Sunday Observer Online
Ad Space Available HERE  


Sunday, 11 January 2009





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Faith can move mountains

Faith or trust is complete confidence placed in somebody or something living or thought to be living somewhere.

Millions of people have faith in God. Even those who do not subscribe to the view that the world was created by God have faith in other gods whether they are living in heaven or on tree-tops.

Although there is no place for gods in Buddhism, most Buddhist temples have become abodes of numerous Hindu gods. In fact, it is said that there are 330 million gods to whom one can appeal for help.

Even if you have a cursory glance at the cultural history of Sri Lanka, you will come across numerous gods and demons who could help human beings facing a multitude of problems.

Faith healers are found in abundance in our country. It is strange but true that a Communist country like Russia has issued licences to faith healers. Mikhail Fadkin is a Russian faith healer who claims that he could cure a long list of diseases such as pancreatitis, bronchitis, digestive problems and even infertility.

He uses his hands to manipulate what he describes as a person’s “bio-energy field”. He believes that there is an invisible aura surrounding him. Rationalists laugh at the very idea of licensing faith healers.

They have criticized the government for lending credibility to people who claim to have paranormal powers. Even scientists have condemned the licensing mechanism. However, the Federal Scientific Clinical Center for Traditional Methods of Diagnostics and Healing says some people have healing powers but admits there are charlatans.


Belief in faith healing needs no proof. You either believe it or does not do so. It is not open for argument. Traditional beliefs still continue among the populace although they may differ from time to time. The believer of faith healing does not ask for proof but results. These beliefs do not yield to scientific tests.

Then how do you begin to believe in a set of practices said to be unscientific? The answer is very simple: These beliefs are handed down from generation to generation and they are resorted to under certain circumstances. Although with the advancement of knowledge and scientific thinking these beliefs undergo certain changes, they still exist in some form or the other.

Anthropologists believe that our beliefs do not undergo rapid changes. The process of change is rather slow. As these beliefs are absorbed by our cultural traditions, people find it difficult to get rid of them.

If you take a broad view of rituals and beliefs, you will find that they are based on natural principles. First, the people worshipped huge mountains and trees thinking that there were gods in them.

Later a pantheon of Hindu gods appeared in the scene. Meanwhile, astrology promoted the view that the destiny of human beings was predetermined by planetary gods. These ideas tempered by different religions have left us a long tradition of gods, saints, and a system of rituals to bank on when we have problems.

The human mind is very conservative. People resist change. They want to invoke divine intervention when they are in trouble. Against such a background criticising the traditional practices as hollow is not going to bear fruit.

Some Buddhist monks openly condemn the practice of worshipping gods and expect Buddhists to seek refuge in the Triple Gem-Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. However, at most Buddhist temples there are devales dedicated to gods Vishnu and Katharagama, Saman and various other deities.

Sheer bunkum

As there is no mechanism in Buddhism to appease its followers when they have some problem, they invariably seek the intervention of gods and sometimes demons. This is a phenomenon that no Buddhist monk can stop.

Similarly, positive thinkers tell us not to depend on astrologers or auspicious times. However, can we simply change ourselves overnight? Can we start a new business without consulting astrologers? Do we give our sons and daughters in marriage without finding out auspicious moments?

We have several systems of beliefs. On the one hand, we have to depend on astrology, faith in gods, various rituals connected with marriage, and other important occasions. Although rationalists like the late Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor dismissed them as sheer bunkum, people are not willing to let go of their faith in rituals.

What the rationalists have failed to understand is that human beings cannot be forced to think scientifically and logically. They will say, “Keep your science and logic. We’ll do what we like.”

All human beings have a fair share of animal instincts. They suffer from fear, jealousy, and anger. When a family member is struck down with an incurable disease such as cancer, they will consult anyone who would promise a cure.

They will pray to numerous gods or well-known saints. Even if they do not receive immediate relief, they get ample mental satisfaction. Sometimes, they claim that miracles do take place.

In line with traditional magic practices, Buddhists too have their own systems. For instance, certain Suttas are chanted and Pirith thread is tied on the wrist of people for relief from diseases or for protection.

Sometimes, Sivali Yanthraya is written on copper foil and displayed prominently in the house for protection from evil forces. This shows the extent to which people have gone to have faith in the supernatural.

Our faith in miracles is a tree rooted deep in the soil of tradition whose branches grow in the power of continuity.

Therefore, no amount of rational thinking will help to uproot our faith from the collective conscience of man.

If somebody wishes to seek the support of the unseen they should not be condemned as foolish people. They know what they are doing and we should try to empathize with them.

If you take a broad view of human beings almost all of them practice both magic and science as activities parallel to each other. Sometimes, the margin between magic and science is somewhat blurred. Most of us openly condemn Thovil ceremonies, and other forms of black magic but secretly consult astrologers to know our future!

What is tragic is that rationalists think that those who resort to black magic are crazy. But life with its myriad activities is not logic; it goes beyond it. Millions of people believe in God. And others believe in millions of gods. The rationalist would say that there is no such entity called God. God cannot be proved objectively. For instance, scientists say that there are neutrons and protons. Can we deny that simply because we have not seen them ?


You can have immense faith in God or some other god such as Skandha or Vishnu. Nobody should ask you to prove the existence of God because it cannot be done objectively. If God is proved objectively, He ceases to be God and becomes a thing that can be dissected in the laboratory. So have faith in God and you do not need any proof of His existence.

At 26 I listened to the late Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor. He was waxing eloquent: “A child is born with a blank mind. It is like an empty purse. When you put knowledge into it, it becomes full. After a few decades I read the life history of the late Professor G. P. Malalasekara.

At the age of nine he had learnt English, Pali and Sanskrit from his father. He also had a wonderful memory. I doubt whether his father filled young Malalasekara’s mind with languages. Malalasekara junior would have had something stored in his mind when he was born. His father might have simply facilitated his son to blossom.

Today I believe that faith can move mountains! You can have faith in your religion, God or anybody you respect. Do good deeds and seek what you want. You do not have to reason out but be happy with the end result.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
ANCL TENDER for CT Machines with Online Processors
Donate Now |
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka

| News | Editorial | Business | Features | Political | Security | Spirit | Focus | Sports | World | Junior | Letters | Obituaries |


Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2009 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor