Sunday, May 30, 2010
Question : (Unedited)
My son is a beginner buddhist (12 years old) and I'm trying to support his new beleifs but I know almost nothing of buddhism. He has an alter in his room and we don't know when or how to remove his offerings of candy and fruit, or what to do with them when we remove them.
First, let me express my respect for your liberal consideration of your son's newfound belief. It is not common to have such understanding and supportive parents when it comes to practicing an "alien" religion.
As with all religions, there is always the risk of wrong understanding and wrong practice. I hope your son is embarking on the right approach. Perhaps you may ask him to share what he knows about Buddhism, and from there to gauge whether he is following the real teachings of the Buddha.
As for your query, it is best that you ask him directly. I am sure he will be too happy to share his knowledge with you.
Buddhism is actually a very simple and practical "religion". The rites and rituals were not introduced by the Buddha. He was more concerned with the teachings of universal truths; truths about our existence and the true nature of this world; how to live a happy, harmless and contented life. It was his followers in later years who introduced the different rites and rituals to suit their traditional practices. As such all the offerings are just human gestures symbolizing faith and respect for the Buddha. Of course through the passage of time people, for whatever reasons, misinterpreted these rites and rituals as Buddhism.
As a concerned parent, you may want to read a bit about Buddhism. For a very short elementary introduction click here:
For a better understanding, click here:
Please come back if you need further information.
Smile from justinchoo :-)
(An update: For a good introduction, refer Rev. Dhammika's book "Good questions Good answers")