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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/550

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

also certain ideas connected with the conception of certain attributes, such as Love, Mercy, Justice, War, etc., and each figure has been made to convey the idea of his specialty.

For example, the Love symbol is shown as a fat, jolly-tempered man surrounded with little children at play. Justice sits with a face utterly devoid of all traces of sympathy, and with eyelids drawn down and lips firmly closed, and, with drawn sword, symbolizes the fate of the evil-doer. Thus, each figure is intended to impress the observer with a proper observance of the graces inculcated in the religion. But they are not worshiped. Nor has Buddha been deified in any proper sense, but is looked upon as the founder and best example of the faith. So far as I can judge, no prayers are offered to him as such, but, while he occupies the post of honor in all temples, he is merely venerated as above indicated.

Morning and evening services are observed in the temples, which consist of a certain number of strokes upon a great bell and a similar number of taps on a huge drum, which sometimes consists of a section of a hollow trunk of a tree, with rawhide fastened across one end; and this noisy demonstration is preceded and followed by repetition of ritual, and bowing and kneeling in turn in front of the central altar. Nothing can be more weird than to listen to the beating on the drum and bell in the stillness of a mountain gorge at sunset, where no sound except the occasional howling of tigers near by comes to break the monotony of the mountain stillness. I can well understand how it affects the minds of ignorant worshipers, inspiring in them an awe equal to that produced by the most profound ceremonies of the churches on the minds of the worshipers.

They have no set days for the people to come to the temples to worship. The priests keep up the service above named at sunrise and sunset of each day, and the laity may come to the temples at any time they see fit. Prayers are said for the people, or rather by the people, in a sort of lottery scheme. A joint of bamboo, open at one end, is kept in the temples, in which are an assortment of prayers and omens good and bad. The worshiper (?) selects one of these by chance, much as we sometimes see children pulling straws for the longest or shortest to decide some question in dispute. If the first effort gets an undesirable "prayer," it is put back and another drawn. This is repeated until the worshiper gets one that suits him, and then he goes on his way, feeling sure that the blessings of Heaven will rest upon his undertakings.

There are monasteries and convents in addition to the temples, and these are carried on for the same purposes and very similar in all respects as the Roman institutions of the same nature.