From the Jacket
Grimm devotes a good part of his book to the elaboration of the anatta-doctrine; he states that the Buddha sought for the atta in the indirect way, by taking away from the atta everything that is not the atta. The Buddha followed this way so radically and with so much success, that whatever is cognizable revealed itself to his as anatta. He says: "You teach the atta, but I teach what the atta is not. You speak about the atta, but I speak of anatta; in short, you have the atta-method, the atta-vada, whereas I have the anatta-method, the anatta-vada."
Commenting on Grimm's work, Edward Conze states: "The more I am concerned with these things, the more convinced I become that George Grimm's interpretation of the Buddhist theory of atman comes nearest to the original teaching of the Buddha."
About the Author
Geroge Grimm (1868-1945) after completing his theological studies, devoted himself to jurisprudence and chose the career of judge. The influence of Schopenhauer led him to Indological studies. A special attention he devoted to the study of Pali wherewith he came more into the attractive force of the Buddha-Dharmma. In circles, which became acquainted with him professionally, he was characterized as "Bavaria's most benevolent judge". He wrote from an attitude acquired by his practical realization of the Dharmma. He was writing, as he often said - for himself. The last twelve years of his life he spent in the rural stillness at the Ammersee.
The present main work appeared in German language in fourteen impressions during the author’s lifetime. The fourteenth impression was translated into English by Bhikkhu Silacara* in 1926. As appendix were added “The Doctrine of the Buddha as the Flower of Indian Thought,” “The Metaphysics of the Buddha” and “Right Cognition.” In the meantime also the fifteenth and sixteenth thousand have appeared in the German impression. The author finds the connecting bridge to true Indian spirit as is once more expressed in a most excellent manner in the appendix in the chapter “The Doctrine of the Buddha as the Flower of Indian Thought.” This most comprehensive spirit already during the lifetime of Dr. George Grimm enabled a community of faithful followers to gather round him. After his decease on 26th August 1945 at Uttthg am Ammersee—he was born on 25th February 1868 at Roilbofen near Lauf an der Pegnitz in Middle Franconia — this community grew to considerable numbers; but his friends and admirers extend far beyond this narrower circle (cf. biographical notes at the end of the book). For this reason a second English edition has become necessary, which is herewith presented.
Besides his other literary activities, George Grimm had long been preparing a further new edition of his chief work, The Doctrine of the Buddha, the Religion of Reason. The unfavorable times after 1933 prevented the fulfillment of this plan during his lifetime. A new and detailed introduction to this enlarged work that was enriched by much profound knowledge existed in two versions. The later version was selected which, from the author’s mature mind in the last years of his life, selects the most appropriate words for the spirit of the teaching. Such spirit is always guided by the words of the Buddha and speaks from the work. The following chapters were almost entirely rewritten: “Sankhara,” “Concentration,” and “Contemplative Visions, the Steep Ascent to Nibbana;” additional chapters were: ‘Taking the Refuge with the Three Jewels,” and “The Reach in the Doctrine of the Buddha of Atakkavaoara, the Idea of Not-Within- The-Realm-Of-Logical-Thought.” In accordance with one of George Grimm’s last wishes, the title of the work was lengthened to The Doctrine of the Buddha, the Religion of Reason and Meditation.
Here it is appropriate to refer to a few passages from the most recent publications of well known authors, from which the fundamental idea of the teaching also clearly emerges, since the words of the Buddha, taken as they are given, simply call for this interpretation. Only a few pregnant passages are reproduced here, for these references are naturally by no means exhaustive, and indeed cannot possibly be within these narrow limits. Above all, the remarks of the Indianist, Erich Frauwallner, in his Geschichte der indischen Philosophie (History of Indian Philosophy), Vol. I, (Otto Muller Verlag Salzburg, 1953) are worthy of note: The statement has already been made that Buddhism denies the existence of a soul, and that therefore salvation, extinction (Sanskrit: nirvanam, Pãli: nibbanam), is an ending in nothing. And such a statement has provoked lively discussions and a whole field of literature ... In my view, things would never have seemed so difficult if, from the very beginning, it had been considered on the basis of the old canonical texts. If one had not at first become acquainted with the fantastically embellished legends of a later period, one would hardly have thought, as previously happened, of doubting the historicity of the person of the Buddha, and of seeing a myth of nature in the accounts of his life. In the same way, the question how primitive Buddhism viewed the problem of the soul and of the true nature of salvation would from the very beginning have appeared in a different light, if one had not first become acquainted with late Mahayâna texts, for the understanding of which there lacked at that time every assumption, and which were bound almost of necessity to lead to misinterpretations. But after these had been arrived at, it was difficult to alter prejudices once formed.” Thus Frauwallner also describes it as “a crude and untenable anachronism” when doctrines of later dogma tics, in particular the Dharma doctrine, are already ascribed to the Buddha, above all by Russian scholars.
