How to Perceive a Religion

发布日期:2017-07-14   字体大小:   


I am of the opinion that a religion must be surveyed from two perspectives. One is its central tenets, and the other the collective behavior of its followers. Politicians tend to examine and evaluate a religion from the perspective of collective behavior of its followers, though the central tenets of a religion function actually as its soul. The optimal way to appropriately assess a religion is survey it from the two perspectives specified above. Nowadays the prevailing method for making a survey of a religion is conduct an investigation of piety (or religious devotion and reverence) shown by the followers of a religion. But piety is, as a matter of fact, appreciably conditioned by factors such as the intellectuality, psychology, morality on the part of an individual follower. The specific intellectuality, psychology, and morality of a follower can bear tellingly on his or her piety. Therefore piety varies considerably from one follower to another. For example, the piety towards Gautama Buddha shown by an aged countrywoman is bound to be quite different from that by a professor teaching at a university. In China, sects are numerous in the realm of Buddhism. This may be, in a sense, attributed to the discrepancy in piety between the bodies of followers of different sects. It cannot be denied that into part of the religious practices and rites of a religion in China is incorporated superstition. Such traces of superstition are, generally speaking, occasioned by the low level of intellectuality and morality in part of both the clergy and the laity. The low level of intellectuality and morality is the greenhouse for engendering superstition. People—clerical or secular—in this category are the very “agents” to introduce superstition into a religion. Without such “agents”, the “Falungong” would not have been able to rise on China’s political horizon. Emergence of superstition in a religion is closely associated not only with a retarded development of civilization in a given region but also with the intellectual, moral, and psychological caliber of the followers in that region. But emergence of superstition in a religion has nothing to do with its tenets or doctrines. A very careful study of the central tenets of a religion can definitely show that a religion is intrinsically opposed to superstition. And it is no exaggeration to say that a religion would inevitably lead the masses to transform themselves into a kindhearted and moral type. Moreover a religion helps the masses improve their intellectuality. (From My Heart My Buddha)