Question: Someone said he sees more spirits (ghost beings) when he chants. Is this supposed to happen? If chanting attracts spirits, is it good for us?
Answer: If what said is true, why this happened depends on what is chanted, where and when it was done, what was his motivation for chanting and how it was chanted. All these are considerations for a fuller answer. You already said that he ‘sees more spirits when he chants’. This means he already has the tendency to see spirits anyway – which is however rare. Most Buddhists who chant NEVER ever encounter spirits, especially if they chant sincerely with right understanding and motivation. This is similar to how most drivers do NOT have accidents, especially if they drive mindfully. Just as it is foolish to not drive or ride in cars due to fear of accidents that need not occur, it is foolish not to practise proper chanting due to exaggerated fears. It is good to practise chanting because it reminds and aligns us to the Buddha’s teachings, helping us to advance spiritually.
Anything that anyone does, be it something as ordinary as watching an TV program or chanting, that is deemed personally interesting to someone else, can draw that person near, be it a human or an unseen being. This can happen anywhere and at any time. If there are any unseen beings around during chanting, so be it, although the truth is, unseen beings are already around us often but mostly unseen. When some are seen, while chanting or not, it only means one personally has strong karmic affinity with them, which can do with some compassionate resolving.
It can be worse not to chant for self-protection, while offering guidance and merits for better rebirths. This is so as the same beings might manifest as karmic creditors (with more) on one’s deathbed more clearly, to distract from final Dharma practice for a better rebirth. There are cases of the lifelong non-religious, who suddenly see many previously unseen beings appearing when dying. This can happen if the dying state of mind weakens and approaches that of the ghost realm. For those who did not learn or practise the Dharma earlier, they do not understand, leading to confusion and terror, which can affect safe passage for a good rebirth. It is thus important to continue learning and practising the Dharma well now.
When there is chanting of proper Buddhist teachings with right understanding and sincerity, for example, when it comes to mindfulness of the name of Amitabha Buddha (which is ‘Amituofo’ in Chinese), there is protection offered by all Buddhas in unison, as stated in the Amitabha Sutra. Those who do not seem to experience this protective effect are usually those who lack understanding and faith, which is why they should continue learning and practising. Beginners who are unsure about chanting should first join in group sessions. When there is mass-chanting done sincerely, there is greater protection too.
Does Chanting Attract Spirits?