Frauwallner cleverly brings us nearer to the ancient Indian spirit from which the teaching originated when he states: “And how is it with regard to the question of salvation Attempts were made in the first place to read the answer to this question from the word with which Buddhism describes salvation, namely from the word extinction (nirvãnam, P. nibbanam). This word signifies the extinction of a flame, and salvation is expressly compared to such an extinction. It was then said that just as a flame disappears with extinction and no longer exists, so too is the released one brought to naught with redemption. But this train of thought rests on absolutely false assumptions, and makes the serious mistake of introducing strange and unfamiliar notions into the Indian world of thought. As we have seen already in the section on epic philosophy in the discussion between Bhrgu and Bharadväja, the kindling and extinction of a flame do not mean for the Indian of antiquity an arising and passing away, but the fire already existing becomes visible and again invisible thereby, and this is the reason why that description is used for the fate of the soul after death.
In this respect, the statement of the text is perfectly plain and unambiguous, where it says: The soul (jivah) that has entered the body perishes not when the body perishes, but it is like a fire after the firewood is burnt away. Just as the fire is no longer perceivable when no more firewood is added to it, but is, on account of its entering the ether, without fixed abode and therefore difficult to grasp, so does the soul, when it has quitted the body, find itself in a state resembling the ether, but is not perceived because of its fineness; of this there can be no doubt.’ Thus with extinction the fire does not pass away, but merely becomes inconceivable. And the same conception underlies the Buddha’s comparison of salvation with the extinction of a fire. Just as the path of the extinguished fire cannot be known, as be says, for example, in a passage, so is it not possible to indicate the path of the completely redeemed who have penetrated beyond the fetters and flood of desires, and have attained eternal and unchangeable bliss. This one passage here can suffice ... Moreover, there are other statements and modes of expression which clearly show that extinction was not understood to be annihilation, One speaks of a sphere of extinction (nirvanadhatuh) into which the redeemed one enters, of a city of extinction niirvanapuram. And it is just as unambiguous when the Buddha speaks in the following way of that abode of extinction: ‘There is, monks, an unborn, an unoriginated, an unmade, an unformed. If there were not, monks, this unborn, unoriginated, unmade, and unformed, there would be no way out for the born, the originated, the made, and the formed’. Thus the attempt to read from the expression of extinction (nirvanam) the concept of annihilation ultimately rests on a misunderstanding” (see 225”227)*
A few statements still merit our special attention. Thus: “The ordinary man can easily be led astray into regarding his earthly personality as his true self (atma, P. atta). This leads him to attach a particular value to this self and to everything connected therewith. In this way craving and thirst awake. He clings to it, he grasps it (upadamam), as Buddhism says, and thus creates conditions which fetter him to this existence, and lead him from rebirth to rebirth to a new becoming (bhavah). If, on the other hand, he recognizes that all this is not his true self, and in reality does not touch him, then craving is extinguished, he turns away from everything earthly, the fetters binding him to existence are broken, and he attains salvation.
These conceptions are ultimately connected with views with which we are already familiar from the philosophy of the Upanishads. There knowledge of the Atma, of the Self, and hence of the true I or self, is regarded as decisive for obtaining salvation. For the man who recognizes this true self, will turn away from everything else, and thus become detached from everything earthly. Thus as Yajnavalkya strikingly states in his last discourse with his spouse Maitreyi, it is only the I, the ego, the Atma, which endows all things with value, and therefore for it only right aspiration has to be considered. What is different from it is sorrowful (tato nyad artam). In both cases, we come across the same ideas, only in Buddhism they are differently expressed and, so to speak negatively formulated. Here it does not say that we should know the true self, but that we must not regard as the self (atma, P. atta) that which is not the self. For otherwise craving clings to this false self, and thus brings about an entanglement in the cycle of beings. And salvation takes place not through our becoming conscious of the true self, but through our recognizing as not-self (anatma, F. anatta) all that is falsely regarded as the self, and so detaching desire there from” (See 192—193).
