a supreme God whose will 
men were to obey; and the Buddha turns the thought of his 
disciples rather to the transiency of tilings, to the inevitable- 
ness of death, and to the task of working out their own salva- 
tion. If the concern of Socrates was with Truth, and that of 
Jesus with Divine Love, that of the Buddha was with the 
dharma or Nature of things, and each has become classical 
for humanity by his selfless devotion to his high quest. In 
each quest is developed a characteristic ethic of which the 
notes are: for the Greek, beauty; for the Christian, selfless 
service; for the Buddhist, self-control. 

These are three great Ways, not mutually exclusive, but 
each having its distinctive quality and its own type of saint- 
hood. It may well be that each has for the modern world 
abiding ideals and fresh inspiration. None of these three 
great teachers is outmoded, and few indeed have even sought 
to live at these heights. 

IV 

For the post-Buddhist ethic of India our best sources are the 
Great Epics. In them the secular and the religious, the lofty 
and the mundane morality of India are preserved and popular- 
ized. They are the sources from which at well-side and camp- 
fire as well as in temple-courts the masses derive their ideal 
of the hero, the devoted wife, the ascetic and the worldly- 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 19 

wise. And in the great chapter of the Mahabharata known 
as the Bhagavad-gita an unknown author of genius has 
summed up the religious and moral ideals of his people in 
immortal verse. 

Not only is this little book an epitome of the recognized 
systems of Hindu religion in the making, it also reveals the 
great influence of Buddhism upon Indian ideals. The scene 
is laid upon the classic field of Kurukshetra, the plain near 
Delhi where so many battles have been fought. Arjuna, an 
epic hero, is seated in his chariot with the God Krishna 
beside him. In the no-man's land between the two armies 
engaged in civil war, Arjuna makes a magnificent statement 
of the pacifist position which India had seen so well exempli- 
fied in Asoka. His horror at civil strife is met by Krishna's 
argument that this is a righteous war, that pity is in reality 
weakness, that the soul is indestructible, and that it is after all 
only bodies which are killed. But the ethical core of his 
teaching is that there is nothing better for a warrior than 
righteous war ; for a man is born in the warrior-caste to do 
his caste-duty, and this may be done in a detached spirit, 
and as a religious exercise. "Hold equal pleasure and pain, 
loss and gain, victory and defeat, and gird thyself for the 

battle. So shalt thou be without sin Thy concern must 

be with action, not with its fruits. . . . He who forsakes desire 
and goes detached through life, with no thought of I or 
mine, attains to peace." 

So the battle changes from the material to the spiritual 
sphere, and as in Buddhism, Desire is seen as the great enemy, 
with its threefold division of lust, anger and greed. " These 
are the three gates of hell", and over against them is the gate 
of immortality. 

There are many admirable summaries of the Hindu ethic 
in this book, which is a living inspiration to millions. The 
ideals of duty, of detachment, of desirelessness, spring from 
devotion to the Lord, who is himself the prototype and the 
embodiment of these qualities. And in this book, bhakti, 



20 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

whose roots go back to the Vedic hymns, finds its finest 
expression. It is a whole-hearted love of God, free from 
that erotic tendency which weakens much later Hinduism. 
"Whatsoever thou doest, do it unto me Even if he is a 
great sinner who worships me with sincere devotion, count 
him good." 

Here also is set forth the idea of the yogi "still as a lamp 
in a windless place". Even in the midst of battle he is to 
concentrate his mind and to control his senses, freeing himself 
from fear and from passion. And like Plato and the earlier 
Upanishads, Krishna teaches that Reason must be man's 
charioteer, controlling the horses of sense. 

Like the Buddha he makes much of ahitnsa (non-injury) ; 
and it is remarkable that in a book which deals so much 
with the duties of the warrior, these milder qualities, re- 
nunciation, compassion, simplicity, and humility are set side 
by side with fearlessness, energy and courage. If a Gandhi 
draws his teachings of non-violence from the Gita so do the 
anarchists. As in Russia to-day we see Plato divided against 
himself as the ideals of the Republic wage war upon the 
mysticism of earlier dialogues, much of which has entered 
into Eastern Christianity, so in India we see the Gita at war 
with itself, as anarchy dismisses the gentler teachings and 
justifies murder by claiming that it is done with detachment. 
In the Western world, too, the pacifism of the Sermon on 
the Mount, which has so much attracted the leaders of Asia, 
is far from having overcome the warlike spirit of much 
organized Christianity. 

It is remarkable that the best expression of pacifism in the 
Gita is put into the mouth of a layman, and that it is the god 
Krishna who dismisses it as unnatural and unmanly, using 
every argument of religion to dispel it. This is, in effect, a 
reply of the Hindu nation to the experiments of Asoka and 
other pacifists, and to Buddhism in general, which had under- 
mined the caste-system. It is also a restatement of the monist 
position which the Buddha had attacked, and nowhere in 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 21 

literature is there a finer expression of pantheism, which is 
here made as ethical as it can be made. 

The Gita is the layman's Upanishad, and the Indian 
source-book for ethics. Each caste is given its appointed 
tasks, and all systems are quoted in support of the main 
arguments of duty done with singleness of eye and sincere 
attachment to the god. 

If the religious ideal of India is the yogi, aloof, benevolent, 
detached, serene in mystic contemplation, the Gita seeks to 
bring this spirit to earth and to attach it to the busy life of 
men. From such sources it has seeped into homely wisdom 
and proverbial saying. 

If India has lapsed into eroticism on the one hand and into 
other-worldly detachment on the other, the Krishna of the 
Gita and the Buddha of the Pah texts have called her continu- 
ally to return to balance and to sanity. Her great glory is that 
she has not only praised ahimsa but practised it, and if like 
the rest of mankind she sometimes quotes Scripture to justify 
evil, her conscience is now sensitized by the teaching and 
example of her Mahatiha who is pouring new wine into 
the old bottles, and making what was negative and passive 
positive and active. His cardinal principles, Truth, Purity, 
Love, are rooted in the teachings of Jesus as of the Upani- 
shadic rishis, and linked with a prophetic passion for social 
righteousness worthy of a Hebrew prophet. Is he not her 
" suffering servant"? 



There have been lawgivers as well as prophets in India, such 
as Manu, whose code belongs in its present form to the first 
five centuries of our era. Originally representing the customs 
of the Brahmins it has become binding on Hindu society, for 
it sets forth not only rules for religious observance but also 
for the administration of justice, and regulates domestic life 
in all its details. A Hindu is, in fact, one who observes this 
dharma, and the ethical life of India in the classic period 



22 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

is mirrored in the Great Epics. Here, too, the hand of 
Brahmin editors can be clearly traced, and their influence 
through these immense poems has been incalculable. The 
Mahabharata, which is more than twenty times as long as 
the Aeneid, deals with vast civil wars in North and Mid- 
India. The Ramayana, which is much shorter, deals with the 
advance of the Aryans into the south. If the earlier epic 
tells us of the Lunar race of the middle country, the latter 
deals with the Solar people of the west and sets before us 
Sita, the ideal wife, and Rama her husband, the ideal warrior 
of India. Their adventures and their alliance with the 
monkey-people of the south are favourite themes of art 
and song. Whether these are actual tribes of men or not 
they are represented as animals, not the grotesque ape of our 
western humour, but man's prototype and friend. To help 
Rama they build bridges and go on embassies, showing a 
loyalty and intelligence which often put their human brothers 
to shame. 

India has also her science of politics, and in Kautilya 
she has her early Machiavelli. During the Guptan era 
natural science too made great strides. We know that 
Indian astronomy was already far advanced when the Greeks 
arrived, and that India learned from the invader a new 
system. It was Indian astronomy which passed on to Europe 
in the Middle Ages in Arab translations 

In medicine, both Hindus and Buddhists made consider- 
able advance, the former practising dissection of animals and 
demonstrating operations upon wax figures. If doctors in 
India to-day are largely Muslims this is because of the 
Mohammedan conquest which destroyed the older schools, 
and also because of a growing system of tabus against 
handling diseased or dead bodies. 

In music India has exerted a great influence, not only 
upon the West but upon Asia, where its quarter-tones and 
subtle harmonies can be found everywhere, as they may be 
found in Spain and other countries where the Arabs carried 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 23 

them. As in everything else in India, there is here an intimate 
relation between nature and art. The ragas or modes of 
Indian music correspond to the six seasons of the year, and 
each has raginis, variations appropriate to the day and hour 
and season. As Rajput painting deals with the legends of 
the gods and with the dharma of India's daily life, so her 
music is intimately concerned with both. And as the Indian 
artist painted for a small coterie of connoisseurs, so the 
Indian musician with his stringed instruments, flutes and 
drums was content with chamber-concerts for the elect, 
or with the small audiences which gathered about village 
wells and in the shade of banyans. To such audiences court 
musicians on the one hand and wandering minstrels on the 
other have sung from time immemorial of the loves of 
Krishna or of the heroic deeds of Rama. They were India's 
popular teachers of morality. 

The caste-system helped to maintain the skill of the guilds, 
handing on traditional crafts and training apprentices. It is 
still possible, in spite of the industrial age with its mass pro- 
duction, aniline dyes, and ruthless competition, to watch the 
weavers of Benares and the shawl-makers of Kashmir at 
work on crafts which have survived the vicissitudes of 2000 
years. The caste-system has indeed been a conservative force 
for good as well as for evil, and in the mediaeval Hindu city 
with its streets of the silver- and goldsmiths, of the brocade- 
makers and the s^n'-sellers there survives an epitome of the 
Middle Ages which reveals excellent city-planning and an 
ordered social life. At the centre is the great temple, and 
about it lies the city in concentric squares, where each guild 
pursues its calling. In such achievements and in the self- 
supporting village with its panchayat or Council of Five, we 
may find typical achievements of Aryan and of Dravidian 
India, and in the south Hinduism takes on its most luxuriant 
and devotional expression. This has its characteristic ethical 
notes humility before the irresistible grace of God, love as 
passionate to men, a sacramental interpretation of secular life. 



24 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

And in Tiruvalur of the third century A.D. Dravidian India 
has its own poetic Manu. 

VI 

Perhaps the chief conflict which is now agitating India is the 
rebellion of morals against religion. As a distinguished 
Brahmin has said, "We must make war upon the priests", 
and such evil practices as child-marriage, while they are very 
far from universal, are strongly entrenched in the Scriptures. 
India, in fact, like the rest of the world, has been harmed as 
well as helped by religion, and its canonization is a graver 
menace to her than to the rest of us, until she too lays hold 
upon the free spirit of truth. To this Mr Gandhi calls her, 
reminding her that there is no God higher than truth, 
and that the human values are the divine. A devotee of 
Hinduism, he is also a heretic, who while reforming Hinduism 
sees that there are eternal truths in the old faith, and especially 
in the Gita, which fit the needs of the new India. These are 
devotion to the Godhead, and to duty, detachment in doing 
it, and victory over Desire, the arch-enemy. But as he him- 
self frankly and fully confesses, he has found much inspiration 
in his colossal task of remaking the soul of a nation from 
such Christian writers as Tolstoy, and from the New Testa- 
ment, as well as from missionaries. It is indeed clear that his 
God is more like Christ than Krishna, and it is significant that 
he prefers to call himself sudra, that is, servant, and that 
his people continually refer to him as the most Christlike 
figure of our times. 

In accepting Christ as bhagavan, many Indians are already 
making a great contribution to the enrichment of the Christian 
ethic, and to the proper understanding of the Son of Man. 
India's gentleness is, in fact, not that of defeat, but that of 
victory ; and it has largely won over the British people to a 
recognition of her natural aspirations. Nor must we forget 
that if Gandhi is the champion of her starving masses, he is 
also the spearhead of a vast race-movement in which 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 25 

Asiatic peoples are making their claim to enter into full 
partnership with the West. The keynote of Mr Gandhi's 
fivefold programme is indeed partnership, and in his very 
practical idealism there is little with which the Christian 
cannot fully sympathize. If there remain strange practices 
and attitudes like the veneration of the cow (who eats her 
way through the impoverished fields of India at the expense 
of humanity), and if his wholehearted acceptance of the 
caste-system may seem to us reactionary, yet he is, and will 
remain, a Hindu, sure that his usefulness to India is con- 
ditional upon his doing so. "Desert not your dharma for that 
of another" is an Indian axiom. 

Indian acceptance of the fundamental law of karma has its 
weakness: personality is merged in the mass and its nerve 
is too often cut a fatalistic attitude being very usual. And 
the pantheistic soil of India is not good for those virtues 
most valued in the more individualist West energy, initia- 
tive, and determination to harness nature in the service of 
men. Every Hindu frankly confesses that in social service 
the West has set a new and creative standard : and many 
own that even ahimsa and detachment need the control 
of logic and a sane scale of values. Can India retain her 
gentleness and add energy, preserve her devotion to God in 
serving men, practise detachment in acquiring zeal? If so she 
can help to cure us of the worship of the machine, and can 
work out with us a more humane order of society. 

THE SOUL OF INDIA 
I. FROM THE RIG-VEDA 

(about 1000 B.C.) 
(a) Funeral Hymn 

From the dead hand I take the bow he wielded, 
To gain for us dominion, might, and glory. 
Thou there, we here, rich in heroic offspring, 
Will vanquish all assaults of every foeman. 



26 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

Approach the bosom of the earth, thy r mother, 
This earth extending far and most propitious: 
Young, soft as wool to bounteous givers, may she 
Preserve thee from the lap of dissolution. 

Open wide, O earth, press not heavily on him, 
Be easy of approach, hail him with kindly aid ; 
As with a robe a mother hides 
Her son, so shroud this man, O earth. 

Adapted from the translation by Arthur A. Macdonell. 

(b) The Dice 

Downward they fall, then nimbly leaping upward, 
They overpower the man with hands, though handless. 
Cast on the board like magic bits of charcoal, 
Though cold themselves, they burn the heart to ashes. 

It pains a gambler when he sees a woman, 
Another's wife, and their well-ordered household: 
He yokes these brown steeds early in the morning, 
And, when the fire is low, sinks down, an outcast. 

"Play not with dice, but cultivate thy cornfield; 
Rejoice in thy goods, deeming them abundant: 
There are thy cows, there is thy wife, O gambler/' 
This counsel Savitri the kindly gives me. 

Ibid. 

(c) The Beginnings ofBhakti 

All my thoughts praise Indra, seeking bliss, longing for him: 
wives embrace a fair young bridegroom they embrace him 
divine giver of gifts. 

II. FROM THE ARTHARVA-VEDA 

(700 B.C.) 

Charm for Luck 

Oh dice, give play that profit brings, 
Like cows that yield abundant milk : 
Attach me to a streak of gain, 
As with a string the bow is bound. 

Ibid. 



as 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 27 

III. FROM THE AlTAREYA BRAHMANA 

(about 600 B.C.) 

On the Importance of Having a Son 

In him a father pays a debt 
And reaches immortality, 
When he beholds the countenance 
Of a son born to him alive. 

Than all the joy which living things 
In waters feel, in earth and fire, 
The happiness that in his son 
A father feels is greater far. 

At all rimes fathers by a son 

Much darkness, too, have passed beyond: 

In him the father's self is born, 

He wafts him to the other shore. 

Food is man's life and clothes afford protection, 
Gold gives him beauty, marriages bring cattle; 
His wife's a friend, his daughter causes pity: 
A son is like a light in highest heaven. 

Ibid. 

IV. FROM THE UPANISHADS 

(a) Rebirth follows Action 

Considering sacrifice and good works as best, these fools know 
no higher good, and having enjoyed their reward in the height 
of heaven, gained by good works, they enter again this world 
or a lower one. 

But those who practise penance and faith in the forest, tranquil, 
wise, and living on alms, depart free from passion. . . to where 
that Immortal dwells whose nature is imperishable. 

Let a Brahmin, after he has examined all these worlds which 
are gained by works, acquire freedom from all desires. Nothing 
that is eternal (not made) can be gained by what is not eternal 
(made). 

Mundaka Up. I, 2 (adapted from the Sacred Books of the East). 



28 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

(b) What is Needed for Salvation 

The right the true penance self-restraint tranquillity 
the fires of sacrifice hospitality to guests dudes and begetting 
children all these, and the practice of the Veda. 

Taittirya Up. I, 19. Ibid. 

(c) The Four Asrams and Ahimsa 

He who has learnt the Veda from a family of Gurus in accord- 
ance with the Dharma, and has come into his own home as 
householder shall remember what he has learnt by repeating it at 
regular seasons in some sacred spot. He who has begotten virtu- 
ous sons and fixed his mind upon the one reality, who hurts no 
living thing (except for sacrifice) : he who so acts throughout his 
days shall be no more born, but reach the Brahma world. 

Chandogya Up. vm, 15. Ibid. 

V. FROM BUDDHISM 
00 The Ideal IJf^ojfjhe Monk 

O joy! We live in bliss: amongst men of hate, hating none. 
Let us indeed dwell among them without hatred. 

O Joy! In bliss we dwell; healthy amidst the ailing. Let us 
indeed dwell amongst them in perfect health. 

Yea in very bliss we dwell: free from care amidst the careworn. 
Let us indeed dwell amongst them without care. 

In bliss we dwell possessing nothing : let us dwell feeding upon 
joy like the shining ones in their splendour. 

The victor breeds enmity; the conquered sleeps in sorrow. 
Regardless of either victory or defeat the calm man dwells in 
peace. 

There is no fire like lust; no luck so bad as hate. There is no 
sorrow like existence: no bliss greater than Nirvana (rest). 

Hunger is the greatest ill: existence is the greatest sorrow. Sure 
knowledge of this is Nirvana, highest bliss. 

Health is the greatest boon; content is the greatest wealth; a 
loyal friend is the truest kinsman; Nirvana is the Supreme Bliss. 

Having tasted the joy of solitude and of serenity, a man is freed 
from sorrow and from sin, and tastes the nectar of piety. 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 29 

Good is the vision of the Noble; good is their company. He 
may be always happy who escapes the sight of fools. 

He who consorts with fools knows lasting grief. Grievous is the 
company of fools, as that of enemies; glad is the company of the 
wise, as that of kinsfolk. 

Therefore do thou consort with the wise, the sage, the learned, 
the noble ones who shun not the yoke of duty : follow in the wake 
of such a one, the wise and prudent, as the moon follows the path 
of the stars. 

Dhammapada 
(from The Buddha s Way of Virtue. Wisdom of the East Scries). 

(b) The Layman s Way to Bliss 

Thus have I heard: 

Once when the Blessed One was at Jetavana in Anathapindika's 
Park, as night came on, a beautiful deva (god) drew near, light- 
ing up the whole place with his presence. He greeted the Blessed 
One, and then standing on one side, addressed him in these 
verses: 

"What countless men and deities, 
Desiring Bliss, have sought to find 
Come tell me, Master, what it is 
That brings most blessing to mankind.' 

To whom the sage made answer: 

"To shun the fool, to court the wise, 
This is the highest Paradise: 

Pay ye respect where it is due, 
So will true blessing wait on you: 

Seek a fit place and there remain, 
Striving self-knowledge to attain: 

If in past lives you've stored up merit, 
The fruits thereof you'll now inherit: 

Let wisdom, skill, and discipline, 
And gracious kindly words be thine : 

Tend parents, cherish wife and child, 
Pursue a blameless life and mild: 



30 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

Live thou devout, give ample alms, 
Protect thy kin from life's alarms. 

Do good, shun ill, and still beware 
Of the red wine's insidious snare: 

So do thou persevere in good: 
This is the true Beatitude : 

Be humble, with thy lot content, 
Grateful and ever reverent: 

Study the Law of Righteousness, 
This is the path that leads to Bliss. 

Be patient thou, the Saints frequent 
And ponder still their argument: 

The Noble Truths, the life austere 
And chaste that brings Nirvana here: 1 

The life from eightfold bond secure, 2 
The life of peace that crowns the pure: 

This is the Highest Bliss to find, 
This the chief blessing of mankind." 



(c) A Buddhist St Anthony 

Fragrant with sandal-wood and garlanded, 
A girl was dancing gaily in the street 

With softest strains of flute accompanied. 
I chanced upon my begging round to meet 

1 Nirvana in this world is the calm and serene state of mind of the 
Arhat, wholly detached from the things of time and space. 

z From eightfold bond. The eight attachments are: sorrow and joy, 
fame and contumely, wealth and poverty, gain and loss. If a man is 
moved by none of these things, he is a happy man. 

Another very popular summary of Buddhist ethics is found in the 
Dhammapada 183: 

*' Eschew all sin; 
Good deeds begin; 
Cleanse every thought; 
Thus Buddhas taught' 1 . 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 31 

The harlot, as she plied her shameful trade : 
"O Snare by Mara set, licentious jade' ' 

My gorge arose my mind was free! 

The Dharma's work behold in me, 

Fruit of the Sage's husbandry ! 

This poem provides an instructive contrast between Christian and 
Buddhist ethics. An Egyptian hermit of the Early Christian Church also 
met a dancing-girl plying her shameful trade. He burst into tears, ex- 
claiming, "Alas! that she should be at such pains to please men in her 
sinful vocation: whilst we in our holy calling use so little diligence to 
please God*'. 

The Buddhist saint is disgusted, but rejoices that he himself is not 
tempted. The Christian saint weeps that the children of this world are 
more zealous than the children of light. 

From The Heart of Buddhism: Heritage of India. 

ASOKA'S EDICT XIII 
(d) True Conquest 

His Sacred Majesty desires that all animate beings should have 
security, self-control, peace of mind, and joyousness. 

This is the chief conquest in the opinion of His Sacred 
Majesty the conquest of the Law of Piety. 

Let all joy be found in effort, because that avails for both this 
world and the next. 

Delight is found in the conquests made by the Law. The de- 
light, however, is only a small matter : His Sacred Majesty regards 
as bearing much fruit only that which concerns the other world. 

After the translation by V. A. Smith. 

(e) The Rewards of Faith 
All are destined to Buddhahood 

If men build stupas in brick or clay even if they pile up heaps 
of dust in mountain or forest with devotion: 

If little children, as they play, make mounds of sand in honour 
of the Jinas. . .all these enter into Enlightenment. 

If on painted walls they set out figures of the Blessed Ones well 
and truly painted or cause painters to portray them such too 
become partakers of Enlightenment. 

All, even boys who in sport have made images of iron or wood 



32 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

or sounded cymbals and drums, or sung melodies to the Blessed 
Ones all these become Buddhas in this world 

Even they who offer a single flower. . .or join the palms in 
worship but once, or make but one bow before a stupa, or cry 
once, "Glory to the Buddha" with wandering mind even such 
enter into Enlightenment. 

Yet the Monk has still his place 

Let the monk live apart and pure, doing his dunes : let him shun 
kings and princes. 

Let him hold no converse with courtier, or outcaste, with 
drunkard or heretic: 

Let him pay no court to the proud, but rather to the dis- 
ciplined 

Let him shun Jains and giggling chattering nuns, and lay- 
sisters who are incontinent. . .matrons and maids. ..butchers, 
panders, dancers, fencers, wrestlers and all such folk. 
Let him preach to women, but not jest with them. 

Saddharma-pundarlka Sutra, 47-8 
(from Lotuses of the Mahay ana, translated by 
K. J. Saunders. Wisdom of the East Series). 

(/) Faith 

Faith is the guide, the womb, the guardian, the begetter and 
the cherisher of all virtues. 

Expelling lust, bridging the stream, Faith shows to us the City 
of Bliss. 

Faith is the calm of pure thought: rooted in honour, freed from 
pride. 

Faith is the foot on which we go to find great treasure, the hand 
with which we grasp happiness. 

Faith gives gladness even in self-denial. Faith gives delight in 
the Law of the Victor. 

Faith gives the pre-eminence in knowledge of virtue: it guides 
and crowns the Buddha with victory. 

Faith is a power unto keenness and clearness of morality, keep- 
ing the five great qualities from extinction. 

Unconquerable by passion, Faith seeks out the noble traits of 
Buddhahood. 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 33 

Unattached to carnal joys, delivered from evil, Faith is the 
truest and only joy. 

Faith goes beyond the realm of Mara, and reveals the way to 
Deliverance. 

Faith is the seed and root of virtues, Faith nourishes the tree of 
Wisdom, Faith increases the joys of knowledge. 

Faith it is which reveals the Victorious Ones. 

They who put faith in Buddha leave not the Way of Virtue. . . 
They who put faith in the Dharma thirst after knowledge of the 
Victorious Ones, and aspire to their incomparable traits 

They who put Faith in the Sangha. . .will never fall from the 
strength of the true way. 

Ratnalka Dharani (after Bendall and Rouse). Ibid. 

(g) Servants Above Good and Evil 

When disease is rife these high ones become medicine for 
healing and for happiness of men. 

When famine is abroad they become food and drink; dis- 
pelling hunger and thirst, they preach the Law to all. 

In rime of war they are intent upon compassion, and persuade 
millions to do no hurt. 

Impartial in the midst of strife, they smile upon reconciliation 
these mighty Bodhisattvas. 

Whatsoever hells there be thither they set their faces for good 
of men. 

In the worlds of animals they are known preaching the Law; 
therefore are they called Guides. 

Amongst those sunk in sensual pleasures they disport them- 
selves: where men sit in meditation they meditate: they destroy 
Mara and leave him no entry. As a lotus exists not in fire, even 
so they show, by meditation, that there is no lust. Yea, as courtesans 
they entice men, and catching them with the hook and bait of 
lust establish them in Buddha wisdom. 

For the good of the world they become all things to all men. 
Vimalakirtinidesa Sutra, 325-6 (c. third century A.D.). Ibid. 



34 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

VI. A SOUTH INDIAN MORALIST 

(Tiruvalur, second to fourth centuries A.D.) 
(a) Love 

Is there a bolt that can avail to shut up love? 
The trickling tears of loving eyes would tell it out. 

All for themselves the loveless spend; 

The loving e'en their bones for others give. 
The link of soul and body, say the wise, 

Is but the fruit of man's own link with love. 
Love doth the trait of tenderness beget; 

That, too, begets true friendship's priceless worth. 
The bliss of earth and heav'n the blessed gain, 

The learned say, is rooted in a loving life. 

The foolish say, "Love helps the good alone"; 
But surely 'tis a help 'gainst evil too. 

As the sun's heat burns up all boneless things, 
So virtue doth burn up all loveless things. 

To live the home-life with a loveless heart 
Is like a withered tree flowering in barren sand. 

To those who lack the inward means of love 
What use is there in any outward means? 

The living soul subsists in love; 
The loveless are but skin and bone. 

Translated by H. A. Popley. The Sacred Kurd. 

(b) Home-Life 

He lives home-life who stands in Virtue's path, 
And helps the orders three in their good paths. 

He lives true home-life who's a help 
To the lost, the poor and to the dead. 

Pitris, gods, kin, one's guests and self 
To serve these five is duty chief. 

Ne'er shall be lack of offspring in his house, 
Who fearing ill, gives ere he enjoys. 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 35 

If in the home true love and Virtue dwell, 
Home-life is full of grace and fruit. 

If home-life's lived always in Virtue's way, 

What good is there in leaving house and home? 

He, who lives home-life worthily, 
Shall first among all striven be. 

Home-life, that helps the saints and swerves from 

Virtue ne'er, 
Endures more trials than lonely hermit-life. 

Home-life itself is Virtue's way; 
The other, too, is good, if men no fault can find. 

He, who lives home-life worthily on earth, 

Will win a place 'mong gods who dwell in heaven. 

Ibid. 

VII. FROM THE GITA 
(a) Bhakti 

If one with devotion offers me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, 
that offering made with devotion I accept from the striving soul. 

Whatever thou doest, or eatest, or sacrificest, or givcst, what- 
ever thy austerity, O son of Kunti, do that as dedicated to me. 

Thus from the fruits of good and evil shalt thou be released, 
from the bonds of action; with thy self trained by the Yoga of 
renunciation thou shalt be freed and come to me. 

ix, 26. 

(b) Duty 

Better is one's own duty without seeking reward than the 
duty of another however well done. Better is death in doing 
one's duty. That of another is full of peril. 

ni, 35- 

(c) Desire the Enemy 

It is desire, it is wrath, that is the voracious one, the wicked. 
Know thou that in this world there is the great enemy, as a flame 
hidden in a cloud of smoke, as a mirror dulled with dirt, as the 
embryo in its wrappings, so is this world enveloped by desire. 

ra, 37. 
3-2 



36 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

(d) A Summary of Ideals 

Worship of the gods, of the twice-born, of teachers and wise 
ones, purity and uprightness, celibacy and non-injury these are 
called the austerity of the body. 

Speech which does not agitate but is true, pleasant and useful 
this and the study of the Scriptures is called the austerity of speech. 

Kindliness of mind, gentleness, silence, self-control and inward 
purity these are the austerity of the mind. 

From The Song of the Lord, translated by 
E. J. Thomas. Wisdom of the East Series. 

VIII. From KAUTILYA'S ARTHASASTRA 

(a) Kingship 

The King's most religious duty is preparedness: His truest 
sacrifice is duty. Accessibility is his almsgiving and consecration. 

In the happiness of his people lies his happiness in their well- 
being his. 

Princes, like crabs, have a notorious habit of devouring their 
begetter. Let the King tend them well ! 

(b) Spies, lust and cupidity 

A woman, in the guise of a religious much esteemed at court, 
may approach the chief ministers one by one whispering "The 
Queen has fallen in love with you: all is set for you to come to 
her chamber: and much wealth will also be yours" ! 

IX. POPULAR MORALITY 
(a) The Lawgiver Manu 

A wooden elephant, an antelope 

Of leather, and a Brahmin without knowledge 

These are three things that only bear a name. 

ii, 157* 

Who searches eagerly for truth will find 
The knowledge hidden in his teacher's mind. 

11, 118. 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 37 

With pain the mother to her child gives birth, 
With pain the father rears him; as he grows 
He heaps up cares and troubles for them both; 
Incurring thus a debt he ne'er can pay, 
Though he should strive through centuries of time. 

n, 227. 

Think constantly, O son, how thou mayest please 
Thy father, mother, teacher these obey. 
By deep devotion seek thy debt to pay. 
This is thy highest duty and religion. 

n, 228. 

From poison thou mayest take the food of life, 
The purest gold from lumps of impure earth, 
Examples of good conduct from a foe, 
Sweet speech and gentleness from e'en a child, 
Something from all; from men of low degree 
Lessons of wisdom, if thou humble be. 

11, 238, 239. 

E'en as a driver checks his restive steeds, 

Do thou, if thou art wise, restrain thy passions, 

Which, running wild, will hurry thee away. 

n, 88. 

"I am alone": but there resides within thec 
A Being who inspects thine every act 
Knows all thy goodness and thy wickedness. 

vin, 85, 91. 

Daily perform thine own appointed work 
Unweariedly; and to obtain a friend 
A sure companion in the future world 
Collect a store of virtue like the ants 
Who garner up their treasures into heaps; 
For neither father, mother, wife nor son, 
Nor kinsman, will remain beside thee then, 
When thou art passing to that other home 
Thy virtue will thine only comrade be. 

iv, 238, 239. 



38 THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

Be courteous to thy guest who visits thee; 
Offer a seat, bed, water, food enough, 
According to thy substance, courteously; 
Naught taking for thyself till he be served; 
Homage to guests brings wealth, fame, life, and heaven. 

m, 106; iv, 29. 

In childhood must a father guard his daughter ; 
In youth the husband shields his wife; in age 
A mother is protected by her sons 
Ne'er should a woman lean upon herself. 

v, 148; ix, 3. 

A faithful wife who wishes to attain 
The heaven of her lord, must serve him here 
As if he were a god, and ne'er do aught 
To pain him, whatsoever be his state, 
Ana even though devoid of every virtue. 

v, 154, 156. 

The Lord of all in pity to our needs 
Created kings, to rule and guard us here; 
Without a king this world would rock with fear. 

vn, 3. 

A king, e'en though a child, must not be treated 
As if he were a mortal; rather is he 
A god in human shape. 

vn, 8. 

That king is equally unjust who frees 

The guilty or condemns the innocent. 

The wicked he must treat like thorny weeds, 

They must be rooted out with active arm; 

The good and virtuous let him shield from harm. 

ix, 252, 253. 

He who by firmness gains the mastery 

Over his words, his mind, and his whole body, 

Is justly called a triple-governor. 

xn, 10. 

Exerting thus a threefold self-command. 
Towards himself and every living creature, 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 39 

Subduing lust and wrath, he may aspire 
To that perfection which the good desire. 

xn, ii. 

(b) The Rdmayana 

Truth, justice, and nobility of rank 
Are centred in the King; he is mother, 
Father, benefactor of his subjects. 

n, Ixvii, 35. 

Whatever the work a man performs, 
The most effective aid to its completion 
The most prolific source of true success 
Is energy without despondency. 

v, xii, ii. 

He has wealth who has strength of intellect; 
He has wealth who has depth of erudition; 
He has wealth who has nobleness of birth; 
He has wealth who has relatives and friends ; 
He has wealth who is thought a very hero; 
He has wealth who is rich in every virtue. 

vi, Ixxxiii, 35, 36. 

(c) The Mahabharata 

Thou thinkest: I am single and alone 
Perceiving not the great eternal Sage 
Who dwells within thy breast. Whatever wrong 
Is done by thee, He sees and notes it all. 

i, 3015. 

A wife is half the man, his truest friend, 
Source of his virtue, pleasure, wealth the root 
Whence springs the line of his posterity. 

i, 3028. 

Conquer a man who never gives by gifts; 
Subdue untruthful men by truthfulness; 
Vanquish an angry man by gentleness; 
And overcome the evil man by goodness. 

m, 13253- 



to THE ETHICS OF INDIA 

Triple restraint of thought and word and deed, 
Strict vow of silence, coil of matted hair, 
Close shaven head, garments of skin or bark, 
Keeping of fasts, ablutions, maintenance 
Of sacrificial fires, a hermit's life, 
Emaciation these are all in vain, 
Unless the inward soul be free from stain. 

m, 13445. 

To injure none by thought or word or deed, 
To give to others, and be kind to all 
This is the constant duty of the good. 
High-minded men delight in doing good, 
Without a thought of their own interest; 
When they confer a benefit on others. 

After Monier Williams. Indian Wisdom. 

X. PROVERBIAL WISDOM 

(a) Dame Fortune 
Not for kings the craven quibble 

"Fortune takes as fortune gave'*: 
Do thou treat her as a master, 

And she'll be thy willing slave. 

(b) Passion 
Passion will be slave or mistress; 

Yield and she will lay you low, 
Be her master and she'll lead you 

Where dame Fortune bids you go. 

(c) The Family 
Let the family hold together, 

Though it be both poor and small, 
Leave the rice and husk uncovered 

And it will not grow at all. 

(d) A Son 

Food for man's life and dothes for his protection, 
Gold for adornment, marriage for enrichment, 
A wife for distraction, a daughter for affliction, 
A Son alone is as the Sun in its perfection. 

The Sage Narada to King Harischandra, 

c. ninth century B.C. 



THE ETHICS OF INDIA 41 

(e) When Silence is Golden 
Needlebeak, an interfering bird, is admonished by a monkey: 

If you are wise and court success, 
On busier men yourself don't press, 
Nor speak to gamblers who have lost 
Or hunters who have missed the scent 
Or you will soon be sorrow-tossed! 

The bird refuses this advice and the monkeys wring its neck 
their leader continuing : 

Wood that is stiff cannot be bent 
Nor is hard stone by razor dressed, 
So seek not, friends, a fool to teach, 
Silence is wiser than the wisest speech. 
Panchatantra written in prose with verse summaries for the 
instruction of princes about the first century A.D. 
Translated by A. W. Ryder. 



CHAPTER II 
THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

"A great man is in harmony with Heaven and Earth." Shu Ching 

The Chinese are in many things the Greeks of Asia. If the 
nerve of Greek culture is the quest for beauty and truth, that 
of the Chinese is the search for harmony, and for right and 
reasonable social relations. The foundations of Chinese 
society are to be found in two different civilizations, that of 
the Shang or Eastern people, and that of the Chou who 
came from the West and conquered them towards the 
end of the twelfth century B.C. Thus Chinese civilization 
in its present form has its beginnings at about the same 
period in history as that of India, Greece and Judaea, and 
light is thrown upon it, as upon them, by ancient poetry and 
by archaeology. We have the Odes, which were collected 
by Confucius in the sixth century B.C., many of which go 
back at least six centuries before his time, to tell us of early 
Chou ideals, and deposits of inscribed bones to tell us much 
of the primitive religion of the Shang. From these sources 
we learn that what we may call Sinism, that is, the religious 
civilization of Ancient China, was a fusion of the ancestor- 
worsliip of the Shang and their practice of divination, with 
the theistic beliefs of the Chou, whose Odes are concerned 
with the worship of Shang-ti or Hao-T'ien, God or Heaven 
conceived as mighty and just. In other words, Sinism is 
akin to other early civilized cults in blending belief in a god 
of moral character with the older, more superstitious cult of 
the dead, and of divination. 

But while the Hebrews allowed the "fear of Yahweh" 1 
gradually to banish these superstitions, the Chinese, with a 

1 This is a poor translation: "love for Yahweh" is nearer the meaning 
of the Hebrew. 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 43 

characteristic spirit of compromise, allowed the two to go 
on side by side, and built up a pantheon in which ancestors 
and the forces of nature were given their due place. Dr Hu 
Shih, who finds the essence of the Chinese spirit in humanism 
and rationalism, yet recognizes how great a place super- 
stition has played in their history: 

The importance of divination in the history of Chinese civili- 
zation cannot be over-estimated. As far as we know, the earliest 
writings in China were those engraven on the Oracular bones. . . 
regarding the subject for divination, the date, and the reading of 
the Oracular answer. This was the beginning of writing, of 
chronology, of history and of literature. This, too, marked the 
beginning of literary education and of an intellectual class. For 
the tremendous importance attached to divination and worship 
and the difficulty in deciphering the mysterious signs on the bones 
and mastering the art of ideographical writing, all these gave rise 
to a class. . .especially trained for performing such duties. These 
were the priests and priestesses, the interpreters of the gods and 
the teachers of men... the custodians of knowledge. It was 
natural that the office of the Imperial Historian was always con- 
nected with the state priesthood. Moreover, since astrology early 
became a part of the science of divination, the priests were the 
first readers of the secrets of the heavens, the keepers and reformers 
of the calendar, and the fathers of astronomy. They were the first 
scientists and the first philosophers and, insofar as the object of 
divination was to guide state action and human conduct, they 
were also the first moral philosophers who sought to understand 
the will of the gods for the warning and guidance of men. 1 

We may follow this clear and systematic thinker in 
dividing Chinese history into three main periods : 

I. The Sinitic Age, which begins with the Shang Dynasty 
in the second millennium B.C., and continues to A.D. 300, 
when the triumph of Buddhism brought profound changes. 

II. The Buddhist Era, from the fourth to the twelfth cen- 
turies A.D. 

1 Symposium of Chinese Culture, pp. 28 and 29, published by the 
Institute of Pacific Relations, Shanghai. 



44 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

HI. The Chinese Renaissance, which begins with the 
triumph of Neo-Confucianism, and lasts to the present day. 

Within the first period comes the great and classical age 
of Chou (1122-255 B.C.), when the foundations were laid 
upon which all Chinese civilization was to be built. The 
second period follows the era of Han (206 B.C.-A.D. 221), 
another epoch in Chinese civilization when the Confucian 
systems were reorganized, and when Buddhism began to 
make its characteristic contribution. It includes the artistic 
and literary efflorescence of the Chinese spirit under the 
influence of Buddhism, and of the invigorating blood of 
barbarian invaders. This is the T'ang Era (A.D. 618-907) 
when China reached its greatest achievements in art and 
poetry. The third period begins with the enlightenment 
of Sung (A.D. 960-1280), and is marked by a great develop- 
ment of printing, and the publication of vast encyclo- 
paedias, histories and anthologies. It is essentially the 
reassertion of rationalism and humanism against the 
mysticism and transcendentalism of Buddhists, and the 
magic of Taoists: but its leading scholars absorbed much 
Indian philosophy, and Buddhism in fact triumphed in 
yielding. 



The great teachers of the Chou Dynasty are all concerned 
with the tao, or Way of life, some finding it in the spon- 
taneity of nature, others in her orderliness. And, as in India, 
some found grounds for Theism and Mysticism in her work- 
ings, and some for Atheism and Rationalism. Some em- 
phasized the Divine Way, some the Human. The concept is 
of central importance in the study of China. The character 
for tao is made up of two others one meaning "to go", 
the other "leader". It means then, norm, way, standard, 
law of nature, nature itself. "Do not violate tao to win the 
favour of men", says the Shu Ching, which attributes the 
saying to the great ruler Yu: "To revere tao is to win the 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 45 

favour of Heaven". 1 Behind and above Heaven and shangti 
(the Ruler) is the cosmic order like the rita of Vedic India 
and the moira of Homeric Greece which the gods themselves 
must obey. 

It cannot be too much emphasized that Chinese ethics are 
rooted in this concept, which is itself the outgrowth of early 
folk-ways. Having learned, perhaps after long wanderings, 
the values of an ordered social life the early Chinese read the 
lessons of nature, and attributed to the cosmos itself a Norm 
or Order in sympathy with human endeavour and to be 
followed in their further progress. "The tao", says the 
first Taoist, "is that by which the highest man guides the 
people." 3 As in India and Greece men and nature are one 
cosmos and must work in harmony. Li (propriety) and 
h'u (harmony) are with wu-wei (spontaneity) keywords 
to this early cosmic sociology: "The former refers to the 
body of mores according to which it was necessary to live in 
order to win social approval and prosperity, and to avoid 
disturbing the order of the cosmos (conceived as including 
men on very intimate terms). The second is very often used 
to denote that harmonious state of nature which was the 

normal and beneficial thing Men must follow the customs 

of the group in order to maintain both social and cosmic 
harmony". 3 The third, wu-wei, is the way of natural and 
spontaneous conduct. Man is essentially nature's child: let 
him be natural. 

This was exactly the view of the early Greeks, and it per- 
sists in China to the present day. Natural disasters are re- 
garded as the result of unnatural conduct. The cosmic order 
is the tao, and ancient China saw in it a dualism of male and 
female, heaven and earth, north and south, light and dark- 
ness yang and yin. When these opposites are in harmony 
all goes well. "The people being at ease, yin and yang are 

1 Shu Ching, pp. 55, 183. 

2 Kwan-tsc in the seventh century B.C. 

3 Creel, Sinism, p. 13. 



46 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

in harmony, and when they harmonize all things grow and 
develop. ... When they are at variance calamities occur", 
says the Shu Ching. 1 

Early Chinese rituals were fertility-cults like the corn- 
dances of New Mexico which ended in sexual intercourse; 
and these, M. Granet maintains with good reason, are the 
origin of the yang and yin philosophy of opposites. Thus 
literally in the harmonies of dance and song and in the mating 
of men and women the rhythm of nature expresses itself, and 
the tao finds embodiment. So good and bad are defined in 
terms of harmony with nature. To follow the tao is for 
ruler and people the way to prosperity and peace. "A great 
man is in harmony with Heaven and Earth", says the Shu 
Ching, and the conservative K'ung Fu-tse (Confucius) no 
less than the rebel Lao-tse makes the tao fundamental in his 
teachings. All goes well if men follow the tao all goes 
wrong if they desert it. "The tao of Heaven is Truth: to 
attain truth is the tao of Men." 2 

In this the great teachers agree: they differ as to methods 
of embodying the tao. As Sakyamuni takes the word 
dharma and fills it with new meaning, so Lao-tse and 
Confucius take tao a much older concept and seek to 
make it the basis of new ways of life for the men of their day. 

Theirs was a time of decay and disillusionment, and the 
three great teachers of this age, Confucius, Lao-tse and 
Mo-tse, are best understood, as Dr Hu Shih has pointed out, 
in their relation alike to the old Sinism and to the critical and 
sceptical spirit of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. "The 
world had fallen into decay truth had faded away. Evil 
doctrines and deeds of violence were rife. Unnatural acts 
regicide and parricide were done. Confucius was afraid." 
So wrote Meng-tse (Mencius) in describing the dark 
days of the decline of Chou. This great Dynasty had set a 
model of a state well-ordered, and of families modelling 

1 n, 192, 16. 

2 "Doctrine of the Mean", xx, 18. 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 4? 

themselves upon the royal house, which, in its turn, repre- 
sented tao the cosmic order, and worshipped Shang-ti as 
Lord of Heaven. Filial piety had originated in ancestor- 
worship, but had gradually taken so important a place that 
Confucius and his school were to make it the foundation of 
their system. It is clear that they idealized the past, for the 
Odes show us that there was very early in China a resentment 
of the extravagance and callousness of rulers, and also much 
questioning of Heaven. Our illustrative readings make it 
clear that side by side in folk-songs and early lyrics went 
the old cosmic religion and the spirit of revolt. To Con- 
fucius (551-478 B.C.) the way of reform was the way of 
ancient wisdom. "I am a transmitter/' he said, "not an 
innovator/' 

His contemporary, Lao-tse, represents an attitude of revolt, 
alike against the old religion and against the formalism of the 
court and of the walled city. Among his sayings is an echo 
of the sceptical note in the Odes, and he interprets the tao as 
the unchangeable and primaeval Mother of the Universe. 
Man's Wisdom is to embody its spontaneity in human 
society, and this principle ofwu-ivei has played a great part 
in Chinese political thought. It has often been interpreted as 
laissez-faire, for certain emperors discovered that the people 
prospered in proportion to the inaction of their rulers; and 
Lao-tse is reported to have said, "Govern a great country as 
you cook a little fish [i.e. don't over-do it]". He believed 
that the ideal society was that in which men lived simply, 
according to nature, and that the spontaneous life was the 
beautiful life. There is, indeed, in the little "Tao-te-Ching", 1 
a book of sayings attributed to this great master, much that 
reminds us of the Sermon on the Mount, its pacifism and 
meekness as well as its mysticism and poetry. Was either 
intended as a set of principles for rulers? Is not Lao-tse a 
mystic anarchist? 

Much more orthodox was Confucius, who sought a 
1 "A ridiculous little book", says Dr H. Giles of this masterpiece. 



