this buddhist rants

So THE Reverend passed away, right? Was rather sad and all, but then that’s the cycle of life.

A few people (thanks people) sent me a link to a Buddhist website which is quite informative, got lots of news and articles, all the Buddhism-buddhism stuff. Good on them for propagating the Dharma using the Internet.

But then there was this series of photographs of the Reverend’s funeral, which was supposedly not altered in any way. And one of the focus of the series was ‘balls of light’ surrounding the funeral, particularly at the cremation site. Fuwah, damn miracle all these balls of light, suddenly coming out of nowhere, must be associated with the Reverend ‘cos he was so enlightened and all, will enhance your faith in Buddhism with these miraculous sightings etc.

Some supposedly even saw the Reverend’s spirit being ‘taken to the havens’ by other Bodhisattvas. Their eyesight must have been damn on.

Right, I know it’s a case of wanting to believe what you want to believe. I suppose it doesn’t do any harm, little things like this, as long as you don’t take them too seriously in your path to learning Buddhism. But one thing lah… if the Reverend was still alive, he would have told you to shove it [voluntarily censored by Suanie]. Well maybe in a nicer way.

Back to basics — what is a Buddhist? Someone who take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Senang je aku nak cakap ‘cos in conventional manners, I am the least Buddhist of all Buddhists. Oddly enough, Buddhism saved me (insert teenage wayward sob story here). So I consider myself a Buddhist. Some people won’t because judging by this blog, nay even this very blog entry, I consciously did not observe the Eight Noble Paths (right speech lah, what else).

But I am confident enough to know what to believe and what not to believe. For instance, I don’t really believe that when Gautama Buddha was born, he walked 7 steps, each step blossoming into a full bloom lotus after him. Sure, I studied all that when I was younger, you can’t miss this chapter if you are reading about the Buddha’s life. But it seems that miracles are all it takes to convince the layman that yes, this religion works, that religion works, bla bla. I do believe in miracles, as there are many unexplainable things in this world, but not to the extent of pacifying the layman, to strengthen your faith, etc. Even Jesus got fed up with healing the sick because he knew that it was a cheap way to ask people to believe in you, your teachings. You do get a lot of half-past-six faithfuls everywhere, but who am I to judge, I am probably no better than them in other aspects, so as I was saying…

Buddhists. As a Buddhist (in the Theravada tradition) do not allow these things to influence your faith. Again I would like to quote Venerable Sujiva (whom I quoted in an earlier blog entry) from his book ‘Funny Monk’s Tales’:

So one day I asked the Venerable Dr K Sri Dhammananda what he thought of relic claims. He gave me a distant look and with bulging eyes said, “These are things concerning the devotional aspects of Buddhism. We do not need all these to study and practise the Dhamma.”

That jolted me up a bit. So it’s not so important after all. It’s true, as the Buddha himself said: “He who sees my teachings sees me.” What is important is that we follow the Buddha’s exhortation and practise the Dhamma. So the Venerable Dhammananda’s answer was a good one but I wonder how I can get the message across to those people who still get frenzied over relics. Ah, faith, good faith, you should always come with wisdom, otherwise it can be dangerous.

Change the ‘relics’ to ‘balls of light’ and you get the same context. I recently met up with my friend-turned-Buddhist-monk Bhante Sumana and discussed this with him. Well, more like 5 lines, 3 of which were, “we don’t believe in these things, we dont’ need to believe in these things”, “maybe ‘cos it was going to rain” and “I was there at the funeral, didn’t see no deity!!!”. You get the idea.

But then, I understand that faith works differently for everyone. The Reverend was a great, selfless man, some people may choose to glorify him slightly more than others. Fine. But I just hope that with all his contributions to society at large, all his hard work and efforts in emphasizing the importance of racial harmony, all his publications that stated the same thing over and over again that the Buddha is within you… would be a damn waste to have all that overshadowed by ‘balls of light’.

Comments

  1. I think I am an even lesser Buddhist than you are, but I still consider myself one nonetheless..

  2. It’s easier to get wrapped up the devotional and physical rather than actually pursue true spirituality. Because honestly, that is a very lonely path, and also fairly boring given the temptations of the physical.

    Chasing after relics is the same as people throwing money at ‘charity’ because someone printed a banner or held a concert. It’s just mindlessly and superficially pacifying the guilty thought that one should be doing something to ‘be a better person’.