“Further, ancient Buddhist tradition reports that the Buddha addressed, shortly after the Sermon of Benares, a second discourse to his first five followers which is also preserved and is called the discourse of the characteristics of the not self in it he first of all broadly explains that the five groups of grasping are not to be considered as the self. He then puts to his disciples the question: ‘What think you, monks, is corporeality changeable or unchangeable?’ ‘Changeable, Lord’ is the reply. ‘But that which is changeable, is it suffering or joy?’ ‘Suffering, Lord.’ ‘Now that which is variable, full of sorrow, and subject to change, can we say, if we consider it: this is mine, this am I this is my Self?’ ‘This we cannot say, Lord.’ The same questions are put and then answered in reference to the other four groups. And then the Buddha adds: ‘Therefore, monks, whatever there has been, will be, and is of corporeality, sensation, consciousness, forms, and knowledge, no matter whether in us or in the world outside, whether coarse or fine, low or high, far or near; all this corporeality, sensation, consciousness, these forms, and this knowledge are not mine, are not-I, are not my Self; so must every one really see it who possesses right Knowledge. Therefore, monks, the man who sees it is a noble hearer with experience who turns away from corporeality, sensation, consciousness, forms, and Knowledge. By thus turning from them, he becomes free from craving. Through the cessation of craving he obtains salvation. In the redeemed one there originates the knowledge of his redemption: ‘Rebirth is abolished, the holy course of life is complete, duty is fulfilled, and there is no more return into this world,’ thus he knows.’ Here, then, is the thought of the false ego-conception, from which we must be freed in order to do away with craving, and thus to detach ourselves from entanglement in the cycle of births, clearly expressed and broadly explained. And above all, it is Yajnavalkya’s statement, namely that everything different from the Atmã, the true self, is sorrowful, which is here the basis. Only it appears differently expressed in keeping with the whole arrangement of the teaching, indeed in the form that all that is sorrowful cannot be the self or I.” (See 194—195).
Frauwallner points out that the argument of the discourse on the characteristics of the not-self which the Buddha delivered at Benares to his first five followers, recurs in numerous passages of the Canon. “But with this argument the Buddha has achieved what he wants. The false belief that sees the self in the earthly personality is thus rejected. At the same time, however, every statement concerning- the existence or non-existence of the self is avoided.
Mistaken attempts have certainly been made to read from the above mentioned argument a denial of the self on the part of the Buddha. But this, of course, goes too far; for the unbiased judge all that is said is that the five groups are not the self or I; and this too is the only purpose that is served by that argument. Every attempt to discover more in it, would go beyond this purpose and miss the point. Indeed, from the statement that everything perishable and sorrowful cannot be the self, one might sooner draw the deduction that the self is therefore imperishable and free from suffering, and that any one arguing in this way presupposes the existence of such a soul. Moreover, in connexion with the above argument, the texts of the Buddhist Canon never say that a self does not exist, but at most that it is not conceivable. Again, attempts have been made to interpret this by saying that the Buddha chose this method of expression in order not to alarm the weaker of his disciples through a denial of the self and through the resultant annihilation with salvation. But such trains of thought are quite alien to the Buddha’s proclamation. He does not go in search of followers, least of all in such crooked ways. Finally, the Buddha himself guards against such an interpretation of his words. In one of the discourses in which he has shown again in the usual way that the five groups are not the I or self, he then breaks out in the following words: ‘And I monks, who speak thus, and teach thus, am accused wrongly, vainly, falsely, and inappropriately by some ascetics and Brahmins: ‘A denier is the ascetic Gautama, he teaches the destruction, annihilation, and perishing of the being that now exists (satah sattvasya).’ These ascetics wrongly, vainly, falsely, and inappropriately accuse me of being what I am not, 0 monks, and of saying what I do not say: ‘A denier is the ascetic Gautama, he teaches the destruction, annihilation, and perishing of the being, that now exists.’ Only one thing, monks, do I teach, now as before, namely suffering and the abolition of suffering.
To sum up, we can say, therefore, that the Buddha declines to answer the question concerning the existence of a self, because he regards it as one of those questions that lead to fruitless discussions and explanations, and divert us from the real goal of salvation. But a denial of the soul is not expressed; rather is it described merely as inconceivable, wherever an express statement occurs.” (See 224 _225.)
The Buddha was born about the middle of the sixth century B. C. in the Indian city of Kapilavatthu as Prince Siddhattha, son of King Suddhodana from the family of the Gotamides, and was therefore an Indian. What this means will be clear from what follows.
