We are amid a global pandemic and half a million lives had been lost. People
are scared but there it’s no known cure. Various religious leaders had been
praying for the pandemic to stop but seemingly, with little success.
In rural India, a new religious practice had been born. The worship of
Corona Mai. Goddess Corona. Uneducated women dug a small pit and filled it with
water. Sang hymns and made offerings of flowers to this new goddess.
They pray that the angry goddess will be appeased by devotional hymns and
offerings. They hope that Corona will spare them from death and illnesses. In
times of a crisis and man is feeling helpless, we turn our minds towards an
important emotion. HOPE.
We create an imaginary authoritative figure to cope with the stress of survival.
We pray to a God or Goddess and we hope for the best outcome. We resign our
fate to an imaginary being and believe there is some meaning to the sufferings
we see. There must be some divine plan or justice at work. Those who died must
have a reason for it. A divine order of being that ordinary man cannot comprehend.
If an educated and enterprising religious leader decides to create a
movement, a new religion might be born! Imagine the amount of money and
offerings to be gained. Are you interested in becoming the chief priestess of
What did Buddha teach?
Foremost, everything is a creation of our mind. In this instance, mankind
created the goddess. In the past, a span of 500 years would make Corona Mai
mysterious because there was no paper to record what happened. Fortunately, we
have records now and we won’t forget how Corona Mai was created in rural India.
Buddha taught that things come into existence through a series of causes and
effects. Just like using friction to make fire, fire comes into existence
through our actions. That is what karma means. The pandemic we see today is the
result of the collective actions by politicians, clueless doctors and scientists,
stubborn civilians, and various other cumulating factors. Buddhist call this
Instead of inventing a Goddess to deal with the stress of survival, Buddha
taught us how to manage our stress by caring for our minds. Our attachment to
life creates a fear for death. That fear is suffering. Through mind training,
we learn to see how our minds work and we get rid of bewilderment. We develop
Once we have wisdom, we react to the situation with wisdom. We practice
hygiene and avoid crowds. We stay home to protect ourselves. We wear a mask.
Unfortunately, such a wise approach for managing a crisis may not be agreeable
to everyone. Some people prefer to cope with the stress of survival by
believing in a supernatural being. (Corona Mai) People in educated first world
countries still insist on gathering at places of worship. Why? Because some God
/ Goddess must be angry.
Now let us consider the worship of Corona Mai. Initially, they offer flowers
to Corona Mai and if that does not help, they may offer something more
significant. Perhaps offer another life and hopefully, Corona Mai will be
satisfied. Tada! We have animal sacrificial in honoring Corona Mai. If that
fails, we offer something more significant? Human sacrifice? It happened in
antiquity and I hope it doesn’t happen again.
What if ‘Buddhist’ wants to pray too? Our compassionate Buddha and Dharma
masters do not leave anyone behind. If that is how people cope with their fear,
let us teach them accordingly. That is the Mahayana way. We can design meaningful
rituals that awaken their minds gradually. However, let us try to guide them
away from unskilful acts such as animal sacrifice. Maybe a Corona Bodhisattva?
Why not, since everything is a creation of our mind.
If you had been reading my blog, you might recall a story of how a Thai
forest monk ‘tricked’ a village of uneducated people into practicing meditation.
May all be well and happy.