Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/404

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peculiar to Tibet. One chief point in the Tibetan belief is their faith in a succession of incarnate Buddhas; the original Buddha Shakyatubpa or Sang-gye taking up his dwelling first in the person of the Dalai Lama, and then in many lesser dignitaries of the church. In addition to the Buddhist teaching of morals and the method of attaining to Nirvana—a state of practical and permanent insensibility, removed for ever from the chain of transmigration, or continuous rebirth into a world of suffering—demon worship and demon possession, the practice of magic and of sorcery, etc., are very rife, and much thought of.

In Lhasa there exists a government oracle resident at the Drepung Monastery, who is constantly consulted by the rulers; another one in the town is in popular demand. Buddhism entered the country from India and China in the seventh century a.d., and evidences of the religiousness of the people abound on all sides. Prayer-flags large and small wave on tall poles up the mountain sides, beside the monasteries, at the approach to the Lamaseries, on house-tops, across the roads, in fact everywhere. Chodtens or whitewashed monuments containing the bones of saints are met with beside the roads and near monasteries, while prayer-wheels may be seen in the hands of every man and woman, who, while turning it, repeats the mystic formula, "Om-mani-padmi-hum." Prayer-wheels are also turned by water, or by wind, or even smoke in houses.

The Tibetan's whole life is outwardly religious. He is constantly praying or repeating the mystic formula. He offers thanks for a journey, and consults the Lama at every step. When crossing a pass he reverently places a stone on a mound at the top. He tells his beads, but the heart is untouched either by purity or godliness. The Chinese say of a tripart man, the Chinaman forms the head for intelligence, the Mongol the legs for endurance, and the Tibetan the heart for religiousness.

Lhasa is, of course, the Metropolis of Buddhism, the seat of the Dalai Lama, the Mecca of the Northern Buddhists. Its main thoroughfares are daily thronged