Buddhist Cultural Practices

The Buddha’s advice regarding traditions and customs was neither to accept nor to reject anything without first considering whether such practices are meaningful and useful. Less emphasis is places on these methods once a person has learned the Dhamma to lead a meaningful Buddhist life. The Buddha says that whatever methods we use to train the mind, our attitude should be like a man who used a raft to get across a river. After having crossed the river, he did not cling on to the raft, but left it on the riverbank to continue his journey. Similarly, cultural practices should be regarded merely as an aid to gain inspiration and not as an end in themselves.

Buddhist cultural practices vary from country to country. When performing these traditional practices, we must be careful not to categories Buddhism as belonging to any one of them. For example, we should not think in terms of Chinese Buddhism, Sinhalese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhism, Thai Buddhism, (Lao Buddhism), Burmese Buddhism, or Tibetan Buddhism. This only creates disharmony, discrimination, and misunderstanding. We should also be aware of certain so-called Buddhist leaders who try to reinforce their own Buddhist labels by incorporating many forms of charms, divine powers, mystical and supernatural practices and concepts to hoodwink the masses. Such unscrupulous actions are done with a total disregard to what the Buddha has said about such practices.

Another common practice among Buddhists is to hold blessing services in their new homes. Whenever people move into new dwelling houses, or when shifting house from one locality to another, it is the general custom among Buddhists to invite monks to perform blessing services so as to ensure that the place will be well protected spiritually as well as be a peaceful abode for all who dwell in it where happiness, peace and harmony will pervade. Similarly, when occupying new business premises, or whenever a new business is launched.

  • This is based on “Buddhism For The Future, “by Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda.