By Brother H. Johnson
In life, you have good and bad days; some things are favorable, while others are unfavorable. You get a large bonus or can’t find a parking place. You are sometimes lucky and at other times luckless. Your friend “touches” the numbers regularly; you never have won. There are also people whom you have heard of who are born wealthy and some who lose their fortunes. Health changes between well and sickness. Natural disasters kill thousands, but leave some untouched. Why?
Since the beginning these things have been going on. It was the same when Buddha lived; but he gave an explanation called the Dhamma. If you learn this Dhamma, then you will understand the worlds as unstable, disagreeable and impersonal, but comprehensible and controllable.
In the three worlds of existence, there are many beings and some are not very nice. The most nasty is Mara, who stirs up greed, hatred, anger that cause unwholesome actions. Mara’s companions, too, are not of good character; their despicable behavior is seen in the story of a passing demon giving the meditating Venerable Sariputta a great, earth-shattering whack on the head. And for no reason! Witnessed by Venerable Maha Moggalana, he later asked his friend if while meditating anything exceptional happened; Venerable Sariputta replied that nothing happened, however, he did have a slight headache! If this demon had the power and audacity to disturb the “Marshall of the Dhamma,” certainly others can play with normal persons like a kitten with a ball of string.
While the Venerable Sariputta had strong meditative powers for protection, lay people must rely on other methods given by Buddha for protection. These methods are called Parittas.
Paritta is the Pali word for a protective spell. Their result is the prevention of bad luck, misfortune, the warding off of the influence of malignant beings, and to promote healing. The power of the parittas exists by their ability to strengthen the mind. They are the mind’s seat belt keeping it safe in collisions with dark forces. Reciting, writing, holding, wearing, thinking or listening evokes the protective powers.
Parittas are recited for specific or general protections. The parittas will clear your mind, focus it, arouse mindfulness and wholesome thoughts, preventing the entering of demonically induced negative influences.
May all misfortunes be warded off, may all ailments cease; may no calamities befall you; may you live long in peace.
May all blessings be upon you. May all devas protect you.
By the protective power of all Buddhas, may wellbeing constantly be yours.
By the protective power of all the Dhamma, may wellbeing constantly be yours.
By the protective power of all the Sangha, may wellbeing constantly be yours. (Devaradhana)
Parittas may be written on cloth, engraved on metal or impressed in clay, all often containing icons of Buddha or famous monks. These amulets shield the owner from evil. Parittas also appear in tattoos, at all times and in all places providing a person with protective powers.
In Sri Lanka, the Pirit Potha, (The Book of Protection), is a collections of parittas considered of great power. The Pirit Potha contains twenty-four suttas abstracted from the Pali canon. The book originated as an introductory summary for novice monks, but has now taken on a very different role. The book alone protects a household and is kept along with reverend objects.
Buddha taught that every problem arises in the mind. The mind is affected by the six senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, bodily sensations, and thoughts. These are the portals by which evil may be prompted. (Evil spirits do not “hijack” the individual like in the novel The Body Snatchers.) The parittas help you guard your sense doors and strengthen your virtue (sila); a mind strong in virtue is impenetrable to maliciousness. As a result, you refrain from evil, do good, and purify your mind.
To have a good day, to appreciate other’s success and outwit devils, you should recite this paritta:
Aham avero homi abyapajjho homi anigha homi sukhi - attanam pariharami
(May I be free from hatred,
physical suffering and
may I happily take care of myself.)
(from the Metta Chant)