48 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

social ethic to reform his people, and as an official for many 
years endeavoured to persuade the state of Lu to " return to 
ancient wisdom". A disciple has left us this tribute: 

While reading the works of K'ung Fu-tse, I have always fancied 
I could see the man as he was in life ; and when I went to Shantung 
I actually beheld his carriage, his robes, and the material parts of 
his ceremonial usages. There were his descendants practising the 
old rites in their ancestral home, and I lingered on, unable to tear 
myself away. Many are the princes and prophets that the world 
has seen in its rime, glorious in life, forgotten in death. But K'ung, 
though only a humble member of the cotton-clothed masses, 
remains among us for many generations. He is the model for such 
as would be wise. By all, from the Son of Heaven down to the 
meanest student, the supremacy of his principles is fully and 
freely admitted. He may indeed be pronounced the divinest of 
men. 1 

In the Analects, a collection of his sayings, we get many 
vivid glimpses of him at his Socratic task: and his descrip- 
tion of the gentleman, Chun-tse, is a picture of himself. 
"He sorrows not nor shows fear. If there is no guilt in him 
why should he either grieve or fear?" If the Man of the 
Beatitudes gives us a clear picture of the Christian, the yogi 
of the Hindu, and the bodhisattva of the Buddhist ideal, the 
Chun-tse is the ideal of the Chinese. He is the princely man 
of Chinese society, and his roots are in the principles ofjen 
(sometimes translated benevolence, but better humanity) 
and chung (loyalty). The first is the sum-total of those 
qualities which make up a perfect man, and when a disciple 
asked Confucius what it meant, he replied, "To love one's 
fellow man". 2 "Jen", he says in another place, "means to 
be a true man" ; for he believed that man is by nature good, 
and that by disciplining himself he can grow to princely 
stature. Akin to jen is the ideal of shu, or generosity, and 
when asked for a rule of life, Confucius is said to have summed 

1 H. A. Giles, Chinese Literature, pp. 103 fF. 

2 Analects, xn, 22. 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 49 

up his teachings under the head shu, "not to do to others 
what you would not that they should do to you". In fact 
the Confucian ethic may almost be summed up in the words, 
"Loyalty to self and generosity to others". Confucius, when 
told that Lao-tse was teaching men to love their enemies, 
said drily, "Return good for good, and justice for in- 
justice"; for he was, after all, concerned with an ethic for 
the state, and he could not reach the romantic heights of his 
great contemporary, who was anarchist as well as mystic. 
"To-day", he is reported to have said after an interview with 
Lao-tse, "I have seen the dragon, and who can follow his 
footprints in the air? " This was in 518 B.C. when as a young 
man he was for a time a disciple of the Old Master. 

He too realized that people were not to be drilled by laws 
and regulated by punishments, yet could be led by virtue and 
given a pattern of good form (//), till they should have a 
trained conscience and become good. 1 The people in fact 
need a pattern : ' ' If the ruler is good the people will be good " . 2 
And to help in this reform he not only served the state of Lu 
and its weak prince in several official capacities, but wrote a 
summary of Chou history, The Annals of Spring and Autumn, 
which is dry reading, but notable for its accurate use of 
words, and its moral judgments. Failing to reform a perverse 
age and a sensual prince and realizing that "rotten wood 
cannot be carved", the great reformer turned to teaching, 
and, like Jesus, Socrates and Sakyamuni, entrusted everything 
to a band of disciples. To them he taught by example and by 
precept lessons which have become almost too binding upon 
the Far East. 

Confucius was at once a man of his age and the norm or 
type of the Chinese: reasonable, precise, humorous and a 
little formal. He is perhaps more typical than Lao-tse, the 
detached and sceptical critic of the man of affairs, but China 
has sterilized much of her best effort by canonizing Con- 

1 Analects, n, 3. 

2 Ibid, xvi, 2. 



50 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

fucius, and has too often missed the affinities between him 
and Lao-tse in her age-long strife of words. 

These two great teachers have much in common a 
certain calm and humorous detachment, an authority which 
appeals to reason, an ideal of self-control and even of 
asceticism in the pursuit of truth. 

"Living on coarse rice and water, my elbow for a pillow, 
I can yet be merry ", says Confucius, a Chinese Epicurus: 
"Preserve simplicity, conserve inner beauty, curb self-will, 
limit desires", says Lao-tse, a Chinese Zeno. They too turn 
away from an evil world. 

"Ill-gotten gains and honours are a wandering cloud ", 
says Confucius: "There is no calamity like ambition", says 
Lao-tse, "the root of honour is humility". 

Confucius, in fact, while he is the ideal Chun-tse or sage, 
comes near to being a saint after the pattern of Lao-tse: 
"Benevolent, wise, courageous" that is the Confucian 
ideal: "Frugal, gentle, humble" that is the Laoist. 

Lao-tse in his turn fulfils the ideal of Confucius : for he too 
is reasonable and wise and kindly. Both too are critics of the 
existing order. But their diagnosis differs: "Too many laws 
and prohibitions", says Lao-tse: "Too great laxity", says 
Confucius. 
Let us look at the saint of Lao-tse: 

He teaches not by words but by acts: 

He acts but seeks no reward: 

He works out perfection, seeking no credit: 

His preoccupation is with the inner life: 

He puts away excess, and egoism, and softness: 

Honour and dishonour are alike to him: 

All are his children. 

The three jewels of Lao-tse are akin to the three car- 
dinal virtues of Confucius. But they have a more quietist 
tinge, and Lao-tse is much more a rebel against the classical 
religion, which was sacrificing freedom to form and the 
people to the officials. It is to the honour of China that 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 51 

poets like Li Po and humanists like Hsun-tse have voiced 
the cry of the poor, to her dishonour that they have been 
voices crying in the wilderness. One great voice is that of 
the altruist Mo-tse, who saw where Confucian reason was 
leading his people. 

It was a note of universal love which Mo-tse made central 
in his teachings. Representing the conservatives who clung 
to the old worship of Shang-ti, Mo-tse attempted to purify 
it and to widen its applications. His date is about 470-390 
B.C., and he opposed the orthodox Confucians as being 
agnostic and determinist. " We can know God, and we must 
base our conduct upon his moral character. His will is love, 
universal and without distinction: war is against his nature 
and nothing will work except love." His critic, Mencius, 
accorded to him this magnificent tribute. "Mo-tse loved all 
men, and was ready to wear himself out for humanity. For 
in a long life of service he endured hardship and opposition 
in his ministry of reconciliation." 1 Mo-tse also opposed the 
code of li or propriety, now becoming a burden, and as a 
champion of the poor protested against expensive cere- 
monies such as funerals. 

In his monotheism and his ethical ideals Mo-tse is like a 
Hebrew prophet; and has been almost ignored until now, 
when Christian ideals have awakened China to the ideal of 
the love of God and man. In his pacifism he agrees with 
Lao-tse, and in his doctrine of universal love he shows a 
reasoned and balanced ethic, and makes a pragmatic appeal 
to history. 

The great ideal of Mo-tse was "impartial love for all". 
He insisted that this mutual love was to be expressed in such 
a way as to be of actual benefit to one's fellows. All his great 
principles, of which there are ten, result from the application 
of this ideal to various questions. The first five of these prin- 
ciples embody the main theses of his doctrine, and are dis- 
cussed in his writings under the following headings : 
1 Mencius, Book vn, i, 26. 



4-2 



52 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

The importance of promoting men of character to public 
office; 

The importance of securing a unified method of public 
administration ; 

Love for all without distinction; 

Opposition to taking the initiative in war; 

Economy in public expenditure. 

These are ideas already familiar to Confucian China. The last 
five are heretical, containing attacks on Confucianism, which 
led to his ostracism. They are : 

Economy in funeral rites; 
True obedience to the Will of Heaven ; 
The Existence of Spirits; 
Opposition to ceremonial Music; 
Emphasis on Free-will. 

He endeavours to trace all the confusion, crime, and oppres- 
sion of his time to one root selfishness or lack of mutual 
love: and in this he agrees with Jesus and with Sakyamuni as 
well as with Lao-tse. 

Mo-tse's lode-star is "the will of Heaven", and this is "to 
love all people everywhere "; but there is a sturdy note of 
hard work as well as of logic which keeps him from senti- 
mentality. His economic views we should label socialism, 
and his altruism we should dismiss as a vain dream so far 
is our world from having outlived the ancients. 

Our illustrative readings will throw light upon the 
essential teachings of these great founders who were fol- 
lowed by distinguished disciples for many centuries, and 
whose teachings are indeed the core of Chinese civilization. 
To the fourth century belongs Chuang-tse, who developed 
the anarchism and naturalism of Lao-tse until it became a 
sceptical fatalism. Man can do nothing except submit to 
destiny; and Chuang-tse, true to his teaching, refused official 
appointments, and poked fun at the Confucians and at the 
futility of the court. Nor did he hesitate to attack Confucius 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 53 

by name. The Confucians in turn accused him of being so 
absorbed in his mystical naturism as to forget man. If 
Chuang-tse represents the mystical and world-denying 
element in China many others were busy with humanism: 
they never forgot man however much they neglected men; 
and the following dialogue is typical of the unceasing dis- 
cussion which engaged their best minds and which continues 
unabated. It is a classical passage: 

Kaou-tse said: "Man's nature is like the willow; righteousness 
is like a cup or bowl. Fashioning benevolence and righteousness 
out of man's nature is like making cups and bowls from the 
willow". 

Mencius replied: "Can you, leaving untouched the nature of 
the willow, make of it cups and bowls? You must do violence to 
the willow, before you can make cups and bowls of it; (on your 
principles) you must in the same way do violence and injury to 
humanity in order to fashion from it benevolence and righteous- 
ness. Your words alas would certainly lead all men on to reckon 
benevolence and righteousness to be calamities". 

Kaou-tse said: "Nature is like water whirling round (a corner). 
Open a passage for it to the east and it will flow to the east; open 
a passage for it to the west and it will flow to the west. Man's 
nature is indifferent to good and evil, just as water is indifferent 
to the east and west". 

Mencius replied: "Water indeed (will flow) indifferently to 
the east or west ; but will it flow indifferently up or down? The 
tendency of man's nature to good is like the tendency of water to 
flow downwards. There are none but have this tendency to good, 
(just as) all water flows downwards. Now, by striking water and 
causing it to leap up, you may make it go over your forehead, 
and, by damming it and leading it, you may force it up a hill: 
but are such movements according to the nature of water? It is 
the force applied which causes them. When men are made to do 
what is not good, their nature is dealt with in this way". 

In Hsun-tse and his followers China found a new voice 
urging her "to domesticate and regulate Nature, instead of 
praising her and meditating upon her". This little-under- 
stood teacher of the fourth century B.C. is of great import- 



54 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

ance. He sought to divorce Confucianism from its cosmic 
sanctions. Calamities are due not to man's conduct, but to 
natural causes: and prosperity is the reward of industry. 
Pacifism pays, not because it is an expression of the tao, but 
because a good ruler would not antagonize people. Such a 
ruler rules not by mandate of Heaven but by consent of the 
people. 

Men are not by nature good as the Confucians teach, but 
evil: nurture must correct nature, as man must control 
its forces. But too much is made of li (good-form) and 
of i (righteousness). Man must be educated, not put into 
a strait-waistcoat. The old morality has indeed become a 
bed of Procrustes, and the old cosmic philosophy is neither 
useful nor true. 

A radical empiricist, Hsun-tse met with much opposition : 
yet he is a splendid example of Chinese rationalism. There 
have indeed been, in the long history of Chinese social ethics, 
many teachers like the great Wang-an-shih, who believed 
that man must use the resources of nature, and that human 
salvation lay largely in better conditions. But the continual 
emphasis upon a literary education, and the insistence that 
only by this channel could the public service be entered, have 
turned China away from material progress; and the coming 
of the Buddhists with their emphasis upon the monastic life 
and upon transcendental experience and the joys of Paradise 
have further separated China from scientific achievement. 
Having invented printing from movable type, she used it 
for printing the classics; and having invented the marine 
compass, she went on believing that outlying parts of the 
world were barbarian, and not worth her attention. 

II 

Yet to India she turned eager eyes, and the Buddhist Era 
is a time in which much secular civilization accompanied the 
new religion. Into the dim, flat, sad world of Han China, 
where men were given over to fatalism and necromancy, 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 5 5 

came these teachers of the Middle Path of the Buddha, 
and Dr Hu Shih, who is no great admirer of other-worldly 
religion, has well said, " Buddhism came with irresistible 
force... it broke down the fatalism of Confucianism and 
Taoism. . .and brought home to the Chinese the idea of the 
indestructibility of the soul". As in the weary world of 
Rome Christian missionaries began to tell of a life beyond 
the grave, and of a power unto salvation in this world, so 
these Indian missionaries called men not only to the Paradise 
of the Buddhas, but to an ordered and sane ethic in this life. 
And though they were bitterly opposed by Confucian 
scholars as teaching celibacy, and so encouraging unfilial 
conduct, they replied that they made up for it by looking 
after the departed soul through orderly stages in the next 
world. And they compelled first Taoist and then Confucian 
scholars to come to terms with them. 

It is interesting to trace the stages by which China adapts 
the new religion. Staggered at first by its very complexity 
and by the grandeur of its metaphysic (Han Era), she pro- 
ceeds to simplify and to fit it next to Taoist ideas (T'ang) ; 
and lastly wins a complete victory over it by rethinking Con- 
fucianism in its light (Sung). 

That is, I think, a true, if schematic, account of what 
happened; but some critics would say that it was rather 
Buddhism conquering first one fastness of the Chinese soul, 
then another. And some go so far as to call this the domina- 
tion of Buddhism and the sterilization of China. 1 

In either case it is true to say that Buddhism was gradually 
adapted to fit the Chinese. It, too, began to make much of 
returning to nature and of the joys of simplicity, and to adapt 
itself to the needs of secular life until what had been an other- 
worldly, even a world-denying, mysticism became a mighty 
force for making men more efficient as leaders in the world- 
affirming and utilitarian life of the Chinese and Japanese 
peoples. Chan-Buddhism is, in effect, a Chinese modification 
1 Rg. Messrs Wu Chi-hui and Hu Shih. See Chinas own Critics. 



56 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

of the old meditation, to set free intuition and to mature 
judgment. 

What Buddhism did for art and for philosophy, there is 
no space even to suggest here. What it did in the field of 
ethics is our concern. Bringing a new and impressive story 
of a great personality deified as "God above all gods", it 
laid emphasis on God and man in a new relationship of love 
and adoration : it called attention to the destiny of man after 
death, and by its other-worldliness emphasized the import- 
ance of morality in this life. Compassion, gentleness, 
purity these were new notes in China, and the bodhisattva 
ideal is a very different one from that of the Chun-tse. 

If filial piety, good-form and loyalty to family and ruler 
are the keynote of the older ethic they were now to be 
harmonized with the new: Chinese and Indian ideals were 
to be blended in Asia, as Greek and Hebrew were to be 
blended in the West. In both hemispheres in fact a God- 
centred ethic was meeting with a man-centred ethic: the 
one largely world-denying, the other world-affirming : the 
one "mystical", the other "practical". And the challenge 
of the more religious group to the more secular group was 
in each case that the ethical traits of the other-worldly are 
full of value to the world. The Buddhists claim in China to 
teach a more practical filial piety than the Confucians, a 
more practical mysticism than the Taoists, and a better 
philosophy than either. The Christians, accused of lack of 
natural affection and of loyalty to the state, show that they 
"out-live" as well as "out-think" the Greek world. Both 
Christians and Buddhists claim to have the key to life in a 
Master who is man and also God whose qualities are the 
Divine attributes of Justice, Wisdom and Mercy: and both 
are able to demonstrate in saintly lives of service the practical 
values of their idealism. 

During the second period of Chinese history these schools 
Laoist, Confucian and Buddhist lived side by side, some- 
times in conflict, sometimes in mutual tolerance. For the 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 57 

Buddhist missionaries adopted a wise policy of conciliation, 
and the Chinese are by nature and by heritage tolerant. There 
is a marked tendency to fusion, and it is very clear that, as 
in the T'ang Era Laoism and Buddhism were blent in zen 
or intuitive enlightenment, so in the third great period of 
Chinese religious development, the Sung Era, Confucian and 
Buddhist ideals were fused. The leading Neo-Confucians 
were men like Chu Hsi (1129-1200), who re-interpreted 
classical Confucianism in the light of Indian philosophy. 
Seeking to combine reverence with intellectual develop- 
ment, he and Cheng-I turned the mind of China into a 
Middle Path between superstition and scepticism, and in their 
emphasis upon intuition as the reward of hard study they 
learnt much from the Buddhists. 

The following are typical maxims of Chu Hsi (1130- 
1200) : 

We need not talk about empty and far-away things; if we 
would know the reality of Tao, we must seek it within our own 
nature. 

Each has within him the principle of right : this we call Tao, 
the road along which we ought to walk. 

Love itself is the original substance of love; Reverence is love 
in graceful expression; Righteousness is love in judgment; and 
Wisdom is love in discriminating. 1 

But Chu Hsi is not only a moralist. He is in effect the 
subtlest metaphysical mind of China the architect of the 
only system of philosophy she has produced; a synthesis of 
Indian quietism and Chinese rationalism. His aim is to 
account for the world and man: and he begins with non- 
being (wu-ki), a potential cosmos, and with the Absolute 
(tai-ki) Pure Being "nearer to the transcendental God of 
Saint Thomas than to the Brahman of the Vedantist ". It is in 
effect spirit "everywhere, most exalted, most excellent. . . 
conscious soul, self-conscious, conscious of its workings". 

Now for the first time China develops a systematic 
1 Translated by J. B. Bruce. 



58 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

philosophy: a philosophy of spirit and matter. Li (spirit) 
moulds matter (&/) "it is as it were the master of the 
house, the host who abides while the guests come and go". 

It liberates energy-in-matter: it is thus the creative power 
immanent in this Cosmos which is "a reflex and an 
emanation of the Absolute". 

"Like the moon which lights up the night: one with the 
sky it spreads its gentle radiance on waves and lakes, and is 
reflected in their surface yet it is one indivisible, and keeps 
its own identity." 

So the tai-ki is at once the Source of all, the Soul of all 
akin to the Wisdom of the Hebrew, and the logos of the 
Greek. 

And if it is akin to the dharma of India, it is also akin to 
the tao of China. Like both it leads on to a doctrine of love: 
and Chu Hsi does not hesitate to bid his emperor meet a 
great drought (1179) by putting the army to work at agri- 
culture: "You will then have more harvests and fewer mer- 
cenaries". Nor did the philosopher hesitate to attack Court 
intrigues : and for his boldness was exiled by Kuang-tsung. 
This was the fate, too, of the great statesman, poet, and artist 
Su Tung-po (1036-1101), who used his exile to good pur- 
pose draining the marshes and widening the canals of 
Hang-chow, and saving the people in a flood at Soo-chow. 
The disgust of such men with politics is one note of Chinese 
ethics, but the old activism of Yu and the early rulers revives 
in the men of Sung : even those who took opposite sides 
Wang-an-shih who persecuted Su Tung-po, Sze-ma-kuang 
who attacked Wang-an-shih are in their various ways men 
who believe that the country must be ruled in the interests 
of the people, and that man can control the forces of nature. 

And in its intellectual activity the Sung Age is one of 
intense vigour, when zen concentration contributes to 
worldly success, and stimulates artist and poet to a new in- 
sight and a new love of nature. 

Yet Chinese critics of great insight and ability see in the 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 59 

Neo-Confucianism of Sung a victory for Buddhism in 
paralysing the real mind of China rationalist and humanist 
with its other-worldly mysticism. 

HI 

When we turn from ideals to practice and from the sages 
to the masses, we see that China is not yet the citadel of 
reason. If self-control is inculcated, it is often lost in the flood 
of passion: if reason holds sway, it is often dethroned: and 
as the impartial student reads the long story of China's 
evolution, he will see that with many noble qualities she 
has stagnated and degenerated after each period of progress 
and vigour: that without constant accessions of barbarian 
blood she has allowed her vis inertiae and her detached 
aloofness to ruin what her strong men have achieved. 

"A strong man builds a city: a weak woman lays it low", 
is a classical rationalization : but who has given concubines 
and eunuchs their power to destroy? In the last analysis, it 
is their own sensuality and cruelty, their own low estimate 
of women. Their other enemies are, as Hu Shih says, 
ignorance and corruption in high places: and another critic 
in the same volume 1 gives a striking estimate of their strength 
and weakness. 

Mr Lin Yu-tang names as the chief qualities of his people 
sobriety, simplicity, love of nature, patience, indifference, 
old-roguishness, fecundity, industry, love of family life, 
cheerfulness and sensuality! They are, he maintains, all 
passive all typical of an old people with an old culture. 
"They can all be included under the term mellowness, sug- 
gestive of calm and passive strength rather than youthful 
vigour and romance", and his comments on three out- 
standing qualities are especially illuminating. "I believe that 
the quality of patience is developed largely through the family 
system, indifference is largely due to lack of legal protection, 
and old-roguishness is due, for lack of a better word, to a 
1 Chinas own Critics. 



60 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

Taoistic view of life". He believes that the Chinese is by 
nature more Taoist than he is by nurture Confucian and 
that these qualities of patience and detachment have been 
produced by "the deep, slow, very wearing effect on cha- 
racter of the joint family" on the one hand, and by the 
"absence of legal protection for personal rights" on the 
other a form of self-protection developed "as the tortoise 
develops its shell". 

Chinese history is in some ways parallel to that of the 
Greeks. Both peoples inherit an older culture and develop 
a classic civilization with a succession of notable thinkers who 
influence their whole future. If their Socrates is Confucius 
and their Protagoras Lao-tse, they have also their scientific 
humanists like Thales and Anaxagoras, and they owe much 
to an imported mysticism akin to that of Pythagoras. 

As with the Greeks, too, individualism and rivalry defeat 
early attempts at federation, and while there is a parallel 
quest for harmony and reason, there is also a constant struggle 
against them of superstition and a persecution of innovators, 
who are judged by outworn codes and crushed by the dead 
hand of tradition. 

But China's men of science make no great or consistent 
progress as do those of Greece, and barbarians, while they are 
civilized by Chinese culture as Rome by Greece, are more 
continually at the gates. These three enemies individualism, 
classicism and invading hordes trouble the long history of 
China, and though, like Greece, she develops an upper class 
of scholars and a measure of social democracy through 
education, she is almost to the present the milch-cow of 
dynasties founded by strong rulers and petering out through 
their own sensuality and superstition. In aesthetic achieve- 
ment she is the peer of Greece, and in sculpture, bronze- 
casting and landscape painting has had no rival: yet in drama 
and other forms of literature, most will agree that a day of 
Athens is worth a "cycle of Cathay ". Perhaps her chief glory 
is in merchants of a unique integrity and in a sturdy peasantry 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 61 

undaunted by famine, flood, and evil men. Of them a 
missionary of fifty years' experience has lately said: "Their 
enemies. . .fear them for their virtues rather than for their 
vices" and a recent novel, 'The Good Earth', has made 
the West familiar with their simple, uncomplaining heroism 
and stoic endurance. 

China's scholars, too, are often men of industry, courage 
and integrity, devoted to the service of their country; yet in 
their special field of moral philosophy their age-long logo- 
machies as to action and knowledge, and as to man's essential 
nature do not give the impression of profound insight or 
sanity. Not till some thirty years before the Christian Era 
does a Chinese thinker appear, to insist that man is by nature 
neither good, as the orthodox maintain, nor evil as Hsun-tse 
insists, but of mixed qualities, until environment moulds his 
character. To this teacher Yang-hsiung China has paid scant 
heed, and her sages have too often failed to see the real issue 
in their squabbles. Her great teacher Mo-tse she has ignored 
till now, chiefly because he objected to expensive funerals! 
And in general she has shown more aptitude for making 
numerical lists than for building systems of thought. She 
has made great inventions, but not carried them further, and 
has not yet fully synthesized her Sinitic and her Buddhist 
heritage. She is, in fact, tending to reject both. 

Is the true Chinese a rationalist or a mystic? If both are 
present in him has his national story been that of rationalism 
misled by mystics like Lao-tse and the Buddha, or of ro- 
mantic mysticism racked on the procrustean bed of a 
rationalist ethic? 

The answer is " Neither". He has been a man desiring to 
believe in the cosmic philosophy of the traditional Sinism 
and intending to be guided by reason. But as the harmony 
has been jangled by famine and flood and misrule he has 
sought refuge in necromancy and other superstitions, and 
has revolted against an imposed and artificial morality. If 
he has been the model son and subject he has also been the 



62 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

rebel, and if he has been law-abiding he has also had wild 
bursts of anarchy. Women and eunuchs have ruled the Sons 
of Heaven, and a smug provincialism has prevented the 
Middle Kingdom from learning from the outside world, 
and so being mistress in her own house. If there is a 
prouder type than the Brahmin it is the Mandarin, and 
China's sorrows are largely of her own making. But if 
China is true to her great minds, yet not their slave, she may 
adopt what is best in Western civilization and yet maintain 
a strong emphasis upon older values. Her essential social 
democracy should fit her for political reconstruction, and 
her innate pacifism should keep her from the blunder of 
militarism. Much provoked, she is yet richly blessed, and 
her position as a great and largely self-supporting people in 
a land of great fertility and in the North an invigorating 
climate will make her future secure. In village and guild her 
life goes on largely undisturbed, and here is the real China. 
Meantime her intellectual leaders are renewing ancient 
logomachies, 1 but also taking stock in order to put their 
national house in order. One of them is supported in his 
caustic and realistic interpretation of her history by Dr Hu 
Shih, who quotes him as follows: 2 

Mr Wu Chih-Hui, the veteran thinker of contemporary China, 
once gave this summary interpretation of the cultural history of 
China: 

"The ancient Chinese were characteristically simple farmers. 
They were not an imaginative people and were incapable of 
establishing religious systems. They prayed and worshipped 
fetishes as their descendants have been doing to this day. They 
worked hard and were contented with their lot. 

4 'It was only after the rise of several great sages from their 
midst, such as Confucius and Mencius, that they were em- 
boldened to become an urban people. And they succeeded in 

1 E.g. Is "Knowledge hard action easy" with Sun Yat Sen or are 
"both difficult" with Hu Shih; or is the old philosophy that "Knowledge 
is easy, action hard" true after all? 2 Chinas own Critics. 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 63 

founding States and Empires. But this life never suited the wishes 
of the vast majority of the agricultural population who only 
wanted good crops and no governmental interference. Probably 
out of respect for this class, the Confucianist thinkers, too, had 
to preach the blissfulness of contentment and joyous acceptance 
of fate. 

"Before the age of Buddhism, Chinese society was a combina- 
tion of the farmer and the country squire. The Taoist philosophers 
Lao-Tze and Chuang-Tze represented the laissez-faire psychology 
of the farmer, while Confucianism expressed the more active 
political desires of the country squire. 

"But the introduction of Buddhism from India created a new 
atmosphere. It gave China a religion. At first, the Chinese 
Buddhists merely interpreted the Indian religion in terms of the 
nihilistic philosophy of Lao-Tze and Chuang-Tze, and the new 
religion only furnished fresh material for leisurely and harmless 
gossip. It had not yet acquired for itself the element of govern- 
mental authority. 

"As time went on, however, Confucianist thought became 
unconsciously influenced by the religion of India. The Con- 
fucianists of Sung, and Chu Hsi (d. 1200 A.D.) in particular, 
unwittingly incorporated much of Buddhism into their new 
interpretation of Confucius and Mencius, and they succeeded in 
remaking the political principles of the country squires of old. 
The harmless gossip of ancient farmers and their rustic philo- 
sophers sitting on their faggot piles and sunning their backs in the 
wintry sun, now became the authoritative codes of morals and 
of government. 

' Buddhism was a religion which teaches man to forsake this 
world and prepare for life in the other world. But, when Chu 
Hsi and his co-workers unconsciously adopted this religion of 
the other world and super-imposed its ideas upon the moral and 
political codes for life in this real world then the new codes 
became terrors and made Chinese society a tragedy. How lifeless 
has Chinese society become since the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries!" 

Upon this summary Dr Hu Shih makes this comment: 
The. . .history of the last fifteen centuries represented China's 
long struggle to free herself from the conquest and domina- 



64 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

tion of Buddhism This emancipation has never been fully 

achieved. . . , Buddhism has transformed the Chinese conception 
of many of the fundamental values. . . . While most painstaking 
in its care for the life of an ant or a mosquito it regards human life 
as not worth living. , . . Another revolution was in the conception 
of the family which had formed such an important part of 
Confucian ethics 

This is putting the cart before the horse. China has in 
fact habitually frustrated men who sought to rouse her to 
action, from Han Fci in the second century B.C. and his master, 
the First Emperor, to Wan Yang Ming, in the sixteenth, 
and to Sun Yat Sen in the twentieth. A glance at our illus- 
trative readings will reveal this double core of Chinese 
thought akin to that of Greece, from Thales on through the 
many centuries of scientific thought on the one hand, and 
from Pythagoras on down through Plato on the other. 

China has her Laoists and her Confucians, her mystics 
and her humanists, her pragmatists and her idealists, and to 
them she has added the imported Indian metaphysic of 
transcendental moralism and monasticism. But her Con- 
fucian minds have dominated her history, and Confucius is 
still her master. 

The critics are right in insisting that Buddhist monasticism 
weakened family life wrong in idealizing the Confucian 
ethic, which in practice gives woman a low place. It is 
essentially patriarchal, and Hu Shih is surely unfair in attri- 
buting such horrors as foot-binding to Buddhism. In Burma 
a very typical Buddhist land women are freer than any- 
where else in Asia : and in Japan, whose Confucian leaders 
have lowered the status of women, no such barbarism can 
be found; yet Japan is much more strongly Buddhist than 
China. 

The critics are right, too, in accusing Buddhism of loosen- 
ing Chinese roots in "the good earth" and of strengthening 
their other-worldliness. But no Buddhist was ever more 
mystical than Lao-tse, more other-worldly than Chuang- 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 65 

tse, and the monasteries have been largely recruited from 
famine orphans whom neither the good earth nor the joint- 
family has provided for. 

The Buddhist would reply, quite fairly, that what China 
needed most in the Han Era they supplied a middle path 
between the too-mystical and the too-rationalist, as between 
the too-sceptical and the too-credulous. 

Are Lieh-tse and Chuang-tse on the one hand or Hsun-tse 
and Han Fei on the other better guides to sane and moral 
living? And if Buddhism is pessimistic, it is not so pessi- 
mistic as Han Confucianism. It may also claim that its 
attack on tanha (lust, malice, and ignorance) is what China 
has needed to reinforce her resistance to her own pet 
vices. 

And the Christian will not fail to see that in his Master's 
Person and teachings China is offered a better social and 
individual ethic, and a more constraining motive. 

Of all China's own teachers the neglected Mo-tse is the 
greatest and the most Christlike in example and teaching. 
He would say of our distracted age what he said of his 
own: "A world which condemns a petty wrong and praises 
the greatest of crimes war knows no true distinction 
between right and wrong". 



THE SOUL OF CHINA 

I. FROM ANCIENT WISDOM 

(a) Man 

Man is the heart and mind of Heaven and Earth the visible 
embodiment of the five elements. He lives enjoying all flavours, 
distinguishing all notes, clad in all colours. 

Li Chi. 

A great man is in harmony with Heaven and Earth. 

Shu Ching. 



66 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

(i) God punishes the wayward 

The people of Miao abandoned reason. . .killing the inno- 
cent. . . . 

The Lord on High was angry : and misfortune befell them. 
They could not escape punishment; 
They perished from the earth. 

(ii) From the Code of the Tenth Century B.C. 

Let both parties be heard by the Judges. Let them consider 
whether the crime merits one of the five punishments or one of 
the five fines. If not, let them declare it an involuntary mis- 
demeanour.. . .Let them beware of doing so from wrong 
motives such as fear, or favour, or for disgrace or for bribes. . . . 

Branding is one punishment for a thousand crimes. Amputation 
of the nose is another. Amputation of the foot is one for five 
hundred, castration for three hundred, death for two hundred 

As to ransom from each from six hundred ounces of copper 
for escape from branding to six thousand for escape from the 
death penalty. 

II. FROM LAO-TSE 

(sixth century B.C.) 

(a) The Tao and Te 

Pervading all is this Great Way ! 
Behold It on thy right and left! 
From It proceeds whatever exists, 
It gives all life and spurns them not. 
Yet when Its task is duly done, 
It makes no boast of sovran ty; 
All things It loves and cherishes, 
Yet claims no lordship over them. 
In smallest things It may be found, 
As in the greatest: all return 
To It; yet know not this Great Way 
As Lord and Guardian of their life. 
Hence is the Sage by It empowered 
Humbling himself he groweth strong : 
To him the world for rest resorts, 
And findeth peace who holds this Way. 

Tao-te-ching. 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 67 

(b) Wu-wei 

When naturalness is obliterated, there is " benevolence" and 
"righteousness". When "wisdom" and "knowledge" appear, 
there is great hypocrisy. When natural relations do not harmon- 
ize, there is "filial piety" and "parental devotion". When a 
nation is in disorder and misrule, there is "loyalty" and "allegi- 
ance". Therefore, "Abandon wisdom, put away sagacity.... 

Abandon benevolence, put away justice Abandon smartness, 

give up greed...". ^ ^ 

The more restrictions and prohibitions there are in the world, 
the poorer grow the people. The more inventions and weapons 
the people have, the more troubled is the State. The more cunning 
and skill man has, the more startling events will happen. The 
more laws and mandates are enacted, the more there will be 
thieves and robbers. Therefore the wise man says: I practise non- 
action, and the people of themselves reform. I love quietude, and 
the people of themselves become righteous. I initiate no policy, 
and the people of themselves become rich. I desire nothing, and 
the people of themselves become simple. 

Ibid. 57. 

(c) The Pacifism of Lao-tse 

He who seeks to rule men in harmony with Tao will not subdue 
the empire by force of arms. Such action brings retribution. 

Weapons however handsome are instruments of ill-omen 
and hateful to all things. Who has the Tao will leave them 
alone. . . they are not the instruments of the princely man. Peace 
and tranquillity are what he prizes.... He who rejoices in the 
slaughter of men is not fit for rule. 

(d) The Saint of Lao-tse 

This is the way of heaven, which benefits and harms not. 
This is the way of the Sage, in whose acts there is no element of 
strife. 

The Sage embraces humanity and is a teacher of all under the 
heavens. He is free from self-display, and so he shines abroad; 
free from self-assertion and so he is distinguished: free from self- 
glorification and so he must be worthy. Free from self-exaltation 

5-2 



68 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

he rises superior. As he does not strive there is no one in the world 
who can strive with him. 

He who acts destroys: he who grasps loses: therefore the Sage 
does not act nor grasp. 

The Sage attends to the inner and not to the outer: he puts 
away the objective and holds to the subjective. 

Living in the world he is careful lest his heart be soured by the 
world. The people fix their gaze upon him and listen for his 
words. He looks upon all as his children. 

(e] Lao-tse s own Graces 

I have three precious things which I cherish and prize. The first 
is gentleness, the second is frugality, the third is humility. 

Be gentle and you may be bold, be frugal and you may be 
liberal; avoid putting yourself above others and you may become 
a leader. 

He who humbles himself shall be saved. He who bends shall 
be made straight. 

He who is empty shall be filled. 

Ill 

(a) The Princely Man of Confucius 
(after L. Giles) 

The princely man has three virtues, which I cannot claim for 
myself. He is truly benevolent and free from care: truly wise and 
free from delusion: truly brave and free from fear. 

"These", said Tse Kung, "are our Master's own qualities/' 

The princely man is modest in his speech, liberal in perform- 
ance. 

He is firm but not quarrelsome, sociable but not clannish. 

He pays special attention to nine points, striving to see clearly, 
to hear distinctly, to look kindly: respectful in his bearing, careful 
in his speech, earnest in business: when in doubt he is careful to 
seek advice; when in anger he thinks of the consequences; when 
offered opportunities of gain he is mindful only of duty. 

He makes the sense of duty the ground of his character, blends 
with it a sense of harmony, manifests it in a spirit of unselfishness, 
and perfects it by the addition of sincerity and truth. 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 69 

The Master said, "It is not easy to find a man who has learned 
for three years without coming to be good". 

vm, xii. 

The Master said, " There being instruction there will be no 
distinction of classes". 

xvi, xxxviii. 

(b) Other Moral Teachings 
Shu: Generosity 

Tse-kung asked saying, "Is there one word which may serve 
as a rule of practice for all one's life?" The Master said, "Is not 
Shu such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not 
do to others". 

xv, xxiii. 

Chung-kung asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "It 
is, when you go abroad, to behave to every one, as if you were 
receiving a great guest ; to employ the people as if you were 
assisting at a great sacrifice; not to do to others as you would not 
wish done to yourself; to have no murmuring against you in the 
country and none in the family". 

xn, ii. 

Hsiao: Filial Piety 

The Master said, "When a man's father is alive, look at the 
bent of his will ; when his father is dead, look at his conduct. If 
for three years he does not alter from the way of his father, he 
may be called filial". 

i, xi. 

The Master said, "A youth, when at home, should be filial, 
and abroad, respectful to his elders". 

i, vi, a. 

Mang-E asked what filial piety was. The Master said, " It is not 
being disobedient". 

Fan Che asked, "What did you mean?" The Master replied, 
"That parents, when alive, should be served according to pro- 
priety; and that when dead, they should be buried according to 
propriety; and that they should be sacrificed to according to 
propriety". 

n, v, i, 3. 



70 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

The Master said, "In regard to the aged, give them rest; in 
regard to friends, show them sincerity ; in regard to the young, 
treat them tenderly ". 

v, xxv, 4. 

(c) Government 

To be a prince is difficult. 

XHI, xv, 2 a. 

The Master said, "To rule over a country of a thousand 
chariots, there must be reverent attention to business, and sin- 
cerity; economy in expenditure, and love for the people ; and the 
employment of them at the proper seasons". 

i, v. 

The Master said, " When a prince's personal conduct is correct, 
his government is effective without the issuing of orders. If his 
personal conduct is not correct, he may issue orders, but they will 
not be obeyed". 

xni, vi. 

The Master said, "To govern means to rectify. If you lead on 
the people with correctness, who will dare not to be correct?" 

xn, xvii. 

(d) The Ideal Curriculum 

The Master's frequent themes of discourse were the Odes, 
the Book of History, and the maintenance of the Rules of good 
form. On all these he frequently discoursed. 

vii, xvii. 

The Master said, "My children, why do you not study the 
Book of Poetry? 

"The Odes serve to stimulate the mind. 

"They may be used for purposes of self-contemplation. 

"They teach the art of sociability. 

"They show how to regulate feelings of resentment. 

"From them one learns the more immediate duty of serving 
one's father, and the remoter one of serving one's prince". 

ix, xvii, 1-7. 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 71 

The Master said, "In the Book of Poetry are three hundred 
pieces, but the design of them all may be embraced in that one 
sentence 'Have no depraved thoughts'". 

n, ii. 

The Master said, "It is by the Odes that the mind is aroused". 
The Odes stimulate, music polishes, rules of morality discipline. 

viii, viii, i. 

The Master said, "Though a man may be able to recite the 
three hundred Odes, yet if, when intrusted with a government 
post, he knows not how to act, or if, when sent to any quarter 
on a mission, he cannot give his replies unassisted, notwithstanding 
the extent of his learning, of what practical use is it?" 

xm, v. 

IV 

(a) Mo-tse opposes Fatalism and teaches Theism 

There are some men who hold that there is fate. Why do they 
not try to look into the facts of the wise rulers of the past? When 
King Cheh (1818-1784 B.C.) had ruined the kingdom, King Tang 
(1783-1753 B.C.) took over the kingdom and again restored it to 
order and prosperity. When King Chou (1154-1123 B.C.) had 
again brought the kingdom to ruin, King Wu took it over and 
restored it once more to order and peace. The same kingdom and 
the same people found peace and prosperity under a Tang or a 
Wu, and disorder and ruin under a Cheh or a Chou. How can 
one say that things are predetermined?. . .If all the people were 
unified in the Son of Heaven, and not in Heaven itself, then there 
might yet be calamities. 

XI. 

The Will of Heaven is to me what the compasses and the try- 
square are to the artisan. The artisan judges all circles and squares 
by his compasses and try-square, saying "That which agrees with 
my standard is right, and that which does not is wrong". Now 
there are teachers in our age who write numberless books and 
make numberless speeches, persuading all classes of men from the 
prince to the student. But they are all far from true love and 
righteousness. I know it is so, because I have found the best 
standard whereby to judge them. 

xxm. 



72 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

(b) The True Altruist 

Seeing his friend hungry he feeds him; cold he clothes him; 
sick he cherishes him and nurses him; dead he gives him burial. 

Partiality is to be replaced by universality Now when 
everyone regards the states of others as he regards his own, who 
would attack the other's state? Others are regarded like one's self. 
When everyone regards the houses of others as he regards his 
own, who would disturb the other's house?. . .Now, when the 
states and cities do not attack and seize each other and when the 
clans and individuals do not disturb and harm one another is 
this a calamity or a benefit to the world? Of course it is a benefit. 
When we come to think about the several benefits in regard to 
their cause, how have they arisen? Have they arisen out of hate 
of others and injuring others? Of course we should say no. We 
should say that they have arisen out of love of others and bene- 
fiting others. If we should classify one by one all those who love 
others and benefit others, should we find them to be partial or 
universal? Of course we should say they are universal. Now, 
since universal love is the cause of the major benefits of the world, 
therefore Mo-tse proclaims universal love to be right. 

After Y. P. Mei. Works of Mo-tse. 

V. THE GOODNESS OF HUMAN NATURE 

Meng-tse (Mencius) 
(fourth century B.C.) 

Man's impulse is to do good, for his nature is good. That he 
does not do good is not the fault of his natural faculty. A feeling 
of sympathy everybody has; a feeling of shame everybody has; 
a feeling of deference everybody has ; a sense of discrimination 
everybody has. The feeling of sympathy is humaneness (Jen) ; the 
feeling of shame is justice (i) ; the feeling of deference is pro- 
priety (/*); and the sense of discrimination is intelligence (chi). 
Humaneness, sense of justice, propriety, and intelligence are not 
what is moulded into us from without. They are inherent in us, 
only men are not conscious of them. . . . 

Therefore, a man without a feeling of sympathy is not human; 
a man without a feeling of shame is not human; a man without 
a feeling of deference is not human; a man without a sense of 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 73 

discrimination is not human. The feeling of sympathy is the 
starting-point of humaneness; the feeling of shame is the starting- 
point of justice; the feeling of deference is the starting-point of 
propriety. 

VI. CHUANG-TSE'S SCEPTICISM 

(0 

Chuang-tse one day saw an empty skull, bleached yet pre- 
serving its shape. Striking it with his riding whip, he said, 
"Wert thou once some ambitious citizen whose inordinate 
yearnings brought him to this pass? some statesman who 
plunged his country in ruin, and perished in the fray? some 
wretch who left behind him a legacy of shame? some beggar 
who died in the pangs of hunger and cold? Or didst thou reach 
this state by the natural course of old age?" 

When he had finished speaking, he took the skull, and placing 
it under his head as a pillow, went to sleep. In the night, he 
dreamed that the skull appeared to him, and said, "You speak 
well, sir; but all you say has reference to the life of mortals, and 
to mortal troubles. In death there are none of these. Would you 
like to hear about death?" 

Chuang-tse having replied in the affirmative, the skull began : 
" In death, there is no sovereign above, and no subject below. The 
workings of the four seasons are unknown. Our existences are 
bounded only by eternity. The happiness of a king among men 
cannot exceed that which I enjoy". 

Chuang-tse, however, was not convinced, and said, " Were I 
to prevail upon God to allow your body to be born again, and 
your bones and flesh to be renewed, so that you could return to 
your parents, to your wife, and to the friends of your youth 
would you be willing?" 

At this, the skull opened its eyes wide and knitted its brows and 
said, "How should I cast aside happiness greater than that of a 
king, and mingle once again in the toils and troubles of mor- 
tality?" 



74 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 



The Grand Augur, in his ceremonial robes, approached the 
shambles and thus addressed the pigs: 

"How can you object to die? I shall fatten you for three 
months. I shall discipline myself for ten days and fast for three. 
I shall strew fine grass, and place you bodily upon a carved 
sacrificial dish. Does not this satisfy you?" 

Then speaking from the pigs' point of view, he continued, 
4 'It is better perhaps after all to live on bran and escape the 
shambles". 

"But then", added he, speaking from his own point of view, 
"to enjoy honour when alive one would readily die on a war- 
shield or in the headsman's basket." 

So he rejected the pigs' point of view and adopted his own 
point of view. In what sense then was he different from the pigs? 

Translated by H. A. Giles. 

VII. LATER CONFUCIANS 
(a) Tseng-tse on Filial Piety 

This body is inherited from our parents. How dare we act 
irreverently with this inheritance of our parents? Therefore, to 
live carelessly is a sin against filial duty, so is disloyalty to our 
princes, so is dishonesty in official duty, so is faithlessness to our 
friends, and so is lack of courage on the battlefield. Failure in any 
of these five duties will disgrace one's parents. Dare we act 
without reverence? 

Translated by Hu Shih. 

(6) An Early Utilitarian 
(Hsun-tse, third century B.C.) 

You glorify Nature and meditate on her: 
Why not domesticate her and regulate her? 

You obey Nature and sing her praise : 
Why not control her course and use it? 

You look on the seasons with reverence and await them: 
Why not respond to them by seasonly activities? 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 75 

You depend on things and marvel at them: 

Why not unfold your own ability and transform them? 

You meditate on what makes a thing a thing : 

Why not so order things that you may not waste them? 

You vainly seek the cause of things: 

Why not appropriate and enjoy what they produce? 

Therefore, I say: " To neglect man and speculate about Nature 
Is to misunderstand the facts of the universe". 

Ibid. 

(c) Han Fei on Government 
(second century B.C.) 

A wise man does not expect to follow ancient ways nor to 
set up principles for all time. He studies the conditions of his age 
and then devises means to meet them. 

