I grew up in a culture full of superstitions and myths. When I sat, I was supposed to sit still and not shake my legs. It was said that I could lose my possessions if I were to shake my legs. Every major decision making and every major activity in my life had to be done on a certain day. It did not matter if it were that I was moving in or out or that I was suing someone, I had to look it up in the calendar to find the appropriate day for it. Every single day was optimum for a specific event. Most of the superstitions and myths in my culture derive their meaning from Buddhism, an Eastern and Central Asian religion. Sometimes, these beliefs can result in tragedies that bring sneer among the non-believers and unity within the body of the followers. One of the most cited unfortunate instances is related to the ability that Buddha has to cure the physically ill.
A child was suffering from bronchitis for a week, and instead of seeking medical assistance, the child's mother went to visit a temple nearby. She explained her child's condition to the monks and asked the monk Master to do something about it. The Master took the mother to a shrine in a back room and asked her to kneel before a small statue of Buddha. The mother listened in silence and followed with her heart to the Master's prayer. After the lengthy prayer, the Master scribbled on a small rectangular yellow sheet of paper. He ordered the mother to burn the paper, collect the ashes and make a cup of hot tea with the ashes for her child to drink. He also told her that her child would be jumping around in less than three days. The mother went home and did what the Master had ordered. After five days, the child was still in bed, so the mother went to visit the Master again. This time, he gave her a larger sheet of paper with more strange characters on it. A month passed by, the child's condition worsened and the mother was in great agony. The Master had told her that she was not religious nor faithful enough to plead to the Buddha to cure her child. Ironically, the mother refused her neighbor's advice to take her child to the doctor. She was confident that the Buddha would cure her child eventually. Days later, her child died.
In this true story we see how a false assumption, namely the belief that the Buddha has the ability to cure people, leads to tragedy. Who is to be blamed? People sometimes wonder why there are still so many "ignorant" and "blind" religious followers in this modern and scientific world. But who is to be blamed? Most of these superstitions, beliefs and myths are ingrained in my culture that people bide by them as if they were laws. People live with them and pass them down from generation to generation. So who is to be blamed? I am very proud that I lived in a culture which keeps traditions but when tragedies happen, I can only shake my head, but not my legs.
Last update: 5 June 2000