Superstitions are attached to
due to the wrong relating
of various causes and conditions
with various effects.
Some claim it never rains when they are carrying an umbrella, while it always rains when they are without an umbrella. This is usually claimed, or rather, exclaimed with exasperation, on cloudy days that suddenly clear up, and on sunny days that suddenly rain. Obviously, this claim is not true, for if true, it would mean that they never got to use an umbrella to shield from the rain before, will never get to use it for this purpose, and that they always get caught in the rain. Well, they do use umbrellas on rainy days to stay dry at times, just as they do stay dry without umbrellas on sunny days too. So, no – they are not ‘reverse weather gods’, who can summon sunshine by carrying umbrellas, who can summon the rain simply by not carrying umbrellas.
Still, it is amusing when some stand strongly by their somewhat superstitious belief, on how their umbrella-carrying or not is able to ward off rain and shine. But how did this delusion arise? Through bias confirmation – which is selective acknowledgment and memory of selective facts due to selective focus. Certain facts are biasedly paid more attention to or looked out for, to confirm them, while ignoring other equally true facts. The more one biasedly confirms, the more is it reinforced, harder to break free from! The further one relates to reality wrongly or incompletely, the more will one live life based upon these delusions. It is thus important to be open-minded to others’ suggestions of how we might be biased – by listening to their ‘proofs’ for consideration.
Another common error in perception of reality is the confusion of relation, correlation and causation. For beginners, based on the above umbrella example, we can say that the carrying of an umbrella (or not) seems to be related to whether it rains (or not). Of course, this is true, since we carry umbrellas in anticipation of rain (unless you use it to shield from the sun too). With confirmation bias, it can seem that carrying an umbrella is directly related to the absence of rain. This we now know, is not true – as there is no such straight relation. But it is still related – in terms of misjudgment (or ignorance) of when rain clouds will clear or come, which led to the decision to carry along an umbrella or not. (This is a concern if you want to travel light or hands-free!)
What about correlation (or ‘co-relation’)? With the same example, the umbrella-carrying is correlated to anticipation of strong rain (thus requiring umbrellas), while also correlated to anticipation of strong sun. Carrying umbrellas is not related to expectation of rain only. However, whether it does rain (or not) is neither related nor correlated to whether we carry umbrellas (or not)! It does rain at times when we do not carry umbrellas, be it the past (e.g. before umbrellas were invented), now and in the future! In other words, umbrella-carrying (or not) does not cause rain (or shine). Neither relation nor correlation is equal to causation. However, frustration from not anticipating the weather rightly is karmically caused by ignorance and irritability (aversion)!
A seed is the cause of a fruit,
with this effect correlated to,
but not caused by the conditions
of earth, water, heat, light and air.
Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!