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Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
Fortune-Telling and Charms
Although Buddhism does not refute belief in deities, spirits, astrology and fortune-telling, the Buddha's advice was that people should not be slaves to any of those forces. A good Buddhist can overcome all his difficulties if he knows how to make use of his intelligence and will-power. The above mentioned beliefs have no spiritual significance or value. Man must overcome all his problems and difficulties by his own efforts and not through the medium of deities, spirits, astrology or fortune-telling. In one of the Buddhist Jataka stories, the Bodhisatta said:
'The fool may watch for lucky days,
He believed that hard work was the luckiest star and one should not waste time by consulting stars and lucky days in order to achieve success. To do your best to help yourself is better than to rely solely on the stars or external sources.
Although some Buddhists practise fortune-telling and dispense some forms of charms or amulets under the guise of religion, the Buddha at no time encouraged anyone to practise such things. Like fortune-telling, charms come under the category of superstition, and have no religious value. Yet there are many people today who, because of sickness and misfortunes attribute the cause of their illness and ill-luck to the power of charms. When the cause of certain sickness and misfortunes cannot be ascertained or traced, many people tend to believe that their problems are due to charms or some other external causes. They have forgotten that they are now living in the twentieth century. This is the modern age of scientific development and achievement. Our leading scientists have thrown aside many superstitious beliefs and they have even placed men on the moon!
All sicknesses owe their origin to either mental or physical causes. In Shakespeare, Macbeth asked a doctor if there was any medicine that could cure his wife and the doctor replied: 'More needs she the divine than the physician.' What he meant was that some diseases could only be cured if the mind was purified. Some severe mental disorders manifest themselves in a physical manner--ulcers, stomach aches, and so on.
Of course diseases are purely physical and can be cured by a competent doctor. And finally, some inexplicable disorders could be caused by what Buddhist call the ripening of the kammic fruit. This means we would have to pay for some evil deed that we have committed in a past life. If we can understand this in the case of some incurable diseases, we can bear it with greater patience, knowing its real cause.
People who cannot be cured of their sickness are advised to consult a medical specialist and obtain specialized attention. If after having gone through a medical check-up, a person still feels in need of attention, then he may want to seek spiritual guidance from a proper religious teacher.
Buddhists are strongly advised against falling into the miserable pit of superstitious beliefs and allowing the mind to be troubled by unnecessary and unfounded fears. Cultivate a strong will-power by refusing to believe in the influence of charms.
A short meditation course may also prove very helpful to clear the mind of unwholesome thoughts. Meditation leads to the purification of the mind. A purified mind automatically leads to a purified and healthy body. The Buddha-Dhamma is a soothing balm to get rid of sickness of this nature.
Source: Buddhist Study and Practice Group, http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/
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