Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Superstition In Religion (宗教与迷信)

While Buddhism and Taoism are initially not superstitious, the folk cults derived from these traditional religions are. And these believes are pretty popular amongst the common folks even until today. Throughout Chinese history, the widespread of Buddhism and Taoism were mainly due to the blessings of the Chinese emperors. The Chinese emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋) was once a monk who has authored two works concerning a discussion on three religions  <三教论> and  a discussion on Buddhism and Taoism<释道论>.


Buddhism as a whole put much emphasis on 'emptiness' and 'Buddha nature' and certainly denies the existence of a sole creator. Hence it is unfounded to say Buddhism is superstition really.


The core of Taoism is mainly based on the philosophy of I Ching which again refers to Yin and Yang and how to unite with our nature. That too doesn’t worship any deities or statues.


Both of Buddhism and Taoism are indeed different with Christianity and other religions that worship only one God.


Even though both of Buddhism and Taoism are never close to superstitious, uneducated common folks continue to believe that there are ‘someone’ watching over them and that someone are gods and goddesses. In fact, these superstitious folks have ‘created’ many of the gods and goddesses from epics such as ‘Journey To The West’ (西游记).


Another example is a god known by the name 'The Lord Of Dark Heaven' (玄天上帝) was also known as 'the upper lord' (上天, 上帝). This character was very popular during the Ming and Qing Dynasties and its traces can still be seen in places where the Chinese communities congregated in Southeast Asia until today.


When Western missionaries came to old China, they systematically make use the name ‘upper lord’ (上帝) to spread Christianity amongst the unwary Chinese folks at that time. I would say that the trick worked pretty well too as Christianity was seen wide acceptance amongst the Chinese folks since then.


Hence my take is that superstitions enable a new religion to spread, and it is precisely superstitions that see the downfall of a religion. And magic (not stage magic) is merely based on superstitions!


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