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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/552

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

that no Buddhist will take the life of an animal for food, the pig and fowls alone excepted. But for the contingent of Mohammedans in Chinese cities, Europeans would fare badly for beefsteaks and lamb-chops. I never knew a Chinese butcher who was not a Mohammedan; and when Mohammedan butchers buy fatted cattle of pious Buddhist farmers, they have to promise that the cattle shall not be slaughtered. I once asked a fish-dealer why he made a distinction in his line. He said that he never killed fish, but that when taken out of the water they died. I suggested that if he were to reverse this rule and put an ox under water, he too would die without being killed. When, however, the soul of an animal has departed, the carcass is exempt, and finds ready takers among the faithful who are not averse to eating beef. It is from this fact that all animals having died natural deaths are used by the people as food. The only exception to this rule of eating dead animals is in the case of their having belonged to a priest. I once shot a priest's dog, and it was buried with great ceremony (at my expense), and, when asked why they did not eat it, was told that being a priest's dog it was sacred. That made, of course, a great difference!

The beneficial results from this belief are apparent in the kindness to all domestic animals. No need for Mr. Bergh's society there. When a farmer harnesses his faithful ox or cow to plow his field, he treats the beast with the utmost consideration, for the reason that, for aught he knows, he has harnessed the soul of his own grandfather; and that the soul of the beast is watching him, and knows just what he is doing, he does not question.

Buddhists accept the proposition that one's relative rank' whether as a poor man, or, next thing to that, a pig or a donkey, is entirely due to his actions in a former life. And no matter how humble one's lot may be, he devoutly hopes for promotion in the next inning. One of the most potent fears in the minds of many men is that they may be born next time as a donkey. With us the difficulty is that sometimes men are born donkeys but do not appear to know it.

The old problem of how long it will take a frog to get out of a well twenty-one feet deep by jumping seven feet every day and then sliding down six feet at night, aptly illustrates the Buddhist's idea of the problem of existence. How many lives or succession of ages must one live in order to get into the final haven, or Nirvana, whatever that is, is the question. He believes this depends chiefly upon his own conduct, hence the belief has the tendency to restrain the vicious to discipline. How well this motive succeeds is apparent when we consider the unmatched population, both in numbers and in poverty, and then consider the comparative immunity from crime. True, the civil law punishes crime