Another fad is fast sweeping through the Internet, and this time it's rooted in religion. People are asked to share a picture of "smiling Buddha" which is supposed to bring good news and money.
This particular trend is actually not new. For years, the picture has been circulating the Internet seeking gullible folks to gubble it up and share. However, this is the first time it is attracting the attention of Nigerians to actually believe that it works, after a few people testified to its viability.
Unfortunately, in this part of the world, there is a lot of hardship. This ultimately forces a lot of people seek many... unconventional ways out of it. It is not uncommon to see people seek out religion as one of the ways out.
I can very much understand why many Nigerians would believe — it's a direct result of the "transactional blessings and miracles" that many of our prophets preach these days. It's very common to see a religious leader ask, on behalf of God, for a "key" to unlock the "many blessings that God has kept in store for you." (Keys may include offerings of money and various other sacrifices.)
I was disappointed, but not surprised, at the calibre of Nigerians that quickly jumped on this fad, and it made me ask why, especially considering what the fundamental tenets of the Buddhism religion are.
First off the bat, Buddha is not a god, and unlike most religions, Buddhism has no reference or belief in any personal god or a relationship between humanity and a god.
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was born into a royal family in present-day Nepal over 2500 years ago. He lived a life of privilege and luxury until one day he left the royal enclosure and encountered for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. Disturbed by this he became a monk before adopting the harsh poverty of Indian asceticism. Neither path satisfied him and he decided to pursue the ‘Middle Way’ - a life without luxury but also without poverty. By finding the path to enlightenment, Siddhartha was led from the pain of suffering and rebirth towards the path of enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or 'awakened one'.
So why look unto a picture of Buddha to replenish your pocket?
Secondly, Buddhists believe that life is essentially subject to impermanence, suffering and uncertainty. To Buddhists, existence is a cycle of life, death, rebirth and suffering that they seek to escape altogether.
In fact, the Buddhist Wheel of Life — a complex picture representing the Buddhist view of the universe — contains a depiction of the three causes of all suffering at the middle of the Wheel. These three causes are greed, ignorance and hatred.
If Buddhists then believe that existence is characterized by an endless experience of suffering throughout the many reincarnations and that greed essentially causes suffering, why would you think Buddha is bothered with easing your obsession with making money?
I would advise these "new Buddhists" to strive for a deeper insight of life and a personal journey into spiritual development, rather than be carried away by this obvious Fake news.
And if you don't believe me, it's also good to know that the concept of smiling Buddha actually has a very dark history.