In one of my past post, there was a ghost story of how a teenager exorcised a spirit from his friend by reciting the Surangama heart mantra. If you have seen Chinese Movies from the 1980s that are the equivalent of “The exorcist”; then you would probably be familiar with graphic representation of evil ghosts and spirits “evaporating” or melting down (literally) after being exposed to scripts of Buddhist Mantra. (with plenty of laser effects incorporated)
If we think about it; our first Buddhist precept says we shall not harm other beings. Does it sound right if our practices are motivated by a desire to overpower spirits and melt them down? Are we trying to become Buddha or Ghost-busters?
If our practice of Surangama Mantra (the King of Mantra according to Chinese Mahayana system) is tainted by ill-will towards “evil” beings and wishing to banish them or cause them to disappear; then Something doesn’t add up. Don’t you think so?
Worst of all, if our practice cause us to imagine evil spirits lurking everywhere, ready to pounce on us, or make us phobic that people are out to harm us with black magic etc. Then our life becomes difficult, dark and fearful. I don’t think Buddhism encourages fear in our mind. Nor did Buddha encourage ill-will.
If our practice cause us to develop paranoia, then we should beware. We are going down the wrong path.
Instead of fear and paranoia, shouldn’t we try to develop brightness, carefreeness and loving kindness?
Therefore, do not let those movies mislead us. They are not Buddhist messages and definitely not the right views and right understanding. Thus, it will lead us to wrong practices if we cherish them in our mind.
The evilness in sentient beings is caused by craving, hatred and ignorance.
This 3 mental afflictions lead sentient beings to evil conducts when alive and cause them to take rebirth as “harmful” beings after death. Thus, the root cause of evilness is these 3 mental afflictions. That is why Buddha and his Sangha can successfully convert their opponents into Buddhism. From non-Buddhist scholars and Brahmins to Mountain gods, evil spirits and yakshas. Buddha never “kill” them but help them change for the better.
That is why you see fearsome looking statues standing guard outside Buddhist temple. We are reminded of how Buddha convert “enemies” into friends.
We are not enlightened like Buddha and his sangha, so how do we practice Surangama?
I think, our practice should focus on ourselves. We aim to remove the 3 mental afflictions from our mind. we strive to improve our mental health so that our mind is bright, carefree and kind. At the very minimum, we will not become “harmful” beings ourselves. This is because we started our practice without ill-intent. That is very important.
Once our mind becomes positive and happy, then happy situations will manifest. Last but not least, remember to do good deeds with right motivations.
May all be well and happy.