Do you believe in ghosts?

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Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:20 pm

Today I was discussing with someone about the nature of devas, ghosts, spirits and other non-manifest beings that are said to affect our world. He mentioned he is agnostic about such things.

I'm aware that a lot of Buddhists in the west take an agnostic view about these things, going so far as to say it is unimportant. I suppose on one hand that is true if you're focused on meditation and living ethically as chief concerns, but then as I've been cautioned before by one yogi in Nepal you need to be aware of malicious devas and other non-manifest beings, otherwise they will cause disturbances and hindrances to one's practice. There are prescribed pujas for this sort of thing he explained. Historically this has been a concern as well in many countries, hence the guardians out in the front of many temples.

To remain agnostic is your right of course, but I don't think we can deny that Buddhist cultures the world over have a view that devas and so on really do exist (they're not metaphors or purely psychological phenomena, but rather they possess their own sentient-subjective existences; the undeveloped eye unable to perceive them).

This is something that I don't see a lot of people really taking to in the English speaking world, besides maybe some Tibetan Buddhists. Even then, discussion of ghosts, devas and pretas is likely to raise eyebrows, even summon scorn from others. I know Ajahn Brahm likes to tell ghost stories and he's quite clear in his assertion that deva really do exist and interact with the world in ways usually unseen. However, that is one side of western Buddhism you don't see so much.

So it begs the question how this is going to develop.

Personally I'm comfortable with saying devas, pretas, nagas and so on exist, but in a lot of company I usually don't touch on it unless asked. Today's conversation got me thinking of how this is a point that is being overlooked in at least the English speaking world. It is often seems to be called "a belief" and then tucked away somewhere out of sight.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Andrew108 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:25 pm

Anything is possible. Sorry to sound glib but there is no other way to put it.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby underthetree » Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:43 pm

It's tricky.

Personally I don't believe in, say, nagas, because they seem culturally specific to a place quite distant from my own - I wouldn't expect a Tibetan to believe in pixies, by the same token. I don't find that the Buddhist cosmology (in terms of ghosts and demons) has much relevance to me here in the UK. I do, however, believe that when Tibetans talk about 'devas' they are touching on the same thing that an old Devonian might mean by 'pixie.' So yes, I do believe in the (usually) unseen presence of the supernatural, woven into our experience of the everyday, but that's about as specific as I dare to be. Before meditating in certain places I will make an offering to the powers of that particular spot. Not based on any New Age or spiritual philosophy, but just on how things feel, based on a lifetime of spending a lot of time alone in the deep countryside. Hedging my bets? Of course. But...
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby underthetree » Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:47 pm

...Having said all that, I live next to a river and it certainly has its own energy. So I think I do partly understand what might be meant by 'naga,' and why it might be important to pay attention to such things. The same with hungry ghosts. I don't believe in beings with swollen bellies and matchstick necks but I suspect that human imprints of misery, frustration and envy do linger in some way. Most of the hungry ghosts I know are alive. I sometimes suspect I might be one of them.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:00 pm

underthetree wrote:It's tricky.

Personally I don't believe in, say, nagas, because they seem culturally specific to a place quite distant from my own - I wouldn't expect a Tibetan to believe in pixies, by the same token. I don't find that the Buddhist cosmology (in terms of ghosts and demons) has much relevance to me here in the UK. I do, however, believe that when Tibetans talk about 'devas' they are touching on the same thing that an old Devonian might mean by 'pixie.' So yes, I do believe in the (usually) unseen presence of the supernatural, woven into our experience of the everyday, but that's about as specific as I dare to be. Before meditating in certain places I will make an offering to the powers of that particular spot. Not based on any New Age or spiritual philosophy, but just on how things feel, based on a lifetime of spending a lot of time alone in the deep countryside. Hedging my bets? Of course. But...


Curiously, Indian nagas and Chinese dragons (long 龍) share many similar characteristics. They are both said to affect the rain, manifest as serpents and require placation and offerings. Historically in China most villages would have a dragon shrine.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:04 pm

underthetree wrote:...Having said all that, I live next to a river and it certainly has its own energy. So I think I do partly understand what might be meant by 'naga,' and why it might be important to pay attention to such things. The same with hungry ghosts. I don't believe in beings with swollen bellies and matchstick necks but I suspect that human imprints of misery, frustration and envy do linger in some way. Most of the hungry ghosts I know are alive. I sometimes suspect I might be one of them.


