First off I wasn't sure where to post this, feel free to move it if needs be. I was just wanting to start a topic about various practices, that may or may not have a place in Buddhism, things like those who supposedly can contact the dead from beyond the grave, those that can supposedly predict our future, and those that claim to be able to read minds.
I don't really know to what extent these kinds of things have become involved in Buddhism, but that is kind of irrelevant, do you practice or believe in these arts? I just wanted to start a topic on this because I thought it might be an interesting discussion potentially (I suppose it depends whether or not we all agree! If we all agree it will probably die away fairly quickly)
My own personal view is that such practices are very harmful. The lowest in my eyes being so called 'psychic mediums' who exploit people's desire to hold on to their deceased loved ones for cash. I can't believe that these people aren't arrested for fraudulent practices and that even to this day it is considered a ligitimate profession. Some of these fraudsters even make big money from TV shows.
'Psychic mediums' use techniques such as 'Barum statements' - statements that apply to most people, with the illusion that they specifically apply to you and 'cold reading' - a cunning use of wording, phrasing and guess work to extract information from the client and make it seem as though you are miraculously getting this information from somewhere . Combine this with the client's desire to believe that this person can really contact the dead and you have a very nice scam on the go.
Divination is harmful because people actually believe it and might make dangerous desisions based upon the advice given. I don't need to say alot more about why that is dangerous.
I think that in actual fact some of these techniques etc are interesting and could provide a good show, but I think it is wrong to dupe the customer into thinking that something supernatural is occuring, especially since some of these people actually take it very seriously.
The reason I think these kinds of practices are harmful, and not just quirky is because they often provide advice to the client. A psychic medium gathers vague information in a few moments from the client and then proceeds to tell them that they should pursue their love of painting over their steady career, or that they should leave their partner. This is ridiculous! They don't even know the person, they are just going from vague things that they have managed to work out. People are willing to believe it, and base decisions upon it, to me that is insane - and these people really need to learn to question these things. And if they want advice ask someone who knows them, or a professional councilor!
So there's my view, such superstitious practices are fraudulent and harmful. Do you agree? How does this relate to the Dhamma? I don't know too much about how these practices are involved with Buddhism, but personally, I certainly hope that they aren't involved at all!
So discuss away, or not
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."