When laws are adjusted to the times there is good government. 

Subtle speculation is no business of the people... the actual 
need is common-sense. 

Ibid. 

(d) Progress not Evolution (Hsun-ching) 

Such progress as man has made is not the result of blind force, 
automatic in its action. It has come from conscious effort and 
intelligent leadership. 

Ibid. 

(e) Business Men 
(Chen-tzu-ang, A.D. 656-98) 

These business men to vaunt their skill are wont, 

Yet they are children in philosophy. 

They boast of cunning in chicanery, 

To the end of life itself they give no thought. 

What should they know of that Master of Mystery 

Who saw the world reflected in a bowl, 

Till soaring clear of earth and sky his soul 

On wings of change achieved Changelessness? 



76 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

(/) The Cost of War 
(Chien-fun, A.D. 879) 

The hills and riverbanks of this fair land 
You soldiers turn into a battlefield. 
How shall the villagers beneath your hand 
Make them grow hay, or even fuel yield? 
Let me not hear one vain ambitious word 
Of titles or promotion to be got. 
To make a reputation for a single lord 
Ten thousand poor men die and rot. 

(g) A Blanket for the Poor 

(Po-chui, ninth century A.D.) 

What can I do to help the cold and poor? 
No use to warm a single shivering wretch. 
Would I'd a rug ten thousand feet or more 
To cover all the city at a stretch. 

VIII. CONFUCIAN CRITICISM OF THE BUDDHISTS 

A Petition ofHan-yu 
(addressed to Hsien-tsung, 820 A.D.) 

The religion of Fo is barbarous and unknown to antiquity. It 
was brought in in an age of decadence and when the T'ang 
Dynasty was founded by Kao-tsu he considered exterminating 
it. Alas ! His ministers, unskilled in the wisdom of the ancients, 
dissuaded him. I am furious when I think that this salutary 
step was not taken And you, Sire, a clear-sighted, wise and 
scholarly ruler the like of whom we have not seen for long you 
at your accession forbad the building of new temples or the 
making of novices. Alas! Your orders were not carried out: 
And now, what do we hear? Can it be that you have ordered 
that a bone-relic of Fo be brought in state? Maybe you do it 
not yourself believing to make a show for the people. But they 
in their ignorance will think you believe. Their rustics will say 
" See the Son of Heaven, how he honours Buddha and shall not 
we?" They will burn camphor on their scalps and scorch their 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 77 

fingers with incense. They'll throng the temples and cart their 
goods to the monks to get redemption and salvation from dangers 
to come!. . .These things ruin our morals and make us ridiculous 
in the eyes of strangers. For after all it is a barbarian we honour 
who could not speak our tongue, who knew nothing of the 
Sages, who disregarded filial piety. And you allow a dry-bone, a 
dirty bit of his corpse to be presented to your Majesty!. . . 

Ah, have it sent, I beg, to the headsman that he may throw it 
into the fire, and get rid of this root of calamity. So will you pre- 
serve your people from seduction and error. And if the Buddha 
learns of it and can act well I take the responsibility: let him 
take vengeance on me. 

After H. A. Giles. 

IX. NEO-CONFUCIAN REALISM 
Chu Hsi (1130-1200) 

We need not talk about empty and far-away things; if we 
would know the reality of Tao we must seek it within our own 
nature. 

Each one has within it the principle of right, what we call Tao, 
the road along which we ought to walk. 

The means by which we all may day by day banish human 
desire and return to Divine Law lie within our reach, and to use 
them is our duty. 

The one thing we must realize is that we must use our earnest 
effort and master it, get rid of its excesses, and restore the Mean. 

Virtue is the practice of Moral Law. 

Virtue is what is received into the heart. Before serving one's 
parents and following one's elder brother, already to possess a 
perfectly filial and fraternal mind: this is what is termed Virtue. 

Love itself is the original substance of love; Reverence is love 
in graceful expression; Righteousness is love in judgment; and 
Wisdom is love in discriminating. 

Sincerity is the principle of reality. It is to be the same whether 
before men's faces or behind their backs. 

To be devoid of anything false is spontaneous Sincerity; to 
allow no self-deception is Sincerity acquired by effort. 



78 THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

X. PRAGMATISM AND INTUITION 
Wang Yang Ming (1472-1529) 

There are no crises and problems beyond those of passion and 
change. Are not pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy passions of 
men? Seeing, hearing, talking, working, wealth and honour, 
poverty and lowliness, sorrow and difficulty, death and life, all 
are vicissitudes of life. All are included in the passions and feelings 
of men. These need only to be in a state of perfect equilibrium 
and harmony, which, in turn, depends upon being watchful over 
one's self. 

Pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy are in their natural condition 
in the state of equilibrium and harmony. As soon as the in- 
dividual adds a little of his own ideas, he oversteps and fails to 
maintain the state of equilibrium and harmony. This implies 
selfishness. In subduing oneself, one must clear out selfish desire 
completely, so that not a bit is left. If a little is left, all sorts of evil 
will be induced to make their entrance. 

If a person unceasingly applies himself truly and earnestly, he 
will daily better comprehend the subtle essence of the moral 
principles of the mind, as well as the subtlety of selfish desires. If 
he does not use his efforts in controlling himself, he will con- 
tinually talk and yet never comprehend the meaning of moral 
principles or of selfish desire. 

That the sage is a sage is due solely to the fact that his mind is 
completely dominated by heaven-given principles, and not 
hampered by passion. 

The great defect of students is to be found in love of fame. 

Education means learning to expel passion and harbour natural 
law. 

The little intuitive knowledge of good you have is your own 
standard. If your thoughts are right it is aware of it, and if they 
are wrong it also knows. You must not blind it nor impose upon 
it, but must truly follow its lead. 

If you leave your daily affairs in order to devote yourself to 
study, it will be in vain. 

To be a sage, a man need only love and desire virtue as men 
love and desire beautiful colours; he need only despise and shun 
evil as one despises and avoids an evil odour. 

The great disease of mankind is all expressed in the word nao 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 79 

(meaning "pride" or "haughtiness"). The proud son certainly 
is not filial, nor the haughty minister loyal, nor the proud father 
loving, nor the proud friend sincere. The reason why Hsiang and 
Tan Chu both were degenerate was their pride. Sirs, you should 
appreciate that the mind of man is ab initio natural. It is dis- 
criminating, clear and without the least spot of selfishness. 
Selfishness should not be cherished in one's breast, for its presence 
engenders pride. The many good characteristics of the sages of 
most ancient times were due to a selfless mind. Being selfless, 
they were naturally humble. Humility is the foundation of all 
virtue; pride is the chief of vices. 

No one who really has knowledge fails to practise it. Know- 
ledge without practice should be interpreted as lack of know- 
ledge. Sages and virtuous men teach men to know how to act, 
because they wish them to return to nature. They do not tell 
them merely to reflect and let this suffice. 

Knowledge is the beginning of practice; doing is the com- 
pletion of knowing. 

Translated by F. G. Henkc. 

XL A BUDDHIST APOLOGY 

The Monk's Family 

Thy mother is the true Wisdom: 

Thy father is skill in teaching : 

Thy kin are all beings everywhere: 

Thy home is in the Void of Nirvana: 

Thy wife is joy, thy daughter love, 

Thy son truth a household indeed 

Which doth not bind thee to the Wheel of Life. 

Ta-Hsien, an eighth-century monk of Korea. 

XII. CHINESE HUMOUR 

(after H. A. Giles) 
(a) A Tactful Host 

A guest at dinner sat on and on and showed no sign of leaving. 
So the host said : 

"Do you see that bird? I'll cut down the tree and catch it, and 
we'll eat it together/* 



8o THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 

"Good," said the guest, "but I fancy the bird will have flown 
first!" 

"No, no," said the host, "it is a very stupid bird: it doesn't 
know when it's rime to go." 

(b) A Less Tactful Guest 

A guest at dinner when all the bowls had been emptied said to 
his host: 

"Could we not have the candles lit?" 
"A bit early, isn't it?" said the host. 
"Well, at any rate we can see nothing on the table." 

(c) A Good Mathematician 

A wealthy man said to a miser: 

"Til give you a thousand pieces of silver if you'll let me beat 
you to death." 

"Make it five hundred and you can half kill me!" said the 
miser thoughtfully. 

After H. A. Giles. 

XIII. PROVERBS 

If a boy is born with fingers like a girl he will make a living 
easily. 

If a girl is bom with a face like a boy her dignity will be un- 
surpassed. 

For a person to be large and yet not a fool here is a real 
treasure. 

Parents can do without children, but children can't do without 
parents. 

There are loving parents, but no loving children. 

One may desert one's father tho' he be a magistrate but not 
one's mother tho' she be a beggar. 

The gate of charity is easy to open, but difficult to close. 

At a distance men are judged by what they wear: nearer home 
by what they are. 

The man whose face is stout and tough 
At feasts will always get enough : 
But he whose face is mild and thin 
Can't get a look or a chop-stick in! 



THE ETHICS OF THE CHINESE 81 

Clouds pass but the rains remain. 
He who cannot sleep finds his bed badly made. 
The water that bears the ship is the same that engulfs it. 
Stir not a fire with a sword. 

To pretend to satisfy one's desires by possession is like putting 
DUt a fire with straw. 

In clothes we value novelty : in men old age. 
You can't strip two skins off one cow. 
A hair's breadth at the bow is a mile beside the butt. 
No needle has two sharp points. 
The pleasure of doing good is the only one that will not wear 

)Ut. 

To look at a plum is not to quench one's thirst. 
Better return home and make a net than go down to the river 
ind desire to get fishes. 
If the current is not rapid the fish do not jump. 



CHAPTER III 
THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

"Reflect Truth as a mirror: Be clean within and without." 

SHINTO ORACLE 

If the Chinese are the Greeks of Asia in their love of reason and 
harmony the Japanese are also Greek in their eagerness for 
novelty, in their love of beauty, in their bravery and de- 
votion to the State, and in their identification of its service 
with religion. In these and other ways they are very- 
Athenian. In stoic endurance and asceticism they are Spartan. 
In their quickness to assimilate other cultures, in their utili- 
tarianism, in their readiness for discipline, they are more 
like the Romans, versatile rather than profound, apt rather 
than original. Indeed it is the Chinese who have civilized 
the Japanese, as it was the Greeks who gave culture to 
Rome, and the Chinese are Athenian in their strong aestheti- 
cism as well as in their sense of harmony and proportion. 

Buddhism, which came bringing with it much Indian 
culture, has done for both Chinese and Japanese much of 
what Christianity did for the Greek and Roman world, 
bringing it new hope and a clearer image of the Divine. 

The long process of the ethical development of Japan falls 
then naturally into three periods: as in India and China, it is 
the coming of Buddhism which divides the archaic from the 
modern. For Buddhism has had a strange power of stimu- 
lating new life, and in the end of calling out opposition to its 
immense claims. 

I 

The first or Archaic Period ends in the seventh century of 
our era and goes back into the mists of legend and folk-lore, 
in which it is hard to distinguish fact. There remain, indeed, 
very few authentic deposits from these early days burial 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 83 

objects which imply a cult of the dead, and the slow infiltra- 
tion of Chinese and Korean culture; and for the rest, legends 
and snatches of ancient song and ritual prayer. The first 
impression we get is of a people naively joyous, rejoicing 
in the beauty of their country, and using religion to control 
fire and pestilence and to secure good harvests. They do 
not clearly distinguish yet between ritual and moral 
purity, and this comes out clearly in the service of national 
purification, reproduced as our first illustrative reading. 
Here it will be noted that when the official clan set up 
floral offerings and recite the words of the liturgy all offences 
are purged away, and the gods are brought in to carry them 
bodily into the open spaces of the ocean, and in other ways 
to destroy them. We find that as in other early religions 
the presence of death and corruption, of sex-acts and child- 
birth, bring uncleanness, which can be removed by ab- 
lutions and ritual, and we see that not only is there the 
nucleus of a priesthood in the official reciters of these 
liturgies, 1 but that the drama which has played so great a 
part in Japanese life begins in certain ritual dances of the 
gods and of their priests. Official diviners and regulators 
of religious observances were gradually organized as be or 
guilds. 2 

If we find in these early rituals the beginnings of the love 
of the beautiful and of the clean, we find also gratitude to 
gods and rulers. 

A nature worship, of which the mainspring is appreciation 
rather than fear is not to be dismissed as base and fetishistic 
animism, and much that is kindly and gracious in the life of the 
Japanese to-day can be traced to those sentiments which caused 
their remote ancestors to ascribe Divinity not only to the power- 
ful and awe-inspiring, such as the sun and the moon and the 
tempest, or to the useful, such as the well and the cooking pot, 

1 The Nakatomi were a family of liturgists: the Urube diviners. 

2 The Imibe were a guild of abstainers from things tabu, imi meaning 
tabu, be meaning guild. 

6-2 



84 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

but also to the lovely and pleasant, such as the rocks and streams, 
the trees and flowers. The worship of such objects has its counter- 
part in that delicate sensibility to the beauties of nature which is 
one of the most endearing characteristics of the modern Japanese. 1 

Coming from less lovely lands the uplands of Asia or the 
islands of Polynesia they rejoiced in the beauty of their new 
fatherland, its winding valleys, its white sandy beaches, its 
gnarled pine trees, and above all the cherry blossoms and the 
snow-capped volcano, itself a god. Coming in small groups 
and pushing their way up narrow valleys they were welded 
into a nation which has one essential culture. 

The earliest Chinese records 2 describe these islanders as 
not without moral qualities such as honesty and regard for 
law, and speak of the ceremonial dignity of the higher ranks 
of society, and of the industry and chastity of the women. 
The following early song gives us a pleasant picture of family 
devotion in high places. It is attributed to the Emperor Ojin 
in the third century A.D., and the occasion is his discovery 
that his own son is in love with the " long-haired maid" 
whom he himself desires. 

Lo! my son! 

On the moor, garlic to gather, 

Garlic to gather, 

On the way as I went, 

Pleasing of perfume 

Was the orange in flower. 

Its branches beneath 

Men had all plundered, 

Its branches above 

Birds perching had withered: 

Midway its branches 

Held in their hiding 

A blushing maiden. 

Lo ! my son, for thee 

Let her burst into blossom. 3 

1 G. B. Sansom, Japan, p. 45. 

2 Dating from the third century A.D. 

3 W. G. Aston, Japanese Literature, p. 8. 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 85 

Here is early evidence of that strong family loyalty which 
was to develop into the devotion of the samurai to their 
Lord and of the people to their Emperor. It has been often 
said that the Japanese claim to be too moral to need a very 
elaborate religion or code of ethics. "Fear the gods, honour 
the throne" this is enough for a people naturally good. Yet 
they soon began to take with eager hands religious and ethical 
ideals from the mainland, and of these they have made a new 
synthesis. Adopting much before they really understood it 
they have slowly adapted it to their national needs. In this 
process is the chief interest of their history: and in their eighth 
century chronicles, Kojiki and Nihongi, it is difficult to 
discover how much has been read back into earlier days 
from these imported cultures. 

But in their purification rituals 1 there is much of great 
antiquity, and the offences (tsumi) mentioned reveal a 
mingling of ritual and moral ideas. 

The sins of the god Susa-no-wo are, as Sansom has pointed 
out, just those "most abhorrent to an agricultural com- 
munity". As the early Hebrews cursed "him who removed 
his neighbour's landmark", so this unruly god is taken as a 
type of antisocial sinner, who breaks down divisions between 
rice-fields, sows tares in them, and diverts the water for 
their irrigation. 

Human sinners are such as desecrate the grave or the home, 
and the main idea of evil is pollution. These early concepts 
persist in Japan. 

"At the core of all Shinto ceremonial is the idea of purity, 
and at the core of all Shinto beliefs is the idea of fertility." 2 

Coming into these mountainous islands the invaders of 
mainland and of Polynesian stock have to work hard to 
produce enough food, and their religion is much concerned 
with this primary need. Inari the rice-god is still the 
most ubiquitous of their gods, and phallic worships go on at 
harvest time. All early religion in Japan is in fact Nature- 

1 Illustrative Reading i. 

2 Sansom, op. tit. p. 52. 



86 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

worship, and the chief families, while they claimed descent 
from the gods, only learnt ancestor-worship from the Chinese. 
"Making your god into an ancestor" is the Japanese way: 
" making your ancestor into a god" the way of the Chinese. 

Purification was much emphasized in worship, and exor- 
cism as well as ablutions played a part in it. A system of fines 
for ritual as well as for moral offences was early instituted, 
and with the coming of Chinese and Korean influence 
clearer distinctions were made. 

Before the coming of these cultures the Japanese had 
achieved a fair measure of unity and an aesthetic sentiment 
which have been twin forces in their ethical life. And 
the very difficulties of cultivating their mountain-slopes in 
terraces and of irrigating them called out the qualities we 
still admire in a sturdy peasantry. As to their leaders their 
eager adaptation of higher civilizations reveals remarkable 
gifts, and their genius for simplification begins to be early 
manifest. If the prehistoric era lasts till about the fourth 
century A.D. that of adoption and naturalization of Chinese 
culture occupies the fifth to the eighth. During these cen- 
turies attempts are made to achieve centralization of authority 
and state ownership of land, but the inveterate clan spirit 
asserts itself and for nearly a thousand years powerful families, 
Fujiwara, Taira, Mimamoto, overshadow the throne, and 
the Divine Emperor is a puppet of Regent (kwampaku) and 
of Generalissimo (shogun). 



Confucianism filtered into Japan from about the beginning 
of the Christian Era, and Korean tutors were imported by 
the Emperor Ojin in the early fourth century. 

Buddhism was introduced officially by the Prince Regent 
Shotoku, and the Japanese look upon him as the true founder 
of their civilization. Born in 543, he died in 621, mourned 
by all as an incarnation of the goddess of mercy. His code 
is an ingenious blend of Buddhist and Confucian ideas, 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 87 

adapted to the needs of his people. Here the filial piety of 
China is emphasized, but with the new meaning of loyalty 
to the throne ; and harmony between ruler and people and 
between class and class is taught. The Chinese theory of king- 
ship is outlined, and officials are reminded of their duty of 
consulting one another, of working hard, and of keeping 
faith with inferiors. All this is good Confucian teaching, and 
for the rest the code is like the edicts of Asoka in moral 
maxims condemning envy, anger and other faults of the spirit, 
and commending good faith, obedience, benevolence and 
piety. 

Hidden in these apparently harmless exhortations. . .is a new 
view of the State, for while they exact obedience from inferiors 
to superiors, they insist equally upon the duties of superiors to 
inferiors, and, what is most significant of all they enunciate very 
clearly the theory of a centralized state in which the ultimate 
power resides in the emperor, 1 

The code does, in fact, lay down that "The sovereign is 
master of the whole country". 

Of how variously these sovereigns played their part there 
is no space to speak. Some were powerful leaders, devoted 
to the interests of the people, others were little better than 
puppets in the hands of masterful ministers. In the edict of 
one of the greatest of them, the Emperor Shomu, we have 
a fine devotion to the Buddha and a gratitude to the gods, 
which may be studied in our second illustrative reading. 
Here we see that the Emperor claims to be a god who ex- 
presses his gratitude to the unseen, and his devotion not only 
to monks and nuns and other religious, but to the aged and 
the poor, scholars and peasants. 

Buddhism had already done much to develop the native 
aestheticism of the Japanese, and their sense of awe, wonder 
and gratitude, and though it was for some centuries an 
aristocratic cult, and though its monasteries became the 
feudal castles of proud and overbearing abbots, yet it held 
1 Sansom, op. cit. p. 72. 



88 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

up before the people the ideals of compassion and of medita- 
tion. These the Japanese adapted, so far as they could be 
adapted, to fit their feudal society. Meditation, which was 
meant by the Buddha to turn men's minds away from this 
transient world and to breed a spirit of forbearance and piety, 
became a technique for soldiers and feudal lords. Like 
Christianity in the Western world, this other-worldly re- 
ligion was made the basis, in the early middle ages of Japan, 
for a new chivalry. It also greatly encouraged the arts, which 
the founder had ignored, or condemned; and it has never 
very seriously interfered with the pleasure-loving and even 
licentious ways of the people. It has rather provided an 
asylum for those who desired to retreat from an evil world 
emperors among them. 

Confucianism too played a very different part in Japan 
from anything Confucius could have foreseen. Its teachings 
of loyalty were eagerly adapted to the glorification of 
warriors and feudal chieftains, who took precedence of 
scholars and philosophers. But in spite of this adaptation the 
Chinese ethic, with its insistence upon propriety and cere- 
mony, became a Procrustean bed for Japan. Aston, to whom 
all students of Japan owe so much, tells how a leading Japa- 
nese statesman once pointed to a group of artificially stunted 
trees and said, "That is what Chinese culture has done for 
Japan". For the third period in the development of Japanese 
ethics is the period of Neo-Confucianism, and it has been a 
curse as well as a blessing. 

If to Confucius Japan owes much of her educational, 
political and social institutions, and the systematic teaching 
of ethics, she owes also much stunting and sterilization. 
The period of Buddhist ascendancy lasted until about the 
eleventh century. During this time a notable role was played 
by women, who, in spite of the monastic ethic of Bud- 
dhism, were eminent in public life and in letters. As novelists 
in particular they played an eminent part, and it was only 
gradually that the Confucian concept of woman as the meek 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 89 

and patient servant of man could find a place in Japanese 
life. When it had its full sway it did untold harm. 

Women, often man's superior, became his plaything and 
domestic bliss was replaced by the lures of geisha aesthetic 
rather than intellectual hetairai. As to the life of the poor, 
they were almost entirely at the mercy of the upper classes, 
and even Buddhist monasteries had large groups of slaves in 
their service. As in China, we hear the cry of the poor and 
especially of those called up for military service: "the 
misery of a soldier is like that of a slave". And the contrast 
between the elaborate life of the Court and that of the 
people becomes marked as early simplicity gives place to 
the elaborate imported culture of the ninth and tenth cen- 
turies. As the great monasteries grew in power and the 
great families waged war upon one another, the poor had 
no appeal against oppression. 

Ill 

With the third period of Japanese life we see the emergence 
of a new concept of society, and a popularization of religion. 
Not only is salvation made easier and offered to the common 
people, but great and saintly figures begin to express in their 
own lives the divine compassion. Honen (1139-1212), who 
preached the compassion of the Buddha Amida, and his will- 
ingness to accept all who called upon him, said on his death- 
bed, " There is my monument, wherever the worship of 
Amida is practised, be it only in the thatched hut of a fisher- 
man". His disciple, Shinran (1173-1262), went even further 
in this popularization, and his hymns became known to the 
masses. In the rugged Nichiren (1222-1282), son of a 
fisherman, Japan found a prophet who warned her of im- 
pending disaster and called upon her to forsake false 
worships and corrupt practices. In these men she has her 
Wesleys and her Luther. Art now begins to reflect the life 
of every day, instead of that of Courts and Paradises, and 
with the extension of printing, which had been known in 



90 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

Japan for some four centuries, the spread of learning 
among the people encouraged these tendencies. And the 
development of the theatre and of the long epic novel and 
scrolls of biography are also important factors in giving 
to them not only the lessons of religion, but the leaven of 
new and more democratic ideas. 

But the feudal system was to survive to modern times, 
with the worship of the Emperor as its central pillar and 
loyalty to the overlord as its most characteristic note. 

Bushido, or the "Way of the Soldier", developed as an 
unwritten and semi-articulate code of chivalry, and the 
samurai, "servants", who bound themselves to Spartan sim- 
plicity in revolt against licence and luxury, were the leaven 
of mediaeval society. Despising money they endured hard- 
ness, practised meditation and contemplated the transiency 
of life, yet vowed themselves to loyal service and cheerfully 
laid down life itself for their overlord. 

The middle ages of Japan were, like our own, ages of 
violence tempered with chivalry, and of military insolence 
tempered with other-worldliness and stoicism. 

Zen Buddhism, which insists on quietness and meditation, 
on simplicity and candour, did much to refine and to deepen 
the spirit of loyalty and courage. And Bushido, or the "Way 
of the Warrior", was an unwritten code binding unto death. 
The samurai were loyal to their daimio or overlord, and 
harikiri, or suicide by disembowelling, was the last expres- 
sion of their devotion to a lord whose cause had been de- 
feated or whose honour smirched. As each daimio was in 
effect a small sovereign and was usually at war with a rival 
overlord there were continual duels in which a spirit of 
"recollectedness", of spiritual tension, was as much a duty 
as courage and stoical endurance. 

Thus an other-worldly spirit, derived from the monks 
of Buddhism, laid hold of men of the world, and a gentle 
melancholy chastened their worldly ambitions, a sense of the 
transiency and futility of life. 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 91 

If the Japanese are like the Greeks they combine Athenian 
with Spartan qualities, the zest of life, the quick response 
to beauty with hardihood and stoic detachment. To both 
Buddhism made its contribution, and in the Kamakura 
epoch (1200-1400) we may watch the polarization of these 
qualities, the aesthetic and gentle elements concentrating at 
Kyoto, the austere and rugged at Kamakura, each rather 
despising the other, as Athens and Sparta contemned one 
another in ancient Greece. The same separatism in fact long 
tore Japan into warring states, warring cities and even mon- 
astic houses engaged in internecine strife, and all keeping up 
the myth of the theocratic state and the Divine Emperor. 

Which is the truer Japanese symbol, the cherry-tree with 
its frail and exquisite beauty, or the gnarled and evergreen 
pine? The answer is "Both": and all through her stirring 
history there has been an alternation of these moods, or a 
synthesis of them. The warrior writes a delicate poem as he 
goes into battle: the aesthete throws off his languishing 
mood and stands revealed as a very lion for ferocity and 
courage. Then having done some ruthless deed retires to a 
monastery and undergoes lifelong penance. Until lately 
there has been no concept of the warrior as making war on 
evil or poverty or lawlessness. The strength as well as the 
weakness of his loyalties has been their narrow range and 
their intensity. 

IV 

With the Restoration loyalty has taken a nobler form, and 
if the Japanese have " taken opportunities of falling into 
temptation" in the pursuit of their "manifest destiny" this 
is one of many lessons taught them by Christendom. Yet 
the core of their imperialism is still loyalty, and the army 
itself is full of idealism. The leaven of the kingdom of God 
is at work in Japan. 

The virtues most natural to the Japanese and most ad- 
mired by them are those which the late Emperor used to 



92 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

commend to his soldiers by precept and example: loyalty, 
courage, courtesy, faithfulness to duty, and simplicity of life. 
It is clear that here is a character akin to that of the Christian. 
But when one visits the shrine of General Nogi, a famous 
exemplar of this samurai spirit, it becomes immediately 
evident that these are flowers upon a different stock: for he 
and his devoted wife killed themselves to accompany their 
Emperor into the world of spirits, and all Japan applauded. 

Hideyoshi's maxims are full of a fine spirit of courage, 
resignation and steadfastness, and his letters reveal courage, 
devotion to his wife and to his young son coupled with a 
frank acknowledgment of his concubine, whom he asks his 
wife to send to him. 

It is perhaps here that Christianity is working the greatest 
change in Japan. The enthusiasm of Western admirers is best 
balanced by a study of what the Japanese themselves have 
to say; and in their leading social reformers the old samurai 
spirit is seen sublimated and deepened. In such men as 
Toyohiko Kagawa and Commissioner Imamura and their 
colleagues are found loyalty to the Kingdom of God: 
courage in fighting entrenched evil: courtesy even to 
profiteers and panders, and a faithfulness and simplicity 
which are Franciscan rather than Spartan. If Francis Xavier 
is the inspiration of their faithfulness, Francis of Assisi is the 
pattern of their joyous simplicity. These are mighty names 
in Japan, which perhaps has not yet clearly seen that these 
are the samurai of Christ, and which has a strange habit of 
worshipping the disciple, rather than the Master. 

The following summary was recently given by Dr Ka- 
gawa, novelist and social reformer, to his Chinese friends. 
He is an eminent authority also in social theory, and if his 
statement may seem coloured by the enthusiasm of the con- 
vert and the propagandist it is one that is accepted, perhaps 
with a few changes of emphasis, by Buddhist as by Western 
observers. For "the great tree of Buddhism was rotten at 
the core", says Dr Anesaki, and the ethic of Confucius had 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 93 

made much of family duties and little of woman's place in 
the family. 

Now what is the difference between Buddhism and Taoism, 
and Christianity in Japan? Christianity has produced seven great 
changes in Japan: 

I. Home Life has changed. 

(a) Concubinage is dying out. In former days concubinage 
was a common thing. I myself am the son of a concubine, 
though my father registered me in the legitimate registration. 
Now not a single one of the present cabinet ministers keeps a 
concubine. Why? Because Christian teaching got the victory 
over the system of polygamy. 

(b) Prostitution we have had a long struggle against this evil, 
and that of the licensed quarters, of which we have five hundred 
and forty-five. Within the last three years we have been victori- 
ous, mosdy by the efforts of Christians, to pass bills for the gradual 
abolition of the licensed quarters in seven of the forty-six different 
prefectures and capital districts. In still another province, 
Saitama Ken, the system was completely abolished and the prosti- 
tutes given their freedom at the end of last year. This effort for 
purity in life is a victory for Christianity. 

(c) The Divorce Rate is decreasing. Forty years ago, out of 
every thousand marriages there were four hundred and thirty 
divorces. Now there are only a hundred and seven, as compared 
to about two hundred in New York. Why? By reason of 
Christianity. This is one of the great victories of Christianity in 
Japan. Though its numbers are small, Christianity has won this 
great victory of purity in home life. 

(d) Respect for children. In Japan children were not respected 
until after Christianity came. Then respect for children came with 
it. The fifth day of the fifth month is Boys' Day. We have the 
big carp flying in the air. This is children's day, and all the towns 
and villages everywhere commemorate it. We must reduce in- 
fant mortality, and care for the children we have so many 
associations now for children, imitating Christian institutions. 

(e) Respect for women. Even to-day in Japan women have 
small dishes and are allowed to eat very litde. But after Chris- 
tianity came respect for women grew astonishingly. That in- 
volves respect for home life, and leads on to respect for labour. 



94 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

There is an interesting relation between these two things, respect 
for women and respect for labour. In old Japan the only honour- 
able word for wife was "okusama", which means "the lady 
behind". It implied that a wife, to be held in honour, must be 
idle all the time. This was actually the case in the old days, but 
since Christianity came, women have been educated and re- 
spected, and the invidious distinction between honourable wives 
and working women has been abolished. 

II. Respect for labour. In Japan and in the Orient, in general, 
labourers and manual workers were not respected in former days, 
but when Christianity came, labour began to be respected. Ten 
years ago it was not yet so. I wrote an essay that year called 
"Worship of the Labourers" and was fined a hundred yen. But 
now we have gotten the victory. Jesus the Carpenter has gotten 
the victory. 

III. Since Christianity came, the great achievement is the 
democratic movement democracy in home life, democracy in 
occupation. For instance, we have the outcaste system. In Japan 
we have no slaves, but the slaves of former days were treated as 
outcastes. When Christianity came the outcastes disappeared. 
Inside the Christian church many weddings are now going on 
with outcastes. We don't even pronounce the word. In the slums 
of Kobe my chief work was with the outcastes. I also had contact 
with them later in the Peasant Movement. We persuaded the 
Peasant Movement to permit the outcaste group to join them. 

IV. Parliamentary Rule. Mr Nakashima the first, and 
Kenkichi Kataoka the second, presiding officers of the Japanese 
Parliament, were Christians, earnest Christians, the latter having 
once been president of Doshisha University. The democratic 
movement was from the beginning led by Christians, both 
nationally and locally. 

V. Respect for life. There is a great deal of suicide in Japan, 
fourteen thousand cases annually, but since Christianity came 
there has been care for would-be suicides, and prevention of this 
evil. Mr Jo in Kobe has cared for thousands of girls who tried to 
commit suicide. 

VI. Respect forformerly despised occupations. Injapan butchers 
were treated as outcastes, and fertilizer dealers were looked down 
upon. Christianity teaches respect for occupations, because 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 95 

Christianity teaches love for the poor and respect for all honest 
labour. 

VII. Philanthropy. Now the Buddhists are imitating us, but 
Christians started and managed such philanthropic work as that 
for lepers, the insane, orphans, for tne aged, reformatories for 
ex-convicts, work which represents love for sinners, and the 
temperance and prohibition movement which was organized 
first by Mr Ando, a Christian. 

In this fashion the ethical teaching of Jesus Christ, centred in 
the Cross, is a glorious success in Japan. You cannot deny the 
Christian victory in Japan. And I know Christianity will win. 
Though the Christian victory in the economic circle may be very 
slow I know it will win in China. Because it has won in Japan it 
will win in China. 

But great as has been the contribution of Christianity in 
ennobling Japanese family life it has an even greater task in 
sublimating the many noble qualities of this gifted people. 
European observers are agreed from Kaempfer the Dutch 
writer of the seventeenth century, a very acute mind, to 
Lord Elgin in the modern period, who found himself "as 
much astounded by the social and moral condition of Japan 
as he was by its material beauty". "A perfectly paternal 
Government: a perfectly filial people: a community entirely 
self-supporting: peace within and without: no want: no 
ill-will between classes. This is what I find in Japan in the 
year 1858 after two hundred years' exclusion of foreign trade 
and intercourse/' Can the Japanese of the twentieth century 
beat their own record of the nineteenth? Their problems are 
so much more complex and their temptations so much 
greater that they are in fact in need of a new ideal. In 
partnership with the neighbours to whom they owe so much 
lies the path of victory. This involves sacrifice : as Kagawa 
says "In the Cross we shall triumph". 



96 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

THE SOUL OF JAPAN 
I. GREAT RITUAL OF PURIFICATION 

(seventh century A.D. but containing much older matter) 

Give ear, all ye Imperial Princes, Ministers of State, and high 
functionaries, who are here assembled, and hearken to the great 
purification by which at this interlune of the sixth month are 
purged and washed away all sins which may have been com- 
mitted by Imperial officials and attendants whether they wear 
the scarf (women) or the shoulder strap (stewards) ; whether they 
bear on their back the bow, or gird on them the sword. 

Of yore, our Imperial ancestors who dwell in the plain of high 
heaven, summoned to an assembly the eight hundred myriads of 
deities, and held divine counsel with them. And they gave com- 
mand, saying, "Let our August Grandchild hold serene rule over 
the land of fair rice-ears the fertile reed-plain". But in the land 
thus delivered to him there were savage deities. These they 
chastised with a divine chastisement, and expelled with a divine 
expulsion. Moreover, the rocks, trees, and leaves of grass which 
had the power of speech, were silenced. Then they despatched 
him downward from his celestial, everlasting throne, cleaving as 
he went with an awful way-cleaving the many-piled clouds of 
heaven. Here at the middle point or the land entrusted to him, 
in Yamato, the High Sun Land, the August Grandchild established 
his peaceful rule and built a fair palace, basing deep on the nether- 
most rock the massy pillars, and upraising to high heaven the 
timbers of the roof wherewithal to shelter him from sun and sky. 

Now, of the various offences to be committed by the celestial 
race destined more and more to people this land of peaceful rule, 
some are of heaven and others of earth. Heavenly offences 1 are 
the breaking down of divisions between rice-fields, filling up of 
water-courses, removing water-pipes, flaying alive, flaying back- 
wards Earthly offences are the cutting of living bodies, the 

cutting of dead bodies, leprosy, incest, calamities from creeping 
things, from the high gods and from high birds, killing of cattle, 
bewitchments. 

1 So called because committed first by the god Susa-no-wo in 
heaven. 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 9? 

Whensoever these offences are committed, for committed they 
will be, let the great Nakatomi clip heavenly twigs at the top and 
clip them at the bottom, making thereof a complete array of one 
thousand stands for offerings. Having trimmed rushes of heaven 
at the top and trimmed them at the bottom, let them split them 
into a manifold brush. Then let them recite this great liturgy. 

When they do so, the gods of heaven, thrusting open the 
adamantine doors of heaven and cleaving the many-piled clouds 
of heaven with an awful way-cleaving, will approach and lend 
ear. The gods of earth, ascending to the tops of the high mountains 
and the tops of the low mountains, sweeping aside the mists of 
the high mountains and the mists of the low mountains, will 
approach and lend ear. 

Then shall no offences remain unpurged, from the court of the 
august child of the gods even to the remotest ends of the realm. 
As the many-piled clouds of heaven are scattered at the breath of 
the Wind Gods ; as the morning breezes and the evening breezes 
disperse the morning vapours and the evening vapours ; as a huge 
ship moored in a great harbour, casting off its stern moorings, 
casting off its bow moorings, drives forth into the vast ocean; as 
yonder thick brushwood is smitten and cleared away by the sharp 
sickle forged in the fire so shall all offences be swept utterly 
away. To purge and purify them, let the goddess Seoritsu-hime, 
who dwells in the rapids of the swift stream whose cataracts 
tumble headlong from the high mountains and from the low 
mountains, bear them out into the great sea plain. There let the 
goddess Haya-akitsu-hime, who dwells in the myriad ways of 
the tides of the raging sea, and in the myriad meeting places of 
the rides of the myriad sea paths, swallow them up, and let the 
god Ibukido Nushi (the master of the spurring-out place), who 
dwells in Ibukido, spurt them out away to the nether region. 
Then let the goddess Haya-sasura-hime, who dwells in the nether 
region, dissolve and destroy them. 

They are now destroyed, and all, from the servants of the Im- 
perial court down to the people in the four quarters of the realm, 
are from this day forth void of offence. 

Attend, all of you, with ears pricked up to the plain of high 
heaven, to this great purification by which, on the interlune of 
the sixth month as the sun goes down, your offences are purged 
and purified. After Aston. Japanese Literature . 



98 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

II. FROM THE LAWS OF Koioxu 1 

(A.D. 645) 
(a) Rules for Officials 

When you proceed to your posts, prepare registers of all free 
subjects of the State and of the people under control of others, 
whether great or small. Take account also of the acreage of culti- 
vated land. As to the profit arising from the gardens and ponds, 
the water and land, deal with them in common with the people. 
Moreover, it is not competent for the provincial governors, while 
in their provinces, to decide criminal cases, nor are they permitted 

by accepting bribes to bring the people to poverty and misery 

On all, from the rank of Hangwan downward, who accept bribes 
a fine shall be imposed of double the amount, and they shall 
eventually be punished criminally according to the greater or less 
heinousness of the case. 

Nine men are allowed as attendants on the chief governor, seven 
on an assistant, and five on a secretary. If this limit is exceeded, 
and they are accompanied by a greater number, both chief and 
followers shall be punished criminally. 

(b) Regulations on Burial Customs 

Let small stones be used for the tombs of all from the rank of 
Prince down to that of Shochi, and let white cloth be used for the 
hangings. . . . 

When a man dies, there have been cases of people sacrificing 
themselves by strangulation, or of strangling others by way of 
sacrifice, or of compelling the dead man's horse to be sacrificed, 
or of burying valuables in the graves in honour of the dead, or of 
cutting the hair, and stabbing the thighs and pronouncing an 
eulogy on the dead. Let all such old customs be entirely dis- 
continued. 

A certain book says: "No gold or silver, no silk brocades, and 
no coloured stuffs are to be buried". Again it is said: "From the 
ministers of all ranks down to the common people, it is not 
allowed to use gold or silver ". Shall there be any cases of this 
decree being disregarded and these prohibitions infringed, the 
relations shall surely receive punishment. 

1 After M. Anesaki. 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 99 

III. FROM THE EDICT OF SnoMU 1 

(eighth century A.D.) 

If there be any of our number who are unkind to parents, or 
neglectful or disobedient, we will not conceal it or condone it, 
but will report it 

We shall require children to respect their parents, servants to 
obey their masters, husbands and wives and brothers and sisters 
to live together in harmony, and the younger people to revere 
and to cherish their elders Each kumi (group of five house- 
holds) shall carefully watch over the conduct of its members, so 
as to prevent wrongdoing. 

If any member of a kumi, whether farmer, merchant, or artizan, 
is lazy, and does not attend properly to his business, the ban- 
gashira (chief officer) will advise him, warn him, and lead him 
into better ways. If the person does not listen to this advice, and 
becomes angry and obstinate, he is to be reported to the toshiyori 
(village elder) 

When men who are quarrelsome and who like to indulge in 
late hours away from home will not listen to admonition, we will 
report them. If any other kumi neglects to do this, it will be part 
of our duty to do it for them. . . . 

All those who quarrel with their relatives, and refuse to listen 
to their good advice, or disobey their parents, or are unkind to 
their fellow-villagers, shall be reported (to the village officers) 

Dancing, wrestling, and other public shows shall be forbidden. 
Singing- and dancing-girls and prostitutes shall not be allowed to 
remain a single night in the mura (village). 

Quarrels among the people shall be forbidden. In case of dis- 
pute the matter shall be reported. If this is not done, all parties 
jhall be indiscriminately punished 

Speaking disgraceful things of another man, or publicly posting 
^im as a bad man, even if he is so, is forbidden. 

Filial piety and faithful service to a master should be a matter 
)f course ; but when there is any one who is especially faithful and 
liligent in these things, we promise to report him... for re- 
:ommendation to the government. . . . 

As members of a kumi we will cultivate friendly feeling even 
nore than with our relatives, and will promote each other's 
1 G. B. Sansom. Op. tit. 

7-2 



zoo THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

happiness, as well as share each other's griefs. If there is an un- 
principled or lawless person in a kumi, we will all share the 
responsibility for him. 

The above are samples of the moral regulations only: there 
were even more minute regulations about other duties for 
instance : 

When a fire occurs, the people shall immediately hasten to the 
spot, each bringing a bucketful of water, and shall endeavour, 

under direction of the officers, to put the fire out Those who 

absent themselves shall be deemed culpable. 

When a stranger comes to reside here, enquiries shall be made 
as to the mura whence he came, and a surety shall be furnished 
by him. . . . No traveller shall lodge, even for a single night, in a 
house other than a public inn. 

News of robberies and night attacks shall be given by the ring- 
ing of bells or otherwise; and all who hear shall join in pursuit, 
until the offender is taken. Any one wilfully refraining, shall, on 
investigation, be punished. 

IV. A NINTH CENTURY PROCLAMATION 1 

Hearken ye all to the Word of the Sovereign Prince of Yamato 
that is a Manifest God, saying : 

A report has been made to Us that in the East of this land which 
We rule from the throne of Heavenly Sun Succession, Gold has 
been found. 

Now We, considering that of all the various Laws the Great 
Word of Buddha is the most excellent for protecting the State, 
did desire to place the Great Scripture called Saisho-kyo, and 
images of Roshana Buddha in all the various countries under Our 
rule, so that by praying to the Gods that dwell in Heaven and the 
Gods that dwell in Earth, and by worshipping the reigns (sic) of 
our Distant Sovereign Ancestors, whose names are to be spoken 
with awe, We might guide and lead the people and serve with 
such a heart that Evil would cease and Good arise, and Peril would 
change and become Peace indeed. But people doubted and 
thought this could not be, and We Ourself grieved because We 
thought there would not be enough Gold. Yet now the Three 
Treasures have vouchsafed this excellent and divine Great Sign 
1 G. B. Sansom. Op. cit. 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 101 

of the Word, and We think that this is a thing manifested by the 
guidance and grace of the Gods that dwell in Heaven and the Gods 
that dwell on Earth and likewise by the love and kindness of the 
August Sovereign Spirits, 

Therefore We have joyfully received it and reverently re- 
ceived it, and not knowing whether to go forward or backward, 
night and day We have humbly reflected, thinking that whereas 
such a thing might come to pass in the reign of a King wise in the 
cherishing and soothing of the people, We are indeed ashamed 
and overcome with thankfulness because it has been manifested 
in Our time, who are unworthy and unskilled. 

Shall We alone, therefore, receive this Great and Precious 
Sign? Nay, it is right that We should humbly receive it and 
accept it in rejoicing together with Our people. And inasmuch 
as We, even as a God, do so consider, We will cherish and 
reward them All and We will add words to the name of this 
August Era. 

To all the Gods, beginning with the Shrine (s) of the Great 
God(s) We will present rice-lands, and to all their Wardens We 
make gifts. To the temples We will allow land to cultivate and 
to all monks and nuns We pay homage and make gifts. Newly- 
built temples which can become public temples We make into 
public temples. To some among the Keepers of the August Tombs 
We will make gifts. Further, in those places where are (the tombs 
of) subjects who have excelled in serving the Realm and guarding 
the State, We will set up monuments which as long as Heaven 
and Earth endure shall not be dishonoured or defiled by men. 



And as to the children of those of Our subjects who have served 
us as Ministers, according to the manner of their service their sons 
have been rewarded but their daughters are not rewarded. But 
are men alone to bear their fathers' names, and women not to be 
called thereby? We consider that it is right for them to serve to- 
gether side by side. We reward you therefore, so that, neither 
mistaking nor neglecting the teachings imparted by your fathers 
that you might become as they desired nor letting their house 
decay, you may serve the Sovereign Court. 



102 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

We will reward aged persons, and We will grant favour to 
poor persons. In the case of persons of filial piety We will grant 
exemptions and bestow rice-lands. 

We will pardon criminals and We will reward (scribes?) and 
learned men. 

We will reward also those who found the Gold, and the 
Governor of the province of Michinoku and the officials of the 
District, and (all) down to the peasants. All the peasants of the 
Realm We will cherish and love. 



V. ETHICS OF LATER SHINTO 

(twelfth century [?] After Aston, "Shinto") 
(a) Humility 

If ye deserve our aid put away pride. 
Even a hair of pride shuts you out 
As it were a vast cloud. 

Oracle of the God of Kasuga. 

(b) Inner Rectitude 

If that which is within be not bright 

It is vain to pray for that which is without. 

Oracle of Tatsuta. 

(c) Truth 

All ye who come seeking the attainment of desire 
Pray with hearts purified from falsehood: 
Reflecting truth as a mirror 
Be ye clean within and without. 

Oracle of the God Tetnman-Tenji. 

(d) Purity of Heart 

To keep the heart uncontaminated, that is God: 
Like unto heaven it is a gift of earth to men. 

