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Society in general is better educated now than it has ever been in the past, but in spite of vast advances achieved in the field of scientific knowledge, many people still suffer from fear, suspicion and insecurity. The root cause of these states of mind stems from ignorance, uncertainty, and craving. Because of our ignorance of the non-existence of a permanent self, we believe in our ego and this belief gives rise to craving. We are filled with insatiable desires and fear of losing that we will face ‘bad luck’.
So what do we do? We turn instinctively to our animistic past and depend on special talismans and amulets (eg. The Jatukarm Ramathep talisman) to protect us. The Buddha has clearly stated that external objects are not strong enough to protect those whose minds are weak and confused. Our only security is to take refuge in our knowledge of the truth and in our realization of the true nature of the self and other phenomena. Once we understand that there is no reality in a self that can be harmed, we become secure and confident. No harm can come to him who is unafraid, or unselfish.
However, it does not mean that Buddhism condemns the use of certain religious objects like a pendant of the Buddha image to give us a sense of security. Many great men had found solace and comfort by contemplating on the serene and calm image of the Buddha. The first Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru said that when he was imprisoned by the British, his only source of comfort was a tiny Buddha image, which he had with him.
Of course, the image itself had no magical power. But what it symbolized was the great qualities of the Buddha who had himself remained calm and unaffected by the attacks made against him by his enemies and it was this symbol that reminded Nehru of his own strength with which he could face adversity calmly.
We too can carry images of the Buddha or inscriptions of the sutras around with us to give us confidence. Many sutras end with the invocation: “By the power of this truth, may victory be mine” or “may happiness be mine.” This shows that as Buddhists we do not believe in the animistic power of images or talismans, but that they are to be regarded as mere aids, which could help us to gain confidence in ourselves.
In the same way, some Buddhists also go to temples, to collect bottles of holy water and pieces of string over which the sutras have been recited with great concentration. These also give psychological strength and confidence to the user because they remind him of the truth which was uttered in the sutras and which recall the words of the Buddha.
This is based on “Buddhism For The Future, “by Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda.
Photos for a comment below. Buddha statues representing the day that you were born.