The Root of Superstitions

Superstition is a common symptom that scholars often criticize, while the government is trying to stop. Regardlessly, it is still increasing and widely spreading. Even in the most civilized countries, there are quite numbers of superstitious people. How come?

First, we should know what superstition is. Superstition is a belief in no truth or wisdom. Some examples are channeling, fortune-telling, lucky or unlucky days, fate of wealth and poor, rites, etcThese types of believes are unreasonable, unjustified, and unbeneficial. That is why it's called "Superstition."

The Root Of Superstition

Superstition does not casually exist, but from a basic origin. There are two roots:

  1. From an implorative mind

    Typically, people easily become superstitious when their desires are beyond their ability. An example would be a person who wants to get a loan to open a business, but not sure of how good the business will be; He feels frustrated and worried because no one is able to help him making a right decision. Suppose at that moment he is told that there is a psychic or a channeller, who could do an accurate prediction, he definitely will head there. For several hundred "Dong" (Vietnamese currency) to know the answer is quite a pleasure. In some cases, even school students would spend time to consult with the oracles for the result of their future examinations. It also happens in politics where a candidate would seek for a support from an astrologist for his election. There are more similar situations that people have become superstitious because of a lack of self-confidence.

  2. From a fearful mind

    Fear is the origin of all types of superstitions.

    There is a family that had lost three members, one after another. They became so panic, so they asked for a talisman from the wizards so that they won't be the next one in the row. Obviously, the fear is the cause of their superstitious behaviors. More stories out there such as repetitious accidents, serious illnesses, and others, which come from the same cause. Overall, all kinds of fear are the root of superstitions.

    As a human, everyone has wishes and fear. Once these two things exist, definitely superstition will arise. Despite how high educated or intellectual a person is, he/she can still be superstitious if in his/her mind there is fear or imploration. Ironically, we are the same when we criticize others for being superstitious. Because part of human nature is greed and fear, people tend to rely on superstitious power on their search for peace and satisfactions. Superstition is humans' congenital ailment. In order to treat it, we need a holly physician and miraculous medicines.

Buddha's Teaching, A Medication For Superstitions

Buddha is a holly physician and his dharmas are the miraculous medications. If anyone believes in Buddha and takes his medication for his/her superstitious symptom, for sure he/she will be healed. There are two Buddhist dharmas for this healing purpose:

The Law of Cause and Effect

The Law of "Cause and Effect" is a truth and natural concept that people would rarely think about. People always want the effect that is uncommensurated to the cause such as wishing for something beyond their achievements. A lack of self-confidence, worriness, and unreasonable wish will make them become superstitious. They should understand that all effects, either good or bad, successful or unsuccessful, are caused by their deeds. Also, they should aware that no effect occurs coincidentally from somewhere, but it is a result from a clear mind and diligent works. If we keep making good deeds, the good will return to us for sure. It is just like when we want a sweet orange tree, we first have to find a seed from a sweet orange or transplant a branch from its tree. The next step is finding good soil to grow the seed, then fertilizing, watering, and caring it. If these steps are done properly, definitely we will get sweet oranges. There is no need for wishing or imploring, but the good results will come in the way that we want.

Again it's important to remember that everything in life (good/bad, successful / unsuccessful) is not self-existed or coming from anyone's blessing, but from a cause that we have made before. When all factors are there, the effect is established. We can't make things come true as we wish or make them vanish as we want to get rid of them. It doesn't matter what the outcomes are, we have to accept them. We often are afraid of catastrophes, but not of the seeds that we had grown in the past. We pray to the guardians or the Buddha for their blessings, but we don't want to give out or help others around us. All bad causes will create bad effects and all good causes will create the good ones. Wishing for good effects without pursuing good causes is a useless work. Therefore, we should create good causes in our daily life, meantime, restrict ourselves from the bad.

The Law of "Cause and Effect" is not an ordinary subject and it varies in many forms from this life to subsequent lives. Knowing the deeds that we have made, we should courageously accept bad consequences without fear or grief. We should understand that if we are the ones who make the cause, then we should be the ones who receive the effects. Thus, there is no reason for us to implore or ask anyone else. It's important that we should be bright when making an action (cause/seed), then strive for the development of the good cause so that the effect will be in our hands easily.

By believing in the Law of "Cause and Effect," all superstitions will vanish and we will gain the control.

Three doors to emancipation

The three doors are "Emptiness, Formlessness, and Desirelessness." Whoever reaches to these three states will have a wisdom to be able to see the truth about humans and other existences - They have no true forms as they are made by a union of many casual elements. Base on the Law of "Causation," all existences are called "emptiness" because of their unreal forms. If they have real forms, then there is no union. We should try to find the real form in our human body. The Buddha had stated that it's a comprise of four elements: "earth, water, fire, and air." So if one is missing, the body will disintegrate. If one of them is the master (dominant element), then why is our body decayed when the other three are missing? Another issue is that could they be together when they are so much in conflict with each other? We have a responsibility to take care of them by choosing appropriate foods. Spiritually, our mind is the same as it's torn between good and bad thoughts. Which of the thoughts is the master (dominant) in the mind?

Therefore, when we say that it's my life, but what is the "I" or "my"? The "I" is an imagination, not a real self. From the aspect of "Selflessness" to "Formlessness," we can see that it makes a lot of sense. Because all beings don't have a real self, they don't have real form. Which are tangible to us are merely the false forms, which are comprised of many casual elements. Humans, other beings, and objects are unreal forms. In that the case, why should we pray for our satisfactions or be fear when our body is diminished?

From this point, it leads us to the concept of "Desirelessness." Understanding the body and other existences are unreal, we should have no fear of life and death, and no greed in luxuries. Also, there is no need for praying, pleading, or asking from any saint. We should use the wisdom to clear all superstitions like pouring boiled water on ice. These three doors to emancipation are the apex of the wisdom that help us to see profoundly the natures of human being (self) and all phenomenons. Clearly seeing their false identities will help us to liberate from dullness, obstinacies, and containment of greed in order to gain the true happiness. This is called an "emancipation."

In conclusion, superstition is a destruction of the society, which has created many people who are apprehensive, lacking of self-confidence, and have a dull mind. To wish for a healthy society, we can't accept superstition. In Buddhism, we have a duty to disseminate the Buddha's teaching of self-emancipation and enlightenment. So how can we be superstitious? Though, there are many Buddhist monks and nuns will suggest their followers to pray or plead when they have personal problems Doesn't matter how many problems there are, they will solve them all. Let's ask ourselves that are lighting up the torch or blowing off the torch of the Buddhist dharmas?