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Do Buddhists believe in ghosts?

As title asks.... Do Buddhists believe in ghosts/spirits etc? Have been sitting on the lounge pondering this for the past half hour!

Comments

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited August 11
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    Some do, some don't. There isn't a command in Buddhism to adhere to a set of beliefs about the world, we are encouraged to investigate for ourselves.

    Carameltail
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    A lot of the Tibetan stories of the Bardo presume the idea of ghosts, whereas my understanding of what we are is focused on the skandha’s. It’s very debateable how these things hold together after death.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited August 11

    30 minutes in which you might have done something more Productive! :p

    personShoshinBunks
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Another aspect of this is the mix of Buddhist thought with cultural traditions, such as animism.

    personShoshin
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @person said:
    Some do, some don't. There isn't a command in Buddhism to adhere to a set of beliefs about the world, we are encouraged to investigate for ourselves.

    I'm glad you mentioned this. When people ask me about "stuff" about Buddhism, this concept seems to really flummox them. Perhaps it's about the more Western tendency to want to exclude people via rules.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    In olden days a glimpse of Buddha
    Was wont to make people shudder
    Nibbana knows..
    Now anything goes!

    (With profound apologies to Cole Porter!)

    lobsterkando
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    Many Buddhists believe in multiple universes but it is unclear if this is the 'real' universe because down the worm hole or rabbit hole of these beliefs taken to our culture some different ideas are introduced or questioned or whatever about what 'real' is and what existence and non-existence is/are. Buddhist is the middle way but that middle way cannot be inspected as an object of the mind much as the mind cannot be inspected as it has no color or form or so forth.

    So with multiple real or not real worlds there are multiple real or not real beings. Or the middle road between real and not real... whatever is here.

    Usually ghosts are talked about in context of the result of bad actions/karma. 'Hungry Ghost' is the term and these are not the same feeling to me as in our western ghost stories or ghost 'hauntings'. These hungry ghosts are described in multiple ways as multiple types. One type has a huge belly but cannot eat or drink. Another is in so much mental anguish and everywhere they look is a dusty wasteland. Attachment to pleasure as a motive for bad actions like killing, stealing, or sexual misconduct are some of the bad karma that can lead to this realm. But is it a 'real' realm or 'real' being? Or is it last nights dream? There is more to read on this and like people saying there could be some cultural beliefs expressed. Like I wonder if Tibetan expressions of the realms: human, animal, ghost, hell, Demi-god, God are expressed differently from where they are mentioned in earlier texts/tradition from Nepal/India area?

    lobster
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited August 11

    @Kerome said:
    A lot of the Tibetan stories of the Bardo presume the idea of ghosts, whereas my understanding of what we are is focused on the skandha’s. It’s very debateable how these things hold together after death.

    As I have heard it explained, one is a gandharva in the bardo which resembles the birth one is to take.

    So if your fate is to be a hungry ghost, in the bardo, you will resemble a preta.

    I think, as they teach it, the aggregates just never seperate at all.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    Many Buddhists believe in multiple universes but it is unclear if this is the 'real' universe because down the worm hole or rabbit hole of these beliefs taken to our culture some different ideas are introduced or questioned or whatever about what 'real' is and what existence and non-existence is/are.

    It does make you wonder though. The Buddha had a strong view on how one should spend ones time — not on the imponderables for instance, more on practice in this lifetime — but then there is this whole cosmology, which cannot be seen or independently verified either. To me it makes little sense to include it.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Simsapa sutta.
    And that's all I need to say about that.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited August 11

    It does make you wonder though. The Buddha had a strong view on how one should spend ones time — not on the imponderables for instance, more on practice in this lifetime — but then there is this whole cosmology, which cannot be seen or independently verified either. To me it makes little sense to include it.

    Well Buddha said a lot of things!

    Yes it's a big question for western teachers who learned from gurus in the east. What to include as benificial and what to leave out as cultural. My teacher says she tries to keep the essence of what she got from her gurus and a sense of continuity of elder traditions and a sense that we are practicing the path of those who have gone before. Not too casual and mocking tradition but also not people getting snippy at others or fearful they have made a mistake in following the mantras or bowing or what have you. A sense of ease yet awake like the Sano's lute strings with the whole thing meaning a balance. But it is a big question for teachers to think about and experiment with.

