Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/426

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cerned, the terms have no meaning or application. A very well-disposed person, Heidrich Hensoldt, Ph. D., has given in the columns of a popular magazine, The Arena, an account of an interview with which he was favored with the Dalai Lama, the supreme object of religious veneration in that country. This august person is supposed to be a reincarnation of the original Buddha. He is chosen by the priests at the age of five or six, and dies gently of his own accord when he reaches the age of twelve. Meantime he is filled with all grace and, wisdom, and the writer of the article tells how powerfully he himself was impressed with what he heard from the lips of the present Dalai, a youth of about eight. In the first place, the Dalai spoke to his interviewer, who was a German, in the most fluent and idiomatic German, and in the very dialect to which the latter was native. "How," asks the writer, "could the mysterious youth have acquired a knowledge of the German language, and moreover of a dialect which is limited to a small district of the fatherland?" If, instead of asking us that question, the interviewer had seized his chance and asked the Dalai himself, he might have got some information. He contented himself, however, after the manner of the faithful, with "pondering a great deal over the problem," and finally arrived at the satisfactory conclusion that it was a kind of mind-reading. The Dalai, launching out thus in German, proceeded to display "an amount of wisdom which I have never since seen equaled in the most famous Oriental or Western thinkers," The samples given us, unfortunately, hardly bear out this eulogium. The learned interviewer was "astonished beyond expression by his detailed knowledge of mineralogy, botany, microscopy, etc.," but he passed by all that to repeat a few sophistical and worn-out arguments which the Dalai worked off on him in regard to the illusoriness of time and space. The idea of time is illusory because degrees of longitude converge toward the pole, and therefore contiguous points near the pole would have the same difference of time as points widely separated at the equator! The interviewer says he "was compelled to admit the force of this logic," but he required further proof before he could accept the Dalai's dictum that "the most stable of our sciences, mathematics," is also wholly based on illusion. The mysterious youth then trotted out the old Greek sophism known to logicians as that of Achilles and the tortoise. If a man had a certain sum of money to pay, and on a certain date paid half of it, then on a later date half the remainder, and then on succeeding dates half of whatever might still be due, he might go on to all eternity paying, but would never have the debt fully discharged. "Does not this," the youth asked triumphantly and yet sadly, "prove the rottenness of the entire fabric, and that your wonderfully exact science is Maya or illusion?" Again the learned but well-disposed interviewer bowed in acquiescence. Of course, we might feel delicate about arguing with a reincarnated Buddha; but we feel as if the suggestion might properly have been made that the argument in question, which simply affirmed that, unless you pay a debt in full, a portion will remain unpaid, was eminently in harmony with the whole theory of mathematics, which has always required us to believe that a pint will not fill a quart pot,

"We do not reason out things," said the Dalai, "but see them." And then he proceeded to use the identical ineffectual argument used by Mr. Sinnett to which we referred a month or two ago, claiming that the adepts in occult science were substantially in possession of an extra sense, and that that was why the unenlightened world did not believe in them. The slightest reflection, however, as we pointed out,