The Danger of Superstition #septemberchallenge

The danger of superstition is that we put our minds on hold when we follow it. In the words of the Indian philosopher, Swami Vivekananda, ‘If superstition enters, the brain is gone.’

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Vastu shastra is a traditional Hindu system of architecture. ‘Vastu‘ translates to mean ‘dwelling place’ and ‘shastra‘ translates as ‘doctrine, teaching’. As I understand it, ancient Indian manuals of architecture advocated that houses should be built to ensure that the five elements of earth, air, water, space and fire are accommodated in a particular way. The direction in which the whole house and each room within the house faces was specified keeping these elements in mind, much like the Chinese, feng shui.

While there might be some scientific basis to this doctrine,  whether it can be actually called a science is debatable.

Somewhere, around 25 years or so ago, vastu shastra was revived with a vengeance.  Several ‘experts’ began to earn big money in exchange for their views on how houses and buildings must be made ‘vastu-compliant‘. If that was not bad enough, people who are not doing well financially are told that the reason for their situation is that their homes or offices are not vastu-compliant! You now have people making crazy structural changes to their houses, selling them off for a song, or pulling them down and rebuilding them. Naturally, these ‘experts’ recommend architects and contractors, and get commissions out of them too!

Vastu shastra has now moved into becoming a superstitious practice followed out of fear.

Just recently, my brother got a frantic call from the tenant of the apartment he was renting out on behalf of an uncle. The man had paid the rental deposit and taken the keys to move in. Then his family told him he was bringing terrible bad luck on himself as the entrance door of the apartment does not face east! He told my brother, “I don’t believe in this, but I don’t want to take a chance.”

Two neighbours are fighting in court because one of them extended his apartment in such a way that the shape of the outer walls of the other’s apartment is no longer square and therefore not vastu-compliant!

I know of another family whose business was doing badly. They are very devout Catholics but also part of an evangelical movement. The priest heading this movement, advised them that their new home was not built in a good place. Naturally, the’Lord’ told him that they needed to build a new house (perhaps, he then recommended a contractor too!). The family moved out and built a new house. Soon after, they lost their son in a tragic accident, the mother developed cancer, and recently one son’s marriage broke up. I wonder how the family reconciles this in their mind and what the ‘Lord’ and his priest have to say now.

Are we clinging on to superstition so that we can find a cause for our suffering? Are we looking out for easy answers? Are allowing ourselves to be led by people who prey on our fears for their own gain?

 

It is not my intention to offend anyone with this post, so my apologies in advance. However, these are my views and I will stand by them.

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Linking into the #1Word Challenge hosted by Lisa Witherspoon and Janinie Huldie. Today’s prompts are : Tired / Superstion

 


70 Replies to “The Danger of Superstition #septemberchallenge”

  1. Wow, I know we all have our little superstitions, but that’s nuts! What an eye opener for sure! It’s sad to think people would allow their lives to be run by such foolishness. Great post!

  2. You know Corinne, I have been meaning to write a post on superstitions some time now. I have lived and experienced blind beliefs so much from the time I was born. My family, especially my mother’s side, all are blindly superstitious. It’s not just vastu, for eg. there is a belief which is followed blindly that on every 1st day of malayalam month whoever comes to our house first, our entire month will be affected by the stars of the person who came. My Aunt follows that so annoyingly. If by accident we go to her house on the 1st day of a malayalam month and if anything bad happens in their house that month, she shamelessly blames it on us. Like that, there are many many blind beliefs. I don’t even want to talk about astrology. My opinion it’s time to look at things rationally, rather than blaming on stars and which side we slept on. It’s a pure headache on many levels.

  3. Corinne,

    So, I love this! I’ve practiced “feng shui.” And, I think that so much of it is really about how we train our minds.

    Statistically, it simply does not make sense that the direction has to be x, or whatever.

    Now, I’ve found the most meaningful practices have been more because they make cleanliness and order easier.

    There is one belief that your door must be painted a certain red and your door must be easily accessible from the street.

    Now, I must say, I’ve never been happier since I’ve lived with a door not accessible from the street and sure it makes me wonder if this has anything to do with my web traffic! More likely, I can just enjoy the peace I have from not having random visitors and work on the traffic.

    But, I am sure if I brought in one of the 3 practitioners I have had over the last 2 decades, they’d blame it on that!

    I don’t see how that is helpful, if in fact, the security and peace I feel are so valuable, now that I am focusing on bringing traffic again, that is likely going to make it happen!

    P.S. I love how your comments embedd, it is really cool! Does your theme do that?

  4. For a state that is always proudly boasting of 100% literacy, you would be surprised how many indulge in this. And I’m not even going to sugar coat and say “just vaastu”.
    I have openly seen doctors, lawyers and some very successful business talk of how they have used black magic to a) ward off evil b) bring down others.
    It strikes me how education is entirely different from common sense sometimes. They talk of the “performers” as some of possessed beings with super powers, capable of seeing into anyone’s soul.
    It is like me asking you what Sachin Tendulkar feels right now and you look in the fire and say “yes, he is scared of your superior batting skills, Roshan” and i am appeased. That level of idiocy and yet, everyone believes in this.

