'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 to.
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)