Question: As Buddhists, do we have to be concerned about ‘offending Tai Sui (太岁 diety/dieties)’? Is there the need to make offerings for the purpose of appeasement?
Answer: Praying to Tai Sui is not a Buddhist belief or practice; it seems to be Taoism-related? Some say it is astrology of planetary-moon energy, which evolved to be deified, personified into worship of god/s. What we know for sure is that as the Buddha did not teach about it, it cannot be of much significance, even if true. The Buddha called fortune-telling low arts, as the real answer to any problem is Dharma practice. Anyway, even if there is some validity, there is the difficulty of knowing which fortune-telling system or fortune-teller is accurate. Even more tricky is the fact that our karma and thus destiny change dynamically according to what we do, way beyond when we are born.
What the Buddha taught is that for real good fortune, we should practise the Dharma diligently in all aspects of life to better ourselves and create positive karma, which can dilute the effects of negative karma, which is why we have suffering. Merely going through a short prayer ceremony to ‘appease some god/s’ who might otherwise be ‘offended’ to solve the ‘problem’ does not make sense. It is a bizarre idea that there should be a need to pray to some diety/dieties who can be repeatedly offended simply by millions of people being born in ‘conflicting’ years and times. This sounds like ‘pettiness’ due to not being ‘bribed’? (This happens to be the direct opposite of all Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas being impartially and unconditionally compassionate to all beings.)
Just because a belief or practice is popular does not guarantee any truth in it. For example, most thought the Earth was flat. Only the Chinese pray to Tai Sui. What happens to the billions of others born on the ‘wrong dates’? Countless have gotten on fine without praying to Tai Sui. This should be sufficient proof that it is not essential to pray to Tai Sui. In the mean time, there has never been solid proof from statistics showing those who do not pray to Tai Sui get into all kinds of trouble. Naturally, those who fear losing out might rationalise that it seems better to pray since there is no harm doing so. Such poor reasoning will lead to adherence to ever-increasing needless rites and rituals, gradually imagining much have been ‘accomplished’ by following them… while neglecting to focus more on genuine Dharma practice that is the true game-changer. Life is too short for misplacing priorities!
For Buddhists, as an over-arcing principle, we take refuge in Triple Gem. We seek the blessings of the fully enlightened Buddhas. We adhere to the perfect Dharma teachings. We learn from the noble Sangha. At no point should there be the need to succumb to fear of real or imaginary gods and ghosts if our spiritual refuge is strong and aligned with our integrity and Dharma practice. The more sincerely we practise the Dharma with right understanding, the more will we realise that the Dharma is already adequate in its own right, with no need for distracting extraneous practices of externalist paths.
Do Buddhas Have Selective Compassion?