`Nirvana,' the quest of every Buddhist as he makes his way along the road to realisation, has confounded many Western intellectuals and religious thinkers for years. They have been unable to comprehend what seems such a nihilistic approach to life as having any basic value to modem ideologies and ways of life. To them the whole concept seems to negate all that they hold dear. Thus explaining their tendency to relegate it and declare it to be a negative force on society, as did the orthodox Hindus and Chinese of long ago when they declared The Buddha to be a heretic.
Paul Carus has by relating the Buddha's theory in story form, has brought The Buddha and his theories into the mainstream of public attention. In doing so he has opened up the floodgates to satisfy inquiring minds that wish to understand and evaluate these theories for themselves. His stature as a renowned scholar of Buddhism gives emphasis and credibility to the statements he makes. He has through story form, an old and tried method of the Buddhists themselves, made this complex and often vague subject into a form that can be easily understood by all.
The use of aphorisms brings a most complex subject into the realm of the common man and falls within the sphere of his understanding capabilities. Even for those who have other faiths and beliefs, the narrative can only but encourage them to have a greater understanding of the oriental mind and psychology. This in itself is a productive result in a world order that seems to lack in this very basic quality. Paul Carus himself has in all his works tried to create a balance between Christianity and Buddhism. He has stated his belief that there are many close similarities in the teachings involved and has always tried to illustrate them. His non-partisan approach to this subject makes his work all the more valuable and thus more appropriate for those who wish to learn more of the societies and cultures around them.
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