Prom time immemorial, India formed her own world. She is shut off in the north-west by the Judo-Persian mountain frontier, in the north-east by the Him Mayas having the highest mountains in the world, in the south-west by the Arabian Sea, and in the south-east by the Indian Ocean. Although her being thus cut off was not so great as to make commercial relations very difficult with neighboring nations, such as had existed from the remotest times, it was nevertheless enough to protect her, at any rate during the time of her development, from invasion by foreign armies, and from the inundation and drying up of her culture through foreign influences. When later the storms of the Greek, Scythian, and Mohammedan invasions broke over India, the Indian world of thought was already consolidated, had become scholastically finished, and therefore could no longer be influenced. On the contrary, as regards a subjugated India, the foreign conquerors became just as intellectually dependent as did the Roman Empire -with regard to conquered Greece. The culture of India is, therefore, thoroughly original. Its development was favored by the climate of the country which freed men from the ordinary cares of life, and thus gave them leisure to devote themselves to the great problems raised by existence. The northern part of India is subtropical, but the greater part is tropical; and Indian poetry of all kinds, such as the epic, the lyric, and the drama, reflects the charm and magic of the tropical world.
The dominant race in India belongs to the Indo-European group of nations which settled in seven principal branches as Indians and Iranians in Central and Southern Asia, as Greeks, and Italians iii the South, and as Slays, Teutons, and Celts in the northern countries of Europe. It was quite obvious, and had been known from very early times, that the languages of Greece and Rome were more closely, and all the cultural languages of Europe more distantly, related to one another; and yet no one was able to give a satisfactory account of this relationship. But after Sanskrit, the language of the ancient Indians, had become known towards the end of the last century, it was a discovery, not to be missed, that Indians and Persians in Asia, Greeks and Romans, Celts, Teutons, and Slays in Europe were the descendants of an original and homogeneous race. On the other hand, it is no longer possible to discover the original abode of this mother-race. The partition of this original race into seven main branches, and the migration of the latter into their present domiciles occurred in prehistoric times.
The Indo-Europeans who had settled in India, at all times called themselves Aryans, and still so called themselves even in the Buddha’s time. The Buddha himself says in the Digha-Nikaya XVI, 1, 28: “As far as Aryans dwell, and as far as commerce extends that is fostered by merchants, this defended city of Pãtaliputta will shine as the first.”
The original meaning of the word “arya” is “devout,” “pious;” and so “the Aryans” are “those belonging to the pious,” in which sense the word arya was also originally understood as the name of a people. This alone indicates the original nature of the culture that was created by the Aryan Indians.
“Pious” is a religious concept, and means having a religious view of life and the world. But a view of the world is religious, when a man feels in his conscience obliged also to pay heed to the securing of his great future after death, and considers himself “bound” (religatur) to this obligation, no matter whether he believes in a personal god or not. This is the proper meaning of the concept religion, however surprising this definition may appear to modern man who in this sense is quite a religious. On account of this obligation of his conscience, a religious man in particular sees himself compelled no longer to arrange his conduct exclusively for the unrestrained satisfaction of the desire for sensual pleasure, but to ponder dyer the consequences that could result for the coming life from such a brutal egoism. Thus a religious view of life inevitably leads to the ennoblement of man’s conduct of life, and, if such a view inspires a whole people, it improves their conduct too. If this restraint that binds one’s conscience is lacking, then at best we may get civilization, a refinement of the love of pleasure, for the satisfaction of which men do not shrink even from the most brutal measures. From the very beginning, the Aryan Indians have been religiously minded in this sense, and have remained so even to the present time; indeed, it can be said that they were and are generally the most religious people on earth. They therefore succeeded in producing a noble and sublime culture which saved them in particular from a “civilization of factory chimneys,” according to Nietzsche “the most pitiable of all civilizations.
The religious character of Arya Indian culture is also specially clear form the following words of Deussen. In India there is no real historiography as in Greece and Rome and historians of the ordinary category (like those who could not forgive a plato for not being a demosthese charitably shrug their permanent organism of state not to speak of a public oratory indeed has not even managed to write down its history. They should rather try to understand that that Indians were too superior after the manner of the Egyptians to take a delight in list of kings that is to count shadows as Plato would say they should endeavor to see that the Aryan genius disclaimed to take temporal things and their order and arrangement too seriously since it sought the eternal with all the energy of its power and expressed this in a very rich literature that was poetical religious and philosophical.
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