ages roll by and the Buddha seems not so far away after all;
his voice whispers in our ears and tells us not to run away
from the struggle but, calm-eyed, to face it, and to see in
life ever greater opportunities for growth and advancement.
Personality counts today as ever, and a person who has impressed
himself on the thought of mankind as the Buddha has, so that
even today there is something living and vibrant about the thought
of him, he must have been a wonderful man, a man who was, as
Barth says, the finished model of calm and sweet majesty,
of infinite tenderness for all that breathes and compassion
for all that suffers, of perfect moral freedom and exemption
from every prejudice.n1
"His message old and yet very new and original for those
immersed in metaphysical subtleties, captured the imagination
of the intellectuals; it went deep down into the hearts of the
had its birth at Sarnath near the city of Vârânasi
(Benares), India. With only five followers at the beginning,
it penetrated into many lands, and is today the religion of
more than 600 million. Buddhism made such rapid strides chiefly
due to its intrinsic worth and its appeal to the reasoning mind.
But there were other factors that aided its progress: never
did the dhammadûtas, the messengers of the Dhamma, the
teaching, use any iniquitous methods in spreading the Dhamma.
The only weapon they wielded was that of universal love and
Buddhism penetrated to these countries peaceably, without disturbing
the creeds that were already there. Buddhist missions, to which
the annals of religious history scarcely afford a parallel,
were carried on neither by force of arms nor by the use of any
coercive or reprehensible methods. Conversion by compulsion
was unknown among the Buddhists, and repugnant to the Buddha
and his disciples. No decrying of other creeds has ever existed
in Buddhism. Buddhism was thus able to diffuse itself through
a great variety of cultures throughout the civilized world.
is no record known to me," wrote T.W. Rhys Davids, "in
the whole of the long history of Buddhism throughout the many
centuries where its followers have been for such lengthened
periods supreme, of any persecution by the Buddhists of the
followers of any other faith."