  3. or in other words… blah blah… blah blah…

  4. Wei Loong says:

    somehow i feel proud that we have young buddhist like u!!!wondering if u have any intrest in doing same more buddhist work!!!

  5. I’m not dissing anyone but… these things ‘myseteriously’ happen when religious leaders pass on… there are followers who will ‘have’ these visions.

    Some of them are pretty outrageous la.. it’s as if there was a “Z’hng my messiah” syndrome. People see what they want to see la kan? But his works during his life is what should be important, not this ‘miracle of ascension’ stuff.

    No offense intended, and I used messiah because I couldn’t be arsed to be politically correct.

  6. hehe. and I didn’t even have to remind you. :)

  7. eh, did we go to the same *sunday school* in brickfields ah?

    ok, nvm that.

    But the sad thing about these buddhism and taoist thing is that most malaysians confused them both.

    And to most chinese that says they are buddhist, it’s really a fine line for them between what they preaches and follow! (ie read: taoist)

  8. just to correct you- Jesus did not get fed up healing the sick and so on.

  9. I’m confused. When did Buddhists become Christian-like and start believing in micracles?

  10. Maybe it’s just like some source of motivation… a photo or a monument. Must see the bone then take effort to see the teaching and finally beable to see the Lord (Can I called him Lord because his wisdom is far more superior then mine and not because I own him something?).

  11. steveneleven says:

    John is right, Jesus did not get fed up la. He just dun wanna do miracles for the sake of it.. like turning a chicken into a swan. Or fry a chicken without fire and oil. But he did turn water into fine wine, he is so cool I wanna bring him to my parties! All I have to order is water. Stupe is correct on that we confused on buddhism and taoism or confucious teachings. Many of the things I do, like paying respect to the dead, light joss stick are all not buddhism I think. Buddhism is like a way of like, the way of the JEDI. AM I right?

  12. if you take a couple thousand pictures, there bound to be some with weird exposure or artifacts..

  13. oh and if you pray to the medicine budda you WILL have smooth translucent skin…. oh… om…. saddhu saddhu saddhu….

    yah right… no wonder I’ve been putting on weight… i see maitreya almost everyday.

  14. Suertes: I consider myself hot also, so there you go :P

    IB: unfortunately thatÂ’s the path most choose to follow. well to each his own. but sometimes they all piss me off :D IÂ’m sure I piss them off also lah :D bla bla bla

    Wei Loong: I am doing Buddhist work right here right now mah :D Just doing it my way ;)

    julianME: zÂ’hng my messiah hahahahahhah you damn funny :P

    FA: yeah yeah nyeh

    stupe: no lah cos I went to the one in BP, and it was Saturday. The Brickfields activities were too ‘serious’ for me :P well can’t blame them about the taoism part lah.. movies and culture. mahayana buddhism also a lot of chinese culture ingrained what. so long they are happy :D

    John: my bad, poor choice of words :) did you get my point though? :)

    mad: miracles are not restricted to christianity.. all religions got some sort of mystical touch to them. everybody needs somebody.. or something to hold on to.

    beefstew: if they really need it like that, then.. oh well give them the bone lah! :P maybe i am the one being anal ‘cos not everyone thinks like me.

    steven11: the dharma is the middle path. itÂ’s ok to pay respect to the dead, after all itÂ’s filial piety and you belong to the culture you live in etc etc blah blah. got some symbolism stuff also, but essentially things to do with respect.

    KY: jesus toast, anyone?

    ahseng: dangerous bro… hahahha though there is a thin version of maitreya, theravada tradition not the mahayana tradition one :D

  15. steven11 – heheh…way of Jedi eh? What does that maketh Lord Vader? Confusious? hehhehe…

    Suanie – Yeap, the one in Brickfields a bit hardcore la…doesn’t help with one of the student in class think he is mr. president and keep going all out to suck up on everyone. Going for the class is my only way to get out from the boarding school over the weekend. :)

  16. Yes, George Lucas based…Jedi-ism on Buddhism.

  17. Talking about Buddhism, Gautama Buddha actually said to his disciples that his Dharma will not be effective after 500 years he passed away. That is why we call this period the Dharma Ending Period.

    Reasons for his comments is mainly due to the changes in the world and to human society as it become very complex and complicated.

    However, I would like to inform those who are predestined to be enlightened to look at the following website:

    http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/download/publications/enlighten_11.html and also http://www.sterling-campbell.com (look for activism)

    Thank you.

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