Page:Evolution and Ethics.djvu/52

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43
NOTES

Note 6 (p. 15).

"That part of the then prevalent transmigration theory which could not be proved false seemed to meet a deeply felt necessity, seemed to supply a moral cause which would explain the unequal distribution here of happiness or woe, so utterly inconsistent with the present characters of men." Gautama "still therefore talked of men's previous existence, but by no means in the way that he is generally represented to have done." What he taught was "the transmigration of character." "Gotama held that after the death of any being, whether human or not, there survived nothing at all but that being's 'Karma,' the result, that is, of its mental and bodily actions. Every individual, whether human or divine, was the last inheritor and the last result of the Karma of a long series of past individuals—a series so long that its beginning is beyond the reach of calculation, and its end will be coincident with the destruction of the world." (Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lectures, p. 92.)

In the theory of evolution, the tendency of a germ to develope according to a certain specific type, e.g. of the kidney bean seed to grow into a plant having all the characters of Phaseolus vulgaris is its 'Karma.' It is the "last inheritor and the last result" of all the conditions that have affected a line of ancestry which goes back for many millions of years to the time when life first appeared on the earth. The moiety B of the substance of the bean plant (see Note 1) is the last link in a once continuous chain extending from the primitive living substance: and the characters of the successive species to which it has given rise are the manifestations of its gradually modified Karma. As Prof. Rhys Davids aptly says, the snowdrop "is a snowdrop and not an oak, and just that kind of snowdrop, because it is the outcome of the Karma of an endless series of past existences." (Hibbert Lectures, p. 114.)


Note 7 (p. 17).

"It is interesting to notice that the very point which is the weakness of the theory—the supposed concentration of the effect of the Karma in one new being—presented itself to the early