Does Buddhism Promote Medium Practice?

Question: A medium said a friend’s problems from seeing of ghosts is because he is chosen by Guanyin Bodhisattva to ‘work’ – I guess to help spread the Dharma? Is there such a practice?

Answer: No, there is no such practice in Buddhism. Exactly if a person already has suffering from seeing ghosts, all the more should this problem be solved directly, and not worsened by associating with more ghosts through mediums. The solution for is this, according to Sakyamuni Buddha in the ‘Chapter On Guanshiyin Bodhisattva’s Universal Door’ (观世音菩萨普门品):


 the lands of the threethousandgreatthousand worlds are filled full with yaksas and raksasahs, who come with the desire to trouble people, hear them recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva’s name, all these evil ghosts will not even be able to, with their evil eyes
, see them, moreover to harm them.

In short, mindfulness of Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name (南无观世音菩萨) is the practice to prevent harm by ghosts, who will not even be able to see the practitioners. This principle applies to Nianfo (念佛) in terms of Amituofo’s name (阿弥陀佛) too, especially as Amituofo is a Buddha and the teacher of Guanyin Bodhisattva. Here is a related article on how Nianfo can prevent harm from black magic: https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2014/06/how-buddhists-can-prevent-harm-from-black-magic As unethical mediums might use black magic, this is another reason to stay clear of them. The biggest potential problem from much associating with ghosts is summed up by this –



Verse On Buddhas & Ghosts

Dealing with ghosts and being mindful of ghosts, see ghosts and become ghosts [due to frequent associating with them, even when on the deathbed, which makes your last thought before rebirth in terms of ghosts]. Learning the Buddha’s teachings and being mindful of Amitabha Buddha, see the Buddha [come to receive and guide you to Pure Land], and become Buddhas by mastering the Buddha’s teachings there]. 

The name of Guanyin Bodhisattva was probably used by the medium as a popular ‘brand’ to interest your friend to ‘work’ as a medium, perhaps as an assistant or even successor. We know this is not to spread the Dharma because mediums seldom teach Buddhist teachings adequately, in terms of proper in-depth Dharma classes based on the sutras taught by the Buddha. They are thus simply riding on the ‘brand’ of Buddhism to promote their services to the highly suggestible, including your friend. If the medium truly communicated with Guanyin Bodhisattva, he or she should directly teach the ‘Chapter On Guanshiyin Bodhisattva’s Universal Door’ and more related teachings.

In orthodox Buddhist practice based on the Buddha’s teachings, Arhats, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas do not possess humans while claiming to be them, to convey messages. This can clearly be known in a related article below. As such, they will not promote medium practices. The key problem is that anyone can claim to be a medium able to summon the enlightened to give advice. As such, the Buddha directly forbade such practices, by teaching that even manifested Arhats and Bodhisattvas must never claim to be so. This is why we know those who claim to summon them to possess them are frauds. Enlightened beings will only help others through proper teaching, or by inspiring them to go for proper teachings, so as to know how to have proper practice according to the sutras. Sadly, mediums and their customers do not know enough of these essential Buddhist teachings.

Only a few highly specialised mediums are consulted in Tibetan Buddhism. In general, Buddhists do not seek mediums’ advice, as some are total charlatans, and some are ‘half-charlatans’, as they auto-suggest themselves to be able to channel gods and ghosts, when they cannot really do so. Even if not charlatans, some claim to channel gods (and Bodhisattvas), while those who come might be ghosts pretending to be them. As even unenlightened ghosts and gods have the ability to read minds, some ‘readings’ might seem accurate in terms of past and present thoughts troubling the person (which are already known, and is thus useless information). This is while there is no guarantee of predictions about the future being accurate, as it changes based on what we do now.

Related Articles:

Are There Mediums & Manifestations Of Buddhas & Bodhisattvas Around?
How To Help The Deceased, Including Ghosts (To Adapt Accordingly)

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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