Revelation to the Emperor Seiwa. 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 103 

(e) Uprightness 

It is the upright heart of all men 
Which is one with the Most High, 
In heaven and upon earth itself 
The false and crooked have no place. 

Revelation to a Prince. 

(/) Compassion 1 

ye who worship here be filled with Compassion 
For beggars and lepers even for ants and crickets. 
Whoso extends his pity and charity 

Will have his life immeasurably prolonged. 

Oracle ofHachiman. 

VI. THE CONFESSION OF SHINRAN 

(thirteenth century) 

Though I seek refuge in the True Faith 
Yet is my heart not sincere: 
Deceit and untruth are in my flesh, 
And in my soul is no clear light. 

Too strong for me is the evil of my heart; 
My soul is full of the poison of serpents, 
Even my righteous deeds are tainted with it, 
And must be called the works of lies. 

There is no compassion in my soul 
The good of men is not dear in my eyes, 
And I am impotent in right-doing : 
Did I not find refuge in His Grace 

1 should die the death of the shameless. 

After S. Yamabe. Wisdom of the East Series. 

VII. THE FAITH OF NICHIREN IN EXILE 

(thirteenth century) 

Is it not by forging and firing that the rough iron is tempered 
into a sharp sword ? Are not rebuffs and persecutions a refining 
fire? 

1 Hachiman is God of War, and this passage suggests Buddhist 
influence All these oracles reveal mainland ideas. 



104 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 

In exile I may burn away accumulated sins. The world is full 
of faithless men, and such men rule our land to-day.... 

It is said "The protection of the gods is for them who are 
strong and prepared". The scripture is a sharp sword, and yet it 
is useless unless we use it aright. Be strong, and discipline your 
minds. Be steadfast in the faith. 

(After M. Anesaki.) 

VIII. IDEALS OF THE POETS 

(a) Loyalty 

Serving our Sovran-Lord at sea, 
Leave we our bodies to its waves : 
Serve we our sovran too by land, 
Leaving them on the bloody heath. 
Rejoice to die in our dread Sovran's cause 
Nor backward cast a lingering glance. 

(b) Resignation and Disloyalty 
(A deserted wife speaks) 

My breaking heart I lament not, 

But bow to Destiny. 
But thou hast broken solemn Vows : 

The Gods absolve and pity thee. 

(c) Sic transit 
(An archbishop on his promotion) 

Unfit to rule in an evil world, 
With its false pomp and pride; 
O might I find a humble hut 
Far up the lonely mountain-side 
And there in monkish black abide. 

The first poem is from the Mannyo-shu or " Collection of a 
Myriad Leaves", belonging to the eighth century: the other two 
are from the thirteenth-century Hyaku-nin-shu or "Verses of a 
Hundred Poets". These and other versions are by the present 
author unless otherwise acknowledged. 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 105 

IX. HIDEYOSHI'S MAXIMS AND MORALS 

(sixteenth century) 

(a) From a scroll kept at Nikko 

Life is like a long journey with a heavy pack. Let thy pace be 
slow and sure. Stumble not. Know that hardship is man's 
natural lot and there is no place for grumbling or despair. When 
vaulting ambition rears itself remember days of adversity. For- 
bearance is the root of quietness and steadfastness. Look on wrath 
as thine enemy. If thou knowest only victory, woe unto thee, 
ill fortune awaits thee. Blame thyself not others. 

(b) From a letter to his ivife about his concubine Yodo 

We have the enemy like birds in a cage and are in no danger. 
Pray set your mind at rest. 

I long for the young Lord my son, but must not yield for the 
sake of the future. 

I am looking after my health and even having moxa (cautery). 

I am telling the daimy5 they may send for their wives, and I 
want Yodo. Please make arrangements for her journey, and tell 
her that next to you she is my favourite. 

May 1590. 
From G. B. Sansom. JapHri. 



X. ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE IN THE 
SEVENTEENTH CENTURY 

They are well and firmly ruled, united and peaceful: schooled 
to give due worship to the Gods, due obedience to the laws, due 
submission to their overlords, due love and consideration to their 
neighbours. Civil, kindly, courageous and virtuous they excel 
all nations in art and industry. Possessed of an excellent territory, 
enriched by trade and commerce, at home they are abundantly 
provided with all the necessities of life. 

Kaempfer. 



106 THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 
XL IMPERIAL AIMS 

(From the Coronation Rescript of 1928) 

It is Our resolve to promote, within, the education and ad- 
vancement of our people, moral and material that there may be 
harmony and contentment, power and prosperity, and, without, 
to cultivate friendly relations with all peoples, that the peace of 
the world and the welfare of humanity may be assured. We call 
on You, Our beloved Subjects, to be of one mind, and forgetting 
selfish aims in the public service, to work with one accord, to 
help Us attain our Ideals: 

So may we in some measure add to the illustrious traditions, 
and with good conscience face the Heavenly Spirits, of Our 
Ancestors. 

XII. PROVERBS OF JAPAN 

Though you lock the door ever so securely trouble will find a 
way in. 

Even in a village of eight there's generally a patriot to be found. 

The second word makes the fray. 

In the house where the samisen is played all day long there will 
be little rice in the larder. 

All colours are the same to a blind man. 

It's no use cutting a stick when the fight is over. 

Virtue carries a lean purse. 

A bad daughter-in-law is worse than a thousand devils. 

Crafty eyes and loose lips were never modelled on the face of 
virtue. 

He who hunts two hares, leaves one and loses the other. 

If there are two fires in one room, both will smoke. 

He who buys what he needs not, sells what he needs. 

If every day was a sunny day who would not wish for rain? 

It is difficult to be strong and not be rash. 

It's generally the wickedest man who knows the nearest path 
to the shrine. 

When all men praised the peacock for his beautiful tail, the 
birds cried out with one consent, "Look at his legs! and what a 
voice!" 



THE ETHICS OF THE JAPANESE 107 

Make your plans for the year at the beginning; correct your 
wife from the first day. 

A lie has no legs, but scandalous wings. 

Never follow on the heels of a sorrow or it may turn back. 

Game is cheaper in the market, but sweeter in the field. 

Valiancy and boastfulness never buckle on the same sword. 

Avoid three things a snake, a smooth-tongued man, and a 
wanton woman. 

If you pray to a Buddha, pray to one only. 

If a man steals gold he's put in prison; if he steals a land he's 
made king. 

A perfect vase never came from a bad potter's wheel. 

The bosoms of the wise are the tombs of secrets. 

The tongue of woman is her sword, which never rusts. 

A good rat will not eat the grain near its own hole. 

Fall seven times, stand up the eighth time. 

Cold tea and cold rice are bearable; but cold looks and cold 
words are unendurable. 

The heron's a saint when there are no fish about. 

The bird that offers itself to the net is fair game to the fowler. 

Learning without wisdom is a load of books on an ass's back. 



CHAPTER IV 
THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

"Man is the measure of all things." PROTAGORAS 
I 

For the study of the ethical ideals of the Greeks the historical 
background may be simplified as follows. After the fall of 
the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations there came a dark 
age, during which feudal aristocracies took the place of the 
earlier monarchies. During these centuries, the tenth and 
the ninth B.C., the Aegean peoples were strengthened by 
successive invasions of northern groups. This movement 
continued for the next two centuries, and it is during this 
period of discovery and adventure that the city-states are 
developed, independent, yet bound together by a common 
religion, and a growing sentiment of cultural unity. All 
Greeks for instance went to the sacred places, many of which 
were identical with those of the earlier civilizations, such as 
Delphi and Olympia. Here and elsewhere great religious 
festivals were held, including athletic and musical contests 
open only to Greeks, and these played a great part in build- 
ing up a national patriotism, side by side with that of the 
individual cities. 

During the seventh and sixth centuries powerful tyrants 
began to take the place of hereditary clan-chiefs, and these 
men did much for the prosperity and for the culture of their 
cities, till by the end of the sixth century Greek art reaches 
one great stage in its development, and early philosophy is 
eagerly pursuing its quest, while new political experiments 
are being tried, and new forms of literature developed. 

In the fifth century Greece is threatened by the great 
empire of Persia in the east and by Carthage in the west. 
Within the city-states the tyrants have in many cases been 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 109 

overthrown, and democracies established. There is a strong 
sense of individualism and independence which has its value, 
but which prevents union against common foes. The 
victories of Marathon (490 B.C.), Salamis (480), Plataea 
(479), decided the fate of Greece, as of Persia, and were 
followed by a golden age which we know as the Age of 
Pericles. The second half of the fifth century was indeed the 
climax for the second period of Greek civilization, as the end 
of the sixth was that of the first period. Athens became the 
head of the confederacy of Delos, and in 446 a thirty-year 
peace was signed between her and the peoples of Pelopon- 
nesus; but in 431 began a long war in which Sparta Was 
victorious and the Athenian dream of an empire was at an 
end. This is the time of great dramatists like Euripides and 
Aristophanes, of the historianThucydides and the philosopher 
Socrates, the ideal man of the ancient world: a time of in- 
dividualism and of questioning. Many of its questions are 
still unanswered, but the inspiration of its great teachers is 
still a mighty force. 

During the fourth century Thebes assumed the leadership, 
and local jealousies continued until the Macedonians under 
Philip (359-336 B.C.) and Alexander (336-323 B.C.) con- 
quered the whole of Greece, and the Hellenistic Age was 
ushered in. The inspiration of Greek thought was thus 
carried far afield. Through his tutor Aristotle Alexander is 
the pupil of Socrates and of Euripides, who gave content to 
his dream of uniting East and West. 

During this period of about seven centuries, the Greeks 
developed their characteristic ideals, the love of knowledge, 
the spirit of inquiry, the genius for mathematics and for 
philosophical speculation. They also developed the civic 
ideal so admirably described by Thucydides, an ideal of 
loyalty and patriotism within narrow limits, and the personal 
ideals of temperance, justice and harmony which were to 
become classical for subsequent ages. 



no THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

II 

As in India, so in Greece, archaeology is revealing ancient 
civilizations long buried. Apparently the lonians of Homeric 
times were as little aware of what lay beneath them and 
behind them, the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures of the 
third and second millennia B.C., as their cousins the Aryan 
invaders of India of the older civilizations of the Indus 
Valley. We cannot doubt that in each case the invaders 
learned from their predecessors some concepts of tfie gods 
and of their images, 1 and some folk-ways in which were the 
germs of new moral ideals. Yet the great past is but a dim 
background, and our study begins with the Homeric poems 
of the Greeks, as it begins with the Vedic hymns of the early 
Indians. Both collections belong to about 1000 B.C., and 
both embody much earlier material. Both are in fact an- 
thologies of poetry recited first at the camp-fire, and later at 
the courts of chieftains. These collections are a notable 
source-book for the ideals of the laymen of those early ages, 
all the more valuable for their naivete and for the blending 
of the high and noble with the ignoble and crude. As early 
India distinguishes between straight and crooked so early 
Greece between dikaios, true to oneself, and adikos, untrue 
or simply right or straight and wrong or crooked. 2 In both 
there is a sense of joy in the adventure of the invaders who 
are in love with their new fatherland and believe that the 
gods are on their side in the struggle to possess and master it. 
These gods are of heroic stature, yet often less moral than 
their worshippers just, but also unjust, punishing evil, but 
also committing it. If an Indra is a drunkard and a parricide 
Zeus the mighty Ruler of Mount Olympus no less reflects 
the character of an Ionic warrior chief, and for many centuries 
the poets and philosophers of the Greeks are to seek to 

1 In India and Greece alike a primitive mother-goddess is taken over 
by the invader, as well as phallic symbols and fertility rituals. 

2 Gradually the idea emerges that adikia is untruth falsity to one's 
true nature. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS in 

moralize their gods, and often to suffer for their con- 
victions. 

In the Homeric poems themselves there is a dim feeling 
after a higher ideal, and it may well be that they represent 
the fusion of a higher and a lower stage of religious develop- 
ment. There emerges, for instance, behind and above the 
immortals, the concept of moira (Fate), usually thought of 
as impersonal, sometimes embodied in the will of a god. It 
is like the rita of the Rig- Veda and unlike it: for there is no 
one god who is consistently moral like Varuna, to be its 
guardian and embodiment. It is the ultimate Power, a moral 
Order. There is emerging too a sense that men are responsible 
for their own sufferings. "How vainly do mortal men 
blame us gods", says Zeus, "for to us they trace evil, where- 
as in the blindness of their heart they bring sorrow on them- 
selves, beyond what is ordained." 1 This is undoubtedly an 
early passage, and the idea is taken up in later books that it 
is not Fate nor the Gods, but man's own sin which brings 
evil upon him. 2 In this the Greeks are in advance of their 
contemporaries in Israel. 

The men of these early poems have the good qualities of 
an early civilization hospitality, loyalty, courage, gener- 
osity; and in these we can trace the roots of those great 
virtues which the Greeks have given to mankind in their 
most articulate and harmonious form. Yet the heroes of the 
epics are crafty as well as generous, moral cowards at times 
as well as physically brave, and family honour, to which they 
are sensitive, is often sullied. They belong to a time of tran- 
sition and unsettlement. The demoralization due to a long 
war may be one cause of the confusion, but these mixed 
qualities belong also to modern men. And it is easy to find 
parallels in modern Greece to the cosmopolitan and crafty 
Odysseus, and to the simpler and more honest Achilles. And 
if we cannot admire the chief actors in the Odyssey, "the sly 
cattish wife, the cold-blooded egoist Odysseus, and die 
1 Odyssey, I, 32fF. * Ibid, xxn, 



ii2 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

priggish son" as its latest translator says, yet on the whole 
the Homeric Age is one of a robust morality; its heroes are 
good friends and bad enemies. 1 For the rest we can discover 
the germ of that moderation in word and in deed which was 
to develop into the balance or harmony (metron) of later 
Greek ideals; and there are also the twin-concepts of nemesis, 
righteous indignation against the violation of social bonds, 
and aides, a sense of fitness respect for the respect of the 
respectworthy, as we might translate it. So hubris, its 
opposite, is wilful disrespect for social or religious duty. But 
these are symbols impossible to translate in an age with such 
different views of God and man. How, for instance, shall 
we render sophrosyne, 2 that sense of sobriety and modesty 
and discretion which is also here in germ, and which is soon 
to develop into another cardinal virtue? So it is with arete, 
all-round perfection or excellence, whether in war or in 
peace; for the good man must be a good fighter, loyal to 
home and country and friends, and a remorseless enemy. 3 
Our idea of Virtue has changed as that of the Greeks them- 
selves was to change, and the word itself has no longer the 
meaning of manliness suggested by its original form and 
its Latin equivalent. 

As to truth and justice, here again new ideals are 
emerging: "I hate him like Hell who hides one thing in his 
mind and says another with his tongue", cries Achilles; but 
lying was very common; and we do not gather that the 
early Greeks were taught to speak the truth as were their 
cousins the Persians. The very fact that Herodotus tells us 
that lying was held to be the most disgraceful thing in the 
world among the Persians suggests that the emphasis was 
not so strong among his own people. Yet part of the moral 
reformation of the Greeks lay in their gradually awakening 
sense that the crafty Odysseus was not altogether admirable, 

1 "In his wrath the Homeric hero is a savage", says Dr A. C. Pearson. 

2 In the Charmides Plato fails to define it. 

3 Cf. //. xxn, 62; OJ. vm, 528. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 113 

and Plato laid the axe to the root of much error in the ancient 
religion and morals when he insisted that " truth is the be- 
ginning of every good thing, both in gods and in men". 1 
We remember that St Paul, like Asoka, had to insist that 
"truth must be spoken", and we are still far from realizing 
this ideal. The world still practises the proverb in Aeschylus, 
"gain is sweet though it be got by lies". 

It is impossible and even a little ridiculous to seek an 
ordered ethic in these early poems, nor need we suppose that 
Homer really admired his "blameless " Aegisthus, a murderer. 
He is content to sing of a spontaneous and vigorous age in 
which women are more honoured than in later Greece, and 
slaves and children are kindly treated. A wonderful direct- 
ness and simplicity mark the thought and the speech of 
Homeric times, and these are qualities which were to lead 
the Greeks far in the quest of truth and beauty. Already 
their passionate love of the fatherland is preparing them for 
its twin-loyalty that love of Hellenism or of the Greek 
spirit, which is just this love of the True and the Beautiful. 
Homeric Greece is gathering the spiritual forces for an 
amazing efflorescence. If there is no intimate connection yet 
between religion and ethics, the germ is present in that 
hubris (Insolence) is seen to be the root of evil, and is op- 
posed to sebas (Reverence). The gods will reward the one 
and punish the other, for from Insolence spring the calami- 
ties which overwhelm men and countries. 

This is worked out in Hesiod's Works and Days written in 
the seventh century to admonish his brother Perses for oust- 
ing him from his heritage; and with Hesiod Greece enters 
upon a more articulate, if more commonplace, ethical ideal. 
With him we pass from the rich tapestry of heroic times to 
the homespun of everyday life. War had done its worst, 
and life was no longer as spontaneous and cheerful as in the 
heroic days. From the courts of princes we have passed to 
the dry and barren countryside of Boeotia, and the life of the 
1 Laws, v, 730. 

si 8 



ii4 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

common people is hard. Men are corrupt and nature 
grudging. The poet administers a homely remedy: 

It is not work that is shameful, but idleness: 
Be not a drone, but love seemly work: 
Before virtue the Gods have set the goal of sweat and toil: 
Long and steep is the road, and rough at the first, but when the 
top is reached it becomes easier to the feet. 1 

Here Hesiod reaches true poety, as well as sound morality. 
His praise of justice, too, is noteworthy; she is Zeus' own 
child, and has his ear, aided by a thousand spies, and though 
"she may delay her coming she comes surely to punish evil" 
Men have entered upon the Iron Era which followed several 
others : that of Gold, when they dwelt in unity; that of Silver, 
when they waxed so insolent and careless that they were 
wiped out by Zeus, and were followed by savages of the 
Bronze Race, who in turn gave place to the Heroes who died 
in the war against Thebes, and are dwelling now in the Is- 
lands of the Blest. This Iron Race is one of mixed good and 
evil, for hubris is again mounting the throne, and aidos is 
fading away once more from earth. One of die oft-recurring 
cliches of the Greeks is that * ' man must think man's thoughts 
in temperance and sanity. 

As in the Homeric Age the sanctity of the oath and the 
duty of hospitality to the stranger have in them germs of 
greater things, so the insistence here upon righteous conduct 
and hard work reveals a more reflective stage. 

But we find in Hesiod also many of the superstitions and 
tabus of the countryside belief in omens and lucky days, 
and in the interdependence of prosperity and piety. This dies 
hard even in a disillusioned age. Side by side went on die old 
Chthonic rituals of fertility, and new orgies in honour of the 
Phrygian Dionysus god of vegetation and wine, and these 
let loose a spirit of carnival very different from the modera- 
tion of the civic cults which continued Homeric worship. 

1 Works and Days. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 115 

Such was the Panathenaia, when a new robe was presented 
to the goddess, and officials recited Homeric hymns. The 
Pan-Hellenic games brought the city-states together and 
fostered national sentiment. Zeus and Apollo belong to all 
alike, and a clash of loyalties begins between the city and the 
country as a whole. At this time too the Sophists begin to 
distinguish between laws human and divine, and even to 
suggest that custom rather than necessity is the basis of 
morals. They found different attitudes to the same thing in 
Sparta and in Athens, and a growing tendency to criticize. 
Thus Spartans accuse Athenians of pampering not only 
themselves but their slaves, and before long Athens is to 
make great claims as representing the ideal State. Ideals of 
virtue are in the making. 

Dikaiosyne is conceived as civic justice and discipline. 
While Sparta made much of this Athens boasted of greater 
freedom and spontaneity, and this is still more, as in ancient 
China, a gift of the countryside. 

We should note also that even in Homeric times there is 
a great difference between the man controlled by the mores 
of small communities like Achilles, and the cosmopolitan 
port-dweller Odysseus. This distinction may still be fairly 
made and it has apparently been continuous. If we knew 
more we should probably be more cautious in generaliza- 
tion. 

Yet for the sake of clarity we may schematize the cultural 
as we have the general history of the Greeks : all the great 
thinkers are seeking truth, goodness and beauty, but as the 
emphasis differs three great lines of torch-bearers are seen 
threading their way amongst the crowds and down the 
ages. 

First are the men of science seeking the truth about the 
universe, men of analytical mind, from Thales on for nearly 
a thousand years ; next come those of intuitive or poetic 
genius seeking the unseen beauty, from the first rhapsodists 
or bards down to the great tragedian Euripides; and some- 

8-2 



ii6 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

rimes mingling with these two processions, sometimes 
distinct, are the moral teachers seeking goodness and defining 
the good life. 

The lay-folk from statesman and ruler to citizen and helot 
are more or less affected by this long search, and in the drama 
and the laws much of this idealism filters down among the 
masses, and is crystallized in proverb and aphorism. An 
early pessimism for instance coins such phrases as "Better 
not to be born"; and an early fatalism makes man bow to the 
inscrutable. 

Ill 

Thus the gnomic utterances of the Seven Wise Men reveal 
increasing depth and a closer union between religion and 
morality. But morals are of slow growth, and there is still 
in Greece as in Palestine and India confusion between moral 
and ritual cleanness, and confused ideals of the nature of men 
and gods. But in all three countries the problem of pain and 
suffering is becoming acute, and men are seeking to probe 
below the surface of things to ultimate reality. 

If in contemporary Israel it is the prophets who vindicate 
God's righteousness and set up a high moral ideal for men, 
it is the early poets and philosophers who are the first torch- 
bearers of Greece. The drama which is to play so great 
a part in moral education begins in the cult of Dionysus, 
and in that Orphic religion which seems to have come in 
from Thrace, and to have brought with it another view 
of man's nature, and of God as dwelling in all things. Like 
Vishnu in India, Zeus is conceived by such groups not as 
the Ruler of Olympus but as "the beginning and the end, 
male and female, the breath of life, the pillar of the earth and 
sky, the lightning flash and the light of sun and moon". 
Man is of the earth earthy, yet also of heaven heavenly. He 
is spirit which is to be freed from the entangling flesh, as in 
the Indian sankhya, or it will go on forever transmigrating 
from body to body. To free it the right food must be eaten. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 117 

and the right ritual observed; but oaths must also be kept, 
and life is sacrosanct. These ideas were developed by such 
teachers as the Ionian Pythagoras, who about 530 B.C. 
gathered a band of disciples in South Italy, teaching that man 
is intermediate between gods and animals, capable of a love 
of wisdom and so assimilable to Godhead. 

As in India so in the Greek world philosophy begins with 
teaching salvation, and the disciples of Pythagoras are much 
like those of his contemporary Sakyamuni. Like them these 
wandering teachers accepted the doctrine of rebirth, but 
sought to moralize it, and to find salvation from it in a moral 
way of life. Meditation, silence and obedience are enjoined 
upon both companies in their quest for Wisdom. And for 
both groups man is free, and can find his highest happiness 
in goodness. Greece, like India, is travailing to bring forth 
a new and more inward concept of truth and beauty. She 
is also, in pioneers like Thales and his disciples at Miletus, 
laying the foundations of scientific investigation. Here are 
the twin roots of her culture. 

And as in contemporary India there is in the early thought 
of the Greeks a na'ive mingling of science and poetry: "all 
things are made of water" says Thales, but also "all things 
are made of gods". 

Slowly there emerges the metaphysical concept of the 
One behind the Many, the Abiding amidst the Changing, 
and in such figures as Heracleitus Greece produces another 
interesting parallel to Sakyamuni. Both insist that all things 
are a flux of becoming, and oppose older and more static 
views of the world. Both teach that in man's character is his 
destiny. Both lived in an age of rapid change, and must be 
understood in the light of these changes political, social and 
religious. And as in contemporary China men were busy 
discussing amidst so much that was transitional the true 
nature of reality, of goodness, of human nature and of political 
institutions. These questions were far from academic, and if 
the Sophists got a bad name it was because they were popu- 



ii8 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

larizers who appKed knowledge to practice, and lived on 
their fees. 

The city-dwellers pass during the sixth century from mon- 
archy to oligarchy and tyranny is at an end. In Solon we 
reach constitutional rule. He was appointed by general con- 
sent; but he had to defend his efforts on behalf of the poor, 
and under Peisistratus there was a revival of tyranny. But the 
spirit of democracy triumphed, and Solon's constitutional 
government became the norm for Athens. 

Their own more settled life calls out higher moral stand- 
ards in the light of which they criticize the gods of Homer, 
and defeat at the hands of the Persians makes them question 
old dogmas and axioms, and look to the roots of trouble in 
themselves. In Xenophanes, rhapsodist and wandering 
teacher, such criticism finds an early voice, and a very 
fearless one. 

Homer and Hesiod, he teaches, had led men into theft and 
cheating and adultery: gods must not be conceived in human 
form. 

But "beneath the ruins of the temple which he destroyed 
he found another and an older sanctuary", says Gomperz: 
" there is one above all others whose thoughts are not men's 
thoughts nor his form mortal". 1 

Xenophanes was also a pioneer in natural science, even 
collecting fossils and deducing from them an evolutionary 
theory of the earth's crust, and this he applies to moral 
teaching. 

Man too must advance to maturity not by sudden flashes 
of revelation, but by steady effort and orderly stages. He 
reminds us of Hsun-tse in China and of Thomas Huxley in the 
modern world. "He was at once a sower and a reaper. With 
one hand he sowed the seed from which a stately tree was 
to rise in the forest of Greek speculation: with the other 
hand he sharpened the axe which was to fell not that tree 
alone but many another mighty trunk." 2 

1 Gomperz, Greek Thinkers, E.T., p. 160. 2 Ibid. p. 164. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 119 

It was a new era which was at hand the dawn of a new 
unity and of a new inwardness in religion and ethics. 

The gnomic sayings are symbols and summaries of this 
new spirit. The aphorism " Nothing in excess" sounds a key- 
note; and another saying "Know thyself", written with it on 
the shrines of Apollo at Delphi, reveals a new inwardness in 
religious and moral thought. Pindar (522-442 B.C.) em- 
phasizes sophrosyne and develops the old doctrine that in- 
solence is the child of excess and the parent of pain. He also 
fosters the growing ideal of the aristocrat the kaloskagathos 
which was to dominate later ages. It may be compared 
with the Chinese ideal of the scholar, Chun-tse, and con- 
veniently studied in Aristotle. As the athletic contests grew 
in popularity physical beauty became a craze, and education 
in Greece as in China was based on music, athletics and 
literary studies. The gentleman proud and noble was the 
ideal, and arete (all-round excellence) was the goal. 

In 538 B.C. public competitions in producing "tragedies" 
were set up by Peisistratus of Athens, and with them a new 
educational medium of far-reaching power was developed. 
If the Greek gentleman, like his peer in China, was educated 
at the expense of the masses he gave back much in the form 
of the theatre. It began a revolution in thought, and was to 
educate the people in history and in theology. But the 
change was of slow growth. Even Pindar feels that "Heaven 
is brass", and that man cannot know the " Way of Destiny " ; 
but he can steer a middle path, and drink "the sweet hope 
which lies in piety and justice": looking for a happier re- 
birth and ultimate deliverance. But Pindar's successors, the 
great dramatists, more truly express the new era: Aeschylus, 
orthodox and pious, who yet voices the questions of an age 
of doubt and sadness: Euripides, rebel and individualist who 
uses old myths to embody realistic modern interpretations, 
and to voice urgent moral problems such as that "of the 
wronged wife and the broken home": and Sophocles who 
"standing midway between his rivals in point of actual time, 



120 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

represents also a kind of mean between their literary 
qualities" and religious attitudes. His characters are ideal 
types, and have been compared to the statues of his con- 
temporary Pheidias. "His poetry is to that of Aeschylus as 
the chiselled delicacy of the Ionic temple beside the rugged 
grandeur of the Doric." 1 And if Euripides is not so classically 
perfect as either he is more realistic and "modern" which 
is another way of saying more rebellious. All three must be 
seen in their historic setting. 

Pious acceptance of the justice of Heaven was for a time 
easy. Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.) who fought at Marathon, 
Salamis and Plataea had learned in these heroic days that 
there is a law of righteousness working out in human affairs. 
Punishment is linked with sin, not because Zeus is capricious, 
but because he is just; man must beware of evil company 
and of those false steps which give a foothold to Fate, and 
bring a dread harvest of sorrow. Acted at religious festivals, 
the great tragedies of this age are full of religious and 
ethical teaching. Zeus is not only all-seeing and all- 
powerful, but the most perfect of beings. Though his will is 
hard to trace, yet it shines at times through the darkness, and 
men can dimly discern a mighty purpose as the divine will, 
without effort and tireless, works out its plan. 

The essence of sin is as of old Insolence, which "bursts into 
blossom and yields its harvest, Delusion, bearing tearful 
fruit", and the dread harvest may be reaped by whole 
families, for men are bound together in the bundle of life. 
Yet there are unplumbed depths of mystery. If in the victory 
over Xerxes men can read Heaven's doom upon overween- 
ing pride, there is much suffering that remains unexplained. 
In the Persae Aeschylus vindicates the justice of Zeus but 
in the Prometheus, which has been compared with the "Book 
of Job", the problem of undeserved suffering is frankly 
faced. "These are the two protests of the ancient world 
against divine oppression." For if Job is innocent so is 
1 C. E. Robinson, The Genius of the Greek Drama, p. 9. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 121 

Prometheus, whose only sin is that "he loved mortals over- 
much". He is, in fact, the ideal type of the Athenian 
courageous and determined, but also gentle and compassion- 
ate "moved by a chivalrous, a romantic impulse to redress 
the wrongs of the world tender as well as magnanimous". 1 
Aeschylus gives us other great types of archaic and rugged 
power, and is as robust as Ezekiel in proclaiming that suffer- 
ing is not inherited but earned. 

I alone of men will still maintain 
A doctrine new that sin's the root 
And sinners are the natural fruit, 
As Pride engenders Pride again ; 
But then ancestral Righteousness 
Begets fair sons their kin to bless. 2 

It is not that "the parents have eaten sour fruit and the 
children's teeth are set on edge" to use Ezekiel's caustic 
rendering of an older teaching but that the bad have bad 
children; and this is offset by the doctrine, equally untrue, 
that the good beget good ones. Theology still clouds ob- 
servation. 

If Aeschylus excites and thrills us with the unsolved 
problem of these dread calamities, he leaves us with a con- 
viction that even if it seems to halt "justice is guiding all 
things to their goal",3 and his successor, Sophocles (497- 
405 B.C.), seeks to bring us back to harmony and peace by 
contemplation of the divine splendour. A gentle and lovable 
character, he sees that in piety, discretion and reverence 
lies the root of goodness; and he sets forth the view that to 
obey Heaven is to be "sinless in word and deed, governed 
by the sure laws which rule on high". God is tempering and 
purifying man in the fires of suffering: and, recognizing that 
the world and its glory are passing, man must learn to be 
kind as well as just; there is a Divine Law above all human 
laws, and it is better to obey God than man. Zeus rules in 

1 S. H. Butcher, Harvard Lectures, p. 20. 

1 Agamemnon, 749. 3 Agamemnon, 773. 



122 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

Heaven and sees all things. Men must have courage to 
endure. Through suffering life can be made glorious, and 
human society may yet embody the divine will. 

In the Antigone he raises the question of the conflict of 
human and divine laws, of love and duty, of the struggle 
between conscience and the state. Creon, misled by too 
great patriotism, breaks the human and divine law by re- 
fusing burial to Polynices. Antigone obeys God rather than 
man, and suffers the penalty, her lover, Creon's son, 
dying on her tomb: and "the Chamber of Love is the 
House of the Dead". 1 The poet himself speaks most clearly 
in the aged Oedipus, whose serenity in suffering is the 
promise of release in Heaven. 2 This note of resignation 
reflects the chastened mood of Athens plunged from the 
heights of victory, and from the buoyant mood of the 
Periclean age into shame and despair. 

in the brief half-century after Salamis she had achieved 
glorious things in politics, art and architecture, and now de- 
feated, first by Sparta and then by Macedon, she was to 
achieve yet greater things in thought. Euripides (485- 
407 B.C.) was, like Socrates and Plato, the teacher of a 
saddened and sobered people, driven to seek higher things 
than worldly success. But the cost was great. If Sophocles 
in gentle melancholy cries 

Best beyond all reckoning it is not to be born,'* 
Euripides says bluntly 

Greet the newborn child with dirges, 
Sing paeans o'er the body freed by death. 

As in India reflection breeds melancholy, and Euripides 
has seen the transiency of human achievement, defeat 
abroad and fratricidal war are followed by revolution at 
home; the rich grow fat at the expense of the poor, and 
standards of morality waver. Euripides sounds a sturdy 

1 Antigone, see Illustrative Reading ix. 

2 Oed. Col 3 Qed. Col 1225. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 123 

protest against Sophocles' serene piety. Against the older 
poet's conviction 

Nothing is wrong that Heaven commands, 
we have the defiance of Euripides 

If gods do ill they are no gods. 1 

The mouthpiece of a higher religion Euripides is also the 
voice of a new humanism, with its interest in the poor and 
the slave, and its blending of high emotion and calm reason. 
His heroic figures the magnanimous Theseus, the chaste 
Hippolytus, Alcestis perfect wife and mother are at once 
ideal and real, more modern than the archaic forms of 
Aeschylus, more god-like than the gods. Euripides finds 
Justice not in some heavenly judgment-seat, but on earth 
beside us and around us, if we have but eyes to see it. 2 No 
ancient writer is being more eagerly read to-day, for his 
problems are ours; and the Western world is turning, as 
Asia turned 2000 years ago, to this concept of an inner justice 
working out a causal sequence. 

IV 

Side by side with the poets were scientific and moral 
thinkers : amongst whom an honoured place must be given 
to Anaxagoras (480-430? B.C.) who took the philosophy of 
Miletus to Athens and taught that Mind (nous) is the motive 
power behind things material. A friend of Pericles he bade 
him "overcome those terrors which the phenomena of the 
skies raise in all who are ignorant of their causes' ',3 and was 
finally banished from Athens, for teaching that the sun is a 
red-hot ball of matter. To him, as to Euripides, Socrates owes 
an early impetus to think out the meaning of the world 
(469-399 B.C.). He is her grandest figure, greatest of the 
Sophists, heir of the tragedians, teacher of us all. A "Siren 

1 Sophocles, fr. 247. Euripides, fr. 292. 
z See Illustrative Reading x. 
3 Plutarch, Life of Pericles. 



124 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

spirit lodged in the shell of a Silenus", as Alcibiades de- 
scribed him, we see this humble son of an artisan sculptor 
fighting with distinction as a soldier, and receiving his call 
in a strange trance in camp at Potidaea. Twenty-four hours 
he remained silent, and then, like Saul of Tarsus, "was not 
disobedient to the heavenly vision". Hailed by the oracle 
as the wisest man of his day, he chose to interpret this to 
mean that he at any rate was conscious of his ignorance, 
and became to the gifted men of his day a physician of souls. 
Humble, yet confident, poor, yet making many rich, 
passionate yet pure, he was indeed an alchemist, transmuting 
the brass of unnatural vice, by this time almost universal, 
into the pure gold of friendship, and leading his young 
disciples by parable and dialogue and ironic dilemma to 
wisdom and truth. Unlike his contemporaries he took no 
fees, and was content to endure hardness throughout his 
life, and to die for his convictions. He believed that when 
men once hear the voice of reason they will become good 
and wise, and as a teacher he sought to implant a wisdom by 
which the whole personality might be brought into harmony. 
Led by his own "daemon" and by a more positive sense of 
mission, he belongs to the company of those mystics who 
have made nous, or intuition, their guiding-star, and have 
found the root of their own authority in that inner ex- 
perience of the soul, which is the eye of heavenly truth. 
Like Sakyamuni, he sought to foster this inner wisdom, 
believing that "no one is deliberately evil", but that men 
need a new scale of values and a moral tonic. 

Like Jesus he began with a call to "a change of mind", and 
like Confucius he insisted on accurate definition of terms, 
and refused to solve for his pupils the problems which they 
could work out for themselves. Making them examine 
words and principles he pricked the bubble of their conceit, 
and showed them with great patience and with ironic 
humour that wisdom begins in a recognition of one's un- 
wisdom. This process he found "not unpleasant"; and his 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 125 

disciples, even the dissolute Alcibiades, were made to feel 
that they were "neglecting the needs of the soul", till "their 
hearts leapt within them" as he limned the heavenly beauty. 
By his talk "of pack-asses and smiths, of shoe-makers and 
carters" he leads them on from the familiar things about 
them, and lures them from "the idols of the cave" to the 
true, the beautiful and the good. The story of his last days, 
told by Plato with exquisite reticence, is one of the great 
scenes in history. 

The sublimity of the life of Socrates is indeed nobly 
matched by the grandeur of his death. "He was at all times 
a marvel of good cheer and content", says Xenophon. "No 
one within the memory of man, as all admit, ever met death 
more nobly," 1 "Such", says Plato, "was the death of our 
friend, the best man that I have known, the wisest and most 
just." 2 He was the homely yet sublime incarnation of his own 
ideal of courage and of the disinterested search after truth. 

That he was a great thinker is clear. Notable schools 
sprang out of his teachings, for in him was a complex blend 
of the clear head and the great heart, of emotion and will, 
of reasoning and intuition, of enthusiasm and logic. He 
blent much that was best in the Pythagorean school of 
ecstatic religion with that scientific quest for truth which 
marks the Greek spirit at its best. These are the twin roots of 
Greek philosophy. Socrates seems to have identified the 
soul, psyche, which meant various things to his contempor- 
aries 3, with the self, or personality, to have called men to 
its cultivation, and to have taught that reverence for it 
which is one sure foundation of ethics. By his reverent 
attitude to men he made them reverend, and taught them 
to revere the good in others. That he forgave the judges who 
condemned him is the fulfilling of his own teaching. "It 
is wrong to requite injustice with injustice, or to do evil to 

1 Memorabilia, iv 8. 2. 2 Phaedo, ii8s. 

3 E.g. Breath of life, divine spark in man: cf. Atman in India. Like 
Sakyamuni he moralized and humanized the older mystical monism. 



126 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

any man, whatever he may have caused us to suffer/' 1 In 
this he is a pupil of Euripides, and like him stood for a more 
humane and universal religion, as against the exclusive and 
narrow loyalties of Athens and of the cult of Athena. For 
these two were really one, and the persecution of such men 
as Anaxagoras and Socrates was due to political as well as 
sectarian bitterness. 

By the range of his vision and the depth of his sympathies 
Socrates illumines many perennial problems, and until the 
advent of Jesus he remained the highest type of manhood in 
the Western world. Besides him we may set his great 
disciple Plato, who, if he has not created much of the Socrates 
we know, has given perfect literary expression to his ideals 
of beauty and truth. Former teachers had seen the world as 
a transient expression of the unseen and eternal. Plato de- 
velops this idealism, which has greatly influenced Christian 
thought and will continue to do so. God, he teaches, 
is the universal Mind and the Author of the phenomenal 
world; this he makes after a divine pattern, and man's soul 
must be modelled on divine beauty, for this world is the 
image of the invisible. When St Paul says that "the things 
that are unseen are eternal and the things that are seen are 
temporal"j he is giving perfect form to this Platonism, in 
which Greek religion and ethics find their noblest expression. 
We do not forget that Athens sometimes persecuted her 
prophets and banished her men of science, but in the end 
she capitulated to thought's demand for freedom and pur- 
sued the high quest of a philosophy which seeks to lead men 
from the unreal to the real, from the transient to the eternal, 
and from the false to the true. To this end are devoted the 
noble allegories and dialogues of Plato, who sees Reason as 
a charioteer driving the horses of Sense, the soul as finding 
immortality in goodness, and the pervading Mind in whom 
we live and move and have our being as the source of all 
beauty, and the inspiration of all goodness. 

1 Crito, 49 c. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 127 



Plato was young when Socrates taught in Athens, and to 
youth the beloved teacher gave of his best. After his death 
Plato wandered far afield, to Egypt and to Sicily, where like 
Confucius he sought to guide a state by instructing a ruler. 
And like the Duke of Lu Dionysius resented the presence of 
the Sage, who had learned how sorely a state needs such 
guidance, and whose faith in democracy had been destroyed 
by the chaos at Athens. 1 Like Confucius Plato was a very 
practical idealist, whose pursuit of truth had as its object the 
Setting up of a model state. And noble as are the shorter 
Dialogues many are so much concerned with platonic love 
that the mind of our day turns more readily to his longer 
works the Republic and the Laws, which embody his mature 
thought, and lead to more definite conclusions. 

If the Symposium is the greatest prose masterpiece in all 
literature its main theme is homosexual love, and we see the 
world of Athens amazed at the continence of Socrates in 
refusing the advances of Alcibiades. 

We must, of course, remember that this wonderful little 
work is an apology: Socrates, who was in fact constantly 
falling in love with beautiful boys, has been accused of 
corrupting them. Here Plato presents him as he was 
susceptible but pure, and brilliantly sublimating the love of 
physical to that of spiritual beauty. In fact he firmly grasps 
the nettle as our moralists usually do not and turns it by 
the magic of his own pure spirit into a very lovely flower. 

Even the grotesque theories of Aristophanes have in them 
a recognition of a psychic fact: this Socrates is seen making 
into a way of purity and a path to God. In other words, as 
a great teacher, he is sublimating and not repressing, and 
himself homosexual in temperament, is able to achieve 
not only innocence but moral sublimity in his friendships 
with the young men of this and other dialogues. 

1 See Illustrative Reading vi (c). 



128 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

Plato, too, takes things as he finds them: living in an age 
of transition and of degeneration he seeks to build a new city 
of God; and in being true to his vision, and to the facts, he 
illuminates many of our own pressing problems. 

His search, like that of the Hebrew prophets, is for right- 
eousness an ordered life in which each shall play the part 
for which he is fit. 

"He was trying at once to uproot and to resettle. So that 
he is in some respects the greatest of revolutionaries, in 
others the greatest of reactionaries." 

If Socrates laid the foundations of a sound morality, and 
urged men to realize the divine nature within them, the 
Republic concerns itself with the practical problems of 
eugenics, of property, of intelligent government: and if the 
idealism of Plato has inspired the Russian church, the 
Republic inspires the Soviet in their persecution of that 
church. For Plato was a communist as well as a mystic, and 
shrank from no radical measure which might produce " good 
and nobler guardians" or city-fathers, "at once gentle and 
high-spirited", "philosophical and strong". And his 
Utopia is grounded in a profound knowledge of psychology 
and of human needs. 

Plato's psychology has affinities with that of St Paul and 
with that of the Gita. It is indeed possible that all three are 
historically related the Indian system influencing the Greek, 
and the Greek being familiar to St Paul. 

If St Paul conceives of man as Body, Soul and Spirit, Plato 
sees him as Body, Soul and Mind (HOMJ); and if the Gita 
compares man's Reason to a charioteer driving the horses of 
Sense, Plato uses the same simile, seeing the horse of appe- 
tite as restive and vicious, that of spirited vigour as responsive 
and amenable to Reason. Corresponding to this tripartite 
psychology we have the three cardinal virtues, Courage 
(andreia), Temperance (sophrosyne) and Uprightness (dikaio- 
syne}\ and corresponding to them the three Orders in the 
Ideal City Soldiers, Traders, and Rulers, and the three stages 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 129 

in Education. Music and other arts come first to attune and 
harmonize the soul to the good and beautiful. Gymnastics 
come next to discipline the horse of appetite, and Mathe- 
matics to complete the process by training the Reason to 
pierce below the surface of things to the Unseen and Real. 
Man's soul, and society at large, must be harmonized by 
obedience to Reason: this is Wisdom. 

So Righteousness is to be reached by man this is the goal 
of education, and man comes thus into communion with 
God. Here Plato and St Paul are again in close agreement. " In 
both thinkers", says Dean Inge, "personality is, in a sense, 
transcended in the highest life of Communion." 1 And for 
both "Love is the great hierophant of the divine mysteries ". 2 

With Confucius too the curriculum of Plato is in close 
agreement,3 and for him, as for India, bhakti Love of the 
Divine is at once inspiration and reward of the moral life : 
but other ways are offered to men. And the classes of society 
are seen to correspond to certain natural temperaments 
imaginative and intellectual, practical and energetic, dull and 
servile. If slavery is tolerated by such men as Plato and 
Aristotle it is because it was not only inevitable, but seemed 
a natural consequence of men's varying capacities. As in 
India the Sudra is one "reborn to be a Sudra", so too in 
Greece transmigration is called in to explain the facts. 
St Paul himself had to accept the institution, though he saw 
that "in Christ" it could not perpetuate itself. Plato's 
thought is also seen moving away from it: death is to be 
preferred to slavery, and if it is accepted in the Republic, it is 
ignored in the Laws.4 

Slaves in Athens were well treated, and were better off 

1 The Platonic Tradition in English Religious Thought, p. 14. 
* Ibid. 

3 "The Odes rouse the mind, morals mould the will, music adds 
polish", say the Analects. 

4 A similar growth in Plato's thought leads him in the latter to reject 
the nationalization of children which he advocates in the former. 



130 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

than the helots or serfs of Sparta, and a quickened conscience 
is seen in Euripides' plea on their behalf: and as abuses grew 
worse so did this plea become more insistent, till in the noble 
protest of Dio Chrysostom we see at once how vile and how 
noble Greeks could be. Without apologizing for them we 
can say with truth that the Light which dawned in Palestine 
is slowly making the sky of the Graeco-Roman world bright, 
and men like the author of the Hymn of Cleanthes are calling 
Zeus " Father of all men". 

VI 

Side by side with the poets and religious teachers of Greece 
is a long succession of scientific thinkers. They too have fed 
the moral life of mankind, and in many of them the scientific 
and the ethical are nobly blended. 

We have glanced at Xenophanes a complex figure of this 
kind and from Thales (c. 583 B.C.) on down through 
Anaximander (c. 546 B.C.), Anaxagoras and Heracleitus to 
Aristotle and his successors Greece had a long line of men 
truly scientific, with whom philosophy is also a passion. If 
it starts with Pythagoras it starts no less with Thales : for the 
Greeks meant by philosophy "speculation upon all time and 
all existence'', 1 "a serious endeavour to understand this world 
and man having for its chief aim the discovery of the right 
way of life and the conversion of man to it". 2 Among the 
torch-bearers of Greece there are men of science as well as 
poets: men of affairs as well as teachers: historians, doctors 
and other laymen. 

