Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

absolutely non-sectarian, and the schools under its supervision were likewise to be non-sectarian. Such a plan would seem to me the only feasible one which would remove the present school troubles. At this writing, however, the plan is not yet put into execution.

In spite of the large number of adherents the Buddhists claim to possess in the islands it is highly doubtful if they are achieving much in the world of the spirit. It seems to be the universal opinion among the Japanese of the educated class that the Buddhist priests are in Hawaii mainly for their own material gain. They seem to be concerned chiefly with the collection of offerings from their parishioners. If a priest stays in Hawaii four or five years, he usually amasses what he considers a competence. Unlike American missionaries in the foreign fields these Buddhist priests are not paid from their headquarters in Japan. All Buddhist missions are self-supporting, and the priests in charge of them get what stipend they can make out of the votive offerings of their parishoners. In Hawaii I noticed each priest had five or six camps in his charge. In the evening he goes out on a pony and pays a visit to the camp, where he says a few comforting words to the labourers and recites the stereotyped sutras, and receives offerings from his pious audience. As he visits all camps alternately, one each evening, his evenings are pretty well occupied, repeating sermons and collecting offerings.

That the Japanese people are intensely religious there is no room to doubt, but that they are in urgent need of sound guidance is also evident. The corruption of the Buddhist hierarchy in Japan is proverbial. The Hongwan-ji temple at Kyoto is the hotbed of financial troubles and factional feuds. Water cannot rise above its source, and it is small wonder that the Buddhist priests, with a

few notable exceptions, are men without inspiration or ideals. It is very well for Hongwan-ji to send priests abroad, but unless its system and methods of propaganda are completely reformed, the presence of such priests in such countries as Hawaii can do more harm than good. The erecting of temples and the maintenance of the priests entail no small financial burden on the plantation hands. That the burden is borne cheerfully and willingly is no justification of the imposition. Up to the time of the Japanese strike of 1909 the Japanese labourers had already contributed $100,000 for the erection of Buddhist temples alone. When I was in Hawaii in 1912 the Buddhists had just decided to build a new temple at Honolulu at a cost of $100,000. Not only have the Japanese in Hawaii to bear such heavy burdens, but they are even required to make occasional contributions to Hongwan-ji at Kyoto. A few years ago a special emissary of Hongwan-ji came to Hawaii and collected $50,000 for a festival which was to be held in Kyoto. The emissary, encouraged by his unexpected success in Hawaii, came to California with the intention of collecting more contributions from the Japanese there. But here he met his Waterloo, for the Japanese on the Coast proved far more clear-sighted and well-informed than their brothers in Hawaii. The Japanese newspapers there raised a storm of protest against him, and the envoy had to leave San Francisco under very awkward circumstances.

On the mainland, too, the Christians have strong rivals in Buddhists. In Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Fresno, and Los Angeles, the Buddhists have established respectable headquarters which are used both as places of worship and as dormitories for Japanese young men.

In San Francisco they are also planning to erect a building

much larger than those in the other cities. If the purpose of the Buddhists were to propagate the teachings of Buddha, pure and simple, the American people, I am sure, would have little to complain of. Much to our regret, we find some of the Buddhist priests are inclined to link Buddhism with patriotism to Japan, knowing that this method of propaganda appeals to the ignorant masses. I do not see why the Japanese Buddhists could not be broad-minded enough, and clear-sighted enough, to see the folly of such a policy. Out of my sincere respect for their character and ideals I prefer to believe that the Buddhist leaders themselves are absolutely innocent, and positively disapprove such unscrupulous means as have been resorted to by their followers. It is also regrettable that the Buddhists keep aloof from the Christians and apparently have no desire to coöperate with them. Perhaps the Christians themselves are to blame. Both Christianity and Buddhism, however different from each other in essential teachings, aim at the promotion of the spiritual well-being of humanity. In the field of practical social reform, therefore, they ought to be coworkers, not antagonists. To bring this about both Christians and Buddhists must first of all abandon their narrow views of religion.

XIV

THE JAPANESE IN CANADA

IT

'T was more than forty years ago. A Japanese lad,

so the story runs, was building a boat at a hamlet

of fisherfolk not far from Nagasaki, the greatest port in Southern Japan. Now and then the young shipwright stopped plying his tools, and seemed absorbed in meditation. At last he muttered, “I must go!” and with these words he left his work. Why had he to go?And where?

The Mikado's Empire, having just been opened to foreign intercourse, was animated with an aspiration for higher knowledge and advanced arts. Even the young boat-builder could not escape the spirit of the times. He had seen in the harbour of Nagasaki many a gigantic vessel from Europe and America, of which the populace sang in a sense of mingled awe and curiosity:

“Thro' a black night of cloud and rain,
The Black Ship plies her way-
An alien thing of evil mien-
Across the waters grey.
Down in her hold, there labour men
Of jet black visage dread;
While fair of face, stand by her guns
Grim hundreds clad in red.
With cheeks half draped in shaggy beards,
Their glance fixed on the wave,
They seek our sun-land at the word
Of captain owlish-grave.

While loud they come—the boom of drums
And songs in strange uproar;
And now with flesh and herb in store,
They turn toward the Western shore.
And slowly floating onward go,

These Black Ships wave-tossed to and fro." The imposing presence of the “ Black Ship” inspired the young shipwright with an idea to go to the country whence she came and learn how those fair-visaged men with “shaggy beards” built such floating castles of the ocean. So Nagano—for such was his name—wended his way to Nagasaki, and there seeing the captain of one of the Black Ships, begged to be taken where the vessel came. The captain consented, and the steamer, a sort of tramp vessel, left Nagasaki with Nagano aboard.

An uneducated man, Nagano imagined that any country on the other side of the Pacific would be a great industrial country, manufacturing powerful engines and building mammoth vessels. He did not know that San Francisco was then an infant city, and that Seattle and Vancouver were scarcely on the map. It happened that Nagano's steamer after a tedious voyage cast anchor at a lonely hamlet on the west coast of Canada. Imagine his disappointment! There was no bustling factory, no hammering traffic, no thriving stores. Where was he to study the art of ship-building ?

Nagano was the first Japanese who trod the shores of British Columbia. At the time of his landing there were but a handful of white men in New Westminster and vicinity. The straggling village was hemmed in by thick primeval forests of cedar and hemlock. The only traffic which broke the sylvan solitudes was a sawmill operated by a Britisher named Alexander. Indians were

« AnteriorContinuar »