Reference the above article by Jayatissa Perera, I too wish to make a few remarks on the above subject. JP says that both Christians and Buddhists believe in devils. Any ordinary reader, especially a non-Buddhist, would form the impression that the Buddha believed in devils. Had he stated that if some Buddhists believe in devils the position would have been different. It may be that some Buddhists, especially in ancient times, believed in devils though no one has claimed to have seen them. JP uses the word ‘Buddhists’ to mean all Buddhists. This is misleading. Many Buddhists attend these so called chants by Buddhist monks, not that they believe in all this nonsense, but to enjoy themselves. Sometimes, when neighbours invite people to those ceremonies they comply as a mark of politeness.
After I read this article, I asked several small children in my neighbourhood as to whether they believed in devils. All of them had a hearty laugh and said that their great grandfathers may have believed in them.
Some Buddhist monks engage in the practice of astrology, palmistry, light reading exorcism and preparing of charms for various purposes. They are money making concerns. To say that Buddhists believe in them because they are practiced by members of the Saffron Robe is misleading. So, devils are afraid of firecrackers and loud noise.
Some Buddhist monks encourage the practice of rituals. It is a case of Buddhist Ritualism, not Buddhist Spiritualism. Today it is a case of ‘Buddhism’ versus ‘Bikkhunism’. Monks are seen at political meetings, banks, Court houses and every other place except in the monasteries. People do not have the courage to boycott these monks fearing that they would not attend almsgivings, bana preachings, pirith ceremonies etc. Today some laymen have a better grasp of the Dhamma than monks. These monks are not at all interested in propagating the Dhamma.
G. H. I. de Zoysa