chapter  XIX
Pages 6

The ritual may therefore be viewed from two distinct standpoints. First­ ly, it will be considered from that of the Buddhist or Taoist Chinese, whose desire is to reform their ancient faiths without destroying their historical con­ tinuity . To such men the ritual stands ready and needs hardly any alteration. It is but little corrupted by the wilder superstitions of the more ignorant Buddhists and Taoists. All that is really required is to attach to it a few brief lectures showing that it is an allegory, and what that allegory means. If some Chinese Sage should arise with this object in view, and should find that these volumes have enabled him to draw up such lectures, the writing of them by the authors will not have been in vain. It is a task well worth the attention of some learned Chinese, and of the whole-hearted support of the educated classes in China. There is no greater catastrophe for any nation than to break abruptly the line of its historic development. The traditions of the past are invaluable, and though China has many lessons to learn from the Western world her own traditions and teachings should not lightly be thrown aside. If any such step is to be taken two conditions are essential. Men of position and education must be prepared to enter the Society, and recapture it from the type of man who, in some parts of the world, now controls the Lodges, and the other factor is that all matters of politics should be rigidly eschewed. The Society will never be re-established on a firm basis so long as politics enter into its composi­ tion in any way. To many patriotic Chinese it must seem an attractive pro­ position to try and re-establish the reputation of the Society by developing it as a patriotic organisation, which should set before itself the task of reviving the sense of nationality and reuniting China as one solid State. But this is a dangerous task, for the inevitable result, as previous experience has shown, will be that the Society will find itself compelled to use its influence against some section of the community, whom its members consider are not acting patriotically. Opinions may legitimately differ as to whether a certain line of action is, or is not, calculated to benefit the whole nation, and thus sooner or later the Society would be bound to become an instrument of party politics.