Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
'People ridicule the superstitions of
others, while cherishing their own.'
All ailments have
cures but not superstitions. And if for some reason or other, any
superstition crystallizes into a religion, it easily becomes an almost
incurable malady. In the performance of certain religious functions, even
educated people of today forget their human dignity to accept the most
ridiculous, superstitious beliefs.
Superstitious beliefs and
rituals were adopted to decorate a religion in order to attract the
multitude. But after sometime, the creeper which is planted to decorate
the shrine as it were, outgrows and outshines the shrine, with the result
that religious tenets are relegated to the background and superstitious
beliefs and rituals become predominant?the creeper eclipsing the shrine.
Like superstition dogmatic belief also
chokes the healthy growth of religion. Dogmatic belief and intolerance go
hand-in-hand. One is reminded of the Middle Ages with its pitiless
inquisitions, cruel murders, violence, infamy, tortures and burning of
innocent beings. One is also reminded of the barbaric and ruthless
crusades. All these events were stimulated by dogmatic beliefs in
religious authority and the intolerance resulting therefrom.
Before the development of
scientific knowledge, ignorant people had many superstitious beliefs. For
example a lot of people believed that the eclipse of the sun and moon
brought bad luck and pestilence. Today we know that such beliefs are not
true. Again some unscrupulous religionists encourage people to believe in
superstitions so that they can make use of their followers for their own
'benefit'. When people have truly purified their minds of ignorance, they
will see the universe as it really is and they will not suffer from
superstition and dogmatism. This is the 'salvation' that Buddhists aspire
It is extremely difficult for us to break
up the emotional feeling that is attached to superstition or dogmatic
belief. Even the light of scientific knowledge is often not strong enough
to cause us to give up the misconceptions. For example, we have noticed
for generations that the earth moves round the sun; but experientially we
still behold the sun rising, moving across the sky, and setting in the
evening. We still have to make an intellectual leap to imagine that we
are, in fact, hurtling at great speed around the sun.
We must understand that the dangers of
dogmatism and superstition go hand-in-hand with religion. The time has
come for wise people to separate religion from dogmatism and superstition.
Otherwise, the good name of religion will be polluted and the number of
non-believers will be increased, as they have already.
(End of this book)
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Update : 01-11-2002