There are certain practices in Buddhism that defy our standard logical training obtained from contemporary education. I Like this aspect about spiritual practice because it adds some colour to my otherwise boring world.
This is not a core practice of Buddhism. I am sharing so that in very rare situations, you know there are such practices.
A word of caution; one has to keep a balance attitude towards such practice and not loose logical reasoning in the process. Without wisdom obtained from study and practice of the Buddha Dharma, we may become a zealot in mystic practices. In the worst situation, one may become hallucinatory as we start imagining things out of the ordinary.
However if we apply the method skilfully, we can help ourselves and others should the situation presents itself.
Perhaps one of the earliest record of such a practice can be traced to the Ratana sutra. A city was afflicted by spirits and Buddha instructed his attending monk, Ananda to lead the citizens of the city to sanctify and exorcise the spirits plaguing the city.
This sutra is still being recited by monks and laity of Theravadian Buddhism. A few of the interesting thing to note on this account of this exorcism relating to Ratana Sutra is;
- Ananda was unenlightened yet at that point in time when he was instructed by Buddha to carry out the task of leading the exorcism
- The victims of the spirit (entire citizen of city) was involved in this ritual
- Water was used to sprinkle and cleanse the affected area
- Content of the sutra (click the link above) contains almost of compassionate exhortation to the spirits to honour the good quality of Buddhist practice.
Thus this sets a kind of precedent on how Buddhist carry out mysticism practices.
We need not have attained Enlightenment in order to practice. However, like Ananda, our faith in Buddha, His teachings and the Sangha should be very strong.
We do not view the spirits with hostility. Instead we treat them with respect and compassion. In the Buddhist doctrine, the classes of invisible beings such as spirits, ghost etc is very extensive. They are just a type of sentient beings who sometimes might be misguided, wronged, offended etc. Their lifespan are very long and sometime the fault lies in us when we encroach their space. (for example when we build a house on a piece of vacant land that is occupied by such beings.
There are numerous stories of monks who went deep into the forest or mountains for meditation retreat and sometimes they disturbed such beings unintentionally. These spirits appear in frightening form to threaten the monks and try to drive them away. There are some instances where the monks manage to overcome such hostility with love and compassion. After converting the spirits to the correct way, the spirits usually transform into a more “courteous” form (usually a handsome young man or beautiful maiden) to apologies for the trouble or mischief that they caused.