If in their lives Socrates and Plato revealed the beauty of 
holiness, the Greek ideal of simplicity and depth of courage 
and courtesy, of fearless seeking and of direct speech is nobly 
embodied also in men of affairs like Pericles, doctors like 
Hippocrates, historians like Thucydides. Of Pericles a con- 
temporary wrote: "His sons died in the bloom of youth 

1 Plato's Republic, 486 a. 

2 Dr J. Burnet in The Legacy of Greece. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 131 

within a week of each other and he bore it without re- 
pining and maintained his serenity unbroken. . .so that all 
who saw him bear his sorrow so stoutly recognized that 
Pericles was a nobler man than they". If Prometheus is an 
ideal figure Pericles is the ideal realized on the difficult stage 
of city politics. 

Thucydides in the long dreariness of exile worked with 
the detached and objective spirit of the ideal historian, and 
Hippocrates has ever been the ideal doctor ; of him it has 
been well said: 

In beauty and dignity that figure is beyond praise. Perhaps 
gaining in stateliness what he loses in clearness, Hippocrates will 
ever remain the type of the perfect physician. Learned, ob- 
servant, humane, with a profound reverence for the claims of his 
patients, but an overmastering desire that his experience shall 
benefit others, orderly and calm, disturbed only by anxiety to 
record his knowledge for the use of his brother physicians and for 
the relief of suffering, grave, thoughtful and reticent, pure of 
mind and master of his passions, this is no overdrawn picture of 
the Father of Medicine as he appeared to his contemporaries and 
successors. It is a figure of character and virtue which has had an 
ethical value to medical men of all ages comparable only to the 
influence exerted on their followers by the founders of the great 
religions. 1 

Though the " Oath of Hippocrates" belongs to a much later 
phase of morality its attribution to him is noteworthy. Com- 
pared with such figures Aristotle's formal description of the 
"noble-minded "pales. It is a type of gentleman, as has been 
well said, that may be met with in a novel by Disraeli and 
nowhere else, and we cannot leave this brief survey of Greek 
ethics without noting their aristocratic nature and the fact 
that these gentlemen of Athens were supported by a slave 
population as the Spartans throve on the work of helots or 
serfs. We remember that one of the greatest of the Stoic 
writers, Epictetus, was himself a slave maimed by the lawless 



1 Charles Singer in The Legacy of Greece, p. 212. 



9-2 



132 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

cruelty which society allowed, that such writers as Horace 
take it for granted that slaves may be killed for a whim, and 
that the Greeks who followed Alexander the Great were 
amazed that this cruel institution was not found in India. 
Yet in the days of Athenian greatness slaves were well 
treated, and a growing sense of human rights animates the 
tragedies. If Plato has to face facts, and to admit slavery, 
Aristotle's defence of it, as justified under certain conditions 
and fitting certain types, reveals a conscience not at ease. 
After the fall of Athens, the institution grew steadily worse, 
and such protests as that of Dio Chrysostom in the second 
century A.D. were all too rare; men admired Socrates rather 
than followed him. 

Yet in the ideals of the Greeks is rooted much that is 
best in our western civilization, and when we turn to the study 
of Christian ethics we shall see how much of the Platonic 
tradition lived on and entered into the new and creative life 
of the Church. That this life was a new thing will also become 
clear, and the new life demanded a new vocabulary as it 
fulfilled, by filling with new meaning, the Greek ideal of 
beauty and the Hebrew ideal of holiness. 

How far has the man of the Beatitudes outstripped the 
gentleman of Aristotle in inward as well as outward nobility ! 

Yet Aristotle himself is far grander than his ideal. He lived 
in the latter half of the fourth century B.C., and was philosopher 
and also man of science. If Socrates discoursed of the Divine 
Beauty and of the human virtues of Temperance, Courage, 
and Justice, and if Plato embodied this idealism in practical 
schemes of education and government Aristotle brought to 
bear the orderly and systematic process of his architectonic 
genius upon all knowledge. 

As pupil of Plato and as tutor of Alexander the Great he 
had leisure and inspiration to acquire encyclopaedic know- 
ledge, and in 335 B.C. he opened the School of the Lyceum 
at Athens. The Peripatetic System which he instituted is like 
that of the Indian Guru informal yet thorough and is a 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 133 

development of that of Socrates. In general Aristotle agrees 
with Plato, but allows no objective existence to the Ideas, 
and develops a more formal system of ethics. They are 
agreed that Happiness is the chief good, but there are divers 
definitions of Happiness. The chief good for man, says 
Aristotle, consists in the full realization and perfection of 
his life "rounded and complete". 

Virtue for Aristotle consists in the Golden Mean, or 
Middle Path between extremes. Truthfulness lies between 
boasting and self-depreciation: courage between rashness 
and cowardice. And like Plato he conceives of an ideal state 
in which these virtues can best flourish, for man is a "po- 
litical animal" and can only come to fruition in an ordered 
society. A biologist as well as a moralist, he is the father of 
the social sciences. 

But the contrast between these ideals of the master-minds 
of Greece and the actual state of society is poignant, and 
Greek thought also begins to suffer a decline. 

For an estimate of this process we may get much from the 
eminent moralist and satirist Aristophanes. Indecent as much 
of his humour is most of it is concerned in attacking men 
and sentiments which he held dangerous to the state. Greek 
morality is increasingly orthodox, and the good citizen is the 
conformist. The Athenian jury which condemned Socrates 
was probably quite sincere, and Aristophanes is as sincere in 
his unjust parodies not only of his greatest fellow-citizen but 
of Euripides, a much greater poet and moralist than him- 
self, and a teacher of Socrates. 

It is clear that Aristophanes was concerned at the decay 
of morale. To understand this rapid degeneration we must 
remember the political chaos which resulted from the 
rivalry of the city-states, and the moral decline which allowed 
them to fritter away in local feuds the resources of men and 
money which might have resisted foreign dominance. 
"Discord, their old hereditary failing, rendered it impossible 
for Greeks to be independent in foreign relations or to be 



134 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

united and settled at home". 1 "No argument was cogent 
enough", says Thucydides, "and no pledge solemn enough 
to reconcile opponents." 

The same causes, in other words, which led to the down- 
fall of Athens laid all Greece low envy, covetousness and 
social injustice where magnanimity and co-operation be- 
tween city and city and between the classes in the cities would 
have made a strong and united Greece, loyal to a common 
culture. Yet in the long run the break-up of Greece led to 
the opening up of a new world, and of wider horizons: and 
Greece, like Judaea, was brought into contact with the 
East and enabled to spread its characteristic culture far afield, 
"By the side of the old famed centres of learning in the 
mother-country of Hellas, new centres arose, suited by 
position, inhabitants and peculiar circumstances to unite the 
culture of East and West, and to fuse into one homo- 
geneous mass the intellectual forces of different races." 2 

VII 

There was no city wise enough to embody the ideas of 
Plato or the politics of Aristotle, and their successors are men 
disillusioned with the world and offering men ways of 
escape to an inner kingdom of the soul: they are also men of 
less restricted loyalties and class-prejudices. Such were the 
Sceptics, the Epicureans and the Stoics physicians of the 
soul in a sick world. " Stoic apathy, Epicurean self-content- 
ment and Sceptic imperturbability, were the doctrines which 
suited the political helplessness of the age", 3 says Zeller. 

These schools are agreed in two fundamental points, in 
subordinating theory to practice, and in the peculiar cha- 
racter of their practical philosophy. As teachers of Ethics 
then they are of great importance, and there are universal 
notes in all these schools. Like Sakyamuni the Stoics insist 

1 Zeller, Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics, E.T., p. 13. 

2 Ibid. p. 14. 

3 Ibid. p. 19. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 135 

that the moral life is the way of emancipation to truth, and 
consists in bringing all action into conformity with the laws 
of the universe. Like Socrates they argue that virtue is 
identical with right knowledge. 

Zeno, a Semite, influenced perhaps by Indian ideas, is a 
very arresting figure, disciplined, ascetic, and blunt of 
speech. This first of the Stoics was noted also for prophetic 
fire and earnestness which make him at once dogmatic and 
paradoxical, at once rationalist and man of faith. Above 
all he gave a moral tonic to a sceptical age. Few trusted, 
and most dreaded, the unknown. Few again were continent, 
and the old aids to moral living were gone. Like Sakyamuni 
in a similar setting, Zeno offered men salvation from fear and 
from desire. 

To give men, passion-driven and afraid, a refuge and 
freedom, this was the task to which he bent his great energy 
and zeal. To the will he launched his appeal: there is a 
large part of man's life which he can control his own inner 
disposition: in all else he can acquiesce. There is a sovereign 
Reason guiding the world. Like Lao-tse Zeno taught men 
to put themselves in harmony with nature, which is both 
reasonable and good. This is the part of wisdom, to fulfil 
one's own true nature. As Hindus express it, man's dhartna 
is to obey the universal dharma. 

So Zeno carried on the Platonic tradition: let reason drive 
the chariot, and control passion and fear. Let the wise man 
serve his fellows and build up a kingdom of peace within and 
of justice without; let him be benevolent to all, attached to 
none. 

Early Buddhism is Indian stoicism. Like Sakyamuni these 
teachers rejected metaphysical subtleties. Like him they could 
only bid men enthrone reason and subdue the irrational: 
but, also like him, they appealed to faith in a reasonable uni- 
verse. They were satisfied that man can work out his own 
salvation. 

Aristo, pupil of Zeno, insists that the sole business of man 



136 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

is to be virtuous, the sole use of words is to cleanse the soul. 
Man must put aside logic-chopping and vain speculation and 
confine himself to discussion of good and evil, wisdom and 
folly. For Zeno understanding is the root of virtue; for 
Aristo it is knowledge of good and evil; for Cleanthes it is 
strength of mind. But these are all names for that "know- 
ledge" which guides men to practical goodness. 

Intelligence is knowledge of good, bad and indifferent: 
bravery knowing how to choose the good and reject the 
bad: justice knowing how to give each man his due. Like 
Sakyamuni too the Stoics see in ignorance man's great 
enemy, and in detachment his victory over desire. True 
riches consist in being independent of wants, and true 
freedom consists in self-control. 

If the Buddhist monk is to shine like a god amongst men 
the Stoic is to be compared to Zeus amongst the gods. But 
men are unhappy, because everywhere they are wicked; they 
prefer to live at lower levels, knowing the higher. 

But, said Epicurus, man can and should be happy: pain is 
the one great evil. Let him pursue pleasure and avoid pain 
and in ataraxia 1 find repose of mind, the highest pleasure. 
The highest good is intelligence, and it alone can produce 
a complete and rounded life. Virtue is not to be pursued for 
its own sake, but as a means to happiness. It makes men 
happy by freeing them from fear and anxiety, which are the 
offspring of vice. 

The same claims were advanced by Epicurus on behalf 
of his wise man as the Stoics had urged on behalf of theirs. 
Not only does he attribute to him control over pain, in 
nothing inferior to Stoic insensibility, but he endeavours 
himself to describe the wise man's life as perfect and satis- 
factory in itself. While not free from emotion, and in 
particular susceptible to the higher feelings of the soul such 
as compassion, the wise man finds his philosophic activity 
in no way impaired. Without despising enjoyment, he 
1 Imperturbability. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 137 

is altogether master of his desires, and knows how to restrain 
them by intelligence, so that they never exercise a harmful 
influence on life. He alone has an unwavering certainty of 
conviction; he alone knows how to do the right thing in the 
right way; he alone, as Metrodorus observes, knows how to 
be thankful. Epicurus promises his pupils that, by carefully 
observing his teaching, they will dwell as gods among men; 
so little can destiny influence them, that he calls them happy 
in all circumstances. Happiness may, indeed, depend on 
certain external conditions; it may even be allowed that the 
disposition to happiness is not found in every nature, nor in 
every person; but, when it is found, its stability is sure, nor 
can time affect its duration. For wisdom so Epicurus and 
the Stoics alike believed is indestructible, and the wise 
man's happiness can never be increased by time. A life, 
therefore, bounded by time can be quite as complete as one 
not so bounded. 

Different as are the principles and the tone of the systems 
of the Stoics and the Epicureans, one and the same tendency 
may yet be traced in both the tendency which character- 
izes all the post-Aristotelian philosophers the desire to 
place man in a position of absolute independence by emanci- 
pating him from connection with the external world, and by 
awakening in him the consciousness of the infinite freedom 
of thought. 

If Platonism gave to Christianity a philosophy, these schools 
prepared the way for the Christian law of love. Stoic self- 
discipline came to fruition in Christian self-sacrifice, and the 
"athlete of Zeus" became the "soldier of Christ". The social 
ethic too of these teachers of a new universalism helped to 
lay wide and deep foundations for the City of God. 

Such then in brief outline is the story of Greek ideals. Their 
practice, like that of us all, fell far short. Yet there were 
honest men in the Homeric Age, and hard workers in that 
of Hesiod, and many contemporaries of the great tragedians 
and philosophers to whom they did not appeal in vain: the 



138 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

eulogy of Thucydides upon Athens is no doubt a true picture 
of what the Athenians aspired to be, and the epitaph on 
Sparta's soldiers is well deserved. Yet slavery and sodomy 
grew worse: even the austere Epicurus urges that paederasty 
be not overdone, and Alexander is amazed that slavery is not 
found in India. The impossibility of the task set to Reason 
in conquering selfishness and lust prepared the way for the 
victory of Love. 

But there are many types in ancient Greece: and of the 
typical Athenian we get a better idea perhaps from Aristotle 
than from Plato, better still perhaps from Xenophon, 
Thucydides and the dramatists. A man of family loyalties 
he yet kept his wife and daughters in seclusion, and held that 
"she is best among women of whom least is heard whether 
of praise or blame". "Every good and decent man loves and 
cherishes his woman", says Achilles; but for later Greeks 
woman and passion must both be kept in their place: and if 
for child-bearing the Athenian had a wife, for intelligent 
conversation he had a mistress and for romance a fair youth. 

Yet modesty in speech and demeanour was expected, and 
if the Greek does not reach purity of mind and tolerates 
grossness of speech, he has a strong sense of family propriety, 
and Athenian women consider the athletic amazons of 
Sparta as shameless just as missionary ladies in Japan are 
aghast at Japanese nudism. So Spartan women, essentially 
pure, would reply that the nude is seen, not looked at, and 
that secrecy breeds evil. 

This battle is still being waged. 

As to slaves, the Athenian agreed that theirs was an evil 
state, but had one or two, and treated them well, and the 
Spartan jeered at him for pampering them and himself. And 
as there are women in the tragedies in whom are noble 
qualities, and of whom men speak with tenderness and 
chivalry, so there are devoted slaves in Homer and in 
Periclean Athens. 

And if he was not without family loyalty, the Greek had 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 139 

a real and whole-hearted patriotism based on a sense of 
common interests, on customary sentiment and capable 
on occasion of turning into bitter hostility and disillusion- 
ment. As to other virtues arete is the noun of agathos, and 
a man was expected to "be good" to "do well" what- 
ever he undertook; to be modest and sane, to respect the 
gods and himself, to be objective about his own good looks, 
good station and good qualities, to be a good friend and a 
good enemy. 

Like the Chinese he was judged by his "propriety" in 
meeting the varied relations of life, but his morality was es- 
sentially self-regarding, and "unselfishness was not a virtue". 

As to a sense of sin, this could not be strong until the gods 
were moralized, and then with Aeschylus and Euripides it 
develops along lines similar to those of the Hebrew prophets, 
but with less sense that it is man's own nature, and more that 
it is an outside fate that is at work in the process of punish- 
ment. It is more like the determinism of some moderns, and 
there is room neither for personal blame nor for Divine 
Grace. Man is to avoid hubris, or the inevitable chain of 
cause and effect will fasten on him. Even to Plato, error 
is the cause of sin, and wisdom can be taught: and none of 
the Greeks had the strong sense of the Jew that sin is deliber- 
ate rebellion against Divine Love; it is curious that a people 
who made so much of human friendship did not develop a 
more personal sense of the Divine Friend and of His right to 
look in upon the darkened soul. 

Nor does Hellas develop the sense of compassion and for- 
giveness as a duty, though in Euripides and Socrates there 
are noble expressions of that divine quality which Judaea 
achieved through so much pain. 

Greek morality, in a word, is robust and objective rather 
than inward and spiritual. * ' Man is the measure of all things 
and so fails of the stature he might have reached by making 
God his Norm. Devotion to the mean and to moderation led 
too often to mediocrity and monotony. 



140 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

THE SOUL OF GREECE 
I. HOMER 

(a) Hospitality 

All strangers and beggars are from Zeus. 

Odyssey vi, 207. 

(b) Divine Justice 

Antinous, 'twas foully done to strike a hapless wanderer. If 
there be a God in heaven thou wilt come to a bad end. For verily 
the gods, in the guise of strangers from afar, visit the cities of men, 
and note both their violent and their righteous deeds. 

Odyssey xvn, 483. 

(c) Wifely Honour 

Do thou, Diana, wing thy shaft, 
And send me joyful down to death, 
To seek my Lord among the warriors slain 
Ere second nuptials shall my vows profane. 

Odyssey xx. 
(d) Sebas 

Hard though the task my vengeance I suppress: 
Whoso reveres the gods the gods will bless. 

Iliad, i. 
(e) Ate 

Therefore, Achilles, rule thy proud spirit; neither is it right to 
be ruthless. Even the gods can bend; though theirs is greater 
majesty and might. With incense and reverent vows and libation 
and burnt-offering men move their hearts, and by prayer, when 
they have done evil and sinned. Prayers of penitence are indeed 
daughters of mighty Zeus; halting, wrinkled and squint-eyed, he 
sets them to dog the steps of Ate. For she is strong and swift, and 
far outstrips all prayers, and goes before them over all the earth 
making men fan; and prayers follow to assuage the evil. Now 
whosoever reverences Zeus' daughters when they draw near, him 
they greatly bless, and hear his plea; but when one denies them 
and stiffly refuses, they depart and entreat Zeus son of Kronos 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 141 

that Ate may come upon such an one, that he may be made to 
pay the penalty. Nay, Achilles, look thou to it that thou yield 
to the daughters of Zeus the reverence that bends the hearts of all 
good men and true. 

Iliad, ix, 496. 

(/) Zeus the Adulterer woos his wife 

Then Zeus, gatherer of clouds, answered her and said: . . /'Come 
let us take our pleasure in the bed of love. For never before did 
love of goddess or mortal so mightily invade and master my 
heart. Not when I loved the wife of Ixion, who bore Pirithoos, 
peer of gods in counsel, nor when I loved slim-ankled Danae, 
daughter of Akrisios, who bore Perseus, most famed of men, nor 
when I loved the daughter of Phoinix, who bore me Minos and 
godlike Rhadamanthys; nay, nor even when I loved Semele, nor 
Alkmene in Thebes, and begot Herakles, a child stout of heart, 
(but Semele bore Dionysos, a joy to men) ; nay, nor when I loved 
the fair-tressed queen, Demeter, nor far-famed Leto, nay, nor 
thy very self, as now I love thee, and sweet desire possesses me". 

Iliad, xw, 312. 

(g) Magnanimity and the master-prig Menelaos 

But Menelaos arose among them, sore at heart, very angry 
with Antilochos; and the herald set the staff in his hand, and called 
for silence among the Argives; then spake that godlike man: 
"Antilochos, who once wert wise, what is this thou hast done? 
Thou hast shamed my skill and made my horses fail, thrusting 
in front thy sorry hacks. Come now, ye chiefs and counsellors 
of the Argives, give just judgment between us". 

Then answered wise Antilochos: "Bear with me now, for I 
am younger than thou, King Menelaos, and thou art my better. 
Thou knowest the faults of a youth, for his mind is hasty and his 
counsel shallow. So suffer me, and I will give to thee the mare 
I have taken. Yea, if thou shouldst ask some other greater thing 
from my house, I were fain to give it thee, rather than fall for ever 
from my place in thy heart, O fosterling of Zeus, and become a 
sinner against the gods". 

Thus spake great-hearted Nestor's son, and brought the mare, 
and gave her to Menelaos. And his heart was glad as when the 



142 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

dew comes upon the ripening ears of harvest, when the fields are 
abristle. So glad was thy soul within thee Menelaos. And he 
spake unto Antilochos winged words: "Antilochos, now will I 
put away mine anger against thee, for till now thou wert in 
nothing flighty or light-minded; though now thy reason was 
overcome by youthfulness. Another rime be loth to outwit 
better men. Not easily should another of the Achaians have per- 
suaded me, but thou hast suffered and toiled much, thou and thy 
brave father and brother, for my sake; therefore will I hear thy 
prayer, and will even give thee the mare, though she is mine, that 
these also may know that my heart was never overweening or 
implacable". 

Iliad % xxin, 566-611. 

II. HESIOD 
(a) Mans Part 

Do thou lay this to heart pursue justice and eschew violence. 
For tliis is the law of Zeus: that fish and fowl and beast shall prey 
upon one another, having no just laws: but to men he hath given 
the better part to do justly and to prosper. 

Works and Days, 274. Translated by A. W. Mair. 

Foolish Perses, I speak to thee for thy good. Unto wickedness 
men attain easily and in crowds: smooth is the way, and her 
dwelling is very near. But the immortal gods have ordained 
much sweat upon the path to virtue: long and steep is the way, 
and rough at first; but when a man has reached the height, 
thereafter the hard road is easy. . . . 

Ibid. 286. 

When men mete out justice to the stranger and to their own 
folk and turn not aside, then do they flourish as a tree in blossom. 
. . .But the Immortals are close at hand, to observe all oppressors, 
and such as pervert justice and defy heaven. 

Ibid. 22$. 

(b) Heaven sees All 

Know then the dire truth: it is not given to men to foil the 
justice of all-seeing heaven. 

Ibid. 42. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 143 

(c) Prometheus and Pandora 

For the gods have hidden away die bread of man's life; if it 
were not so, a day's work might easily have won thee store 
enough to live idle for a year; the rudder might be hung up in 
the smoke, and the labour of oxen and patient mules be as 
nothing. 

Ibid. 42. 
III. PINDAR 

(a) What is Man? 

He who wins fresh glory in his tender youth, soars high in 
hope. Achievement worthy of a man lends wings to lift his mind 
above sordid cares. 

In a little while the delight of man rises to its height; and in a 
little while it falls to the ground, shaken by adverse fate. 

Creature of a day, what is a man? what is he not? Man is the 
dream of a shadow. 

Only, when a gleam of sunshine comes as a gift from heaven, 
a light rests upon him and life is smooth. 

Pyth. viii. 

(b) Gods and Men are of One Kindred 

Of one kindred, one only, are men and gods, and of one 
mother do we draw our breath; but in power we are utterly 
divided: man is a thing of nought, but for the gods the bronze 
floor of heaven stands ever as a seat unshaken. 

Yet we bear some likeness to the Immortals, in greatness of 
spirit as in bodily form; although we know not when, from day 
to day or in the night watches, it is fated that we should end our 
course. 

New. vi. 
IV. HERACLEITUS 

(a) Religiosity and Sin 

If it were not to Dionysus that they made procession and sang 
the phallic hymn, it were a very shameless deed. But Hades is the 
same as Dionysus, in whose honour they rave and keep the feast. 

In vain they purify themselves defiling themselves with 
blood; as if a man who had trodden in mud should wash his feet 
with mud. 



144 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

(b) Compensation 

It is not good for men to get all they wish. It is sickness that 
makes health pleasant; evil, good; hunger, plenty; weariness, 
refreshment. 

V. ARCHILOCHUS 

(670 B.C.) 

Equanimity 

Storm-tossed by troubles, O my soul, 

Cleave to the rudder of thy self-control : 

And to the lances of impetuous foes 

A front undaunted, calm, do thou oppose. 

Thine not to boast when victory crowns thy brow; 

Thine not to grieve when adverse winds do blow: 

Rejoice in joyous things; be moderate in grief: 

The changing rides of Fortune bring relief. 

VI. THUCYDIDES 
(a) Devotion to Athens 

Such was the end of these men; they were worthy of Athens, 
and the living need not covet a more heroic spirit, though they 
pray for a happier end. The worth of such a spirit is not to be 
expressed. Anyone might discourse to you forever about the 
advantage of a brave defence; that you know already. But in- 
stead of listening to him I would have you day by day fix your 
eyes upon the greatness of Athens, until you become filled with 
love for her; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of her 
glory, reflect that this empire has been won by men who knew 
their duty and had the courage to do it, who in the hour of con- 
flict had the fear of shame ever before them; and who, if they 
failed in an enterprise, would not allow their virtues to be lost to 
their country, but freely gave their lives to her the fairest 
oblation they could lay at her feet. The sacrifice which all made 
was repaid to each; for they received again a praise which ages 
not, and the noblest of sepulchres. I speak not of that in which 
their bodies lie, but of that in which their fame lives on pro- 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 145 

claimed always and on every meet occasion in word and deed. 
For the earth itself is the tomb of famous men; not only are they 
commemorated by columns and inscriptions at home, but abroad 
too there lives on an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on 
stone, but in the fleshy tablets of men's hearts. Make them your 
example, and, esteeming courage to be freedom and freedom to 
be happiness, weigh not too nicely the perils of war, . . . 

(b) The Spirit of Athens 

My first theme shall be our ancestors. It is only right on such 
an occasion as this to pay this respect to their memory. For they 
and their children inhabited this land in unbroken succession up 
to the present day; and through their valour bequeathed us a 
heritage of freedom. While great honour is due to them, our 
fathers deserve yet greater. For in addition to the inheritance 
they received, they have passed on to us this empire of ours, 
which they won after great toil. And this we, who are now in the 
full vigour of life, have improved in most respects, and have made 
our city self-sufficient as regards both peace and war. The military 
achievements by which each thing was acquired, and the fervour 
with which we and our fathers repelled the foreign and Greek 
invader, I do not wish to dwell upon in detail, as you are as well 
acquainted with them as I am. But I will outline the principles 
which have brought us our prosperity, the policy and practice 
which have brought us our power, and then pass on to the eulogy ; 
and I think all this will be not inappropriate, and that the throng 
of citizens and foreigners may listen to it with advantage. 

For in our system of government we do not imitate the in- 
stitutions of neighbouring states: we rather ourselves provide an 
example than follow the example of others. Our constitution is 
a rule of the many, not of the few, and so is classed as a democracy. 
All here have equal rights before the law in their private quarrels, 
while as regards personal claims for recognition, men are chosen 
for public office not on account of their rank, but for their 
true worth. Moreover poverty and obscurity of birth provide 
no obstacles to a man who is able to benefit the city. Our attitude 
towards public affairs is above all liberal in respect of that mutual 
suspicion so often felt in the daily round of life; for we bear no 
grudge against a neighbour, if he does as he likes, nor do we put 

SI 10 



146 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

on a sullen expression which may be harmless, but is annoying if 
noticed. But in spite of this freedom from restraint in our public 
behaviour we observe the laws most carefully; we never disobey 
magistrates, or any of the laws, paying particular attention to 
those dealing with protection for the injured, and those unwritten 
ones whose infringements bring acknowledged disgrace. 

Our minds, moreover, are suitably provided with adequate 
relaxation from their labours. For we have evolved a cycle of 
athletic meetings and religious festivals extending over the whole 
year, and we pride ourselves on the tasteful decoration of our 
homes. The pleasure thus derived gives us ample opportunity for 
forgetting our daily misfortunes. But such is the importance of 
our city that the produce of every land pours in upon us, so that 
it is our fortune and privilege to receive with equal enjoyment 
the produce of other lands and of our own. 

To pass on to our preparations for war: these also differ widely 
from the enemy's in the following respects. Our city is open to 
all, and we never pass alien acts to prevent anyone from dis- 
covering any information the disclosure of which might be useful 
to an enemy; for we put our trust not so much in preparation 
and deception as in our own stout hearts when we really come to 
grips. As for military training: the Spartans, while they are still 
young, subject themselves to an arduous discipline in the quest of 
valour. But we, though we allow ourselves much more freedom 
in our daily lives, nevertheless face dangers quite as great as 
theirs; and I can prove this statement. The Lacedaemonians never 
make an expedition into Attica by themselves, but with a full 
muster of allies; but when we invade the neighbouring states, 
though they are fighting on their own ground and for their 
own allies, we usually have little difficulty in overcoming them. 
Moreover, the full strength of our forces no enemy has yet en- 
countered, because of our preoccupation with the fleet and our 
numerous expeditions by land; but if any enemy has a battle with 
some part of our force, whether victorious or unsuccessful he 
maintains that he encountered our full strength. And surely, if 
we choose to face danger with a light heart rather than with 
strenuous preparation, and with bravery arising from habit rather 
than from discipline, we are the gainers; for we undergo no 
arduous training beforehand for the dangers which are to come, 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 147 

but when we actually face them, we show ourselves just as fearless 
as those who have practised assiduously. But it is not only in 
these matters that our state is worthy of admiration. 

We love beauty without extravagance and study wisdom with- 
out loss of manliness. Wealth in our eyes paves the way not to the 
vanity of words but rather to the certainty of action. Disgrace 
lies not in the fact of poverty, but in the absence of desire to cast 
it off. Although these domestic affairs absorb much of our time, 
we pay assiduous attention to our politics, and among all the 
calls of business we are well versed in the art of statecraft. For in 
our eyes alone the recluse is not merely an apathetic spectator, but 
a sluggard and an incubus. We can either criticize others' pro- 
posals or formulate our own; since to us discussion is no obstacle 
to action, but action without discussion can have no possible 
chance of success. For herein lies our gain, that we bring to the 
battle not only an unequalled courage, but also the advantage of 
previous debate. The courage of our enemies is born of ignor- 
ance, while all their forethought breeds is fear. But of all brave 
men they deserve to be thought the bravest who clearly know 
every pleasure and every pain awaiting them, and yet unflinch- 
ingly face the perils of their chosen task. From a moral point of 
view also we differ from the majority. For it is not in the re- 
ceiving of kindness but in the giving of it that we make our 
friends. Since the man who confers a favour is a firmer friend in 
that he preserves the gratitude due to him by continued kindness 
to his debtor. But the debtor's friendship will lose its zest in that 
he realises that his services are given not in generosity but in the 
repayment of a debt. Since we alone give help without con- 
sidering the profit to be reaped, but feeling the confidence that 
freedom gives. 

In short I would assert that collectively our city is an example 
to Greece, while individually I think that our citizens are endowed 
with a versatility of temperament which adapts itself with the 
utmost grace to the many sides of their life. And that this is no 
idle boast, but a true rendering of the facts, our empire itself, the 
acquisition of which is due to these talents of ours, will testify. 
For this city alone, when put to the test, surpasses its reputation, 
and alone arouses no resentment in the foe that she defeats; and 
in her subjects no criticism of her right to rule them. Of our 

10-2 



148 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

power there is ample and clear evidence. We shall remain the 
marvel not only of the present but of all future generations. (For 
what need have we of a Homer or of any other poet whose song 
will give men temporary satisfaction, though the true facts will 
destroy the impression they gain from it?) There is no land which 
we have not forced to become a highway for our enterprise; no 
country in which we have not planted eternal memorials of 
both the benefits and injuries we have done. Such then is the 
city of which these men brooked not to be deprived; for such a 
city they laid down their lives on the field of battle ; and for 
such a city every one of you who remain should be content to 
toil. 

Wherefore you, the parents of those whom we commemorate 
here, and whom I see now before me, I do not commiserate so 
much as I would encourage. Indeed you realise Fortune's many- 
sided gifts. Most fortunate are those who meet the noblest fate, as 
is their death, as is your grief; and who taste alike during their 
life of sorrow and of joy. For it is hard, I know, to forget the loss 
of those whose memory each moment of another's joy recalls, 
that joy which you yourselves once shared. For it is no great 
grief to forfeit a blessing never tasted, but to lose what had grown 
dear by use. And these who still hope to bear children, should 
thus console their grief. For they will lose all bitter thoughts of 
the dead in the birth of further sons, while the city will reap a 
twofold gain, in the maintenance both of its population and of its 
security. For how can they, who have no sons to stake in war, 
take a full and honest share in our deliberations? But you, whose 
prime is past, may reflect that the greater portion of your life was 
fortunate, and that what remains is brief, and may find solace in 
their glory. For only love of honour grows not old, and in the 
evening of one's years it is this and not merely hoarded gold, as 
some men say, which gives one greatest pleasure. 

Before you, sons and brothers of the dead, a mighty struggle 
looms, and hard will be the way, however brave your heart, not 
to be thought indeed their equals, but to fall a little short. 
While a man still lives, he must encounter the jealousy of rivals, 
but when he is no more, then ungrudging admiration is accorded 
him. Now, if I must needs say a word to their widows about a 
woman's part, it shall be brief. For the greatest glory that you 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 149 

can achieve is never to disgrace your sex, and least of all, whether 
for good or ill, should your name be spoken among men. 

The Funeral Speech of Pericles, Thucydides, H, 35-46. 
Translated by Mr C. E. Robinson's Division at Winchester. 

(c) The Downfall of Athens 

The source of these troubles was the spirit of self-aggrandize- 
ment and ambition, to which competition gave a keener edge. 
Political leaders adopted high-sounding catchwords " demo- 
cratic equality for the masses*' or "the superior qualities of birth 
and breeding"; and the commonwealth became a prey to its 
self-styled champions. In the struggle for supremacy they shrank 
from no form of villany; and worst of all was the revenge which 
they took upon opponents, recognizing no restraint of patriotism 
or justice, but following the dictates of a selfish opportunism. A 
savage sentence or high-handed coup d'etat were the normal in- 
struments of satisfying their party spite; and any specious phrase 
was good enough to cloak the meanness of their disreputable 
methods. As for the neutral he received short shrift at the hands 
of both factions, who either resented his non-cooperation or 
grudged him immunity from the perils which they themselves 
ran. Thus the class war led to a complete moral break-down 
throughout the Greek world. Sincerity, one of the chief elements 
in idealism, was laughed out of existence ; and a spirit of suspicious 
antagonism prevailed. Conciliation could find no basis, seeing 
that pledges had lost their validity and oaths their sanction. Men 
relied solely upon a despairing resolve to take nothing for granted 
and security was sought by precautionary measures, not by 
mutual trust. Inferior intelligences usually had the best of it; for 
consciousness of their own inadequacy and the dread lest an 
opponent's quicker wits or superior powers of speech would 
enable him to get his blow in first, inclined them to ruthless 
action; whereas the abler men, presuming upon their own power 
to anticipate a danger and entertaining the theorist's disdain for 
practical measures, were too often caught napping with fatal 
results. 

Thucydides, nr, 82, Translated by C. E. Robinson. 



150 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

VII. SlMONIDES 

(a) On the Spartans who fell at Thermopylae 

Stranger, unto the men of Sparta tell 
That here, obedient to their laws, we fell. 

(b) On the Athenian Dead at Plataea 

If the best merit be to lose life well, 
To us beyond all else that fortune came: 
In war to give Greece liberty, we fell, 
Heirs of all time's imperishable fame. 

(c) Virtue's Dwelling-place 

Virtue delights her home to keep, 
Say the wise men of olden rime, 
High on a rugged rocky steep, 
Which man to-day may hardly climb. 
And there a pure bright shining band, 
Her ministers around her stand. 
No mortal man may ever look 
That form divine, august to see, 
Until with patient toil he brook 
The sweat of mental agony; 
This all must do to reach that goal, 
The perfect manhood of the soul. 

VIII. AESCHYLUS 
Prometheus' gifts to Mankind 

List then to mortals' troubles, 
How, fools aforetime, I have made them wise. 
And masters of their wits This will I show 
Not to belittle man, but setting forth 
The benefaction of my many bounties 
Who, having eyes, saw to no purpose, hearing 
Perceived not, but like to phantom dreams 
Long time confounded all things in a maze. 
Houses brick-fashioned they knew not for warmth, 
Nor timber-craft, but, as 'twere pigmy ants, 
Dwelt pent in sunless crannies. Tokens none 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 151 

Knew they of winter nor of flowery spring-time 
Nor fruitful autumn, but without discernment 
Did all, till I revealed the stars' uprisings 
And all their settings undeterminate. 
Number of marvels chief I did disclose 
And letters linked in words, memory, 
The Muses' mother, author of all arts. 
Dumb creatures first I harnessed, to the yoke 
Enslaving them; and, that he might relieve 
Mankind of their chief toil, to cars I set 
The bridled steed, pride of the rich man's pomp. 
The mariner's craft storm-tossed, canvas-winged 
None but myself devised. Such were the shifts 
Which to my sorrow I contrived for man ; 
But for myself no wisdom can discover 
Whereby to rid me of my present pains.. . . 

Prometheus Vinctus. Translated by C. E. Robinson. 

IX. SOPHOCLES 
(a) On Love, in Conflict with Duty 

Strophe. 

Thou, love, art the victor dividing the spoils, 

No mortal escapeth thy madness, thy toils : 

In the heart of a maiden thy vigil is set 

On the waves of the ocean, on hillsides, thou'rt met; 

In the hut of the neat-herd thou spreadest thy net. 

Antistrophe. 

By thee are corrupted the just and the right, 

To thy will thou bendest them. Ay, to thy spite ; 

Unnatural conflict of son and of sire, 

Thou kindlest, till duty gives place to desire 

And the love-light leaps up in the eyes of the bride : 

Aphrodite in triumph laughs loud and in pride. 

But pity ungoverned sweeps over my heart, 

And the fount of my tears unrestrained doth start 

As I see the bride pass to the grim marriage-bed: 

And the chamber of love is the house of the dead. 

Antigone. 



152 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

(b) On Law 

But if a man in word or deed 

Walks o'er-informed with pride and might, 

By fear of justice undeterred, 

Scorning the seats of deity, 

111 doom, to that man drawing nigh, 

His ill-starred arrogance requite! 

Unless toward his proper gain 

With uncorrupted hand he strain, 

Unless he loathe all filthiness. 
If with lewd hands he touch the grace of holiness ! 
Henceforth if such things be, no mortal evermore 

Can from his life repel 
The darts of heaven, and boast that foiled they fell: 

If he who walks such ways 

Deserve man's honour and his praise, 
Wherefore with holy dance should I the Gods adore? 
Oedipus Rex. Translated by E. D. A. Morshead. 

X. EURIPIDES 
(a) Retribution 

Think you that sins leap up to heaven aloft 

On wings, and then that on Jove's red-leaved tablets 

Someone doth write them, and Jove looks at them 

In judging mortals? Not the whole broad heaven, 

If Jove should write our sins, would be enough, 

Nor he suffice to punish them. But Justice 

Is here, is somewhere near us; do but look. 

J. A. Symonds. 

(b) Tabus and Morals 

The goddess' sophistries I repudiate, 

Who, if a man touch blood or some poor corpse, 

Or woman after childbirth, will deny 

Her altar as unclean, yet doth delight 

Herself in altars reeking with the mess 

Of human sacrifice. This too I reprobate 

That Leto, bride of Zeus, mothered such foolishness. 

This feast of Tantalus I call a monstrous lie. 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 153 

: %" 

For how should gods delight in flesh of babes? 
It is this people, murderers filled with hate, 
Who on the goddess foist their loathsome crime. 
In the high gods is no unrighteousness. 
Iphigenia in Tauris, 380-91. Translated by C. E. Robinson. 

(c) A Wronged Wife 

Home and father then 
I did forswear to cross the seas with thee, 
More fickle-fond than wise. For all of which 
I am betrayed and treacherously supplanted 
By this new charmer. O hand of mine that oft 
Was clasped in his, O lips that he hath kissed, 
Vain, vain your pledges, promise turned to dust 
Yet soft; I'll speak him fair as friend to friend 
That he may show the baser. Tell me, prithee, 
Where should I turn me? To father? or to kin, 
That for thy sake I quitted? Foes they are 
That one time were my friends, and for that exchange 
I have won, good lack, the envy of the world. 
O mine's a precious pattern of a husband, 
Who'ld ruin the woman rescued him from death, 
And a pretty tale he'll have to tell his mistress, 
That his wife and bairns are beggars. Mighty God, 
Why hast thou given us tokens manifest 
Whereby to sift the sterling and the counterfeit 
Of precious metals; but in man has set 
No stamp or visible sign to mark the rogue? 

Medea, 483-519. Translated by C. E. Robinson. 

XL ARISTOPHANES 

The Old Education and the New 

To hear them prepare of the Discipline rare which flourished in 

Athens of yore 
When Honour and Truth were in fashion with youth and 

sobriety bloomed on our shore ; 
First of all the old rule was preserved in our school that "boys 

should be seen and not heard"; 
And then to the home of the Harpist would come decorous in 

action and words 



154 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

All the lads of one town, though the snow peppered down, in 

spite of all wind and all weather: 
And they sung an old song as they paced it along, not shambling 

with thighs glued together, 
"O the dread shout of War how it peals from afar" or "Pallas 

the Stormer adore", 
To some manly old air all simple and bare which their fathers had 

chanted before. 
You may take it from me and I think you'll agree that these are 

the precepts which taught 
The heroes of old to be hardy and bold and the Men who at 

Marathon fought ! 

But now must the lad from his boyhood be clad in a Man's all- 
enveloping cloke 
So that, oft as the Panathenaea returns, I feel myself ready to 

choke 
When the dancers go by with their shields to their thigh, not 

caring for Pallas a jot. 
You therefore, young man, choose me while you can; cast in 

with my method your lot, 
And then you shall learn the forum to spurn and from dissolute 

baths to abstain 
And fashions impure and shameful abjure, and scorners repel 

with disdain 
And rise from your chair if an elder be there, and respectfully give 

him your place 
And with love and with fear your parents revere and shrink from 

the brand of Disgrace, 
And deep in your breast be the Image imprest of Modesty simple 

and true. 

Clouds, 961 sqq. Translated by B. B. Rogers. 

XII. XENOPHON 
On Socrates 

He was to me what I have tried to say: 

So devout and pious that he would do nothing against the will 

of Heaven; 
So just and fair that he did no trifling injury to any living thing; 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 155 

So disciplined and temperate that he never chose the sweet instead 

of the bitter; 
So wise and prudent that he made no mistake in choosing the 

higher: 
Nor did he need guidance for his judgment, so unfailing was he 

and self-directing; 
Able in reasoning and defining moral issues, he was able also to 

test others, 
To cross-examine them and convict them of error, that he might 

lead them in the path of virtue and of true nobility. 
He seemed in all this the very embodiment of human perfection 

and happiness. 

Those who thought that they had good natural abilities, but 
despised instruction, he endeavoured to convince that minds 
which show most natural power have most need of education, 
pointing out to them that horses of the best breed, which are 
high-spirited and stubborn, become, if they are broken when 
young, most useful and valuable, but if they are left unbroken, 
remain quite unmanageable and worthless; and that hounds of 
the best blood, able to endure toil and eager to attack beasts, 
prove, if they are well trained, most serviceable for the chase, and 
every way excellent, but, if untrained, are useless, rabid, and 
unruly. ... In like manner he showed that men of the best natural 
endowments, possessed of the greatest strength of mind, and 
most energetic in executing what they undertake, become, if 
well disciplined and instructed in what they ought to do, most 
estimable characters, and most beneficent to society (as they then 
performed most numerous and important services), but that, if 
uninstructed, and left in ignorance, they proved utterly worthless 
and mischievous; for that, not knowing what line of conduct they 
ought to pursue, they often entered upon evil courses and, being 
haughty and impetuous, were difficult to be restrained or turned 
from their purpose, and thus occasioned very many and great 
evils. . . . But those who prided themselves on their wealth, and 
thought that they required no education, but imagined that their 
riches would suffice to effect whatever they desired, and to gain 
them honour from mankind, he tried to reduce to reason by 
saying that the man was a fool who thought that he could dis- 
tinguish the good and the evil in life without instruction and that 



156 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

he also was a fool who, though he could not distinguish them, 
thought that he would procure whatever he wished and effect 
whatever was for his interest, by means of his wealth. 

Memorabilia, Bk iv, i. Translated by the Rev. J. S. Watson. 



XIII. PLATO 

(a) Beauty is of Heaven 

I hold that if a thing is lovely it is so only because it shares in 
the Ideal Loveliness If you tell me that this or that is fair be- 
cause of its colour or form I ignore all that: it only muddles me! 
But to this I cling, simply and naively, foolishly you may think, 
that naught makes a thing lovely but the presence of the Lovely 

and their partnership On the mode of this relationship I insist 

not merely that the Lovely are made so by the Ideal Loveliness. 

Phaedo. 

(b) God is Holy 

Evil, Theodorus, can never cease; there must always 
remain something which is opposed to the good. Having no 
place among the gods in heaven, evil must hover round and 
haunt this earthly sphere. Wherefore we ought to flee from earth 
to heaven as soon as we can; for to fly away is to become like 
God, so far as this is possible; and to become like him is to 
become holy, just, and wise God is never in any way un- 
righteous he is perfect righteousness; and he who is the most 
righteous is most like him. . . . To know this is true wisdom and 
virtue; and ignorance of this is manifest folly and vice. 

Theaetetus, 176. 

(c) God the Creator is Good not Jealous 

Hard task it is to find the Maker and Father of this world: and 
having found him 'twere impossible to declare him to all. . . . 
Let us declare for what purpose this world of becoming was 
framed by its Creator. 

He was good: and in the good there is no jealousy. So being 
without jealousy he wished that all things should be created in 
his likeness.. . .Desiring that all things should be good and that 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 157 

no evil should exist, he took all things visible not in a state of 
rest but of morion without plan or harmony and brought order 
out of disorder deeming this to be far better And taking 
thought he saw that in the visible world the irrational cannot be 
fairer than the rational. . .and that reason cannot dwell save in 
that which has a living soul. So he put reason in soul and soul 
in body, that this work might be in accord with nature the 
loveliest and the best. So then we may say that in the providence 
of God this world came into being a living creature lodging a 
reasonable soul. 

Timaeus, 27. 