    1. Isn’t it so scary, Roshan, when ‘education’ has no meaning in the face of blind superstition. I love your example of Sachin Tendulkar. How does hocus pocus make one feel so invincible? And what happens when tragedy and pain strikes, as it does in every life?
      Thank you for sharing.

      1. Zero accountability… even if things go wrong or not according to their prediction, there is always an excuse. “Someone did stronger black magic on you that is why my black magic to save you was not effective enough… so this time, lets go for a more expensive version”

        As I said, if I were to actually quote names and figures with events on the blog based on just the things I have seen, I probably would be “accidentally killed” within a fortnight. That is life. Being a doubter is a crime.

  5. I sometimes wonder if our soundbite culture has dumbed us down. It seems as though it’s easier for some to grab hold of something they hear as opposed to thinking through an issue.

  6. I would not let my religious beliefs drive my life and he decisions I take. Personally I am more of a Karma person. As you sow, so you reap. It will be foolishness to put the blame on some belief if I do bad karma.

  7. Unfortunately, superstitions are not definable or agreed upon by all. What I might think is quackery, you might believe. For example, my son is an atheist, I am a Christian. He thinks we are superstitious. So? It’s a hard topic to discuss except to certainly highlight that anything can get cultish and out of control.

  8. Feng shui is popular in various areas of the United States. I read a monthly newsletter that has a column by a practitioner where he takes questions from readers and answers them in his column. Some questions are really sad – one in particular was from a woman who wanted to ban anything “negative” in her home – she had pared down an extensive library to next to nothing because all the books were (somehow) “negative” and was asking the practitioner what else she should do. She didn’t even want to carry health insurance as the universe might think she was thinking negative thoughts. It was sad, and the practitioner, himself, tried to convince her in the column that she had gone way too far in her beliefs. I wonder if he succeeded in convincing her.

  9. I tend to be a bit superstitious but I would never let it control my life or where I live. It makes sense that a house full of natural light can ward off depression but we can also take a walk in the sun everyday and get the same result.

  10. I have never been very superstitious, so I never really gave it much thought – especially in terms of fear. However, I think you make a good point. I am married dot a man who would say feng shui and many other superstitions are ridiculous. Yet, he flips out if one of the kids opens an umbrella inside the house!

  11. Interesting indeed! Also, you’ve given me a new perspective, which I love! I’m definitely not superstitious but at the same time I find their origins quite interesting since they come from history 🙂

  12. Interesting post. I once had a house with a staircase that faced the front door. I never liked the entryway, and I later learned that a door should never open to a staircase. I think there’s some validity to placement and superstition.

  13. The Bible is pretty clear that fear is the tool of the “enemy” – you know, someone most people don’t believe in, the devil. As long as you are in fear, you are not in faith! Thing is, fear destroys, especially as evidenced by your article, common sense!! Alpha Hubby and I were just talking about this last night, how so many people are in fear – fear they will lose their job, fear they will get sick, fear someone will die horrible death, fear about so many things – and most likely it becomes self-fulfilling prophecy! I find that when I trust God and know He will take care of me, that He is on my side, that He loves me, I actually have no fear about anything! Great article!

  14. That’s pretty interesting (and disturbing), but I will admit I do a few things in my home that could be construed as lucky. I try to keep flowers out, and a candle and incense..but I like to think they are to bring love and comfort into my home, rather than keeping evil out.

  15. Fear is very popular now! I suppose it always was, but people in power use FEAR constantly to control us. And often they hide it behind gentleness and religion, but it’s still fear.

    Each of us has to find our way in this world with beliefs that help us through the scary times. We certainly don’t need someone else introducing us to fears that never entered our heads. FAITH is a gift and we must work every day to cultivate it. Thanks.

  16. Whoah, crazy stuff. Interesting to read about though! As for the Catholic reference. I’m one and from a long line of them. They get a bad enough rap in the media as it is, so I have to point out, that never, ever have I ever come across a Catholic with that sort belief. It’s definitely NOT part of the Catholic doctrine. I do recognize that you mentioned they were part of an evangelical group or movement; however, I know some will read the Catholic reference and that’s what will stick in their minds.

  17. Corinne, I agree superstition does feed off the weak and the gullible, that directs us to do certain things by “creating” a legitimate cause-and effect connection! Of all the fears, superstitious fear is perhaps the worst because it totally disempowers us in every sense of the word. The only way to deal with charlatans who indulge in propagating such fear is by empowering our thoughts and believing that all the power to create a desired outcome lies within us and cannot be relegated to an external force.

  18. I came to your blog from the NaBloPoMo link today, Corinne! (Your link is two above mine.)

    Why is it that people who want to make money off of superstitions always want people to be AFRAID? (So they will fork over more of their money, of course.)

