Sunday, November 15, 2009

What have Buddhists become?

I am just bewildered that many Buddhists are so ignorant that they could actually believe that gods could enter the bodies of humans and communicate to them. So these ignorant people places their hopes and faith on these mediums who could call upon these gods to possess their bodies and help these humans in their prayers. Then when the so-called gods enter the mediums, they behave strangely and go into a trance.

I am of the view that many of these cases of being possessed by gods, especially the higher gods, are not actually gods. They are more likely to be spirits or ghosts. So people should place their hopes more on Buddhas and Bodhosattavs and other Arya Beings.

I really cannot believe why people should seek favors from these spirits or ghosts? Is it easier to bribe them? Or they simply believe it is the actual god/goddess come from heaven into the body of this medium? I think people are too ignorant. Gods and goddess from heaven have a very bright, clean and pure bodies. They wouldn't want to enter human bodies which they consider as filthy. Some of these gods/goddesses are actually Arhats and great Bodhisattavs. hey donot go around possessing human bodies. Example are Kuan Yin (who is a Great Bodhisattva, not a goddess)and Ji Gong (who is an Arhat, not a god). But these 2 are also popular deities in Taoism. So, they and others become Taoist god/goddesses/spirits. Generally I think the Chinese population donot know how to distinguish what is a god/goddess (deva), a Bodhisattva, a ghost, a demon, an Arhat, etc.

We know it is not at all possible to bribe Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for any favours. Still I will always go to the Buddhas for any favours than to be granted favours by spirits/ghosts. And do you know why? It is because spirits/ ghosts and for that matter any non-enlightened beings (including humans) are susceptible to greed, hatred, jealousy and all ignorance-based emotions. Once you receive favours from them, you are forever at their mercy. If they are good spirits/ghosts, it is not that bad. But how are we to know if they will always be good? Just like humans, they can have a bad day and then we will get it from them. Moreoever, if we are granted our wish, another aspect of our life could possibly be taken away. It is like barter trade. With worldly beings, we get something only in exchange with something else. Our life or the life of our family members could become shorter if we are not careful with favours obtained from these less-than-perfect beings.

Hence for certain favours like asking for babies, asking for promotions, health, etc I will never ever advice anyone to pray to any being other than Arya Beings. Only the Arya Beings are not susceptible to greed, hatred and jealousy. I do offer incense to gods and spirits and even ghosts but I do not pray to them like I pray to the Buddhas and Great Bodhisattvas and other Holy Beings. It's different.

But then I donot blame Buddhists who have no dharma knowledge. But the fault lies with those people who know that it is wrong but still want to deceive the ignorant Buddhist public. The other day I went to this local temple. They are supposed to be Buddhist temple with Buddha statues on their altars and the nun wear the traditional Buddhist Sangha robes. However, on the other side of the hall the temple has an altar for gods and spirits. The nuns collect money from locals and uses paper money charms just like the popular Goddess of Mercy temple in Penang. What is not correct is when the nun conducts the prayers, she does not wear the ordination bhikkuni precepts sash but only wear the ceremonial robes. As far as I know, the proper thing to do is to wear the precepts sash especially when conducting prayers. I donot want to judge left-home persons, but I just want to know what are the chances of success of our prayers if the person conducting it donot have respect for their precepts sash. Also I have been taught that prayers have more chances of success if the prayed by a virtuous person. But it's okay, I will give the nun the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she still has some virtue. But these are the sort fo things people believe in nowadays. There are Buddha images there and they won't pray or offer to them, instead the fruits are offered to the ghost/spirits or devas or whatever the other statues were. From the perspective of a Buddhist like me, this was very strange. But the nun thee, obviously doesnot think it was. What has Buddhism and Buddhists become?

Compare this with another Buddhist abbot in Penang who always wear the Bhikku robes when performing prayers. And the temple never asks for specific sum of money for even their lamp lighting. Anyone can write their name on the piece of paper and put it on the altar. And it is up to you to donate how much you want/can afford. The abbot also don't want to know how much you will donate. He will just ask you to drop the money in the big wooden box in the prayer hall. Unfortunately there are not many of these kind of temples left. A lot of temples fixed a price tag nowadays. Must everything have a price tag? $10 for lamp lighting. $30 for this puja and $50 for that puja. And I don't blame them. That's the way economics work, I suppose. That's the way centers and temples do fundraising. Almost everyone's doing that. If everyone's doing it, it means it's correct, right? And if we do not agree with this way, we are considered not practising the paramita of generosity. LOL! Again, what have Buddhists become?

But what do I know? And what can I do? So I better keep my mouth shut. So you guys can ignore my ramblings.

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