(d) The Idea of Good 

Now, that which imparts truth to the known and the power of 
knowing to the knower is what I would have you term the idea 
of good, and this you will deem to be the cause of science, and of 
truth in so far as the latter becomes the subject of knowledge; 
beautiful too, as are both truth and knowledge, you will be right 
in esteeming this other nature as more beautiful than either, and, 
as in the previous instance, light and sight may be truly said to 
be like the sun, and yet not to be the sun, so in this other sphere, 
science and truth may be deemed to be like the good, but not the 
good; the good has a place of honour yet higher. 

What a wonder of beauty that must be, he said, which is the 
author of science and truth, and yet surpasses them in beauty; for 
you surely cannot mean to say that pleasure is the good? 

God forbid, I replied; but may I ask you to consider the image 
in another point of view? 

In what point of view? 

You would say, would you not, that the sun is not only the 
author of visibility in all visible things, but of generation and 
nourishment and growth, though he himself is not generation? 

Certainly. 

In like manner the good may be said to be not only the author 
of knowledge to all things known, but of their being and essence, 
and yet the good is not essence, but far exceeds essence in dignity 
and power. 

Republic, Bk vj. 



158 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

(e) Good and Evil 

I hold that the term "evil" comprises everything that destroys 
and corrupts, and the term " good' everything that preserves and 

benefits Again, do you maintain that everything has its own 

evil, and its own good? Do you say, for example, that the eyes 
are liable to the evil of ophthalmia, the entire body to disease, 
corn to mildew, timber to rot, copper and iron to rust, or, in 
other words, that almost everything is liable to some connatural 
evil and malady? . . . And is it not the case that whenever an object 
is attacked by one of these maladies, it is impaired, and, in the end, 
completely broken up and destroyed by it?. . .Hence everything 
is destroyed by its own connatural evil and vice; otherwise, if it 
be not destroyed by this, there is nothing else that can corrupt it. 
For that which is good will never destroy anything, nor yet that 

which is neither good nor evil If, then, we can find among 

existing things one which is liable to a particular evil, which can 
indeed mar it but cannot break it up or destroy it, shall we not 
be at once certain that a thing so constituted can never perish? 

Republic, Bk x. 

(/) The True Philosophy 

When I was a young man, I had a passionate desire for the 
wisdom which is called physical science. I thought it a splendid 
tiling to know the causes of everything; why a thing comes into 
being, and why it perishes, and why it exists. I was always 
worrying myself with such questions as, "Do living creatures 
take a definite form, as some persons say, from the fermentation 
of heat and cold?" "Is it the blood, or the air, or fire by which 
we think? " " Or is it none of these, but the brain which gives the 
senses of hearing and sight and smell, and do memory and opinion 
come from these, and knowledge from memory and opinion 
when in a state of quiescence?" 

But one day I listened to a man who said that he was reading 
from a book of Anaxagoras, which affirmed that it is Mind which 
orders and is the cause of all things. I was delighted with this 
theory; it seemed to me to be right that Mind should be the cause 
of all things, and I thought to myself, "If this is so, then Mind 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 159 

will order and arrange each thing in the best possible way. 
I never thought that, when he said that things are ordered by 
Mind, he would introduce any reason for their being as they are, 
except that they are best so. I thought that he would assign a 
cause to each thing, and a cause to the universe, and then would 
go on to explain to me what was best for each thing, and what 
was the common good of all. I would not have sold my hopes 
for a great deal. I seized the books very eagerly, and read them 
as fast as I could, in order that I might know what is best and 
what is worse. 

All my splendid hopes were dashed to the ground, my friend, 
for as I went on reading I found that the writer made no use of 
Mind at all, and that he assigned no causes for the order of things. 
His causes were air, and ether, and water, and many other 

strange things If it were said that without bones and muscles 

and the other parts of my body I could not have carried my 
resolutions into effect, that would be true. But to say that they 
are the cause of what I do, and that in this way I am acting by 
Mind, and not from choice of what is best, would be a very loose 
and careless way of talking. . . . And so one man surrounds the 
earth with a vortex, and makes the heavens sustain it. Another 
represents the earth as a flat kneading-trough, and supports it on 
a basis of air. But they never think of looking for a power which 
is involved in these things being disposed as it is best for them to 
be, nor do they think that such a power has any divine strength; 
they expect to find an Atlas who is stronger and more immortal 
and abler to hold the world together, and they never for a 
moment imagine that it is the binding force of good which really 
binds and holds things together. I would most gladly learn the 
nature of that kind of cause from any man. But I wholly failed 
either to discover it myself, or to learn it from anyone else. 

Phaedo. 

(g) Eugenics 

Do you agree with me that the prime of life may be reasonably 
reckoned at a period of twenty years for a woman, and thirty for 
a man? Where do you place those years? I should make it a rule 
for a woman to bear children to the state from her twentieth to 
her fortieth year; and for a man, after getting over the sharpest 



160 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

burst in the race of life, thenceforward to beget children to the 
state until he is fifty-five years old If then a man who is either 
above or under this age shall meddle with the business of be- 
getting children for the commonwealth, we shall declare his act 
to be an offence against religion and justice; inasmuch as he is 
raising up a child for the state, who, should detection be avoided, 
instead of having been begotten under the sanction of those 
sacrifices, and prayers, which are to be offered up at every 
marriage ceremonial, by priests and priestesses, and the whole 
city, to the effect that children to be born may ever be more 
virtuous and more useful than their virtuous and useful parents, 
will have been conceived under cover of darkness by the aid of 
dire incontinence. You are right. The same law will hold, 
should a man, who is still of an age to be a father, meddle with a 
woman, who is also of the proper age, without the introduction 
of the magistrate, we shall accuse him of raising up to the state 
an illegitimate, unsponsored, and unhallowed child. 

Republic, Bk v. 

(h) The True Beauty 

But what if man had eyes to see the true beauty the divine 
beauty, I mean, pure and clear and unalloyed, not clogged with 
the pollutions of mortality, and all the colours and vanities of 
human life thither looking, and holding converse with the true 
beauty, divine and simple, and bringing into being and educating 
true creations of virtue and not idols only? Do you not see that 
in that communion only, beholding beauty with the eyes of the 
mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, 
but realities; for he has hold, not of an image but of a reality, and 
bringing forth and educating true virtue to become the friend of 
God and be immortal if mortal man may. 

The Symposium. 

(i) Socrates faces Death 

But you too, my friends, must be cheerful in the face of death 
and keep in mind this one truth, that no harm can come to a good 
man either in life or death, for the gods do not forget him; and 
my present fate is not without its purpose; indeed, it is clear to 
me that it was better for me to die now and leave my work. That 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 161 

is why the sign has not come to hold me back, and I at any rate 
bear no grudge against those who have brought this charge 
against me, and sentenced me to death. And yet this was not 
their intention in accusing and condemning me; they thought 
they were doing me harm, and for this they deserve blame. One 
thing, however, I do ask of you; when my sons grow up, punish 
them, my friends, and worry them just as I have worried you, if 
they seem to you to be caring for money or anything else more 
than for goodness; and if they think they are something when 
they are nothing, scold them, as I have scolded you, for not 
spending their energy on the right things and for thinking they 
are something when they are worth nothing. If you do this, both 
I and my sons will have received just treatment at your hands. 

But now it is rime to go, I to die and you to live; which of us 
goes to the better thing no one knows but God.. , . 

Crito. 

XIV. ARISTOTLE 

(384-322 B.C.) 

(a) On the Nature of Happiness 

If, then, among the forms of virtuous activity, war and politics, 
although they stand out as pre-eminent in nobility and grandeur, 
are yet. . .directed towards a further end, instead of being 
desired for their own sakes, while the activity of reason, on 
the other hand, when it is speculative appears to be superior in 
serious worth, to aim at no end beyond itself, and to contain a 
pleasure which is peculiar to it and so enhances the activity ; and 
if self-sufficiency, leisuredness and such freedom from weariness 
as is possible to humanity, together with all the other attributes 
of felicity, are found to go with this activity; then, perfect well- 
being for man will he in this, provided it be granted a complete 
span of life; for nothing that belongs to well-being is incomplete. 

Such a life as this, however, is higher than the measure of 
humanity; not in virtue of his humanity will man lead this life, 
but in virtue of something within him that is divine; and by as 
much as this something is superior to his composite nature, by 
so much is its activity superior to the rest of virtue. If, then, 
Reason is divine in comparison with man, so is the life of Reason 
divine in comparison with human life. We ought not to listen to 

SI II 



162 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

those who exhort man to keep man's thoughts . . . but, so far as 
may be, to achieve immortality and do what man may to live 
according to the highest thing that is in him; for little though it 
be in bulk, in power and worth it is far above all the rest. 

Nichomachean Ethics. 
(b) On Plato 

In immediate succession to the Pythagorean and Eleatic philo- 
sophies came the work of Plato. In many respects his views coin- 
cided with these; in some respects, however, he is independent 
of the Italians. For in early youth he became a student of Cratylus 
and of the school of Heracleitus,and accepted from them the view 
that the objects of sense are in eternal flux, and that of these, there- 
fore, there can be no absolute knowledge. Then came Socrates, 
who busied himself only with questions of morals, and not at all 
with the world of physics. But in his ethical inquiries his search 
was ever for universals, and he was the first to set his mind to the 
discovery of definitions. Plato, following him in this, came to the 
conclusion that these universals could not belong to the things of 
sense, which were ever changing, but to some other kind of 
existences. Thus he came to conceive of universals as forms or 
ideas of real existences, by reference to which, and in consequence 
of analogies to which, the tilings of sense in every case received 
their names, and became thinkable objects. 

Metaphysics, A, 6. 

(c) The Noble-minded Man 

He does not run into trifling dangers, nor is he fond of 
danger, because he honours few things; but he will face great 
dangers, and when he is in danger he is unsparing of his life, 
knowing that there are conditions on which life is not worth 
having. And he is the sort of man to confer benefits, but he is 
ashamed of receiving them; for the one is the mark of a superior, 
the other of an inferior .... It is a mark of the proud man to 
ask for nothing or scarcely anything, but to give help readily, 
and to be dignified towards people who enjoy high position 
and good fortune, but unassuming towards those of the middle 
class; for it is a difficult and lofty thing to be superior to the 

former, but easy to be so to the latter He must be open in 

his hate and in his love and must speak and act openly; for he 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 163 

is free of speech because he is contemptuous, and he is given 
to telling the truth, except when he speaks in irony to the 
vulgar. He must be unable to make his life revolve round 

another, unless it be a friend; for this is slavish nor is he 

given to admiration, for nothing to him is great. Nor is he 
mindful of wrongs, for it is the part of a proud man to over- 
look them. . .nor is he a gossip. 

Further a slow step is thought proper to the proud man, a 
deep voice, and a level utterance. 

Nichomachean Ethics, iv, 3. (Oxford translation.) 

XV. EPICURUS 
(a) Epicurus no Epicure 

For my own part when my meal is bread and water, or some- 
times when I indulge myself and add a little cheese, I find full 
satisfaction and defy those pleasures which the ignorant and 
sensual mob delight in, ... and if I have rye-bread and boiled 
barley and water I think my table so well furnished as to dare 
dispute happiness with Zeus himself. Sobriety makes us superior 
to the threats of Fortune. 

XIV, 10. 

(b) Epicurus no Epicurean 

When we say that Pleasure is ... the chief good we are very far 
from understanding those pleasures which are so much admired, 
courted and pursued by men wallowing in luxury... but 
only this not to be pained in body nor perturbed in mind. . . . 
While nature is our guide whatever we do must conduce only 
to this. 

v, 3- 

XVI. IN LATER GREEK THOUGHT 

(a) Dio Chrysostom 

(after E. Be van) 

We must not shrink from speaking out about prostitution, or 
be shy of it as if it were a matter of doubt. No one, we say, . . . 
should have any thing to do with this traffic which submits the 
bodies of slaves, girls and also boys, to infamous treatment. There 



164 THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 

in the highways and in the very presence of magistrates, by 
civic hall and temple, in the very midst of holy things they use 
the bodies of aliens or of Greeks who once were free for vilest 
purposes. . . . Having no reverence for Zeus the family god, nor 

for Hera, goddess of Marriage Let no ruler or lawgiver permit 

or sanction profits of this kind. And if he find himself face to face 
with old customs "a disease that has grown scaly with time" 
let him not leave it untreated or uncorrected, but let him search 
out what can be done to mitigate and cure the evil. For evil does 
not stagnate, but moves and grows in filth if it be not checked. 
All men are created honourable, companions in honour, by the 
creator: all bear the same signs and symbols of their first claim to 
honour: all are endowed with Reason, and can feel the gulf set 
between the lovely and the base. 

The Honour of Slaves, Oration vn, 132-8. 

(b) Hippocratic Oath 
(about first century A.D.) 

I swear by Apollo the healer, and Asclepius, and Hygieia, and 
All-heal (Panacea) and all the gods and goddesses. . . that, accord- 
ing to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this 
stipulation to reckon him who taught me this Art as dear to me 
as those who bore me. . .to look upon his offspring as my own 
brothers, and to teach them this Art, if they would learn it, with- 
out fee or stipulation. By precept, lecture, and all other modes of 
instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, 
and those of my teacher, and to disciples bound by stipulation 
and oath according to the Law of Medicine, but to none other. 
I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my 
ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, 
and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will 
give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any 
such counsel; nor will I aid a woman to produce abortion. With 

purity and holiness I will pass my life and practise my Art 

Into whatever houses I enter, I will go there tor the benefit of the 
sick, and will abstain from every act of mischief and corruption; 
and above all from seduction. . . . Whatever in my professional 
practice or even not in connection with it I see or hear in the 



THE ETHICS OF THE GREEKS 165 

lives of men which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not 
divulge, deeming that on such matters we should be silent. 
While I keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me 
to enjoy life and the practice of Art, always respected among 
men, but should I break or violate this Oath, may the reverse be 
my lot. 

XVII. Greek Pessimism from Theognis to Palladas 

Of all things not to be born into the world is best, nor to see 
the beams of the keen sun; but being born, as swiftly as may 
be to pass the gates of Hades, and lie under a heavy heap of 
earth. 

Theognis, c. 500 B.C. 

I was not, I came to be; I was, I am not; that is all; and who 
shall say more; I shall not be. 

Author unknown. 

All is laughter and all is dust, and all is nothing; for out of 
unreason is all that is. 

Glycon. 

Naked I came on earth and naked I depart under earth: why do I 
vainly labour, seeing the naked end. 

Palladas, c. 350 A.D. 

XVIII. LATER STOICISM 

From M. Aurelius 
(A.D. 121-180) 

Death is release from the importunities of sense, the tyranny of 
passion, the errors of the mind, the slavery of the body. . . . 

Be cheerful, and independent of the help or company of 
men, or of that rest and tranquillity which one owes to others. 
Better is it to be straight in one's own nature than to be rectified 
by others.... Him that offends instruct with love and meekness, 
showing him his fault. If thou succeed not, blame thyself. 



CHAPTER V 
THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

"The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom." 

PSALMS AND PROVERBS 
I 

The Semites probably came from regions still inhabited by 
their Arab successors around the Arabian and Persian 
Gulfs and about 3000 B.C. a group of them conquered the 
kingdoms of Sumer and Akkad, and set up a dynasty in 
Babylon. That they reached a high morality is clear from the 
Code of Hammurabi of about 2100 B.C., and to this era be- 
longs the second great Semitic victory, that of the Canaan- 
ites over the Ammoritcs. The third culminates about the 
fourteenth century B.C. in the Hebrew occupation of Canaan, 
which had long been under the suzerainty of great empires, 
first Babylon and then Egypt. If the Code of Hammurabi 
tells us of the moral ideals of these early Semites the Tel-el- 
Amarna Tablets tell us of communication between the Kings 
of Canaan and their great overlords, and give us a picture of 
endless petty quarrels, and of growing fear of the Nomads or 
Bedawin of whom the Hebrews are a part. Letters written 
at the time of the Egyptian monotheist and idealist Akhnaton 
speak of "Habiru" who are over-running South Canaan. 

They are seen against a background of superstitious 
polytheism and necromancy, of "high-places" with phallic 
worships and human sacrifice. Excavations suggest that 
the Canaanites also practised ancestor-worship and offered 
food to departed spirits, and we cannot suppose that their 
ethical ideals or practice were highly developed. The 
Hebrews were to learn much, both good and bad, from these 
earlier invaders: they were saved from complete contamina- 
tion by their exclusive veneration for the transcendent God 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 167 

whom they conceived as having a covenant with them. This 
is not a Semitic idea in general. It belongs to the Hebrews in 
particular, and is the source of their greatness. That a group 
of nomads living precariously among great empires should 
have clung to this faith and should have developed it into a 
religion for humanity, is one of the sublimest and strangest 
facts in history. 

That they were intolerant and often vindictive is the defect 
of their virtue : they must at all costs keep themselves un- 
contaminated by pagan cults and "abominations". 

But their story is not one of complete success in this, nor 
of a steady progress in religion and ethics. They follow a 
zigzag path and, though their history as we have it is written 
to prove God's covenant relationship and their preparation 
for a spiritual mission, it frankly tells of their many failures, 
and it often reads back later ideals and ideas into primitive 
times. The story of their wanderings is written as they settle 
to an agricultural life, and is edited by several groups with 
didactic purposes. 

The Bible as a whole is not history in any modern sense. 



II 

The history of the Hebrews may be divided for our purpose 
into the Prophetic Period (eighth to sixth century B.C.) and 
the periods which precede and follow it. During the first era, 
from the fourteenth century to the eighth, they came, as we 
saw above, in various waves of immigration into Canaan, 
settled down and divided into Northern and Southern King- 
doms. One group of them had escaped in the thirteenth 
century from Egypt and adopting Yahweh (the god of the 
Kenites of Sinai) saw in him their Saviour. He was a local 
deity and, though far from moral, was gradually to become 
"the God of the whole earth", the "high and holy One that 
inhabited! eternity". On the foundations laid by Moses in 
interpreting this God and in formulating his moral require- 



168 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

ments is reared the grand structure of Hebraism, and much 
that is noblest in our heritage. 

But for many centuries Yahweh remains a tribal God, 
inciting his people to spoil the Egyptians, to annihilate the 
Amalekites, and to keep themselves apart from their neigh- 
bours. "A peculiar people" they are to impose the "fear 
of Yahweh" upon their enemies, and to guard it as their 
most precious possession. And in their amazing story there 
was much to inspire awe as well as wonder, love as well as 
fear. 

Those who had escaped from the Egyptian captivity gave 
their new God to the other Hebrew settlers, and as they passed 
from a nomadic to a settled life the legends and stories of 
their fathers told at many a camp-fire, and by many a well- 
side, were edited and made into edifying history. Yahweh 
was made the inspirer of some of their worst deeds, and as 
their own morals improved they sought to rationalize the 
barbarous acts of old by giving them a religious sanction. 
Yahweh was above good and evil, and men were to admire 
and to fear, even where their conscience forbade them to 
imitate. 

To this period belong the nuclei of two groups of books 
edited in this spirit: Judges, Samuel, and I Kings form the 
first group, and are our sources for the ethical ideals of the 
nomads, but they contain later material; and the Old Testa- 
ment as a whole is the product of much editing and re- 
editing. 

During their migrations the Hebrews are represented as 
little better than those whom they despise. In fact the bulk 
of these earlier books might be conceived as writings to 
celebrate the grace of Yahweh in favouring such an im- 
moral crew were it not for the fact that Yahweh's own 
morals are no better. He is deceitful and vengeful, sending 
evil spirits to divide men, and to tempt them to murder, 1 
and he is made the sanction for blood-vengeance of the most 
1 Cf. Judges ix; i Samuel xvi, 15. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 169 

ruthless kind. 1 Here is religion of a primitive type, which 
the improving morality of the Hebrews is soon to outgrow. 

Meantime they are themselves at a crude patriarchal stage, 
often using women as chattels, 2 and practising polygamy: they 
make holocausts of their captives 3 or concubines: 4 they 
enslave whole populations, and they regard the resentment 
of their victims as proofs of moral obliquity and false 
religious beliefs. This point of view lives on very tenaciously. 

Down to the time of David and Solomon this primitive 
morality persists, and the first prophetic figures are them- 
selves the mouthpiece of a confused religious and ethical 
ideal, and non-Israelites are still outside the pale. 

Against this dark background shine the protest of Nathan 
at David's murder and adultery, and David's own contri- 
tion: 5 the magnanimity of Saul, 6 and Jonathan's unselfish 
friendship? a noble substitute for the older blood-feud. A 
growing sense of justice, and of moral requirements in the 
priesthood, is revealed in the dramatic story of Eli's sons 8 and 
in the judgments of David and Solomon judges as well as 
kings with absolute power. 

As the Hebrews compare this theocratic kingdom of the 
eleventh century with their earlier lawlessness they say truly: 
"In those days. . .every man did what was right in his own 
eyes ".9 In a word a growing moral sensitiveness is revealed 
as the nomadic stage is passed, and the Hebrews settle in 
Canaan; the abominations of the local cults, which sometimes 
invade their own religion, more usually cause them to guard 
it and to reform it: and to become more "jealous" for 
Yahweh. 

This "jealousy", or zeal so hard for people of non- 

1 i Samuel xxv, 58. 

2 Cf. the appalling story in Judges xix. 

3 Judges ix, 45. 4 Judges xxi. 

5 2 Samuel xi and xii. 6 i Samuel xi. 

7 i Samuel xviii. 8 i Samuel xx, 6, 25. 

9 Judges xxi, 25. 



i?o THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

Semitic heritage to understand has many noble aspects, and 
if its iconoclasm and hatred of foes went to extreme lengths 
it is important to remember that this small nation was "a 
petty clan of highlanders. . .pushed to and fro by the two 
contending dynasts of the ancient world and at last crushed 
between them": * and that "if they had not been particular- 
istic and pugnacious we should never have heard of them or 
of the Kingdom of God". 

I quote these words from a friendly critic, and yet I cannot 
shirk the conviction that the Jews have deserved much of 
the persecution that has come their way. Their belief in a 
covenant relation peculiar to themselves has made them and 
their legatees proud and exclusive. 

The Indian reader will, however, appreciate to the full 
their true devotion, a passionate bhakti at the heart of this 
jealousy. Yir-ath-Adonai usually rendered the "fear of the 
Lord" is its developed form, and the phrase is as difficult 
to translate as sophrosyne\ with this too it has affinities. It 
is the attitude of devoted loyalty, of fear of losing God's 
presence, of circumspection in serving Him, of awe rather 
than fear. 

For the Jew it is the beginning and the end of wisdom, as 
sophrosyne is for the Greek and bhakti for the Indian de- 
votee. It is the true genius of Israel and inspires its one art, 
that of rapt poetic diction. God, who has chosen them, is 
speaking to their prophets, and has a loving purpose in 
moulding them into a nation: they stand before him in 
amazed contemplation of his mercy and majesty, and slowly 
the sense dawns that One so loving and so great has wider 
purposes and a less exclusive love. 

When they adopted such Babylonian myths as those of 
the Creation and the Flood they must have reflected upon 
the genius of their Semitic predecessors, and on the other 
hand while they borrowed much of the Canaanite cultus 
they were moved to set Yahweh as a God of War over 
1 A. Nairne, The Faith of the Old Testament. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 171 

against the local Baalim and their fertility rites; and even 
when they assimilated much they were able to reject more. 
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah expresses Hebrew con- 
demnation of the perversions of sex common in such wor- 
ships, and these seem nevertheless to have invaded their own 
cultus. 1 So Saul after attacking necromancy, himself falls a 
victim to it. 2 

The protest of these books against the Canaanite cults is 
evidently that of later editors rather than of the Israelites of 
the Early Kingdom. 

It is a fascinating but difficult task to discover the morality 
of this age of transition; and it is becoming clear that some 
very important elements of Jewish religion and ethics belong 
to the older groups of Semites, Babylonian and Canaanite. 
This is probably true of the Sabbath, destined to become a 
central pillar of Judaism. 

It is also true of the kindlier spirit of the Early Codes 
which belong to an agricultural civilization. The Code of 
Hammurabi remains to suggest the good influences of the 
surrounding peoples and to prove how one-sided is the 
Hebrew version of their own moral superiority. If they are 
to become a light to the Gentiles they are now lighting their 
torches at Gentile shrines. 

Ill 

The second group of pre-prophetic books accordingly shows 
advance in ethical content. In their present form these works 
Genesis, Exodus, and the four other books at the beginning 
of our Bible have clearly been edited several times, and the 
so-called J and E recensions3 can be distinguished as docu- 
ments of early prophetic days i.e. of about the eighth 
century B.C. The ethical ideals they embody may fairly be 

1 i Kings xiv, 23-4. a i Samuel xxviii. 

3 I.e. the versions using Jehovah and Elohim respectively as the name 
of God. There are also later recensions: D, that of the Deuteronomic 
reform, P, that of the later priestly school, and the eclectic work of 
post-exilic scholars. 



i?2 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

compared with those of the Homeric and Vedic hymns. All 
contain earlier matter, and all were recited to tell of heroic 
days and of the doings of the gods. 

Yahweh is in some ways less moral than Zeus, and 
much less moral than Varuna, and religion is still more con- 
cerned with ritual observance than with righteousness. There 
is among the Hebrews no concept such as rita in India or 
moira in Greece, by which the conduct of God and man is 
to be judged. Yahweh is the author of both the moral and 
the religious law. This is soon to be a source of immense 
strength to the Hebrews: it is at present still a weakness, for 
Yahweh is represented as the author of much evil. He 
" hardens Pharaoh's heart " and then overwhelms him for its 
hardness: he "sends a lying spirit" into the prophets of Ahab's 
court, and in due course overwhelms them and him: he is 
still a bloodthirsty tribal god. And these attributes are very 
slowly sublimated into righteous anger against evil, and 
stern justice tempered with patience and mercy. 

As for the men of this age they sail have a low idea of 
women and practise polygamy: yet great honour is given 
to Miriam as to Deboran in an earlier, and to Ruth in a 
later age. Fraud is common: Abraham passes off his wife as 
a sister, and allows Pharaoh to take her. Jacob is at times a 
smooth rogue. But there are sublime elements in these sagas 
which are full of beauty and pathos, and of abiding moral 
value: and in their present form they are works written to 
preach and to teach a kind of philosophy of history with 
many morals woven into its narrative. 

It is these elements and the sense that Yahweh is leading 
them on to greater things which begin to justify the Hebrew 
claim to be a chosen people. The general level of their con- 
duct does not sustain the claim. But they read back into their 
past some sense of justice and mercy: thus the aged Jacob 
is made to deprecate the savage wrath of his sons Levi and 
Simeon, who had destroyed a city to avenge their sister. 1 
1 Cf. Genesis xlix, 5-7. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 173 

For the rest we may hope that these books will be in- 
creasingly studied by anthropologists, who will throw much 
light on their sanctions and tabus. And to such uses they 
should largely be confined. A set of documents which tell 
of the swift vengeance of Heaven on a man who touches 
the ark in seeking to save it, and admire a man who 
gives his daughter to be ravished by a mob to save a guest 
cannot be used for edification. 

Nor is the ruling idea that prosperity is the proof of God's 
approval and the reward of righteousness any longer 
salubrious: it never was true, except in a very limited sense, 
and it has encouraged much hypocrisy. 

The one valuable element which these books contribute 
to ethics and it is of mixed value is that Yahweh is a great 
and powerful god who has a great destiny for his people. 
This idea grew and developed with the growth of the 
Hebrews who are soon to produce the greatest documents 
of ethical monotheism in the ancient world. It is because of 
gleams of this pure gold that we treasure the earlier books; 
they shine at times in a very crude matrix. 

And as it has taken a catastrophe on a world-wide scale 
to bring our world to a sense of its unity, so it was not till the 
threat of Assyria loomed on the horizon that Israel awoke 
out of a smug tribalism. 

"By shattering the tribes Assyria shattered the tribal theory 
of religion. The field was cleared of the many : there was 
room for the One. . .there was a great chance. . .for a god 
with a character", says George Adam Smith. 1 

And, we may add, there was urgent need for a prophetic 
voice to call the nations to heed the signs of the times. They 
were all at the dawn of a new era. 

Within the two little kingdoms also there was grave need 
for reform. 

1 G. A. Smith, The Twelve Prophets, p. 54. 



174 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

IV 

In the codes of law which belong to this period we find a 
higher ethical standard than we should expect from the 
narratives in which they are imbedded, and we can trace the 
growth of a settled people in customary morals as well as 
in the attempt to embody these in legislation. 

But the settled life had its dangers as well as its advantages. 
There was so much corruption in the local cults, and so much 
temptation to materialism as they acquired wealth and 
" waxed fat", that there was always work for the reformer; 
and prophetism begins with the clarion call of Samuel to 
yield to Yahweh obedience rather than sacrifice. By 
establishing the kingdom Samuel gave Israel a new unity 
and kept her from absorption by her neighbours. After 
Moses he is the founder of the nation a Theocratic King- 
dom and while some elements of later prophetism may 
have been read back into his words and deeds he may safely 
be called the founder of the prophetic line. He is a figure of 
Aeschylean grandeur transitional between the old grim 
nomadic order of wars of annihilation and the new and 
better day of settled and peaceful progress. 

Some of his sayings may voice the ethic of a later age 
but there is ample evidence of an awakening conscience in 
Israel of which these grand pictures are the embodiment, 
and from this great beginning on to Elijah and Elisha the 
true prophets are seen at war with the false, and the corrupt 
Ahab and Jezebel are confronted with Yahweh's wrath at 
the worship of Baal and the corruption of Israel. Elisha 
while he tolerates calf-worship denounces the slaughter of 
prisoners of war 1 and here we see one great moral advance. 
Another is seen in the conviction that David's hands are 
too blood-stained to allow him to build the temple, and in 
a growing sense that righteousness is better in God's sight 
than ritual. The struggle finds a dramatic climax in the 

1 2 Kings vi, 21-3. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 175 

rugged shepherd Amos who hurls his challenge at corrupt 
priests, unjust judges and cruel leaders. "Let judgment roll 
on as waters, and righteousness as an unfailing stream" 1 is 
his warning to a corrupt nation. So begin the awakening 
of the eighth century and the work of the prophetic 
reformers. 

The leaders of this strange company, men differing from 
one another in social rank, in education and in genius, are 
Amos (7603.0.), Hosea (750 B.C.), Isaiah (740-700 B.C.), 
Micah (724-680 B.C.), and all voice the demand of God for 
social justice. That they accomplished one of the greatest 
revolutions in human thought is clear, and that all were 
called by some vision or conversion to a deeper under- 
standing of Yahweh's righteousness and love, and set up 
with unfailing courage new standards of justice. From the 
clear fountain-head of their vision of God there are still 
flowing mighty streams of idealism: and the prophets are the 
main justification for the Hebrew claim to be a chosen 
people. But they were often persecuted and seldom obeyed. 
Their monotheism and ethical ideals are foreshadowed in 
the Codes of Law, 2 in which the current morality of the 
Hebrews at the close of the pre-prophetic period is summed 
up, with perhaps some later editing. 

That they had departed very far from even these laws is 
made clear by the denunciations of the shepherd of Tekoa. 
He is a champion of the poor, and finds in the Northern 
Kingdom oppression and callous disregard: they "trample 
upon the needy and exterminate the poor of the land". 3 
The money ground out of the people they spend on luxury 
and debauch: 4 justice they pervert until "they know not 
how to do right",5 and look blasphemously to a Day of 

1 Amos v, 24. 

2 Exodus xx, xxiii, xxxiv, contain these codes agricultural ideals 
blent with the spirit of eighth-century prophetism. 

3 Amos viii, 4; cf. Exodus xxii, 21-7. 

4 Amos iii, 12; iv, I. 5 Amos iii, 10. 



i?6 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

Yahweh, which will set their foot upon the neck of their 
enemies. 

But God is also the God of the peoples of Moab and 
Philistia, and the nations whom they hope to subdue: He 
calls upon all "to do justice and to love mercy". Israel in 
particular, as God's chosen, must be righteous, and ritual is 
no substitute for morality. This Amos makes at once the 
essence of true religion, and the condition of Yahweh's 
favour: and the rich are not to suppose that their wealth will 
cover up their sin. "You only have I known. . .therefore I 
will punish you for all your iniquities." 1 "Ye have built 
houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them: Ye 
have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink the 
wine/' 2 For the Day of Yahweh is at hand a day of sifting 
and testing, of famine and captivity unless they repent, 
and are saved. 3 

Nowhere in history is there a more picturesque figure than 
this rugged countryman, who sees clearly with his desert eyes 
the corruption of the evil city, and nowhere is there grander 
poetry than in his denunciations. His successor Hosea goes 
deeper into the Holy Place of the Divine Nature, and into 
the mysteries of human sin and suffering. If there is fire in 
the eyes of Amos there are tears in those of Hosea whose 
own love for an erring wife reveals to him the unplumbed 
depths of the Divine compassion. 

He too denounces corruption and harlotry and oppression, 
bids Israel "sow righteousness and reap the fruit of piety": 
and pronounces woe upon the guilty nation. 4 But he is 
himself an Israelite, whereas Amos was from the Southern 
Kingdom; the doom is more imminent, and his sense of the 
pain at the heart of God is more acute. "When Israel was 
a child I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. . . . 
I drew him with. . .cords of love How shall I give him 

1 Amos iii, 2. 2 Amos v, n. 

3 Amos ix. 4 Hosea x. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 177 

up?" 1 So mercy and justice blend in this new vision of a 
sorrowful God, and a new note is struck in ethics as in re- 
ligion. It is the Divine as it is the human prerogative to 
pardon: and in suffering man can draw near to God. But 
Hosea has nothing of the wide outlook of Amos: he is a 
townsman seeking to lead Israel back to the old God of the 
nomads : whereas Amos is a nomad turned into a seer of a 
new international God, and Isaiah is his true successor. 

Isaiah 2 saw the doom pronounced by his predecessors. He 
saw the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C. and the invasion of Judah 
by Sennacherib twenty years later. As Amos tells of Judg- 
ment, and Hosea of Love, so Isaiah goes on to proclaim 
Holiness. 

The account of his vision^ is a classic expression of the 
mystical experience, and of the call to prophecy: it is a vision 
of God's might and of His holiness, and also of human need. 
Personal sin and national sins come home to the visionary: 
"I am a man of unclean lips, and I live in the midst of a people 
of unclean lips", he protests, but is sent forth to call Israel to 
repentance. Of what are they to repent? Of a false cult and 
of social iniquity. 

Your new moons and your set feasts 
My soul abhors : they are an abomination. . . . 
Cease to do evil: learn to do good: 
Judge the fatherless plead for the widow. 4 

These are the themes of his first " Oracle": like Amos and 
Hosea he is a champion of the poor and a scourge of the 
rich and corrupt. The great prophets are in fact one in their 
main ethical ideals, and in their picture of God. Righteous- 
ness alone, they teach, can satisfy him, and the poor and 

1 Hosea xi. 

2 The Book of Isaiah is complex: "a kind of gospel of Isaiah a record 
of the prophet's life and teaching combined with a good deal of later 
theology, all composed into a book by the post-exilic scholars", says 
Dr Nairne. 

3 Isaiah vi. 4 Isaiah i, 14, 17. 



si 



i?8 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

oppressed are his special care. The alien too, who had been 
considered outside the pale, is also his; and the thought 
grows, from Amos to Hosea, and from Hosea to Isaiah, that 
God is not only justice, but mercy: and from Amos to 
Isaiah that He is God not only of Israel but of all nations. 
Our illustrative readings will make it clear that there is a 
progressive revelation here from die inexorable justice of 
the God of Amos to the inexhaustible love of the God of 
Hosea, and from the God of a nation to the God of 
humanity. 

The greatest of the prophets thus summarizes their teaching, 
"Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all 
thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength " 
and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself". "These are 
the two great commandments ; on them hang all the law and 
the prophets. " x Here Jesus is quoting the first commandment 
from the Deuteronomic Code. 2 Written perhaps during the 
corrupt reign of Manasseh in the middle of the seventh 
century, and " disco vered" in the Temple, the Book of 
Deuteronomy wrought a great reform in Israel. It is, in 
effect, a compromise between the new and revolutionary 
teachings of the prophets and the old religion. There is much 
in it that is of universal application, and it renews the plea of 
Amos against ruthlessness, 3 but there is also much that is 
purely local, and that Jesus rejected. 

But we must remember the position of any legislator who 
sought to apply to a stiff-necked nation the high ideals of 
the prophets, and much was accomplished. The book reveals 
the bitter opposition of the people, and we know that they 
refused to listen, and that in 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar de- 
stroyed the temple, and carried off the upper classes and the 
priests to Babylon. This calamity led to a growing sense that 

1 Mark xii, 29-30; cf. Matthew xxii, 37-40. 

2 Deuteronomy vi, 4, 5. 

3 Amos i, 3, n, 15; Deuteronomy xx, 19. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 179 

the individual mattered: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die", 
says Ezekiel, prophet and priest, and though there were 
many that believed that Israel would one day triumph over 
its enemies, the more thoughtful and spiritual began to realize 
that Israel's domain was in the realm of the spirit a kingdom 
of God in the hearts of men, rather than a theocratic kingdom 
among the great empires. The post-prophetic teachers of 
Israel are in this like the post-Socratic teachers of Hellas. 

Their national sorrows also called out their sense of 
solidarity, and raised anew the question "For what is Yah- 
weh preparing the nation?" The sublime answer is given 
in the Servant Songs attributed to a later Isaiah. He is a 
great lyrical poet, and they are the crowning achievement of 
Hebrew prophecy, matchless in their terse and dramatic 
diction. God, they teach, is putting upon His people the 
burden of the world's sin : He is calling them to a mission 
not of conquest, but of redemption. It was many centuries 
before any Hebrew prophet dared to take up this unpopular 
tale and then it was to be fulfilled in unexpected ways. 
From now on Hebrew prophecy begins to lose its high 
ethical quality. 

It is impossible, in the space at our disposal, to trace the 
long story, and it is in effect largely one of degeneration. For 
while there are prophets who continue the great tradition, 
yet even Ezekiel turns from preaching repentance and 
righteousness to pathetic pictures of the restoration of Judah 
and the rebuilding of the Temple. The second Isaiah also is 
obsessed with this hope, and the prophets seem to be seeking 
to comfort Israel rather than to reform it, until prophecy 
ends in an anti-climax and the triumph of the priest is com- 
plete. Yet to this later period belong most of the Psalms 1 
which remain unchallenged as the expression of the 
soul's waiting upon God. While they are essentially Jewish 
the songs of Israelites at worship they belong to all man- 

1 The Psalter while it contains earlier hymns is "The Hymn-book of 
the Second Temple". 



i8o THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

kind: and the very fact that they express doubt as well as 
faith, hate as well as love, reveals them as very human docu- 
ments. The psalmists like the prophets are men tried in the 
furnace of affliction, and like them they are often in revolt 
against ritual and official dogmas, such as that of the guilt of 
the sufferer. We are as it were "listening in" at the prayers 
and confessions of men who love God, yet rebel against the 
cruelties of their lot; or of others whose serene trust is un- 
shaken, and whose one delight is in the Commandments of 
their God; or of still others who cry out in deep repentance, 
and recognize that separation from God is the one unbearable 
punishment. "I may truly name this book", says Calvin, 
"the anatomy of all parts of the soul", and we may add of 
the soul of the religious everywhere. 

The Psalter is in fact the most universal of books of 
devotion, and for our purpose is the more valuable as a 
revelation all unconscious of the moral ideals of Israel in 
the post-prophetic period. It contrasts the just with the 
wicked, the wise man with the fool: the former are those 
who trust in God and fear him, the latter are those who 
deny God and have no sense of retribution. Man is of the 
earth and "altogether vanity", yet God has put all things 
under his feet, and though all are liars and none do good, yet 
the pious are men of a humble spirit, and in doing their duty 
to God and man are refreshed by the waters of the Divine 
Mercy. God vindicates His own and punishes the ungodly 
and righteousness is itself their reward. 

More consciously ethical and didactic are the "Proverbs", 
which like the Psalter is a post-exilic compilation with older 
material, and which also reveals the accepted morality of the 
people at large. Here and in Ecclesiasticus we find the 
ethic of Judaism in the third century B.C. shrewd maxims 
and wise saws rather than lofty ideals. Yet the basic idea is 
the same in religion is the true wisdom, and the only sure 
reward. Filial piety, respect for the aged, kindliness to all, 
industry and sobriety, frugality and caution these are the 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 181 

moral qualities most admired. It is a pragmatic and utili- 
tarian ethic which the wise inculcate and they do not 
hesitate to appeal to the motive of book-keeping. 

Yet their constant praise of wisdom and of righteousness 
above all of the fear of Yahweh make these books true 
treasuries of religion: "They have enough confidence in 
human nature to believe that it will respond to the best in life 
that is presented, and they sincerely believe that they have 
the best". 

And if later Judaism has lost its prophetic fire and its 
radiant sense of the triumph of God's justice, we must 
remember that post-exilic religious leaders preserved pro- 
phetic ideals by thus embodying them: if they somewhat 
sterilized them they also protected them from evaporating 
into vague idealism. 

Ezekiel is the Father of Judaism and its narrow and ex- 
clusive outlook is in as strange contrast to the catholicity of 
the second Isaiah as its ritualism and legalism are to the " pure 
religion and undefiled" of Micah. But post-exilic Judaism 
has many glories such as the magnificent universality of Ruth 
the Moabitess and of Jonah, spiritual heirs of the eighth- 
century prophets. 



In the fear of Yahweh is the beginning and, one might also 
say, the end of Hebrew wisdom. Jealousy for the Law of 
Yahweh is the inspiration of many of the prophets, and also 
the explanation of much that is intolerant and even unethical 
in Hebrew morality. If its fine flower is the passion for 
righteousness and the love of the poor taught by the great 
prophets, and if its ethical monotheism was right in being 
intolerant of base cults and false prophets, yet there is a spirit 
of vindictiveness which these prophets sought in vain to 
sublimate, and against which Jesus set his face. If unnatural 
vice is the besetting sin of the Greek, this spirit of vengeful- 
ness is the besetting sin of Israel. Her earliest poetry is 



182 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

darkened by it: Deborah 1 praises Jael for a deed of foul 
treachery to a guest: the "Song of the Bow" 2 gloats over 
the long-drawn-out slaughter of the enemy. Samuel an- 
nounces Yahweh's punishment upon Saul for sparing even 
the cattle of the Amalekites ; and some of the noblest psalms, 
belonging to a much later day when Israel is chastened 
by suffering, can only be sung by a modern congregation if 
they either completely forget the meaning of the words or 
else allegorize them. Even the Book of Deuteronomy, 
which embodies much of the moral teaching of the great 
prophets, lays down the lex talionis "an eye for an eye and a 
tooth for a tooth" which Jesus rejected, and it lays it down 
clearly with the intention of putting some bounds to the 
vindictiveness of Israel. Of later books that of Esther is a 
classic of race-hatred, and the sufferings of the Hebrews have 
been largely due to this vice. If Jews are persecuted to-day 
it is partly because their intellectuals have preached class- 
war. But this passion against oppressors is also a cry for 
Justice from Amos to Karl Marx; and is blent often with a 
true sense of religious values. The earliest hymn pronounces 
a blessing on "them that love Yahweh", and the very Baby- 
lonian psalm which blesses the man that shall dash little 
children against the stones is full of yearning for the City of 
God. 

Hebrew religion and ethics do not in fact present a picture 
either of unity or of steady progress. They rise to great 
heights and fall to great depths, and progress follows a zigzag 
path. Reaching its noblest expression some five centuries 
after the Egyptian captivity with the great prophets of the 
eighth century, Judaism gradually sinks again as ritual over- 
shadows righteousness, and prophecy degenerates into 
apocalyptic. Yet this gifted race, when its spiritual life 
seemed almost at its lowest ebb, continued to contain a 
remnant of pious and gentle souls who protested against 
narrowness and legalism, and "who expected the consolation 
1 Judges v, 24-31. 2 2 Samuel i. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 183 

of Israel" and the vindication of Yahweh. And it is Israel's 
greatest triumph that she produced her greatest son when 
the Gentile world also was most in need of a moral 
tonic. 

The long history of the Hebrew race may be compared 
with that of the Indians in its preoccupation with religion 
and in its search for a nobler ethic. Through many failures 
and much suffering it evolved an ideal of social righteousness 
which is still a living inspiration, and learnt the meaning of 
God's Holiness. Through its own sufferings it came to under- 
stand his love and to envisage itself as his suffering servant. 
And even at lower levels its psalms of worship which ex- 
press the longing of the masses, and its proverbial wisdom 
have won an unchallenged place in the world's religious 
literature. 

The Semitic peoples have been little interested, on the 
other hand, in the world of art and science, and have made 
no supremely great contribution to man's secular life. They 
have left nothing to compare with Greek architecture, or 
Chinese landscape painting, no great tradition of scientific 
thought like that of Greece, and they seem to have 
ignored Babylonian astronomy. Though we are told that 
Joseph and Moses learnt the wisdom of the Egyptians there 
is no evidence of it, and the Jewish abhorrence of alien cults 
is enough to explain their aloofness from sciences which 
were connected with priests and temples. Even in later ages 
what Arab and Jewish scholars have achieved has been largely 
as middle-men, handing on Greek and Indian civilization, 
and even when fully exposed to that Greek culture which 
the Romans took with eager hands, the Jew was too con- 
scious of the " abomination of desolation" which Hellenism 
sought to impose. If the Jew was a barbarian to the Greek, 
the Greek was an idolater to the Jew. Keeping their sense 
of the holiness of Yahweh, they kept also their sense of 
separateness. 

At such great cost was won their growth in ethical 



184 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

idealism 1 and in an idea of God only surpassed by that of 
Jesus: "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil". 2 Their 
social ethic develops side by side with the idea of Yahweh, 
or indeed often in advance of it. It emerges from the savage 
tribalism of a nomad people, alleviated by laws of hospi- 
tality and tribal solidarity, to become the recognition of a 
brotherhood of nations far in advance of our present 
practice. 

