This propaganda poster caught my attention and it is worth discussing.
Translated into English, the rhythmic verse in Chinese says
‘Wear your mask properly and Buddha’s infinite light will shine upon all. Chanting mantra and smudging the air by boiling vinegar is superstitious and non Buddhist.’
If you visit popular Buddhist temple in China, you will witness the strong resurgence of Buddhist worshippers. People generally believe in Buddha and worship him as a supreme deity or God. Protecting and blessing all worshippers alike.
Amongst these worshippers, there are some who practice Buddhism and perform Buddhist rituals.
In Mahayana scriptures, you will find verses that proclaim special benefits for faithfully chanting mantras and the name of Buddha.
For example, if you chant a particular mantra, then you will not be harmed by epidemic or plague.
Buddhist text are meant to be literally understood. There is no hidden messages. The Buddha taught openly and with compassion. Not in riddles.
Consequently, we have a type of Buddhist practitioners who are extremely strong in faith but lack right understanding.
They have a strong command of knowledge in rituals and mantras. They know what kind of rituals and mantra to recite for counteracting specific situations in life. Chant this to have wealth, chant that for heath and etc. They crave for supernatural experiences in life. They crave for favorable conditions and situations in life.
Unfortunately, they have absolutely no interest in Buddhist wisdom and nirvana. No interest whatsoever on the 4 noble truths and the eight fold path.
In this poster, it is apparent that many Chinese Buddhist in China give others the impression of being superstitious and ignorant. Preferring to engage in mystical practices rather than following conventional medical advices.
I believe in mysticism and miracles in Buddhism too. Our Buddhist scriptures and biographies of famous practitioners are filled with them.
So how do we reconcile our faith in Buddhist miracles and modern knowledge?
The scriptures never says to stop medical treatment or stop using our common sense or applying modern knowledge.
Not forgetting, our actions create new karma. If we choose not to wear a mask or neglect hygiene, we are creating karma too. The karma that promote the spread of viruses. It is like praying to be delivered from the suffering of fire and yet, on the other hand, we start new fire…..
That is not even being considerate of our fellow human beings. Not to mention compassion and loving kindness.
How can we expect ourselves to have the power of a Bodhisattva and weld a mantra effectively, if we cannot even be a good human being?
If we practice Buddhism with right understanding, we obtain wisdom.
Otherwise we only become superstitious fools.
May all be well and happy.