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第十一章 生活与文化 Chapter 11 Life and Culture
[佛教徒信仰的是什么 What Buddhists Believe?] [点击:1107]   [手机版]

Part Four

Human Life in Society

第四篇 人类的生活与社会

Chapter 11 Life and Culture

第十一章 生活与文化

Traditions, Customs and Festivals


Buddhism is open to traditions and customs provided they are not harmful to the welfare of others.

The Buddha advised us not to believe in anything simply because it is the traditional custom. However, we are not advised to suddenly do away with all traditions. 'You must try to experiment with them and put them thoroughly to test. If they are reasonable and conducive both to your happiness and to the welfare of others, only then should you accept and practise these traditions and customs.' (Kalama Sutta) This is certainly one of the most liberal declarations ever made by any religious teacher. This tolerance of other's traditions and customs is not known to some other religionists. These religionists usually advise their new converts to give up all their traditions, customs and culture without observing whether they are good or bad. While preaching the Dhamma, Buddhist missionaries have never advised the people to give up their traditions as long as they are reasonable. But the customs and traditions must be within the framework of religious principles. In other words, one should not violate the religious precepts in order to follow one's traditions. If people are very keen to follow their own traditions which have no religious value at all, they can do so provided that they do not practise these traditions in the name of religion. Even then, such practices must be harmless to oneself and to all other living creatures.






《卡拉马经Kalama Sutta》


Rites and Rituals


These are included within customs and traditions. The rites and rituals are an ornamentation or a decoration to beautify a religion in order to attract the public. They provide a psychological help to some people. But one can practise religion without any rites and rituals. Certain rites and rituals that people consider as the most important aspect of their religion for their salvation are not considered as such in Buddhism. According to the Buddha, one should not cling to such practices for his spiritual development or mental purity.




Genuine and sincere Buddhists do not observe Buddhist festivals by enjoying themselves under the influence of liquor and merry-making or holding feasts by the slaughtering of animals. The true Buddhists observe festival days in an entirely different manner. On the particular festival day, they would devote their time to abstaining from all evil. They would practise charity and help others to relieve themselves from their suffering. They may entertain friends and relatives in a respectable way.


The festivals that have been incorporated with religion sometimes could pollute the purity of a religion. On the other hand a religion without festivals can become very dull and lifeless to many people. Usually children and youths come to religion through religious festivals. To them the attraction of a religion is based on its festivals. However, to a mediator, festivals can become a nuisance.


Of course, some people will not be satisfied with religious observances only during a festival . They naturally like to have some sort of merry-making and outward show. Rites, rituals, ceremonies, processions and festivals are organized to quench that thirst for emotional satisfaction through religion. No one can say that such practices are wrong, but devotees have to organize those ceremonies in a cultured manner, without causing a nuisance to others.


Buddhism and Women


A female child may prove even to be a better offspring than a male.


Women's position in Buddhism is unique. The Buddha gave women full freedom to participate in a religious life. The Buddha was the first religious Teacher who gave this religious freedom to women. Before the Buddha, women's duties had been restricted to the kitchen; women were not even allowed to enter any temple or to recite any religious scripture. During the Buddha's time, women's position in society was very low. The Buddha was criticized by the prevailing establishment when He gave this freedom to women. His move to allow women to enter the Holy Order was extremely radical for the times. Yet the Buddha allowed women to prove themselves and to show that they too had the capacity like men to attain the highest position in the religious way of life by attaining Arahantahood. Every woman in the world must be grateful to the Buddha for showing them the real religious way of living and for giving such freedom to them for the first time in world history.


A good illustration of the prevailing attitude towards women during the Buddha's time is found in these words of Mara:


'No woman, with the two-finger wisdom (narrow)which is hers, could ever hope to reach those heights which are attained only by the sages.'

Undoubtedly, the Buddha was vehement in contradicting such attitude. The nun (bhikkhuni) to whom Mara addressed these words, gave the following reply:

'When one's mind is well concentrated and wisdom never fails, does the fact of being a woman make any difference?'

King Kosala was very disappointed when he heard that his Queen had given birth to a baby girl. He had expected a boy. To console the sad King, the Buddha said:

'A female child, O Lord of men, may prove

Even a better offspring than a male.

For she may grow up wise and virtuous,

Her husband's mother reverencing, true wife,

The boy that she may bear may do great deeds,

And rule great realms, yes, such a son

Of noble wife becomes his country's guide,'

(Samyutta Nikaya)




The Buddha has confirmed that man is not always the only wise one; woman is also wise.


Nowadays many religionists like to claim that their religions give women equal rights. We only have to look at the world around us today to see the position of women in many societies. It seems that they have no property rights, are discriminated in various fields and generally suffer abuse in many subtle forms. Even in western countries, women like the Suffragettes had to fight very hard for their rights. According to Buddhism, it is not justifiable to regard women as inferior. The Buddha Himself was born as a woman on several occasions during His previous births in Samsara and even as a women He developed the noble qualities and wisdom until He gained Enlightenment or Buddhahood.


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