The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 7/Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures/Buddhism, The Religion Of The Light Of Asia
Buddhism, The Religion Of The Light Of Asia
(Delivered in Detroit on March 19, 1894: Reported in Detroit Tribune)
Vive Kananda lectured to an audience of about 150 [according to the Journal, 500] at the Auditorium last night upon "Buddhism, the Religion of the Light of Asia." Honourable Don M. Dickinson introduced him to the audience. "Who shall say that this system of religion is divine and that doomed?" asked Mr. Dickinson in his introductory remarks. "Who shall draw the mystic line?"
Vive Kananda reviewed at length the early religions of India. He told of the great slaughter of animals on the altar of sacrifice; of Buddha's birth and life; of his puzzling questions to himself over the causes of creation and the reasons for existence; of the earnest struggle of Buddha to find the solution of creation and life; of the final result.
Buddha, he said, stood head and shoulders above all other men. He was one, he said, [of] whom his friends or enemies could never say that he drew a breath or ate a crumb of bread but for the good of all.
"He never preached transmigration of the soul," said Kananda, "except he believed one soul was to its successor like the wave of the ocean that grew and died away, leaving naught to the succeeding wave but its force. He never preached that there was a God, nor did he deny there was a God.
"'Why should we be good?' his disciples asked of him.
"'Because', he said, 'you inherited good. Let you in your turn leave some heritage of good to your successors. Let us all help the onward march of accumulated goodness, for goodness' sake.' "He was the first prophet. He never abused any one or arrogated anything to himself. He believed in our working out our own salvation in religion. "'I can't tell you,' he said, on his deathbed, 'nor any one. Depend not on any one. Work out your own religion [salvation].' "He protested against the inequality of man and man, or of man and beast. All life was equal, he preached. He was the first man to uphold the doctrine of prohibition in liquors. 'Be good and do good', he said. 'If there is a God, you have Him by being good. If there is no God, being good is good. He is to be blamed for all he suffers. He is to be praised for all his good.' "He was the first who brought the missionaries into existence. He came as a saviour to the downtrodden millions of India. They could not understand his philosophy, but they saw the man and his teachings, and they followed him."
In conclusion Kananda said that Buddhism was the foundation of the Christian religion; that the catholic church came from Buddhism.