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Is Buddhism Superstitious?

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  • NamoAmituofo
    ... For www.TheDailyEnlightenment.com ... Is Buddhism Superstitious? A widely accepted definition of superstition is that of a blindly followed belief
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 7, 2006
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      Is Buddhism Superstitious?



      A widely accepted definition of "superstition" is that of a "blindly followed belief unfounded on reason". If so, there are no room for superstition in Buddhism - since the spirit of Buddhism is itself anti-superstitious. The Buddha himself strongly encouraged the questioning of the questionable. He himself challenged traditional beliefs which were passed down from generation to generation - such as the truthfulness and usefulness of the unfair caste system - which enforces inequality of rights upon humankind.

      Yet, inevitably, with the passing of time and the mixing of social cultural beliefs, some traditional superstitions seep into pure Buddhist teachings and practices (as with any other religion's case), intertwining with them. It is thus a continual task to be mindful of, and to sieve away these superstitions and keep them at bay - while upholding the true Buddhist teachings through study and practice.

      It is sometimes thought that Buddhist prayer is superstitious or irrational - but this is not true. It would be downright superstitious if one believes that mere prayer alone will create the instant cause for every desire to be fulfilled, and for all troubles to be resolved. However, if one understands the law of karma (moral cause and effect), and that prayer is not only to beseech the enlightened for divine instant solutions, it would not be superstitious.

      One should realise that personal efforts to increase one's wisdom (through learning and practice of the Buddha's teachings) are also needed to solve one's problems. In fact, when Buddhists pray, they are also supposed to remind themselves of the Buddha's teachings - this can be done through chanting of the scriptures and calming of the mind for mindful reflection. Most of the solutions to our troubles in mind were already given by the Buddha in his 45 years of extensive teaching! 

      The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are always willing to help all beings, but are unable to when we do not help ourselves adequately at first. To be helped, we need to deserve to be helped - to have sufficient good intentions and karma. Thus is the practice of helping others with compassion and sincerity important - for the readily helpful are always planting karmic seeds to be readily helped. Prayer is thus usually only one of the conditions that make the fruition of a desired result possible. That said, there are also many true life accounts of miraculously answered prayers! When the conditions are ripe in the moment, this simply happens!

      - Shen Shi'an

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