    A second topic is that if you are a student without a teacher or sangha to put it all together you can hear a lot of things and not have the resources to figure things out. I guess it makes it simpler to say a lot of things are imponderables but it is a luxury if you can ask your teacher about questions. And also a sangha tends to have teachings that they feel are the core of Buddhism and you can (over the years) see that and all of the students are together in seeing what their sangha is teaching. Presumably their sangha is not teaching "imponderables" but that would be a good question to ask about. Like ask why does the Avatamsaka Sutra talk about all this cosmology? Is the Avatamsaka sutra an imponderable? And so forth... Incidentally I don't know the answer to that as the question never occurred to me exactly that way.

    But yeah there are texts from the 10th century and even much before and is nice to have help sorting out what it means "today".

    personkandoDavid
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited August 11

    Hmm vibrating Energy in Motion

    It would seem that some people can (through no fault of their own) tune into certain vibrating energy wavelengths making these vibrations appear in forms that their mind can see but most of us (who are not switched on) can't fathom..

    Perhaps this so-called energy phantom is just a being who had in real life been very much so attached to a sense of self and this strong sense of self manifest itself when conditions are right (hmm cause condition effect )when a receiver is present and ready to tune in to their wavelength frequency ....

    But as usual I could well be wrong...Perception has been known to play tricks on the mind :)

    Do Buddhists believe in ghosts?

    Yes & No ....

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    There are several scientifically proven reasons people have ghost like experiences.

    https://nypost.com/2017/07/20/the-real-reasons-some-people-see-ghosts/

    This doesn't disprove ghosts, but all of these factors need to be ruled out, probably others as well, before we can say that a ghostly encounter is paranormal.

    Shoshin
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited August 11

    @federica said:
    Simsapa sutta.
    And that's all I need to say about that.

    This would be good advice, but I don't think it actually solves the problem. Because the responsibility it still on us and only us to decide what the Buddha "really" taught.

    For instance, in MN 120 there are incredibly vague instructions as to how an accomplished mendicant is to become a tulku in his next life.

    Do we believe this or not? Did the ascetic Gautama, as a historical personage, teach that highly skilled monks can be reborn where they wish via aspiration and mental cultivation?

    It's a question that doesn't really have an answer, IMO

    personkando
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Here is a list of ghosts I don't believe in:

    • Holy Ghost
    • Fish Ghosts
    • Casper
    • Reincarcerated Ghosts (Soles)
    • Demons
    • Jinn
    • Non-human Hungry Ghosts
    • Vampires, ghouls, banshees etc etc

    I am a Buddhist. One day I won't be a ghost ...

    Keromekando
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Here is a list of ghosts I don't believe in:

    • Fish Ghosts
    • Reincarcerated Ghosts (Soles)

    I knew it would come down to fish at some point :)

    lobsterkandoShoshin
  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    Cultural belief has a lot of weight, I was surprised to realise that a lot of Elizabethan Protestants truly believed the second coming of Christ and the end of the world were imminent events. Then there was John Dee and his angelic conversations, such beings, as well as ghosts, were accepted as fact. So the sutras, being so much more ancient, are bound to contain a lot of superstition.

    lobster
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    I can't say I believe in ghosts but whenever I encounter one I treat them as if they are real.

    I've gotten more than a couple messages from those that have passed on in dreams and even if they were just conjured from my subconscious they were quite helpful.

    Sort of like looking deeply into or communicating with the dralas (to borrow a term from Chogyam Trungpa).

    kando
  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    Dreams often help me to make sense of various events and states that would otherwise remain chaotic and unfixable. At bad times in my life I kept a dream diary, these days I just write down any interesting ones. I met Peter Cook in a dream once and we walked around Soho, talking. It was brilliant, I really felt that I had met him :)

  • namarupanamarupa Veteran
    edited August 12

    I've seen an object move by itself. That's about it. And I'm positive there were no wnid, earthquakes, or anyone pulling a prank. I didn't jump from my seat though. It just made me think about it, and recall it from time to time.

  • In a manner of speaking there is the convention of man, woman, cats, dogs, spirits and ghosts. In the ultimate sense there really isn't.

    What? Do you assume a 'living being,' Mara?
    Do you take a position?
    This is purely a pile of fabrications.
    Here no living being
    can be pinned down.

    Just as when, with an assemblage of parts,
    there's the word,
    chariot,
    even so when aggregates are present,
    there's the convention of
    living being.

    For only stress is what comes to be;
    stress, what remains & falls away.
    Nothing but stress comes to be.
    Nothing ceases but stress.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn05/sn05.010.than.html

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    I once had a Monk tell me to be careful what I am doing as the heavenly beings were watching me.....

    Scheisenhausen!!! O.o

    kandoKeromeShoshin
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