That it was peculiarly difficult for them to reach this ideal 
their records show, and secular history also makes clear. 
Their story begins with a long and cruel captivity and 
goes on through ages of wandering and uncertainty, con- 
tinuing all down the ages in oppression and outrage. Yet 
all through this stern discipline they have kept a sense of 
mission and a hope for the good time coming. If Aeschy- 
lus learnt through the bitter days which followed the Age of 
Pericles that "to suffer is to learn", how much more did 
Hosea and Jeremiah discover that "whom God loves he 
chastens". The greatest literary masterpiece of the Jews, the 
Book of Job, which may indeed be compared with a Greek 
tragedy and especially with the Prometheus, rings with this 
faith in the Unseen: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust 
Him". This sense of God's reality and nearness and this belief 
that He is guiding and refining His people through suffering, 
are Israel's great gifts to mankind. 

And just in proportion as the Jews came into contact with 
the world about them, did their own culture draw back into 
itself. The Babylonian and Persian captivities brought them 
into very close contact with highly civilized peoples: but 
they seem to have learnt little more from Babylon and Persia 
than they did from Egypt. Ezra is their second Moses, and 
he returned from Persia to Jerusalem while Athens was at the 
height of its glory: he knew of "Javan", Ionia or Greece, as 

1 For an excellent summary, see J. M. P. Smith's Morals of the Hebrews, 
pp. 32off. 

2 Habakkuk i, 13. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 185 

among the peoples "who have not heard of the fame of 
Yahweh", and he devoted himself to the task of moulding 
a new theocracy. As a Jewish writer has said of his people, 
"Knowledge of God was their conception of wisdom; service 
of God their conception of virtue; their poetry was the ex- 
pression of the yearning of the soul for God; history was a 
religious drama in which God was the protagonist judging 
the nations with righteousness. The conception of God was 
their philosophy they did not require any other". 1 

"Their main values are justice and pity, charitableness and 
lovingkindness." 2 Chesed is the latter, zedakan the former, 
and in studying those ideals we get to the real core of Hebrew 
ethics. They are the moral qualities of Yahweh which He 
imparts to his people if they wait upon him. 

VI 

The comparison between Jew and Greek has often been 
attempted, and nowhere better summarized than in the 
verses: 

Thus the sharp contrasts of the sculptor's plan 
Showed the two primal paths our race has trod, 

Hellas the nurse of man complete as man, 
Judaea pregnant with the living God. 

If Judaea is the mother-country of the soul, Greece is the 
mother-country of the mind and if the Jew is to love 
God with all his soul, the Greek is to pursue truth with all 
his mind. These are parallel quests, and both lead to the goal 
of personality, and to him who is Love and Light, and who 
bade men know God as well as love him. 

The by-products of these quests are of immense significance 
to the ethical life of mankind. The passion for social justice 
of the Jew, his sense of a purpose in individual and national 
life, his code of personal purity and integrity these com- 

1 N. Bentwich, Hellenism, pp. 20-21. 

2 C. G. Montefiore, The Old Testament and After. 



i86 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

plement and enrich the more systematic ethic of Hellas, her 
moderation and self-control, her fearless search for truth, her 
faith in reason, her pursuit of wisdom, her passion for 
freedom. 

These are the treasures of our Western heritage, and Chris- 
tianity is the heir of both Jew and Greek. Its ethic while it 
simplifies also deepens that of Greece, and by centring its 
interest in the Kingdom of God gives to human personality 
an inspiration and a motive which harmonizes the self- 
regarding with the altruistic, the individual with the social, 
the world-affirming with the world-denying which tem- 
pers liberty with law, and idealism with duty. 

If Hellas sought Beauty and Judaea Righteousness, Christ 
calls men to the Beauty of Holiness and the Joy of Service. 
If the watchword of the Greek was Freedom and that of the 
Jew Obedience, Christ offers an allegiance "whose service 
is perfect freedom". 

By making life Christo-centric he unites the God-centred 
life of Palestine with the man-centred life of Greece : and 
the Church soon found it a matter of experience that in him 
is neither Jew nor Greek; for in him the two great Cultures 
met and blent. 

If our Western world has failed to appropriate its heri- 
tage it yet knows the rock from which it is hewn, and when 
Asia admires its application of science to life, its philanthropies, 
its search for social justice, it can only say with all sincerity 
"Not unto us, but unto our Lord be the glory given". 

So when, as is more usual, Asia taunts us with being far 
from Christian we can but reply "Help us to enter into our 
inheritance". In the Person of Jesus it is centred. 

But the legacy of Israel must not be conceived as purely 
religious. Their theocratic ideal has had an immense in- 
fluence on Europe often for good. Their belief in a purpose- 
ful creation and in progress in social justice are still a living 
inspiration, and it may well be that recent achievements of 
Jews in science and philosophy are the promise that the 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 187 

imaginative genius which for so long devoted itself to 
religion is being set free under more favourable social and 
political conditions to illuminate other fields. So in art and 
music, the old tabus being removed, we may see the sen- 
suous and poetic genius of Israel turning to other creative 
achievement. For if the Hebrew is not like the Greek in 
aesthetic appreciation his scriptures show him to be an artist 
in words. Seeking truth he often discovered beauty: while 
the Greek, seeking beauty, sometimes missed truth. 

And if the Jew has lacked the power to analyse, to ex- 
amine and to compare, so important in scientific work, he 
has shown intuition and a genius for discovering unity which 
are no less important. 

But the Jew is content to be judged by his religious and 
ethical ideals. Here he contributes a basis for the secular 
achievements of mankind. Seeking God he discovered man 
more fully than even the Greek who fixing his mind upon 
man evolves ideals less fully human. 

Truth, Beauty, Goodness these alone are real; and only 
in an Ideal Person can they be harmoniously blended. 

THE SOUL OF ISRAEL 

I. HOSPITALITY AND VENGEANCE 
Nomadic Ideals 

Blessed above women shall Jael be, 

The wife of Heber the Kenite, 

Blessed shall she be above women in the tent. 

He asked water, and she gave him milk; 

She brought him butter in a lordly dish. 

She put her hand to the nail, 

And her right hand to the workmen's hammer; 

And with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote through his 

head, 

Yea, she pierced and struck through his temples. 
At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay: 



188 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

At her feet he bowed, he fell: 
Where he bowed, there he fell down dead. 
Through the window she looked forth, and cried, 
The mother of Sisera cried through the lattice, 
Why is his chariot so long in coming? 
Why tarry the wheels of his chariots? 
Her wise ladies answered her, 
Yea, she returned answer to herself, 
Have they not found, have they not divided the spoil? 
A damsel, two damsels to every man; 
To Sisera a spoil of divers colours, 
A spoil of divers colours of embroidery, 
Of divers colours of embroidery on both sides. 
So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord : 

But let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in 
his might. 

Judges v, 24-31. 

II. MAGNANIMITY AND EGOISM 
Joseph and his Brethren 

Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood 
by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And 
there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known 
unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians heard, 
and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, 
I am Joseph ; doth my father yet live ? And his brethren could not 
answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph 
said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they 
came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold 
into Egypt. And now be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, 
that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to pre- 
serve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: 
and there are yet five years, in the which there shall be neither 
plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve 
you a remnant in the earth, and to save you alive by a great de- 
liverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: 
and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his 
house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Haste ye, and go up 
to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 189 

hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: 
and thou shah dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shah be near 
unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and 
thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: and there will 
I nourish thee; for there are yet five years of famine; lest thou 
come to poverty, thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast. 
And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Ben- 
jamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. And ye shall 
tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have 
seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither. 

Genesis xlv, 1-13. 

HI. THE IDEALS OF A SETTLED COMMUNITY 
Nathan s Rebuke of David 

And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, 
and said unto him, There were two men in one city ; the one rich, 
and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and 
herds: but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, 
which he had bought and nourished up : and it grew up together 
with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own morsel, and 
drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as 
a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and 
he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress 
for the wayfaring man that was come unto him, but took the 
poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to 
him. And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; 
and he said to Nathan, As the Lord livcth, the man that hath done 
this is worthy to die: and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, 
because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. 

And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the 
Lord, the God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I 
delivered thee out of the hand of Saul ; and I gave thee thy master's 
house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the 
house of Israel and of Judah.. . . Wherefore hast thou despised the 
word of the Lord, to do that which is evil in his sight? thou hast 
smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife 
to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children 
of Ammon. 

2 Samuel xii, 1-9. 



190 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

IV. THE COMMANDMENTS 

And God spake all these words, saying, 

I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of 
Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 

Thou shalt have none other gods before me. 

Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor the likeness 
of any form that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, 
or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down 
thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a 
jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, 
upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate 
me ; and shewing mercy unto thousands, of them that love me 
and keep my commandments. 

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;. . . 

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou 
labour, and do all thy work : but the seventh day is a sabbath unto 
the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work 

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long 
upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. 

Thou shalt do no murder. 

Thou shalt not commit adultery. 

Thou shalt not steal. 

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not 
covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maid- 
servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his. 

Exodus xx, 1-17. 

V. THE EARLIER PROPHETS: PRE-EXILIC IDEALS 
(a) Amos: God's Wrath against Evil 

Thus saith the Lord: For three transgressions of Israel, yea, for 
four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they 
have sold the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes : 
that pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and 
turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go 
unto the same maid, to profane my holy name: and they lay 
themselves down beside every altar upon clothes taken in pledge, 
and in the house of their God they drink the wine of such as 

have been fined. . .. , ft 

Amos u, 6-8. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 191 

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your 
solemn assemblies. Yea, though ye offer me your burnt offerings 

and meal offerings, I will not accept them Take thou away 

from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody 
of thy viols. But let judgement roll down as waters, and righteous- 
ness as a mighty stream. 

v, 21-4. 

Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the 
God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye say. Hate the evil, and love 
the good, and establish judgement in the gate: it may be that the 
Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious unto the remnant of 
Joseph. 

v, 14, 15. 

Hear this, O ye that would swallow up the needy, and cause 
the poor of the land to fail, saying, When will the new moon be 
gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set 
forth wheat? making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and 
dealing falsely with balances of deceit. 

viii, 4, 5- 

(b) Hosea: God's Love of an Erring People 

Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord 
hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there 
is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. There 
is nought but swearing and breaking faith, and killing, and stealing, 
and committing adultery; they break out, and blood toucheth 
blood. 

Hosea iv, i, 2. 

O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I 
do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the 
dew that goeth early away. Therefore have I hewed them by the 
prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy 
judgements are as the light that goeth forth. For I desire mercy, 
and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt 
offerings. 

vi, 4-6. 



192 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

(c) Isaiah: God's Judgment of the Nations and his 
Forgiveness 

Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto 
the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose 
is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am 
full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and 
I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. 

Isaiah i, 10, n. 

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings 
from before mine eyes; cease to do evil: learn to do well; seek 
judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for 
the widow. 

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though 
your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.. . .If ye be 
willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. 

i, 16-19. 

Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every 
one loveth gifts, and folio weth after rewards: they judge not the 
fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. 

1,23. 

Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they 
may follow strong drink; that tarry late into the night, till wine 
inflame them ! And the harp and the lute, the tabret and the pipe, 
and wine, are in their feasts : but they regard not the work of the 
Lord, neither have they considered the operation of his hands. 
Therefore my people are gone into captivity, for lack of know- 
ledge : and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude 
are parched with thirst. 

v, 11-13. 
A Great Deliverer 

And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and 
a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit: and the spirit of the Lord 
shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the 
spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the 
fear of the Lord; and his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord: 
and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 193 

after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness shall he judge 
the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and 
he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the 
breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall 
be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 

Isaiah xi, 1-5. 

(d) Micah : God's Moral Requirements 

Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself 
before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offer- 
ings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with 
thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I 
give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for 
the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; 
and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to 
love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? 

Micah vi, 6-8. 

VI. THE SECOND LAW 

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither 
shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall 
be put to death for his own sin. 

Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of the stranger, nor of the 
fatherless ; nor take the widow's raiment in pledge. 

Deuteronomy xxiv, 16, 17. 

When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God thou shalt 
not be slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it 
of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to 
vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips 
thou shalt observe and do ; according as thou hast vowed unto the 
Lord thy God a freewill offering, which thou hast promised with 
thy mouth. 

xxiii, 21-3. 

At the end of every three years thou shalt bring forth all the 
tithe of thine increase in the same year, and shalt lay it up within 
thy gates: and the Levite, because he hath no portion nor in- 
heritance with thee, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the 

si 13 



194 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and 
be satisfied. 

xiv, 28, 29. 

A man shall not take his father's wife, and shall not uncover his 
father's skirt. 

xxii, 30. 

When thou drawest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then 
proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of 
peace,. . . then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein 

shall become tributary And if it will make no peace with thee, 

. . . then thou shalt besiege it : ... thou shah smite every male 
thereof. . . but the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, 
and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take 
for a prey unto thyself. 

xx, 10-14. 

VII. LATER PROPHETS 

(a) Jeremiah 

In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten 
sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every 
one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour 
grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. 

Jeremiah xxxi, 29, 30. 

(b) Ezekiel 

But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and 
hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes 
to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neigh- 
bour's wife, neither hath come near to a woman in her separation ; 
and hath not wronged any, but hath restored to the debtor his 
pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to 
the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; he that 
hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, 
that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true 
judgement between man and man, hath walked in my statutes, and 
hath kept my judgements, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely 
live, saith the Lord God. 

Ezekiel xviii, 5-9. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 195 

(c) A Later Isaiah 1 : The Source of Life 

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard? the everlasting 
God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, 
neither is weary; there is no searching of his understanding. He 
giveth power to the faint; and to him that hath no might he in- 
creaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and 
the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the 
Lord shall renew their strength ; they shall mount up with wings 
as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and 

notmt - Isaiah xl, 28-31. 

(d] The Servant 

Behold my servant, whom I uphold ; my chosen, in whom my 
soul delighteth: I have put my spirit upon him; he shall bring 
forth judgement to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor 
cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he 
not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring 
forth judgement in truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till 
he have set judgement in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his 

Iaw * Isaiah xlii, 1-4. 



VIII. PSALMS AND PROVERBS 

(a) The Righteous Man and the Ungodly 

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, 

Nor standeth in the way of sinners, 

Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; 

And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 

And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, 

That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, 

Whose leaf also doth not wither; 

And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 

The wicked are not so ; 

But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 

1 The student is advised to read and re-read all Isaiah xl to Ixvi. 

13-2 



196 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgement, 
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: 
But the way of the wicked shall perish. 

Psalm i. 

Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tabernacle? 

Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 

He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, 

And speaketh truth in his heart. 

He that slandereth not with his tongue, 

Nor doeth evil to his friend, 

Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. 

In whose eyes a reprobate is despised ; 

But he honoureth them that fear the Lord. 

He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. 

He that putteth not out his money to usury, 

Nor taketh reward against the innocent. 

He that doeth these things shall never be moved. 

Psalm xv. 

As Dean Inge says, here is the ideal of the English 
gentleman. 

(b) Psalms of Penitence 

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness 
According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my 

transgressions. 

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, 
And cleanse me from my sin. 
For I acknowledge my transgressions: 
And my sin is ever before me. 
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, 
And done that which is evil in thy sight: 
That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, 
And be clear when thou judges t. . . . 
Hide thy face from my sins, 
And blot out all mine iniquities. 
Create in me a clean heart, O God; 
And renew a right spirit within me. 
Cast me not away from thy presence ; 
And take not thy holy spirit from me. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 197 

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation: 

And uphold me with a free spirit. 

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; 

And sinners shall be converted unto thee. 

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my 

salvation; 

And my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. 
O Lord, open thou my lips; 
And my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. 
For thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I give it: 
Thou hast no pleasure in burnt offering. 
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: 
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. 

Psalm li, 1-4, 9-17, 

Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. 

Lord, hear my voice : 

Let thine ears be attentive 

To the voice of my supplications. 

If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, 

Lord, who shall stand? 

But there is forgiveness with thee, 
That thou mayest be feared. 

1 wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, 
And in his word do I hope. 

My soul looketh for the Lord, 

More than watchmen look for the morning ; 

Yea, more than watchmen for the morning. 

O Israel, hope in the Lord; 

For with die Lord there is mercy, 

And with him is plenteous redemption. 

And he shall redeem Israel 

From all his iniquities. 

Psalm cxxx. 

(c) Maxims of the Sages 

For in the memory of virtue is immortality: 

Because it is recognised both before God and before men. 

When it is present, men imitate it; 

And they long after it when it is departed: 



198 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

And throughout all time it marcheth crowned in triumph, 

Victorious in the strife for the prizes that are undefiled 

But a righteous man, though he die before his rime, shall be at rest. 
(For honourable old age is not that which standeth in length of 

time, 

Nor is its measure given by number of years: 
But understanding is gray hairs unto men, 
And an unspotted life is ripe old age.) 

Being found well-pleasing unto God he was beloved of him, 
And while living among sinners he was translated: 
He was caught away, lest wickedness should change his under- 
standing 

Being made perfect in a little while, he fulfilled long years; 
For his soul was pleasing unto the Lord. 

The Wisdom of Solomon iv, i, 2, 7-11, 13, 14. 

In thy youth thou hast not gathered, 

And how shouldest thou find in thine old age? 

How beautiful a thing is judgement for gray hairs, 

And for elders to know counsel! 

How beautiful is the wisdom of old men, 

And thought and counsel to men that are in honour ! 

Much experience is the crown of old men; 

And their glorying is the fear of the Lord 

A shamefast woman is grace upon grace; 

And there is no price worthy of a continent soul. 

As the sun when it ariseth in the highest places of the Lord, 

So is the beauty of a good wife in the ordering of a man's house. 

As the lamp that shineth upon the holy candlestick, 

So is the beauty of the face in ripe age. 

Ecclesiasricus xxv, 3-6; xxvi, 15-17. 

My son, attend to my words ; 
Incline thine ear unto my sayings. 
Let them not depart from thine eyes ; 
Keep them in the midst of thine heart. 
For they are life unto those that find them, 
And health to all their flesh. 
Keep thy heart with all diligence; 
For out of it are the issues of life. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 199 

Put away from thee a froward mouth, 

And perverse lips put far from thee. 

Let thine eyes look right on, 

And let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 

Make level the path of thy feet, 

And let all thy ways be established. 

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: 

Remove thy foot from evil. 

Proverbs iv, 20-7. 

(d) Friendship and Wise Counsel 

A faithful friend is a strong defence ; 

And he that hath found him hath found a treasure. 

There is nothing that can be taken in exchange for a faithful friend ; 

And his excellency is beyond price. 

A faithful friend is a medicine of life; 

And they that fear the Lord shall find him. 

He that feareth the Lord directeth his friendship aright; 

For as he is, so is his neighbour also 

My son, if thou wilt, thou shalt be instructed; 

And if thou wilt yield thy soul, thou shalt be pfudent. 

If thou love to hear, thou shalt receive ; 

And if thou incline thine ear, thou shalt be wise. 

Stand thou in the multitude of the elders; 

And whoso is wise, cleave thou unto him. 

Be willing to listen to every godly discourse; 

And let not the proverbs of understanding escape thee. 

If thou seest a man of understanding, get thee berimes unto him, 

And let thy foot wear out the steps of his doors. 

Let thy mind dwell upon the ordinances of the Lord, 

And meditate continually in his commandments: 

He shall establish thine heart, 

And thy desire of wisdom shall be given unto thee. 

Ecclesiasticus vi, 14-17, 32-7. 

(e) Wisdom Human and Divine 

Doth not wisdom cry, 
And understanding put forth her voice? 
In the top of high places by the way, 
Where the paths meet, she standeth; 



200 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

Beside the gates, at the entry of the city, 

At the coming in at the doors, she crieth aloud: 

Unto you, O men, I call; 

And my voice is to the sons of men. 

ye simple, understand subtilty; 

And, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. 

Hear, for I will speak excellent things; 

And the opening of my lips shall be right things. 

For my mouth shall utter truth; 

And wickedness is an abomination to my lips. 

All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; 

There is nothing crooked or perverse in them. 

They are all plain to him that understandeth, 

And right to them that find knowledge. 

Receive my instruction, and not silver; 

And knowledge rather than choice gold. 

For wisdom is better than rubies; 

And all the things that may be desired are not to be compared 

unto her. 

I, wisdom, have made subtilty my dwelling, 
And find out knowledge and discretion. 
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: 
Pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, 
And the froward mouth, do I hate. 
Counsel is mine, and sound knowledge: 

1 am understanding ; I have might. 
By me kings reign, 

And princes decree justice. 

By me princes rule, 

And nobles, even all the judges of the earth. 

I love them that love me; 

And those that seek me diligently shall find me. 

Riches and honour are with me; 

Yea, durable riches and righteousness. 

My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; 

And my revenue than choice silver. 

I walk in the way of righteousness, 

In the midst of the paths of judgement: 

That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, 

And that I may fill their treasuries. Proverbs viii, 1-21. 



THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 201 

(/) Jb remembers his Youth 

Whence then cometh wisdom? 

And where is the place of understanding? 

Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, 

And kept close from the fowls of the air. 

Destruction and Death say, 

We have heard a rumour thereof with our ears. 

God understandeth the way thereof, 

And he knoweth the place thereof. 

For he looketh to the ends of the earth, 

And seeth under the whole heaven; 

To make a weight for the wind ; 

Yea, he meteth out the waters by measure. 

When he made a decree for the rain, 

And a way for the lightning of the thunder: 

Then did he see it, and declare it; 

He established it, yea, and searched it out. 

And unto man he said, 

Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; 

And to depart from evil is understanding 

Oh that I were as in the months of old, 

As in the days when God watched over me ; 

When his lamp shined upon my head, 

And by his light I walked through darkness; 

As I was in the ripeness of my days, 

When the secret of God was upon my tent; 

When the Almighty was yet with me, 

And my children were about me;. . . 

For when the ear heard me, then it blessed me ; 

And when the eye saw me, it gave witness unto me: 

Because I delivered the poor that cried, 

The fatherless also, that had none to help him. 

The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: 

And I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. 

I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: 

My justice was as a robe and a diadem. 

I was eyes to the blind, 

And feet was I to the lame. 



202 THE ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS 

I was a father to the needy: 

And the cause of him that I knew not I searched out. 

And I brake the jaws of the unrighteous, 

And plucked the prey out of his teeth. 

Job xxviii, 20-8; xxix, 2-5, 11-17. 

IX. LATER PESSIMISM AND FAITH 

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; all is vanity. . .and much 
study is a weariness of the flesh. 

This is the end of the matter;. . .fear God, and keep his com- 
mandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall 
bring every work into judgement, with every hidden thing, 
whether it be good or whether it be evil. 

Ecclesiastes xii, 8-14. 



CHAPTER VI 
CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

"Love is the fulfilling of the Law." ST PAUL 
"If this is blent with heroism it is irresistible." AKBAR 
I 

While the originality of Jesus was sublime and creative it 
is equally true that the preparation for Christianity is to be 
found not only in the religion of Israel but in the wider 
Graeco-Roman world of his time. The genius of Alexander 
of Macedon had planted Greek and Jewish colonies far afield, 
and his successors carried on this policy, till there were 
Hellenistic settlements from Macedonia to India. Greek was 
the common language, and the Jews themselves were every- 
where, at home as well as abroad, brought face to face with 
a culture superior to their own in all but religion. 

At home they were saved from complete Hellenization by 
their belief that they were the chosen people: abroad 
whither they had been carried in wave after wave of im- 
perialism and by their own instinct for trade they were 
scattered in an unbroken chain, says an early Christian 
writer, from North Africa to India. In these lands they still 
maintain themselves. 

Philo could boast that Jerusalem had become "the capital 
not of one nation but of all"; and Isaiah's prophecy, "My 
house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples" was to this 
extent fulfilled, that millions came up to the Temple every 
year. These far-flung Jewish colonies offered a soul to the 
decadent and pessimistic Hellenism of these countries. Their 
mixed populations "had a varnish of high culture: but below 
the varnish a motley mixture of primitive superstition, 
barbarous fears. . .coarse passions, and crude ideas and be- 
liefs, springing out of the old Eastern cults, marred the 



204 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

Hellenic conception of life". 1 To such the synagogue offered 
a lofty view of God, and an uncompromising ethic well 
suited by its social emphasis to lift society to much higher 
levels. The Jew alone looked forward with hope to a better 
day. But he could not tolerate the Emperor-cult or the easy 
eclecticism of these cities ; he maintained his tabus ; and his 
success as a merchant, to say nothing of his lack of Greek 
polish, made him too unpopular to be a good missionary. 
Yet even so, "proselytes" and "God-fearers" were numer- 
ous, and Judaism, as we see in St Paul's missions, did much 
to open the door to Christianity. 

If Israel as a whole resisted "paganism", yet intellectual 
Jews at cities like Alexandria were learning to dress Judaism 
in Greek guise, and assimilating more than they knew from 
Greek philosophy and from Stoic ethics. Their pantheism 
corrected the rigid monotheism of Israel, and their uni- 
versalism deepened its sense of a religious society of all 
earnest souls devoted to "the God of the whole earth". 
If Judaism with its authoritative "Thus saith the Lord" 
and its uncompromising morality was one possible refuge 
for the disillusioned and world-weary masses, Stoicism with 
its call to "Love all men and to obey God" was another. 
The third and most eagerly welcomed was the mystery- 
cults. But that of Mithras alone had a high ethic, and we 
need only notice here their influence in helping the 
marriage of East and West, and in setting the stage for the 
Redeemer. 

Christianity won the ancient world largely as a mystery- 
religion, and in Pauline and Johannine thought we see 
abundant proof of the influence of these cults as well as of 
Hebrew Prophetism, Platonism, and Stoicism. 

While Jesus himself seems to have been influenced only 

by the first of these, he belongs to a world in which all were 

potent influences. And in seeking to interpret him to it, his 

followers used whatever categories they found handy and 

1 N. Bentwich, Hellenism, pp. 55-6. 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 205 

apt to their task. For us the title Son of Man is the best and 
truest: it will long survive such Jewish terms as Messiah and 
such Greek concepts as Logos. These are the categories which 
lay ready to the mind of the Early Church; but they are both 
inadequate, and it is certain that if Jesus used the former 
he would have been puzzled by the latter. An urgent yet 
difficult task of criticism is to distinguish between his own 
thought about himself and that of the Church which pro- 
duced the theological tracts known as the Four Gospels. 
They are all written to establish the claims which Christian 
experience led men to make on his behalf: and it is likely 
that the one title which really represents his mind is Son of 
Man. In any case this is for modern men the best foundation 
for a true Christology: and the best vindication of the title 
"Son of Man" may be found in the universality of the ethic 
of Jesus, and in his unique personality. Not only do all 
Christians accept his ideals and him as the Ideal, but 
humanity at its best everywhere; and "Son of Man" may 
well mean True Man, or Representative Man, though it is 
often used in a conflicting sense of die Messiah in triumph. 

This universality is found in the great parables and in the 
teachings of Jesus collected in the Sermon on the Mount. 
"The Sermon on the Mount competes on almost equal terms 
with the Gita for my allegiance", says Mahatma Gandhi. 

"Here is the foundation for the new society", says 
Kagawa, the Japanese St Francis, like Gandhi a mystic and a 
reformer. 

"I am attracted to the Sermon on the Mount, because it 
reinforces our Chinese pacifism", says Hu Shih, leader in the 
Chinese Renaissance, a humanist and a rationalist who dis- 
trusts mysticism, and seems not to recognize that the ethic 
of the Sermon is rooted in it. 

So we find civilized humanity united in acceptance of 
the Lord's Prayer as the model for intelligent communion 
with God, so profound and comprehensive are its simple 
clauses, so universal its aspirations. Humanity accepts 



206 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

this Prayer if it does not use it, and the Sermon on the 
Mount if it does not practise it. It is beginning to be clear 
that some who do not call themselves by the name of Chris- 
tian are nearer to these ideals than the proud and aggressive 
peoples who are included under the name "Christendom", 
yet are still largely pagan, refusing to subordinate their 
nationalism, or their pride of race to that ideal Kingdom of 
God which is central alike in the Prayer and the Sermon. 
This is the essence of the social ethic of the Gospel, as the 
essence of its individual ethic is in the Golden Rule, and of 
its theology in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Utterly 
opposed to these principles of love and freedom is most of 
our organized life. Yet there is a distinctive Christian civili- 
zation, marked by justice and freedom hardly won^tid by 
kindliness, honesty, and good-temper. And while the saints 
are few their lives have a fragrance that is also distinctive, and 
that is more easily recognized than described or analysed. 
Nor is there lacking a great company, which no man can 
number, of lives touched by the Spirit of Christ to finer 
issues and to a more balanced and harmonious goodness 
than is found outside Christianity. That it is this which 
attracts them, Asiatics agree with magnanimity and un- 
animity. Christ they reverence: Christianity they respect: 
Christians they admire. Christendom, which is paganism with 
a veneer of Christianity, they have come to detest. If race- 
prejudice and legalism are the besetting sins of the Hebrew 
people, these have also entered into Christendom, a large 
part of which finds more inspiration in the Old Testament 
than in the New, and in the Law than in the Prophets. To 
these faults Christian nations have added hypocrisy, at which 
their Master directed his shrewdest blows. Some, for ex- 
ample, talk habitually as if the Kingdom of God had arrived 
within their own borders, and nowhere else. They are, as 
Galsworthy says, "particularly sensitive to moral obliquity 
in others ". The Christian, on the other hand, is "to cast out 
the beam that is in his own eye, before he can see clearly to 
cast out the mote from his brother's eye": or, as Pascal put 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 207 

it, "He is to be lenient to the faults of others, severe to his 
own". "He is loved", says Confucius, "who sees his own 
weakness and the strength of others." The double standards 
which pervade the Western world one ethic for the poor, 
another for the rich, one for women, another for men, one 
for the black man, another for the white are far indeed 
from the "single eye" and the forbearing love of the Sermon 
on the Mount. We who are bidden to be as loving as God 
are as unloving as sin, and the Sermon is rather an epitome 
of our ideals than a summary of our practice. 

It is probably a collection of the Sayings of Jesus, spoken 
at different times and intended to embody principles rather 
than laws, to impart a spirit rather than a code. It is the 
Charte^of a spiritual kingdom, but the citizens are children 
of the Ruler. We know that Jesus began his public career by 
preaching from a text of the prophet Isaiah which deals with 
social righteousness, and that he went about teaching "Re- 
pent ye, for the Kingdom of God is at hand". Repentance 
(metanoia) means a change of heart or mind, a new attitude 
towards God, a new scale of values : and the Kingdom of 
God means the reign of God in men's hearts. "The Kingdom 
of God is within you", says Jesus. From this deep source 
flow both the individual and the social ethic of the Gospel. 

It is in effect a new synthesis of Hebrew ideals; but a 
modern Hebrew writer of profound insight and sympathy 
has noted as new and formative elements in the Ethic of 
Jesus "a certain fire and enthusiasm", "a note of passionate 
idealism, and heroism", "a forth-going activity". 1 And in 
comparing the Hebrew chesed, lovingkindness, with the 
Christian agape he says frankly that the Christian ideal is 
something more forth-going and venturesome, more eager 
and pastoral than the Hebrew. "It need not be contended 
that Proverbs xxv, 21 is a full equivalent of Matthew v, 44-5, 
but it is surely a big step upon the way." 2 

1 C. G. Montefiore, The Old Testament and After, passim. 
* Ibid. p. 195. "If thine enemy hunger feed him": "Love your 
enemies, bless them that curse you". 



208 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

This seems to me true at once to the values of the two 
ideals, and to the facts of history. Jesus claims to fulfil the 
ideals of Israel the Law as well as the Prophets to pene- 
trate to their inner soul, to fill them with new meaning, 
to reunite them in a better balance, to bring out of the ancient 
treasury things new and old, to pour new wine into the old 
wine-skins. In doing this he is inaugurating a new scale of 
values and a new era. 

On this great theme Dean Inge has lately spoken weighty 
words: 

What Nietzsche calls the "transvaluation of all values" may 
certainly be applied to the Gospel, as compared with the standards 
of what the New Testament calls the world, that is (as Bishop 
Gore defines it), human society as it organizes itself apart from 
God. The Christian standard of values is not so very different from 
the best that has been taught by Buddha, Socrates, and other non- 
Christian Saints. But we may perhaps mention as characteristic 
of Christian morality the emphasis on the will rather than on the 
intellect or feeling; the strongly theocentric direction of the whole; 
the insistence on motive rather than on overt action; the appeal 
to heroic devotion and loyalty, awakened by genuine love to 
God and man; humility, arising from the consciousness that we 
"have nothing that we did not receive"; kindliness in judging 
others, and a strong desire to help them; and a deeper inner life 
in the presence of God, filling the heart with joy and peace. 

And above all, Christianity finds the new world in a supra- 
sensible, spiritual kingdom. God is not viewed from the stand- 
point of the world, but the world from the standpoint of God. 
We have to be redeemed into citizenship of this new world, re- 
deemed by "grace" which on the human side means self-con- 
secration. Each soul, Christianity teaches, has a real history, an 
ethical drama, in comparison with which all external events sink 
into insignificance. " What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the 
whole world and lose his own soul?" The individual drama is a 
re-enactmeminlitde of the drama of the redemption of humanity : 
of which the sacrament is the life, death, and resurrection of 
Christ, who, as it was said by an ancient Father, recapitulates in 
Himself the whole series of human lives. So in Christianity per- 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 209 

sonal experience, and a divine philosophy are inextricably 
blended. The inner world of the Christian is a relationship of 
spirit to spirit, not a wholly "other" world, but the deepest 
meaning and reality of this world. 

Eternity has become incarnate in time, and is already the 
atmosphere which the spiritual man breathes. I do not think that 
you will find this conception of spirituality, at once radical, 
militant, and triumphant, in any other religion or philosophy. All 
this, and much more of the same kind, may be found in the New 
Testament. It is a type quite distinct and easily recognizable. 
You might find it worth while to take some of the new Christian 
words faith, hope, love, joy, peace, humility, power, life, and 
with the help of the New Testament think out what they meant 
in the first century. They will take you to the heart of the Gospel 
revelation. 1 



It is clear that Jesus worshipped and preached the God of the 
Jews, whom they also called Father, and whose kingdom 
they awaited. But he was more critical of the Scriptures, 
which they had sterilized by canonization: he saw more 
clearly than they the contradictions involved, and he called 
men to a higher and more consistent view of God, and there- 
fore to a more harmonious and more heroic life. Once they 
recognize that God is Love, they must adopt a new standard 
of values, and a new spirit in human relations. 

If Jesus followed the prophets the official leaders of Israel 
had largely ceased to do so, and if he accepted the spirit of 
the Law they were enslaved to its letter. When he claimed 
"to fulfil the law and the prophets" he was in fact claiming 
to fill them with new meaning, to make them more spiritual 
and less legal, more human and therefore more divine; and 
he left to his followers all down the ages to work out for 
themselves the implications and the detailed application of 
his great principles of love and justice and purity. The ethic 

1 Dean Inge, Things New and Old, pp. 50-1, Longmans, Green and Co. 
1933- 

si 14 



210 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

of the New Testament is the ethic of the Early Church: its 
principles are our heritage. Its detailed application cannot 
bind us: yet there are great and eternal principles clearly set 
forth, independent of changing conditions. Like him we 
are to seek the spirit and to interpret the letter which is at 
best a symbol, and which may too easily become a fetish. 

As the Synoptic Gospels give us a fairly consistent portrait 
of Jesus which is borne out by St Paul's references to his love, 
humility, generosity, and self-sacrifice, so from the New 
Testament as a whole we get a consistent account of the 
ethical principles which were accepted as the ideals of the 
Early Church. Intimately related to the ideals of the He- 
brew Prophets, they yet strike a note of profound originality. 
The Man of the Beatitudes is like the Hebrew Saint in his 
meekness before God, and his acceptance of the Divine Will, 
but he goes much farther in the spirit of forgiveness, in 
"turning the other cheek", and "overcoming evil with 
good". In the range of his love he is to be "perfect as God is 
perfect", making no exceptions. 

When Jesus preached the Parable of the Good Samaritan 
it was in answer to the question, "Who is my neighbour?" 
and his contrast of the friendly Samaritan with the callous 
Jews gave deep offence to his hearers. This aspect of his 
teachings is summed up in the experience of St Paul, that in 
Christ "there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, 
neither male nor female", "for all are children of God by 
faith in Christ". 1 

And as the ethic of Jesus is original in the width of its 
sweep and in its uncompromising application, so it is original 
in the inwardness of its emphasis upon motive. An act is to 
be judged by the spirit of the doer, a foul thought is itself 
adultery, hatred is itself murder and Jesus makes it clear 
that for this reason legalism and true religion are opposed 
to one another. While he does not reject the idea of re- 
wards and punishments, he makes much of the spirit of 
1 Galatians iii, 26-8. 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 211 

detachment, of the single eye and the uncalculating spirit. 
The very yearning for righteousness and for purity is the 
promise of its own satisfaction; and these spiritual rewards 
are contrasted in the Sermon on the Mount with those worldly 
rewards which hypocrites seek. 1 As St Paul puts it, "Love 
is the fulfilling of the law", and Jesus himself accepts the sum- 
mary of prophetic religion love of God is the first and great 
commandment, and akin to it is the second, love of man. 

If the Man of the Beatitudes is a paradox in a worldly 
society, he is the strong useful man in one which is 
heavenly-minded. But he is not to await such a society: he 
is to help to inaugurate it, to be leaven and salt in the com- 
munity in which he lives, to be uncompromising yet friendly, 
pungent yet not pro vocative. The ethic of the Sermon is then 
at once individual and social: it is the ethic for the child of 
God, but also for the citizen of the Kingdom of God. 

Another note of originality is its intimate blending of 
religion and morality. God is revealed and served in a loving 
society. A good neighbour to all who need his help, regard- 
ing it as more blessed to give than to receive, going the second 
half mile in an ungrudging spirit, giving freely to all who ask, 
yet hiding his almsgiving, and making no parade of virtue, 
the Christian is to be a peacemaker and also a pacifist, 
"turning the other cheek" and "forgiving until seventy 
times seven". And if it be objected that this is exaggerated 
romanticism, the reply is that Jesus lived out his own high 
and difficult ideals and that his moral grandeur in death 
converted Stephen, whose magnanimity in turn won to the 
Way of the Cross the great missionary and thinker, Saul of 
Tarsus, who knew the lofty ideals of the Stoics and of Plato, 
and now saw them incarnate. Saul perhaps read for himself 
Pilate's inscription in Aramaic and Greek "This is the King 
of the Jews" upon the Cross, and he slowly made up his 
mind that here was the Kingly Man of the two traditions at 
their best. 

1 Matthew vi, 16-18. 



14-2 



212 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

III 

This is surely the unique thing in Christianity that its 
Founder showed men how a Son of God should live, and after 
several generations the Church can make him say, "I if I 
be lifted up will draw all men to me". For magnanimity is 
a magnet; as Akbar said, " Forgiveness is the way to be truly 
a King, and if this spirit is blent with heroism it is irresistible ". 

The evangelists tell us that Jesus at the end of a short 
ministry of preaching and healing in which he won men 
by his friendliness, spontaneity and sincerity "set his face 
to go to Jerusalem" and there, still obedient to the heavenly 
vision of suffering love, revealed God's own character in 
the great drama of Calvary. 

In doing this he gave men not only an example but a 
dramatization of God's refusal to compromise with evil, and 
let loose new and creative powers of redemption. 

"The character of an ethical revelation depends largely 
on the proportional value given to various duties and above 
all on the dynamic energy to carry them out", says Dean 
Inge. 1 And all are agreed that in the harmonious balance of 
his personality Jesus is at once norm and inspiration. That 
he won a great victory over sin and death, and that God 
manifested revelations of him to vindicate his ideal kingdom 
of hope, faith and love is the foundation of the Church. 
"All things were made new", and the ideal world was seen 
to be the real the unseen the eternal. 

In devotion to this victorious Christ, and in mystical union 
with one another " in him" these early groups worked out a 
new and dynamic way of life. In this they see a continuation 
of the work of their Master, and looking back they remem- 
ber the magic of his friendly presence. A tax-collector 
despised and hated by his fellow-countrymen and victims as 
a traitor and a profiteer finds this kingly stranger seeking 
him out and inviting himself to supper: and the miracle of 

1 Christian Ethics, p. 40. 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 213 

conversion is worked: Zacchaeus becomes an honest man, 
restoring fourfold and giving half the profits of his profession 
to the poor. That this is the occasion for the searching 
parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector is suggested by 
Luke, who was interested in giving the Gospel to the pagan 
world. It expresses the same sentiment as the Sermon on the 
Mount the primary place of humility. 

Similarly when Samaritans hear of the bold teaching of 
another parable they are assured that salvation is for all good 
and kind men, and the Parable of the Last Judgment makes 
this very emphatic: men are there saved by their kindness. 
This is Jesus' own method of salvation. In him a harlot finds 
one who will neither use nor abuse her, but meets her with 
the friendly simplicity of the pure in heart, and she is herself 
made pure. Children crowd around him because he likes 
and understands them; and he makes them the pattern of the 
heavenly-minded eager, unsophisticated, trustful, teachable 
and friendly. 

This childlike charm in Jesus becomes "the grace" of 
the Early Church, just as his great intellect calls them to 
"bring all things into subjection to the mind of Christ", 
and his radiant sense of God's nearness and his trust in 
God's purposes impart themselves as "joy and peace in 
believing". 

If the historic Jesus did not speak so much about joy as the 
Johannine Christ he radiated it more, and if he spoke less 
about love he was much more truly its incarnation. If he 
did not (and how could he?) make the stupendous claims 
of this Logos-Christ, he made so deep an impression that no 
other current term was deep and sublime enough to fit him. 

He gave new value to God himself, and men said, "Here 
at last we see the eternal Father in his unique (or only) Son". 

This impression is one of a balance and harmony of 
qualities usually separate and often opposed: humility with 
confidence, romanticism with sanity, other-worldliness with 
a very practical grasp of affairs and a very shrewd insight into 



214 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

character, purity with geniality, uncompromising devotion 
to truth with tolerance, sympathy with fearless demands upon 
heroism, righteousness with love, intensity with humour. 
The male and the female, the Eastern and the Western, the 
Jew and the Greek meet in this Son of Man, until in the 
experience he engenders these barriers are done away. 

Fierce denunciation and apocalyptic vision are not of a 
piece with this balance and sanity. But a persecuted Church 
remembering his prophetic and dynamic qualities reads back 
into his life ideas from its own fury and despair: he was 
certainly no mild dreamer but a man of genius and volcanic 
power, of deep emotion combined with strong will and 
commanding intellect. But he could not preach God's un- 
failing love and the next moment announce his fury and 
vengeance. 

Both schools the apocalyptic and the ethical miss 
something essential in their hero : as do all one-sided attempts 
to label him, pathetic in their zeal to claim him for their 
own. We must contrive to keep an even keel, and to recog- 
nize the half-truths in these pictures: he was a great ethical 
teacher: he was a titan among minnows: he still is. And 
each succeeding school throws some light on his complex 
personality. 

IV 

While we cannot fully recapture the historic Jesus we, who 
refuse to believe either in a dead Christ or in a resurrected 
body, must seek the mind of Christ on our own problems. 
His emphasis on personal values, on unselfish ideals, on truth 
and justice and mercy, on the supremacy of spirit, these 
belong to mankind and to the ages. 

Hindu gentleness, Chinese patience and reason, Japanese 
discipline and loyalty have much in them that is Christlike, 
and we await the light to be shed on Jesus by other gifted 
Asiatics who shall follow a Gandhi, a Sundar Singh and a 
Kagawa. 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 215 

Nor do we lack confidence that Jesus will come fully into 
his own. His romanticism and mysticism have already 
"massive historic vindication". The Way of Jesus, which 
is the way of unflinching love, already works the miracle 
of changing aliens and persecutors into imitators and martyrs. 
And the saint is the Christlike man, whose spirit is that of 
the bodhisattva and the Mahatma, the servant and saint 
of India, of a Socrates as of a Moses, of the meek and 
righteous " Servant of Yahweh" whom Jesus knew in the 
Scriptures of his people. 

The influence of the servant-poems of Isaiah upon him is 
evident. He rejected in favour of this ideal that of the 
Messianic King, and lived out literally its identification of 
the saint with his sinning nation. If Isaiah saw Israel playing 
the part of a suffering servant among the nations, Jesus called 
the individual Christian to suffer for righteousness' sake, and 
himself accepted the ideal, embodying it in his own life and 
death. 

And as the source of his own ethic was his radiant sense of 
a God of unchangeable and redemptive love, 1 so the Early 
Church saw in his life and death "the express image of the 
Father", and the Fourth Gospel even makes him declare 
"He that hath seen me hath seen the Father". 

The Epistles are full of references to "the grace of our 
Lord Jesus", his kindliness and loving spirit, and the most 
theological of his followers, the great missionary Paul and 
the mystic John of Ephesus, are the most emphatic in sum- 
ming up the whole Christian ethic as Love. St Paul's great 
hymn 2 is in effect a summary of the life of Christ, and 
St John's brief sermon "Little children love one another", 
is accepted by the Christian Church as a brief summary of 
the spirit of the new evangel. 

St Paul extends the gospel of the Divine Love in Christ to 
the Gentiles, and St John rethinks it in terms suitable to the 

1 See the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Illustrative Reading v. 

2 i Corinthians xiii. See p. 233. 



2i6 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

Greek mind; and so the Son of Man, the "Good Shepherd 
laying down his life for the sheep", becomes "the Second 
Adam", the cosmic man bringing in a new order of creation, 
the Divine Logos or Creative Word of the Father. For 
St Paul the central ideal is faith unto righteousness. For St John 
it is knowledge of Christ unto eternal life, 1 and the ethic of 
the New Testament fulfils that of the Old. Here are the 
righteousness of the Hebrew Prophets, the beauty of holiness 
of the Greek-Hebrew world, the truth for which the Greek 
had sought, the way which the Prophets of Israel had yearned 
after, and the life which is now given more abundantly to 
both gifted races. 



