THE study of Buddhism has recently made gigantic strides, on this side of the Atlantic as well as on the other. Not only is the importance of the science of comparative religion making itself felt, but the advance of our Pali and Sanskrit knowledge has greatly contributed to a better understanding of things Oriental. Even Christians who were without sympathy for "heathen" religions have now taken up the study of Buddhism in earnest. Nevertheless, it appears to me that the teachings of Sakyamuni are not yet known in their full significance and that they do not yet command just appreciation. Though intolerant critics lose no chance of vigorously and often wrongly attacking the weak points of Buddhism, which are naturally seen at the surface, clear-sighted people have been very slow to perceive its innermost truth. This is especially the case with the Mahayana school.
The main reasons for this are, in my opinion, evident. While the canonical books of the Hînayâna Buddhism have been systematically preserved in the Pali language, those of the Mahayana Buddhism are scattered promiscuously all over the fields and valleys of Asia and in half a dozen different languages. Further, while most of the Sanskrit originals have been destroyed, their translations in Tibetan, Mongolian, and Chinese have never been thoroughly studied. And, lastly, the Mahayana system is so intricate, so perplexingly abstruse, that scholars not accustomed to this form of thought and expression are entirely at a loss to find their way through it.