    I think God (or whatever the higher power is in our lives) cares more about what is in our hearts and how we treat others than what colors we use to decorate, which way the door faces or whether or not the foot of the bed faces the bedroom door.

  19. Bottom line: Are allowing ourselves to be led by people who prey on our fears for their own gain?

    Reading through the comments I found them as interesting as the post. My experience has been that even if people are not superstitious, a great majority do operate in one form of fear or another. We can thank the media for a great portion of that. Fear is often instilled in us so subtly that we are not even aware of it. Recognizing it is not always easy.

    We need to be acutely aware of this and not make decisions based on emotion. Some of the things you cited are almost humorous; yet, if controlled by fear it is far from a laughing matter.

    This is one area where I believe it is crucial to guide our children as well. So many parents are so fearful because of the world we live in, that it creates insecure kids. Very sad

    1. Thank you for your insightful comment, Carol.
      I agree that we all operate from some level of fear, which we are often not aware of.
      Another thing that scares me is the fact that, at some levels, people believe that they can ‘buy’ peace and prosperity.

  20. I want to say that I am not a superstitious person. I don’t believe that I am.
    I also wonder, though, if there are subtle ways, in which I am superstitious, but my culture blinds me to them.
    I know that we all have our blind spots in regard to our own choices. They are obvious to others, but we ourselves fail to see what is sometimes crystal clear to others.
    Whether or not any of that would fall into the category of superstition, I do not know.

  21. It sounds very similar to feng shui. I don’t believe in any of it or similar principles. I think they all evolved as a way for humans to believe they could control events in their life.

    The randomness of life is sometimes too scary for some to handle.

  22. I was just thinking about feng shui this weekend when I visited my son and saw the fountain in the front yard of the neighbor next door. I believe that all things are energy, so I understand how feng shui could bring positive energy into an environment – I see the application in many establishments I’ve entered, including restaurants – but the point you made about fear is valid. Anything you do that comes from fear is going to have adverse consequences. If somebody is really concerned about the placement of their front door, why not either install one facing east or move?

  23. I can’t really add anything new; I think I agree with most of the comments. My Grandma used to say “ruled by superstition you are ruled by the devil” but she still threw salt over her shoulder & avoided walking under ladders 🙂

  24. “I don’t believe in this but I don’t want to take a chance.” Talk about hedging our bets! Well, superstition goes back to primitive times and it hits at the very core of the place where we don’t think. Good post today!

  25. It seems to me a little crazy to put so much store into something like that. A person has to take it with a grain of salt. The only thing that a person can truly have faith in my opinion is in God. The rest is just for entertainment.

  26. Corrine,

    The things like Vaastu, Astrology, and all have a deep meaning in it. But they have not explained them based on science. The systems are good but only the implementers are corrupted.

    Simple example – our ancestors asked as to take bath in sea often. The scientific reason is salt has the power of reducing negativeness in our body. This can be simply done daily by adding salt to the water while bathing.

    But making money out of this and misguiding people is objectionable.

  27. I admit I have never quite heard of this and you taught me something new this morning. Granted I have heard of the Chinese version, but not the Indian and definitely got more than a bit educated here this morning. So sorry seriously for what your brother is going through with his apartment rental and can only imagine. Sounds like superstition is most definitely getting the better of all here and not for the better. Hoping they can get to the bottom of it and sort it out now.

  28. Corinne, I have long believed that astrology, numerology, Vastu – all have a scientific basis developed on empirical observation of forces of energy. Much of what quantum physics is now conjecturing finds correlation in these ancient sciences. Problem is not with the disciplines, it’s with the charalatans who practice it as to date these disciplines lack scientific rigor to offer proof of concept. It’s a thought I am positing here that the baby should not be thrown out with the bath water

  29. Wow, I had never heard of that before but I am familiar with Fen Shui, and although I feel there may be some truth to it to a degree, perhaps a very small degree, I certainly wouldn’t spend my life savings, or take someone to court over, in my eyes, such nonsense. Your quote by Swami Vivekananda is absolutely correct in my opinion.. I believe in moderation in all things. – Very interesting post Corinne.

  30. Actually, Corinne I cannot completely rule out that Vastu is a science. I believe it is a science and I am not knowledgeable enough to say something more about it. The problem in our generation is we don’t have people who actually studied that Vasthu very well and many people take advantage of this and mislead others and earn a lot of money. Since everything is money minded, quality is diluted.

  31. there is always someone happy to feed off the gullible or the broken. We need to be vigilant all the time and call people out on this sort of stuff. I can’t even stand the chain email or fb post because they feed off the same idea of bad stuff happening if you don’t do what they tell you. Interesting that it happens in India too!

  32. You know Corinne I too don’t believe in these things…or, let’s put it this way I don’t believe in going to a priest for his views on how I need to do things…Even while worshiping I follow my own heart because I believe no one or no rules can dictate my connection with God… And yes it’s sad that people make a business out of this!

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