I think the descriptions of preta were used for the sake of having people imagine the existence of them.

The qualia of a preta might be as alien to a human as bat qualia are. However, to get at what those qualia are like you might use suitable imagery.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby underthetree » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:22 pm

Thanks for that, Huseng. Qualia - very interesting indeed. You've made me realize that I've been meditating on qualia for some time now. Will investigate further.

As to the relative existence or non-existence of hungry ghosts, I suppose it's the same thing as the existence or otherwise of hell. State of mind or hot place? I'll go for state of mind every time.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby LastLegend » Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:01 pm

If enlightenment is possible, why are spirits not possible?
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:03 pm

I was waiting for someone to come home late from work one evening....i could hear the door open and footsteps comming down the stairs, I was expecting to see this person...but he wasn't there....had not come home yet......

My daughter called me one day, telling me of a strange dream she had, and everyone else in her household had, the same night : A demon was trying to get inside their body. Everyone had the same dream, the same night, around the same time......I told my teacher about this, he suggested to say some prayers, I did, and they haven't returned.....

We both live in houses about 100 years old (built in 1920's).
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby underthetree » Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:07 pm

LastLegend wrote:If enlightenment is possible, why are spirits not possible?


How are they related?
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Simon E. » Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:33 pm

Not at all. Not agnostic...positive disbelief in objective phenomena of this nature.
Which does not indicate that they have no meaning.
All these phenomena are much more easily and in my view satisfactorily explained as the results of various psychological/neurological processes.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby AlexanderS » Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:51 pm

I don't really care that much. I just hope all the bad ones leave me alone.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby NIRMAL2 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:51 pm

I believe in them and 'see' them very often.Their attachment is still there.They usually want something.I always give it to them and tell them to leave.Quite a number of them want paper money.Each piece of paper money is burnt with the chanting of a mantra.It's simple, take the paper money with the mantra and in time to come, it is hoped that their wisdom would open up.What they really get is the spiritual shape of the paper money that is burnt

Then there are those who want to meditate.I see them in the holy light of my meditation.They usually sit behind me and do exactly the same thing that I am doing.They probably did not practice while they were living or they might not have heard the word of the Lord.I call them the good ghosts.

Just too many of them.One Chinese couple wanted me to chant and pass the merits onto them.I chanted 50 rounds of the mala and passed the merits onto them.They left.

The ones from the sea are a bit scary.Red eyes, hair like weeds. I feed them once every two years and when their stock of the five-coloured-rice has almost run out, I can see them pacing up and down outside my gate.They leave once I have seen them.Then I know what to do next.

I have never invited them to come and see me.When I can have compassion towards injured or hungry animals, why cant I have compassion towards ghosts?
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:03 pm

Believing in such things gives them existence. It really is that simple.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:19 pm

dharmagoat wrote:Believing in such things gives them existence. It really is that simple.


Indeed - as real as our belief in a Self.

However, the flip side of the logic is that spirits are as real as we are.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby NIRMAL2 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:25 pm

Sutra:

“Moreover, Universally Expansive, beings in the future, while dreaming or drowsy, may see ghosts, spirits, and other forms that are either sad, weeping, worried, fearful, or terrified. Those are all fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and other relatives from one, ten, a hundred, or a thousand lives past who have not yet been able to leave the bad destinies.

Ignore them?
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:33 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:Believing in such things gives them existence. It really is that simple.

Indeed - as real as our belief in a Self.

However, the flip side of the logic is that spirits are as real as we are.

Or that we are the spirits.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:43 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
Blue Garuda wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:Believing in such things gives them existence. It really is that simple.

Indeed - as real as our belief in a Self.

However, the flip side of the logic is that spirits are as real as we are.

Or that we are the spirits.


Indeed. To the spirits we may indeed appear to be the phantasms.
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:49 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:
Blue Garuda wrote:However, the flip side of the logic is that spirits are as real as we are.

Or that we are the spirits.

Indeed. To the spirits we may indeed appear to be the phantasms.

Phantasms perceiving phantasms?
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Re: Do you believe in ghosts?

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:53 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
Blue Garuda wrote:Indeed. To the spirits we may indeed appear to be the phantasms.

Phantasms perceiving phantasms?


Depends which realm you are in - we construct dualities of 'self' and 'other' because we are deluded.

Mind observing Mind, maybe.

Does a ghost cease to exist because no human accepts their existence? Do humans cease to exist when beings in other realms do not accept their existence?
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