We have noted that in the long quest of the historic Jesus, 
some have found in him mainly an apocalyptic teacher, 
others mainly a teacher of ethics. Some again insist in seeing 
in him a nationalist leader, while others interpret him as 
rejecting the national aspirations of his people. Some 
again attribute to him teachings of a socialist nature, and, in 
time of war innumerable pulpits are found referring to his 
action in cleansing the Temple, and to his righteous indig- 
nation as a vindication of the war-spirit. Dean Inge, who 
rightly and characteristically objects to men calling Jesus the 
Founder of Socialism, wrongly, and also characteristically, 
calls him the Father of Eugenics. All are in turn paying 
homage to this simple yet complex teacher, who used the 
parabolic form and avoided any legislative dicta. 

"Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to 
God the things that are God's." " Who made me a ruler and 
i judge? " Such were his replies, when men sought to make 
trim pronounce upon specific cases. He preferred rather to 
[ay down those principles of love and justice which can be 
expressed in the Golden Rule; and the danger of basing 
egislative action on texts is poignantly illustrated by the 
1 John xx, 31. 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 217 

present conflict between conscience and law in the matter 
of marriage. The whole institution is now at stake, and 
Christianity must apply the mind of its Master to rethinking 
much that was once unquestioned. Here religion and ethics 
are too often divorced, and men and women tied together 
who ought to be separated. This is but one example of the 
fallacy of canonizing texts! Here is no place for legalism: 
the whole question of sex-relations is being changed by new 
economic factors and by new moral insights. Isolated texts 
are of no use. Let us seek the great central principles of Jesus. 

He accepts the Jewish view of man as made in God's image; 
and holds that his nature is spiritual, satisfied only in creation 
and communion. To these man must subordinate his 
passions, or rather by this spirit he must sublimate them. 
The Christian ethic is rooted in respect for personality and 
in love of God and men who are of one ultimate nature, 
however far separated by sin. 

What bearing has this on the question of sex-morality? 
It implies that men and women cannot lightly enter upon 
the sacramental task of creation, nor, when conditions are 
right and spiritual communion demands its physical fruition, 
refuse it. 

It insists that men and women are persons, ends in them- 
selves, and that sin consists in using them as means. This 
carries us far on the way to a solution of such problems as 
are raised by the new sex-morality as well as by industrial- 
ism, imperialism and exploitation of all kinds. If the person 
is of more value than the institution, if man is to be valued 
more than the machine, if the worker is to be a partner in 
industry, and if profits are to be of less importance than 
service, it is clear that nothing short of a Christian revolution 
is needed. 

"Ye cannot serve God and mammon": "What shall a 
man give in exchange for his soul?" "Inasmuch as ye have 
done it to one of the least of these ye have done it unto 
me", are sayings of Jesus which pierce deep into the hidden 



218 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

roots of our troubles. And the social emphasis of his ethic 
condemns our individualism, with its aberrations in mono- 
poly, nationalism, militarism and imperialism closely re- 
lated evils. 

But we are not to make Jesus a Jew of the first century 
legislate for our twentieth-century problems. He supplies 
a spirit, but no detailed remedies. How could he even en- 
visage the problems of the industrial era, and supply a Code 
to suit the totally different world it has produced? 

We cannot even understand many of his ethical para- 
doxes because we do not know in what particular circum- 
stances they were uttered. But his general principles, "Make 
the tree good", "A rotten tree can't bear good fruit", 
"Love God and your neighbour", "If ye forgive not men, 
neither will God forgive you", are of searching nature. And 
like the Buddha he saw that the permanent enemies of man- 
kind are fear and self-will. These kill man's love of God and 
men: that love must be allowed to kill them. Otherwise we 
shall have war in the economic and every other sense. 

And modern psychology will agree with both teachers 
that until man faces his real enemies within, his vision is 
distorted to see enemies without. 

The Sermon on the Mount is an exposition of such truths. 
"Be done with fear, for God is your Father; be done with 
hate, for His sons are your brothers", is Canon Streeter's 
summary. 1 But I cannot accept his dictum that the Buddhist 
differs from the Christian salvation in this that to one the 
fraud is the universe, to the other it is himself. Buddhism, 
like Christianity, sees man as the key to the universe : it too 
teaches that the mastery is for him who can put away 
evil and do good. Abhaya, the banishing of fear, tanha- 
kkhaya, the killing of egoism, are also Buddhist objectives, 
and the method of conquest is also through faith in the 
teacher, acceptance of his views, and following his way of 
life. 

1 "The Buddha and the Christ", Bampton Lectures, 1932. 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 219 

That Sakyamuni offered a double path we have seen, and 
the majority of Christians hold that their Master, too, had 
one heroic call for the saints, and another more prosaic path 
of homely duty for the rank and file. The Apostolic Church 
certainly insists on a variety of vocations, and this emphasis 
we must recapture, telling men everywhere that in doing 
their own work well they are finding God and working 
with him. Here the Gita reinforces the Gospel, and in its 
insistence on detachment it is also a noble ally. The Church 
of Christ, which owes so much to Hellas and to Judaea, need 
not refuse such reinforcement from India and China. 

Like Sakyamuni Jesus saw that selfishness is the root of all 
evil, and taught the spirit of service. "He that would be 
greatest, let him be the servant of all/' "He that loseth his 
fife shall save it." Such are his ringing challenges to the 
standards of the world, and the experience of the Early Church 
is their vindication. "These men have turned the world up- 
side down", is the unwilling testimony of their enemies, for 
the new leaven was at work, and the ethic of the Epistles is 
the spontaneous expression of a new and creative spirit: 
purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, are "fruits of the 
Spirit", and peace and joy are inward manifestations of the 
Divine approval. 

Preaching the resurrection of Christ, the Apostles believed 
that the ideal world of Jesus, the world of faith and hope and 
love, had been vindicated by an act of creative power; and 
if they were deluded by the belief that his second coming 
was imminent, this view soon gave place to the doctrine of 
the continual coming of the Holy Spirit and of his con- 
temporary activities among men. It is this which has given 
fidelity to the Church, with all her failures and her dreary 
legalism. She has found that when she has sought first the 
Kingdom of God and his righteousness, when she has tried 
to recapture the teachings of her Founder and sought to do 
the will of God as he revealed it, there have been times of 
renewed life and of the manifest fruits of the Spirit in new 



220 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

strivings after social justice. And when individual members 
of the Church have surrendered to the claims of their Master 
with whole-hearted devotion, they have established a new 
type of sainthood. In them is the true apostolic succession, 
says Dean Inge. Akin to the Just Man of the Hebrews in 
their obedience to God, to the yogi of the Hindu in their 
rapt contemplation of the Godhead, and to the bodhisattva 
of the Buddhist in their humble spirit of service and self- 
sacrifice, they are most akin to their own Master. When we 
seek to express the strength of a Francis of Assisi, or of a 
Wesley, it is the word "Christlike" which springs to our 
lips, and in the imitation of Christ, as well as in the worship 
of him lies the essence of Christian discipleship. The fact that 
Asia too is testing men by reference to Jesus is another proof 
of his universality. 

In Japan Kagawa prophet of the Kingdom of God is 
showing Asia how to reconcile the rights of the indi- 
vidual with his call to lose himself in the cause of the new 
society: Christianity is at once world-denying and world- 
affirming, at once self-surrender and self-realization. 

But it has no ready-made solution of the unsolved pro- 
blems of the race. Its exponents are divided upon the vexed 
questions of pacifism, of sex, of property, of the use of 
leisure, of the motive of gain, of usury, of what are the 
legitimate channels for the fighting spirit inherent in man. 
While Jesus offers us the great principles of love and service, 
of the worth of the individual, of the beauty of purity, of 
the grievousness of self-will and of sin, and while he sets 
before men an Ideal Kingdom of brotherhood and reveals 
in the Cross the way of victory, yet he is no casuist, and to 
each age is left the task of applying these principles, and of 
incarnating this spirit. He was no moralist, and still more no 
legalist. 

We are in process of revolt against many of the solutions 
found by our fathers, and uneasy about the Church: and 
some of us see clearly that if its Romanization "petrified" it, 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 221 

the emergence of Protestantism fostered not only the evil 
leaven of nationalism but also the anarchy of individualism. 

We are in the position meantime of those who must 
worship in a church that is being rebuilt about their ears; 
we must live by such light as we can get from any source; 
we must use terms which are in process of redefinition; 
and adhere to principles even while shedding inhibitions 
and tabus. Meantime he can be sure of being "modern" 
and useful who works in the spirit of Jesus to build up the 
Kingdom of God, and who recognizes with Gandhi that 
"there is no God higher than Truth". His kingdom is in 
fact the incarnation of truth, of peace, purity, and partner- 
ship. 

These are things not easy to define. "What is Truth?" 
It is war upon all falsity and unreality : so peace means making 
war upon the spirit of war and cutting its complex roots; and 
purity is a much more searching thing than mere correctness 
in sex-relations. One of the pressing tasks of our age is the 
purification of Christianity itself, and its resimplification. 
For most men cannot see the wood for the trees, and the true 
fundamentals are lost in the very complexity of its forms 
and traditions. 

VI 

If Christianity is the heir of the best in Hebraism and Hellen- 
ism the Christian Church has also borrowed many of the 
worst elements of Judaism and Paganism. No impartial 
student of history will deny that she has been more intolerant 
and cruel than the Jew, more proud and imperious than the 
Roman. And if Athens persecuted its best men so has the 
Church, which is still very largely obscurantist and legalist, 
timid where it should be brave, obstinate where it should be 
docile, prosaic where it should be poetical, and figurative 
where it should be literal. If it falls short of the love of its 
Founder and lives for itself rather than for humanity, it is 
also full of those fears which he sought to cast out. It needs 



222 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

to remind itself that its Founder was a layman, and that 
priestcraft is as alien to his spirit as is the superstition so 
dear to the priestly heart. Men are still asking for bread, and 
being given a stone. 

But though the Church has indeed fallen far short of her 
Lord and of the apostles, no serious student will maintain 
that men had done better to return to Hellenism or Judaism. 
The "regalvanized paganism" 1 of Julian is a proof of the 
impossibility of such revivals of a dead past, and the sterility 
of Unitarianism should warn us that even a Christo-centric 
prophetism is not enough. With all her faults the Church 
has sought to express the Lordship of Christ, and these faults 
have been the defects of her virtues. The persecution of 
heretics, however appalling, has been due to a mistaken zeal 
for Christ. So have the hideous excesses of austerity. This 
is the exaggeration of ascesis, and all higher religion insists 
upon discipline, and upon the sacrifice of lower to higher 
values. The very imperialism of Rome is an attempt to bring 
all things into subjection to Christ; "Caesaro-papism" is in 
effect a mistaken form of theocracy. And on the other hand 
the schisms which rend the Body of Christ are an exaggerated 
expression of the inalienable right of private judgment. 
Authority on the one hand, experience and the inner light 
on the other, both need the controlling sanity of Christ. 
Apart from his spirit there is no safety in either, and no 
salvation for any of us. We must accept the stark fact that 
there is no infallible authority anywhere, and that we^are 
left face to face with a Christ of our own, and must make 
our own Christology. 

The only sure way of reformation is to recover the mind 
of Christ, under the guidance of God's spirit, and then to 
bring all things, our idea of God and man, into subjection to 
this Lord of Thought. His is the ministry of reconciliation 
and the middle path of sanity. In returning to him the 
Church continually gains new wisdom and power. She 
1 See Dr Inge's Christian Ethics. 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 223 

ceases to be his Bride, or even his Imperium, and becomes 
once more the communion of saints, a Company of Jesus 
disciplined yet free, definite yet tolerant, pungent but not 
provocative, much in love with the Master, but with a robust 
and temperate flame. World-denying in refusing the 
standards of the world, she will be world-affirming in work- 
ing tor the true Kingdom of God among men. Accepting 
the right and the duty of private judgment, and guided by 
the inner light she will yet hold that there is constraining 
authority in the mind of Christ as it is revealed by the Spirit 
from age to age. The elements only are in the Gospels : and 
the picture must be completed from those who have been 
most Christlike. The source of their power is the life hidden 
with Christ in God: this is the root from which Christian 
morality must spring. From Stephen and Saul of Tarsus to 
Fox, Wesley, and Newman, this is the secret of their good- 
ness. Like their Master they were not primarily teachers of 
morals: "If Christianity was morals then Socrates was the 
Saviour", says William Blake. And there is a difference 
between these followers of Christ and this greatest of the 
Greeks. They remind us that Christianity is still in the mak- 
ing, and that its ethic could no more be once and for all 
delivered to the saints than the full implications of its 
Master's life and death. Each age that is faithful will get 
new light upon the meaning of Christ, and will seek to 
recapture him by a more and more searching study of the 
doeuments and of the milieu of the Early Church, and by a 
more and more courageous attempt to live by his Light, to 
know his Mind and to do his Will. And as Christianity meets 
the great ethnic faiths it will be illuminated by the long suc- 
cession of their torch-bearers until he stands revealed as Son 
of Man indeed a true picture of the God of all the peoples 
of the earth, one family under one Christlike God. 

If Christian and non-Christian unite in solving our press- 
ing problems and outdo one another in the noble emulation 
of love, there is no doubt of the issue: we shall all join in a 



224 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

humble confession, "Thou hast the words of Eternal Life", 
"Thou art the Way and the Truth and the Life". 

As to the spirit in which to meet these grave problems we 
may adapt the noble words of Stephen Hawes: 

For knighthood is not in the feats of warre, 
As for to fight in quarrel right or wrong, 
But in a cause which truth can not defarre; 
He ought himself for to make sure and strong, 
Justice to keep mixt with mercy among; 
And no quarrel a knight ought to take 
But for a truth, or for true beauty's sake. 

Christianity is the brightest expression of the chivalric 
temper: it is the true moral equivalent for war. 

In war upon war and oppression, in romantic yet realistic 
pursuit of truth and purity, in redemption of society from 
selfishness and greed the spirit of Jesus will yet find its 
greatest triumphs. 

THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY 
I. THE BEATITUDES 

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of 
heaven. 

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek : for they shall inherit the earth. 

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for 
they shall be filled. 

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of 
God. 

Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' 
sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when 
men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner 
of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding 
glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they 
the prophets which were before you. 

St Matthew v, 3-12. 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 225 

II. THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT: OTHER 
TEACHINGS 

Bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use 
you. To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the 
other; and from him that taketh away thy cloke withhold not thy 
coat also. Give to every one that asketh thee ; and of him that 
taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that 
men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. And if ye 
love them that love you, what thank have ye? for even sinners 
love those that love them. And if ye do good to them that do 
good to you, what thank have ye? for even sinners do the same. 
And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank 
have ye? even sinners lend to sinners, to receive again as much. 
But love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, never de- 
spairing ; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of 
the Most High : for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil. Be 
ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful. And judge not, and 
ye shall not be judged : and condemn not, and ye shall not be con- 
demned: release, and ye shall be released: give, and it shall be 
given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, 
running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what 
measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. 

And he spake also a parable unto them, Can the blind guide the 
blind? shall they not both fall into a pit? The disciple is not above 
his master: but every one when he is perfected shall be as his 
master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's 
eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or 
how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me cast out the 
mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the 
beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the 
beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast 
out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. For there is no good tree 
that bringeth forth corrupt fruit; nor again a corrupt tree that 
bringeth forth good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. 
For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush 
gather they grapes. The good man out of the good treasure of his 
heart bringeth forth that which is good; and the evil man out of 
the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil: for out of the 
abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. 

si 15 



226 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which 
I say? Every one that cometh unto me, and heareth my words, 
and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like : he is like a 
man building a house, who digged and went deep, and laid a 
foundation upon the rock: and when a flood arose, the stream 
brake against that house, and could not shake it: because it had 
been well builded. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a 
man that built a house upon the earth without a foundation; 
against which the stream brake, and straightway it fell in; and the 
ruin of that house was great. 

St Luke vi, 28-49. 

III. Two TYPES OF MIGHTY WORKS: PUTTING 
FIRST THINGS FIRST 

At that season Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn- 
fields ; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck ears 
of corn, and to eat. But the Pharisees, when they saw it, said unto 
him, Behold, thy disciples do that which it is not lawful to do 
upon the sabbath. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what 
David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with 
him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shew- 
bread, which it was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them 
that were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read 
in the law, how that on the sabbath day the priests in the temple 
profane the sabbath, and are guiltless? But I say unto you, that 
one greater than the temple is here. But if ye had known what 
this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have 
condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the 
sabbath. 

And he departed thence, and went into their synagogue: and 
behold, a man having a withered hand. And they asked him, 
saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? that they might 
accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be of 
you, that shall have one sheep, and if this fall into a pit on the 
sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much 
then is a man of more value than a sheep! Wherefore it is lawful 
to do good on the sabbath day. Then saith he to the man, Stretch 
forth thy hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored 
whole, as the other. But the Pharisees went out, and took counsel 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 227 

against him, how they might destroy him. And Jesus perceiving 
it withdrew from thence. 

St Matthew xii, 1-15. 

IV. THE HUMANITY OF JESUS 

And he entered and was passing through Jericho. And behold, 
a man called by name Zacchaeus ; and he was a chief publican, and 
he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could 
not for the crowd, because he was little of stature. And he ran 
on before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for 
he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he 
looked up, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come 
down; for to-day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, 
and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw 
it, they all murmured, saying, He is gone in to lodge with a man 
that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord, 
Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I 
have wrongfully exacted aught of any man, I restore fourfold. 
And Jesus said unto him, To-day is salvation come to this house, 
forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man 
came to seek and to save that which was lost. 

St Luke xix, i-ro. 

V. PARABLES OF JESUS 

Now all the publicans and sinners were drawing near unto him 
to hear him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, 
saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 

And he spake unto them this parable, saying, What man of you, 
having a hundred sheep, and having lost one of them, doth not 
leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which 
is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it 
on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he call- 
eth together his friends and his neighbours, saying unto them, 
Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say 
unto you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven over one 
sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine righteous 
persons, which need no repentance. 

Or what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, 
doth not light a lamp, and sweep the house, and seek diligently 

15-2 



228 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

until she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth to- 
gether her friends and neighbours, saying, Rejoice with me, for 
I have found the piece which I had lost. Even so, I say unto you, 
there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner 
that repenteth. 

And he said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger ot 
them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of thy sub- 
stance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, 
and took his journey into a far country; and there he wasted his 
substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there 
arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in 
want. And he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of 
that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And 
he would fain have been filled with the husks that the swine did 
eat: and no man gave unto him. But when he came to himself 
he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread 
enough and to spare, and I perish here with hunger! I will arise 
and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned 
against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be 
called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he 
arose, and came to his father. But while he was yet afar off, his 
father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and 
fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, 
I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more 
worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, 
Bring forth quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a 
ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring the fatted calf, 
and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry: for this my son was 
dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they 
began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he 
came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 
And he called to him one of the servants, and inquired what these 
things might be. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; 
and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received 
him safe and sound. But he was angry, and would not go in : and 
his father came out, and intreated him. But he answered and said 
to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, and I never 
transgressed a commandment of thine: and yet thou never gavest 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 229 

me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but when 
this thy son came, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, 
thou killedst for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, 
thou art ever with me, and all that is mine is thine. But it was 
meet to make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, 
and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. 

Aad he said also unto the disciples, There was a certain rich 
man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him 
that he was wasting his goods. And he called him, and said unto 
him, What is this that I hear of thee? render the account of thy 
stewardship ; for thou canst be no longer steward. And the steward 
said within himself, What shall I do, seeing that my lord taketh 
away the stewardship from me? I have not strength to dig; to 
beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am 
put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 
And calling to him each one of his lord's debtors, he said to the 
first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, A 
hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bond, 
and sit down quickly and write fifty. Then said he to another, And 
how much owest thou? And he said, A hundred measures of 
wheat. He saith unto him, Take thy bond, and write fourscore. 
And his lord commended the unrighteous steward because he 
had done wisely: for the sons of this world are for their own 
generation wiser than the sons of the light. And I say unto you, 
Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of un- 
righteousness ; that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into 
the eternal tabernacles. He that is faithful in a very little is faithful 
also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unright- 
eous also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the 
unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true 
riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's, 
who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve 
two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; 
or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve 
God and mammon. 

And the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these 
things; and they scoffed at him. And he said unto them, Ye are 
they that justify yourselves in the sight of men; but God knoweth 
your hearts: for that which is exalted among men is an abomina- 



230 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

tion in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until 
John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is 
preached, and every man entereth violently into it. But it is 
easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the 
law to fall. Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth 
another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth one that is 
put away from a husband committeth adultery. 

Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple 
and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day: and a certain beggar 
named Lazarus was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be 
fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table; yea, even 
the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the 
beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into 
Abraham's bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. 
And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth 
Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and 
said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that 
he may dip the rip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for 
I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember 
that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus 
in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and 
thou art in anguish. And beside all this, between us and you there 
is a great gulf fixed, that they which would pass from hence to 
you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence 
to us. And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou would- 
est send him to my father's house; for I have five brethren; that 
he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of 
torment. But Abraham saith,They have Moses and the prophets ; 
let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if 
one go to them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto 
him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they 
be persuaded, if one rise from the dead. 

And he said unto his disciples, It is impossible but that occasions 
of stumbling should come : but woe unto him, through whom 
they come ! It were well for him if a millstone were hanged about 
his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he 
should cause one of these little ones to stumble. Take heed to 
yourselves: if thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, for- 
give him. And if he sin against thee seven times in the day, and 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 231 

seven times turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive 
him. 

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And 
the Lord said, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye would 
say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou rooted up, and be thou 
planted in the sea; and it would have obeyed you. But who is 
there of you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will 
say unto him, when he is come in from the field, Come straight- 
way and sit down to meat; and will not rather say unto him, 
Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, 
till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and 
drink? Doth he thank the servant because he did the things that 
were commanded? Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all 
the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable 
servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do. 

St Luke xv-xvii, 10. 

VI. THE SPIRIT OF THE APOSTLES 

But there stood up one in the council, a Pharisee, named 
Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in honour of all the people, and 
commanded to put the men forth a little while. And he said unto 
them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves as touching these 
men, what ye are about to do. For before these days rose up 
Theudas, giving himself out to be somebody; to whom a number 
of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; 
and all, as many as obeyed him, were dispersed, and came to 
nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the 
enrolment, and drew away some of the people after him: he also 
perished; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered abroad. 
And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them 
alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will be over- 
thrown : but if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them ; 
lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God. And to 
him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles unto 
them, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name 
of Jesus, and let them go. They therefore departed from the 
presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy 
to suffer dishonour for the Name. And every day, in the temple 



232 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the 
Christ. 

Now in these days, when the number of the disciples was 
multiplying, there arose a murmuring of the Grecian Jews against 
the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily 
ministration. And the twelve called the multitude of the disciples 
unto them, and said, It is not fit that we should forsake the word 
of God, and serve tables. Look ye out therefore, brethren, from 
among you seven men of good report, full of the Spirit and of 
wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will 
continue stedfastly in prayer, and in the ministry of the word. 
And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose 
Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and 
Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas 
a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the apostles: and 
when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 

And the word of God increased ; and the number of the disciples 
multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly; and a great company of the 
priests were obedient to the faith. 

And Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought great wonders 
and signs among the people. But there arose certain of them that 
were of the synagogue called the synagogue of the Libertines, and 
of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia 
and Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to 
withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake. Then 
they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak 
blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they 
stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came 
upon him, and seized him, and brought him into the council, and 
set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak 
words against this holy place, and the law: for we have heard him 
say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall 
change the customs which Moses delivered unto us. And all that 
sat in the council, fastening their eyes on him, saw his face as it had 
been the face of an angel. 

Acts v, 34-vi, 15. 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 233 

VII. Sx PAUL'S ETHICAL IDEALS 

w 

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 
love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if 
I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all know- 
ledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have 
not love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the 
poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it 
profiteth me nothing. Love sufFereth long, and is kind; love en- 
vieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not 
behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, 
taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but 
rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, 
hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but 
whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether 
there be tongues, they shall cease ; whether there be knowledge, 
it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in 
part: but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part 
shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt 
as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I 
have put away childish things . For now we see in a mirror, darkly ; 
but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know 
even as also I have been known. But now abideth faith, hope, 
love, these three; and the greatest of these is love. 

i Corinthians xiii. 

(*) 

For even as we have many members in one body, and all the 
members have not the same office: so we, who are many, are one 
body in Christ, and severally members one of another. And 
having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, 
whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion 
of our faith; or ministry, let us give ourselves to our ministry; or 
he that teacheth, to his teaching; or he that exhorteth, to his ex- 
horting : he that give th, let him do it with liberality ; he that rule th, 
with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let 
love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to 



234 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

that which is good. In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned 
one to another; in honour preferring one another; in diligence 
not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; 
patient in tribulation; continuing stedfastly in prayer; communi- 
cating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality. Bless 
them that persecute you; bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them 
that rejoice ; weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one 
toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but con- 
descend to things that are lowly. Be not wise in your own con- 
ceits. Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things 
honourable in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as in 
you lieth, be at peace with all men. Avenge not yourselves, be- 
loved, but give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance 
belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. But if 
thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for 
in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not 
overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. 

Romans xii, 4-21. 



For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your 
freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants 
one to another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even 
in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite 
and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one 
of another. 

But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of 
the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit 
against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that 
ye may not do the things that ye would. But if ye are led by the 
Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are 
manifest, which are these, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 
idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, 
divisions, heresies, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such 
like: of the which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, 
that they which practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom 
of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsufFer- 
ing, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance: 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 235 

against such there is no law. And they that are of Christ Jesus 
have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof. 
If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk. 

Galatians v, 13-25. 

W 

Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one 
with his neighbour: lor we are members one of another. Be ye 
angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 
neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: 
but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing that 
is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need. 
Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is 
good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to 
them that hear. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom 
ye were sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and 
wrath, and anger, and clamour, and railing, be put away from 
you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tender- 
hearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave 
you. 

Ephesians iv, 25-32. 

W 

Lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man 
with his doings, and have put on the new man, which is being 
renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created 
him: where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and un- 
circumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman: but Christ 
is all, and in all. 

Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of 
compassion, kindness, -humility, meekness, longsuflfering ; for- 
bearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have 
a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also 
do ye: and above all these things put on love, which is the bond 
of perfectness. 

Colossians iii, 9-14. 



236 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

(/) The Mind of Christ 

If there is therefore any comfort in Christ, if any consolation 
of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and 
compassions, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be of the same mind, 
having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing 
nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness 
of mind each counting other better than himself; not looking 
each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things 
of others. Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 
who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an 
equality with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a 
servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in 
fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even 
unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly 
exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every 
name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things 
in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that 
every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory 
of God the Father. 

Philippians ii, i-ii. 

VIII. JOHANNINE MEDITATIONS 

(a) The Vine and the Branches 

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every 
branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every 
branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more 
fruit. Already ye are clean because of the word which I have 
spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch can- 
not bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can 
ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches : He 
that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for 
apart from me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is 
cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and 
cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, 
and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall 
be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear 
much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples. Even as the Father 
hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love. If ye 



CHRISTIAN ETHICS 237 

keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I 
have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, 
and that your joy may be fulfilled. This is my commandment, 
that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love 
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 
Ye are my friends, if ye do the things which I command you. 
No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knoweth not 
what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things 
that I heard from my Father I have made known unto you. Ye 
did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye 
should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that 
whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it 
you. These things I command you, that ye may love one another. 
If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it 
hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own : 
but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the 
world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that 
I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord. If they per- 
secuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, 
they will keep yours also. 

St John xv, 1-20. 

(b) The Transient World and the Abiding Truth 

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in the 
darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in 
the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he 
that hateth his brother is in the darkness, and walketh in the dark- 
ness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness 
hath blinded his eyes, 

I write unto you, my little children, because your sins are for- 
given you for his name's sake. I write unto you, fathers, because 
ye know him which is from the beginning. I write unto you, 
young men, because ye have overcome the evil one. I have 
written unto you, little children, because ye know the Father. I 
have written unto you, fathers, because ye know him which is 
from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, be- 
cause ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye 
have overcome the evil one. Love not the world, neither the 



238 CHRISTIAN ETHICS 

things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love 
of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of 
the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the vainglory of life, is not 
of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, 
and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth 
for ever. 

i John ii, 9-17. 



EPILOGUE 

A MEETING AT CHANG-AN 

(Ninth century A.D.) 

I 

In the City of Chang-an, beautiful with its many towers and 
wide ways, and crowded with busy throngs, there met, early 
in the ninth century, four men from distant lands, a Nestor- 
ian bishop, a Muslim trader, a Zoroastrian priest and a 
Japanese monk, Kukai, who had been sent by his Emperor 
to study Chinese, and who was eager to learn also from these 
representatives of other faiths and other lands. 

The Mohammedan trader, Abou-Zeid, had refused the rice- 
wine which was offered him on entering, and at supper he 
scorned the succulent pork beloved of the Chinese; and this 
led to a friendly discussion. 

"We hold", said the Nestorian bishop, "that nothing 
that enters into a man from without can defile him." 

"My people in Japan", said their host, "hold that such 
things as the sex-act and the presence of death bring con- 
tagion; indeed our palaces must be rebuilt every time a 
new Emperor comes to the throne; the old religion is largely 
concerned with ceremonial purity and ablutions and the 
exorcizing of evil spirits." 

"We who follow Zarathrustra", said the Zoroastrian, 
"also believe that dead bodies and menstruous women are 
an abomination: yet we hold that evil is of the will. Good 
thoughts, good words, good deeds, these are mansions 
through which the soul passes to infinite light. As to wine, 
we drink it, but not to excess some of our writers make 
much of its invigorating qualities and as to food, while we 
seek to avoid harming animals, we eat what is necessary of 
flesh." 



240 EPILOGUE 

"We", said their host, "are taugjht that even snakes are 
our little brothers, and that we must take no life." 

"There we differ," said the Persian, "indeed we gain 
merit by destroying noxious creatures, as by preserving 
useful ones. Our law is based, I think, largely on ideas of 
health and sanity. We worship fire as the great purifier, and 
we burn our dead." 

Abou-Zeid who had remained silent, annoyed by the 
comments of his friends, now took up the tale. "The 
Prophet, upon whom be peace, taught us that in submission 
to Allah, who alone is God, is man's happiness and duty. He 
taught us kindness to parents and relatives, hospitality to the 
poor and the traveller, charity and justice to all." 1 So saying, 
he turned towards the setting sun, and prostrated himself 
with his back to his friends. The Persian explained that it was 
the custom in Mohammedan lands to turn towards Mecca in 
prayer seven times a day, and that the Prophet also taught 
almsgiving and fasting. "Our books", he added, "teach us 
to keep the fast of continence, and to worship God in his 
symbols fire and the sun." 

"We", said their host, "would rather meditate upon the 
setting sun, in whom we may see a vision of the Buddha of 
the Western Paradise; and indeed the Chen-yan sect makes 
the great Sun Buddha its object of worship. It is the most 
profound of the schools. As for alms and fasting, we too 
practise them." 

"We Christians also think of God as Light, and practise 
almsgiving, fasting and prayer." 

"On your Prophet too be peace ", said Abou-Zeid, turning 
again towards them; "may the Compassionate and the 
Almighty look upon us all in the Day of Judgment." 

"I, too," said Kukai, "follow one who is compassionate 
and who looks down upon men and their sorrows. Let us 
hear from our friend the Bishop why his view of these 
things makes him eager to teach his way among the Chinese, 
this most ancient and civilized of the nations." 



EPILOGUE 241 

"Let us go and see our monument, put up in the reign of 
the great ruler T'ai-tsung, nearly 200 years ago. It was he 
who welcomed our people, and said that their way was at 
once reasonable and pacific. Thus he commended it to his 
people, and our temples are called 'Houses of Joy'." 

As they stood before the great tablet and read its brief 
summary of the Christian Religion, they agreed that there 
was room for this teaching. "There is indeed room for all 
who help good in the war against evil", said the Persian. 

"There is but one God, and Mohammed is his Prophet", 
said the man of Islam. 

"There are many paths to the mountain top, but one 
summit", said the Japanese. "You teach us here of a God 
dying for men, and we have many stories of the Bodhisattva 
giving his life for others." 

"Nay, but God cannot suffer", said Abou-Zeid, "it was 
some apparition that the Romans slew. We honour your 
Prophet, and Miriam, blessed above women." 

" We, too, but we will not call her the Mother of God, as 
others do." 

"No woman could be that; they are the playthings of 
men", said the Mohammedan. 

"They are indeed snares of the Evil One", said the 
Buddhist. 

"Woman is mother and wife, and we accord her great 
honour", said the Persian. 

"In Christ there is neither male nor female": said the 
Bishop, "and here in China I find there have been many 
notable women, not only good wives and mothers, such as 
those of K'ung-tse and Meng-tse of whom the Chinese 
make much, but Empresses and scholars." 

"Yes," said the Japanese, "I hear on all sides a proverb, 
'Kwanyin in every household'. It seems to refer not only to 
the goddess of compassion, but to the mother as an embodi- 
ment of her spirit. But the Chinese have also an ancient 
saying: 'A great man builds a city, a little woman lays it 

si 16 



242 EPILOGUE 

low'. Their influence has indeed been bad as well as good in 
China." 

"They are made for men's enjoyment", said the Moham- 
medan. "We are taught that if we die in battle we shall 
possess many houris in Paradise." 

" We", said the Japanese with a smile, "are promised that 
in Paradise there will be no women." 

"Yet the Chinese speak of the Queen of Heaven," said 
the Bishop, "and the Mother of Jesus could hardly be shut 
out. What have your prophets to say as to children?" 

"They are ours to do with what we will," said Abou- 
Zeid, "yet the Prophet, on whom be peace, said, 'Let not 
poverty lead you to kill your children. . . '. And again: 'Be 
ye merciful to the orphan. Did Allah not find thee an orphan, 
and make thee his guest?'" 1 

"As for us", said the Persian, "we are told that a holy 
woman is one who is obedient to her husband, and is rich in 
good thoughts, good words and good deeds ; and that parents 
must honour their children, as children must honour their 
parents. 'The married man', says Ahura Mazda, 'is far 
above the celibate : he who has children is far above the child- 
less man.' 2 We regard it as a sin to be unmarried." 

"Well," said Abou-Zeid, "there is no calamity like 
women; yet we men desire children to continue our line." 

"And to teach us many lessons," said the Bishop, "for of 
such is the Kingdom of Heaven. Unless ye become as little 
children ye cannot enter it." 

"Well, for my part," said the Buddhist, "I am persuaded 
that it is better to be grown up and to reach wisdom; and 
that it is more blessed to avoid both wife and child. The 
Sutra says, 'Better be tied to a tiger than to wife and child': 
but we are all agreed that we owe much to our parents, and 
we Buddhists are taught that we must serve them in old age 
in the ways in which they served us as children. Here in 

1 Koran xvii, xciii. 

2 Vol. IV. 4.7. 



EPILOGUE 243 

China the whole religion of the people centres in filial piety. 
They even tell the story of the old man of seventy who 
played bear to amuse his mother and father of ninety, re- 
membering that they had so played to amuse him; and we 
and the Chinese worship our benefactors of old." 

"As to that," said Abou-Zeid, "Allah alone must be 
worshipped." 

"I agree", said the Bishop. "You and I both have the 
commandment, 'Thou shalt not bow down nor worship 
any graven image'. Yet there is more of reverence than 
worship in this cult; we must change it, not destroy it. 
In gratitude to God and to the great dead there is a nerve of 
true religion." 

At this the face of the Japanese lit up. "Our oldest prayers 
are songs of gratitude, and our people believe that reverence 
is wisdom. I hope that we may have another meeting of this 
kind, and I thank you for your company." 

As the sun set Abou-Zeid prostrated himself once more 
towards the West, and as he arose looked lovingly at the 
fine characters and decorative scrolls of the Forest of Tablets: 
"Truly the Chinese excel us all in these arts", he said. 

"And in reverence for the dead", said Kukai. "Shall we 
not meet to-morrow at the Monastery of Hiuen Chang? The 
Abbot will, I am sure, show us the library brought with so 
much toil from India." 

II 

As they set out next morning they talked of the great 
pilgrim who had brought back so much from India. "He 
who brings his toils to a successful end, is he not one who 
scorns what most men prize, and prizes what most men 
scorn? We are all united, are we not, in believing in this 
quest for Wisdom and for Bliss?" 

They were greeted with eager courtesy by the aged Abbot. 
"How pleasant are these visits", he said. "In the name of the 
Master of the Law I bid you welcome." And after the usual 



244 EPILOGUE 

greetings and ceremonial tea-drinking he took them rever- 
ently into the library, and showed them the manuscripts 
brought back by the great traveller. "Here in this ancient 
city the memory of the Master of the Law abides for ever. 
We love to remember him in the Monastery of Nalanda, 
teaching and learning from the Indians, and we read and re- 
read the story of the many perils through which he passed, 
and of his constancy and courage." 

"How much do we also owe him", said Kukai. "More 
even than to the great T'ai-tsung. Greater even than the 
mighty conqueror is the religious teacher. The true conquest 
is the conquest of piety, as an Indian ruler said.'* 

"The gift of truth is indeed the greatest of gifts," said the 
Bishop, "but T'ai-tsung was more than a conqueror. It was 
he who welcomed the exchange of truth, and who sought to 
make religion a great power for peace and order. When I 
visited his tomb, and saw the great horses which guard it, it 
seemed to me they were symbols of strength used in service. 
This is what our Master teaches, that the meek those 
who are humble towards Heaven are strong upon earth." 

"Such was our Prince Shotoku. Like Asoka in India and 
T'ai-tsung here in China, he built a strong state upon the 
foundation of justice and tenderness. He taught that all men 
are the children of the Buddha." 

"In my travels in India", said the Persian, "I saw two in- 
scriptions of the great Asoka, and was struck with his spirit 
of tolerance, and with his interest in other peoples to whom 
he sent embassies. His Hall of a Thousand Pillars is a copy of 
that of our Bangs at Persepolis. And it is said he atoned for 
making war by doing good deeds, and by setting up build- 
ings at the sacred spots." 

"I like to think of the Master of the Law visiting these holy 
places," said Kukai, "the birthplace of the Blessed One, and 
'the Deer Park where he first preached, and his Burial-mound. 
There rest his ashes, but he is in Nirvana, and speaks from 
a heavenly Vulture Peak, bidding men be of good cheer. 



EPILOGUE 245 

Truly this body is a nest of corruption: but Nirvana is an 
Island of Bliss." 

"Is it a place?" asked Abou-Zeid. 

"It is the abode of Virtue, but there are also many Para- 
dises. In one dwells Maitreya, who will be the next Buddha 
upon earth." 

"And how", asked the Persian, "shall one attain to Bliss ? 
Is it not by the way of goodness? Paradise is for us the Abode 
of Good Mind and Hell is the House of Evil." 

"Yes, indeed, happy is he who dwells on earth and has 
conquered Tanha, the evil in his heart: he goes straightway 
to Eternal Bliss. Some say he is already in Nirvana." 

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God", 
said the Bishop. "To know God is to have Eternal Life." 
Blessed is he who doeth the will of Allah ' ' , said Abou-Zeid. 

"All men desire Paradise, but the way is as a narrow razor 
blade", said the Persian. "And as there are four mansions of 
Heaven so are there four abodes of Hell." 

"Narrow is the way and strait the gate", said the Bishop, 
"that leads to eternal Life, and few there be that find it." 

"'Yet all may attain, for all are the children of the 
Buddha', says the Lotus Scripture": "yet men travel by 
different paths to the mountain top." 

"Upon earth", said Abou-Zeid, "there are many differ- 
ences. The pious and the just are not the same as the impious 
and unjust, and in worldly matters it is also true. The 
Chinese excel us all in painting and writing, and the Greeks 
in sculpture." 

"To each his gift, and to each his Paradise", said Kukai. 

"Yes, there are differences of gift, and there are qualities 
of reward", said the Nestorian. 

"If no one can paint like Ku-kai-chih, or sing like the 
Hebrew Psalmist, or make statues like Praxiteles, so it is in 
religion. When the Great Master appears, the lesser masters 
bow." 

"True," said Kukai, "the Chinese have said about our 



246 EPILOGUE 

religion that the little witch trembles before the big witch. 
They are finding that it has brought many things of great 
value. That is why they honour men like Fa-Hian and 
Hiuen Chang, and the Indian missionaries before them. Yet 
it has had many obstacles to overcome, and there is still much 
opposition." 

"We too find that the good is the enemy of the best, but 
I think of the Nazarene as the friend of men, above all of 
great and good men like K'ung and Sakyamuni." 

"Yet you preach to their followers and seek to turn them 
to your way, do you not?" asked the Persian. 

"Yes, the good must give way to the excellent." 

"Excellent in what?" 

"Above all in love. This is the more excellent way." 

"So saith the Blessed One", said the Chinese Abbot who 
had been listening intently, for they spoke in Chinese in his 
honour. "All other ways are not worth a tithe of the way 
of Love." 

"Love for what?" insisted the Persian. 

"Love for God the Father of all men, and love for all men, 
his children", said the Nestorian. 

"That is theory", said Abou-Zeid. "Can you practise it? 
All in Islam are truly brothers." 

"All within the Four Seas are brothers here in China, 
yet the poor are much oppressed and there are many wars 
with other peoples", said the Bishop. "You and I", he said, 
turning to Kukai, "at any rate believe that all men every- 
where are brothers. That is the ideal which shines afar off 
like the snowy mountains, and it is hard to reach. May he 
be our guide who has blazed the path." Then turning to the 
Abbot he said, " We thank you, sir, for your courtesy, and we 
shall think of your Master of the Law as one who climbed not 
only the peaks of Himalaya, but the more difficult heights 
of Virtue". 



INDEX OF PRINCIPAL TEACHERS 



Aeschylus, 120, 121 

Amos, 175-8, 190 

Aristotle, x, 131-4, 138, 161, 162 

Asoka, xi, i, 9, 12, 13, 20, 31, 87, 244 

Chuang-tse, 52, 53, 65, 73 

Chu-hsi, 57, 63 

Confucius (K'ung Fu-tse), x, 47-5O, 

63, 64, 68, 86, 88, 124, 127, 129, 

207 

Epicurus, 136-8, 162 
Euripides, 122, 123, 139 
Ezekiel, 179-81 
Ezra, 184, 185 

Gandhi, 24, 25, 205, 221 

Hammurabi, 166 

Heracleitus, 117, 143 

Hesiod, 113, 114, 118, 142 

Hideyoshi, 92, 105 

Homer, no, 113, 114, 118, 140-2 

Hosea, 175-7, 191 

Hsun-tse, 53, 54, 74 

Isaiah, 175, 177, 179, 192, 195, 207, 
215 

Jesus Christ, 17, 18, 24, 49, 124, 126, 

129, 182, 186, 203-31 
John, St, 204, 213, 236-8 



Kagawa, xii, 92, 95, 205, 220 
K'ung Fu-tse, see Confucius 

Lao-tse, 47-52, 64, 66-8, 135 

Mencius (Meng-tse), 53, 62, 63, 72 

Micah, 175, 181, 193 

Mithras, 204 

Moses, 167, 184, 215 

Mo-tse, ix, xviii, 46, 51, 52, 61, 65, 



Paul, St, xviii, 126, 128, 129, 211, 

215,216,223,233-6 
Pindar, 119 

Plato, 20, 64, 126-9, 138, 139, 156-61 
Psalter and Proverbs, 179, 180, 195- 

200, 207, 245 
Pythagoras, 60, 64, 117 

Sakyamuni, xi, i, 9, 10, 15, 18, 46, 
49,117,134,135,218,219,246 

Samuel, 174, 182 

Socrates, xx, xxi, 17, 18, 49, 123-8, 
132, 139,215,223 

Sophocles, 121 

Xenophanes, 118 
Xenophon, xiii, 125, 138, 154 

Zarathrustra, 239 
Zeno, 135, see Stoicism 



INDEX OF SUBJECTS 



Ahimsa (gentleness), xxii, 6, 9, 20, 
21, 28, 51, 67, 76, 207, 210 

Asceticism, 4, 13, 15, 28, 32, 65, 101, 
222 

Bhakti, 4, 19, 26, 35, 129, (love of 

the divine) 170,215 
Brahminism, 6, 7, 21, 62 
Buddhism (in China), 44, 54-9, 64, 

76 

(in Japan), 82, 86, 87, 89, 90, 92 
Burial, 100, 122, 161 
Bushido, 90 

Caste, 6, 23, 94 

Determinism, xiii, in 
Dharma, xvi, i, 9, 46, 58 
Divination, 43 

Filial Piety, 47, 55, 69,74 
Future Life, 8, 55 

Golden Mean, 133, 139 

Homosexuality, 124, 127, 138, 171 
Hospitality, 38, 72, 140 
Hubris, xxi, 112, 114, 120, 139 

Islam, 239-46 

Justice, 21, no, 175, 216 

Karma, 5, 10, 25 



Marriage and Sex, 8, 24, 59, 62, 64, 
83,88,89,93, H3, 138, 169, 172, 
217, 241 

Monotheism, 51, 166, 167, 203 

Nature-Worship, 2, 83, 85 
Necromancy, 166, 171 
Neo-Confucianism, 57, 77, 88 
Nirvana, 28, 30, 244 

Pessimism, 65, 164, 202 
Philanthropy, 51, 95, 178, 182, 186, 

187, 210, 225 
Polytheism, 3, 166 

Re-incarnation, i, 5, 6, 27 

Samurai, xi, 90 

Selfishness, 52, 69, 79, 139, 210, 211, 

219 

Sermon on the Mount, 20, 47, 205 
Sex, see Marriage 
Shinto, 85, Ancestor-worship, 86, 

87, 166 

Slavery, 89, 129, 132, 138 
Stoicism, 10, 91, 135, 136, 165, 204 
Suicide, 92, 94 

Tao, 44-7, 57, 58, 77 
Theocracy, 169, 174, 185, 222 

Yogi (equanimity), 20, 144 



CAMBRIDGE: PRINTED BY WALTER LEWIS, M.A., AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS