Q. But did not Christ himself pray and recommend prayer?

A. It is so recorded, but those "prayers" are precisely of that kind of communion just mentioned with one's "Father in secret." Otherwise, and if we identify Jesus with the universal deity, there would be something too absurdly illogical in the inevitable conclusion that he, the "very God himself" prayed to himself, and separated the will of that God from his own!

Q. One argument more; an argument, moreover, much used by some Christians. They say,

I feel that I am not able to conquer any passions and weaknesses in my own strength. But when I pray to Jesus Christ I feel that he gives me strength and that in His power I am able to conquer.

A. No wonder. If "Christ Jesus" is God, and one independent and separate from him who prays, of course everything is, and must be possible to "a mighty God." But, then, where's the merit, or justice either, of such a conquest? Why should the pseudo-conqueror be rewarded for something done which has cost him only prayers? Would you, even a simple mortal man, pay your laborer a full day's wage if you did most of his work for him, he sitting under an apple tree, and praying to you to do so, all the while? This idea of passing one's whole life in moral idleness, and having one's hardest work and duty done by another-whether God or man-is most revolting to us, as it is most degrading to human dignity.

Q. Perhaps so, yet it is the idea of trusting in a personal Savior to help and strengthen in the battle of life, which is the fundamental idea of modern Christianity. And there is no doubt that, subjectively, such belief is efficacious; i.e., that those who believe do feel themselves helped and strengthened.

A. Nor is there any more doubt, that some patients of "Christian" and "Mental Scientists"-the great "Deniers"-are also sometimes cured; nor that hypnotism, and suggestion, psychology, and even mediumship, will produce such results, as often, if not oftener. You take into consideration, and string on the thread of your argument, successes alone. And how about ten times the number of failures? Surely you will not presume to say that failure is unknown even with a sufficiency of blind faith, among fanatical Christians?

Q. But how can you explain those cases which are followed by full success? Where does a Theosophist look to for power to subdue his passions and selfishness?

A. To his Higher Self, the divine spirit, or the God in him, and to his Karma. How long shall we have to repeat over and over again that the tree is known by its fruit, the nature of the cause by its effects? You speak of subduing passions, and becoming good through and with the help of God or Christ. We ask, where do you find more virtuous, guiltless people, abstaining from sin and crime, in Christendom or Buddhism-in Christian countries or in heathen lands? Statistics are there to give the answer and corroborate our claims. According to the last census in Ceylon and India, in the comparative table of crimes committed by Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Eurasians, Buddhists, etc., etc., on two millions of population taken at random from each, and covering the misdemeanors of several years, the proportion of crimes committed by the Christian stands as 15 to 4 as against those committed by the Buddhist population. No Orientalist, no historian of any note, or traveler in Buddhist lands, from Bishop Bigandet and Abbé Huc, to Sir William Hunter and every fair-minded official, will fail to give the palm of virtue to Buddhists before Christians. Yet the former (not the true Buddhist Siamese sect, at all events) do not believe in either God or a future reward, outside of this earth. They do not pray, neither priests nor laymen. "Pray!" they would exclaim in wonder, "to whom, or what?"

Q. Then they are truly Atheists.

A. Most undeniably, but they are also the most virtue-loving and virtue-keeping men in the whole world. Buddhism says: Respect the religions of other men and remain true to your own; but Church Christianity, denouncing all the gods of other nations as devils, would doom every non-Christian to eternal perdition.

Q. Does not the Buddhist priesthood do the same?

A. Never. They hold too much to the wise precept found in the Dhammapada to do so, for they know that,

If any man, whether he be learned or not, consider himself so great as to despise other men, he is like a blind man holding a candle-blind himself, he illumines others.