Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
"These priests are associated in monasteries attached to the temples of Fo. They are in China precisely a society of mendicants, and go about, like monks of that description in the Romish Church, asking alms for the support of their establishment. Their tonsure extends to the hair of the whole head. There is a regular gradation among the priesthood; and according to his reputation for sanctity, his length of service and other claims, each priest may rise from the lowest rank of servitor—whose duty it is to perform the menial offices of the temple—to that of officiating priest—and ultimately of 'Tae Hoepang,' Abbot or head of the establishment."
The five principal precepts, or rather interdicts, addressed to the Buddhist priests are:
- 1. Do not kill.
- 2. Do not steal.
- 3. Do not marry.
- 4. Speak not falsely.
- 5. Drink no wine.
Poo-ta-la is the name of a monastery, described in Lord Macartney's mission, and is an extensive establishment, which was found in Manchow-Tartary, beyond the great wall. This building offered shelter to no less than eight hundred Chinese Buddhist priests.[401:1]
The Rev. Mr. Gutzlaff, in his "Journal of Voyages along the coast of China," tells us that he found the Buddhist "Monasteries, nuns, and friars very numerous;" and adds that: "their priests are generally very ignorant."[401:2]
This reminds us of the fact that, for centuries during the "dark ages" of Christianity, Christian bishops and prelates, the teachers, spiritual pastors and masters, were mostly marksmen, that is, they [Pg 402]supplied, by the sign of the cross, their inability to write their own name.[402:1] Many of the bishops in the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, it is said, could not write their names. Ignorance was not considered a disqualification for ordination. A cloud of ignorance overspread the whole face of the Church, hardly broken by a few glimmering lights, who owe almost the whole of their distinction to the surrounding darkness.[402:2]
One of the principal objects of curiosity to the Europeans who first went to China, was a large monastery at Canton. This monastery, which was dedicated to Fo, or Buddha, and which is on a very large scale, is situated upon the southern side of the river. There are extensive grounds surrounding the building, planted with trees, in the center of which is a broad pavement of granite, which is kept very clean. An English gentleman, Mr. Bennett, entered this establishment, which he fully describes. He says that after walking along this granite pavement, they entered a temple, where the priesthood happened to be assembled, worshiping. They were arranged in rows, chanting, striking gongs, &c. These priests, with their shaven crowns, and arrayed in the yellow robes of the religion, appeared to go through the mummery with devotion. As soon as the mummery had ceased, the priests all flocked out of the temple, adjourned to their respective rooms, divested themselves of their official robes, and the images—among which were evidently representations of Shin-moo, the "Holy Mother," and "Queen of Heaven," and "The Three Pure Ones,"—were left to themselves, with lamps burning before them.