The Good and Bad Ghosts and the Law of Causation

The Good and Bad Ghosts and the Law of Causation- Master Yin Shun


Buddhism does not teach us to worship ghosts, but Buddhism does recognize that ghosts exist. The realm of ghosts is one of the six realms of existence among sentient beings. (The six realms are: hell, ghosts, animals, humans, heaven, asuras.)
In this world, there are good people and bad people. In the world of ghosts, it is the same. There are good ghosts and bad ghosts. Even though there are bad people in this world, good people outnumber them by quite a lot. It is the same with ghosts. There are some very evil ghosts, but most ghosts are good ghosts. People, sometimes, are much worse than ghosts. Human beings sometimes will do things no ghost would ever consider doing.
In Nanyang there once was a man named Ting-po Sung. One night Sung was hurrying home when suddenly he saw a ghost. Sung acted as bravely as he could and asked, "Who are you and why are you walking so strangely?"
"I am a ghost, that is why. Now, who are you?" the figure answered.
Sung was frightened to hear the ghost’s reply, and he was even more afraid to admit that he was a human being. Might not the ghost harm him if he admitted that? In a moment’s inspiration, Sung decided to do what human beings do best-lie. "Oh! I am a ghost, too," he said.
"You are a ghost, too, are you? Well, where are you going?"
"I am on my way to the city," Sung replied.
"Great," the ghost said, obviously pleased to hear that. "I am on my way to the city, too. Let us walk together."
Sung had no choice but to accept the invitation. With great trepidation he fell in behind the ghost to walk to the city. After a while, when they both began to show signs of fatigue, the ghost turned and made a suggestion. "The city is still far away," he said. "Walking like this is tiring. Let us take turns carrying each other instead. That way we can still make good progress and one of us will be able to rest. What do you think about this?"
"This is a good idea," Sung said.
"Okay, I will carry you first." With that, the ghost hoisted Sung onto his back. "Wow! Are you ever heavy! How did you get so heavy?" the ghost asked.
Ghosts have no definite form and no weight. They are a kind of spirit or a kind of energy (ch’i). They can pass through walls and become invisible at will. So, to a ghost, a human being is very gross and heavy.
As soon as Sung heard the ghost’s question, he made up another lie. "I am so heavy," he said, "because I died just recently."
The ghost believed Sung and they continued to travel along with the ghost carrying Sung.
After a while, they came to a river. The ghost stopped and said, "We better swim across here." With that he dove into the water and, with the grace of a cloud flying through the air, swam to the other side. When the ghost got to his feet and turned around, he saw Sung still struggling in the middle of the river, splashing the water and panting very loudly. Gradually, Sung got closer. When he reached the bank, the ghost hurried over to ask him, "Why do you make so much noise when you swim? You will scare everybody around here!"
Sung could see that the ghost was getting suspicious of him so he used his best trick and repeated his lie from before. "I just died, so I really have not learned to swim yet," he said.
The two started for town again. As they walked, Sung thought to himself, "This is a bad night for me. Here I am walking along with a ghost. I have to think of some way to get away from him!" In an innocent manner, Sung asked the ghost, "Friend, I just died, and I am not all that clear about the world of ghosts. You have much more experience than I do. Tell me, what is the most frightening thing for us ghosts? What do we most need to watch out for?"
"Human saliva," the ghost replied. "If a human being ever spits on a ghost, that ghost has had it. There is nothing he can do to save himself."
The ghost was candid with his reply. Above them the sky was slowly starting to take on a shade of silvery gray. Dawn was approaching. The two were now close to the city.
Sung waited for a chance when the ghost was not looking, and spit a large gob of spittle on the ghost’s back. Immediately, the ghost began to twist and turn. Then he fell to the ground, writhing in agony before he completely disappeared. In his place stood a small mountain goat. Sung took the goat into town and sold him for a good price.
This little story displays well the cruelty and deceitfulness of human beings. Sometimes ghosts are willing to help us, but we repay them by striking them with such cruel force. It really is true that sometimes people are much worse than ghosts.
Evil ghosts capable of harming human beings do exist, but if we are moral and kind throughout our lives, they can do us no harm. There is a Chinese saying which applies well here, "If we do no evil in the day, we need not worry about evil ghosts knocking on our doors at night." The ghosts outside of us are not nearly as frightening as the ghosts inside of us.
Once there was an old monk who was just sitting down to meditate when a ghost with unkempt hair and wild eyes appeared before him, trying to disturb his peace of mind. The old monk looked at him and said, "Oh my, what is this? What a mess! Look at that hair, and those eyes! You are really in no shape to be visiting people!"
When the ghost saw that he had failed to frighten the monk and was being admonished instead, he wrenched up his face, bared his sharp teeth and stuck his long tongue far outside his mouth.
The monk only said in reply, "What is so great about that? Your face is the same as mine; it is only a little paler and your teeth are sharper and your tongue is longer. That is all."
When the ghost saw that once again he had failed to scare the old monk, he changed his appearance again. He made his eyes and his nose disappear. Then he made his hands and feet disappear. However, the monk stayed the same, behaving as if nothing special were happening.
"My, you are pitiful!" he said. "You have no eyes, nose, hands or feet. I really feel quite sorry for you!"
With this response, the ghost at last gave up trying to scare the monk and disappeared. When the old monk saw the frightful appearance of the ghost, all he felt was compassion for him for having accumulated such bad karma to be turned into a ghost. Mercy has no enemies. In the face of compassion, all perverse and evil forces melt into nothingness.
We all know that people fear ghosts, but, actually, ghosts fear people much more than we do them. When ghosts see people, they run away as far as they can. They behave the same way wild animals do when they see people: they go and hide. Ghosts never come out in the day; they always wait until nighttime. The reason is that they fear people so much they come out only when the fewest people are around. If you understand this, then the next time one of you sees a ghost, you need not panic. Ghosts exist in a different realm from us and their karma has nothing to do with ours.
The Records of Hell contains a story about a man named Te-ju Yuan who got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. In the bathroom, Yuan suddenly saw a giant ghost standing quietly in front of him. The ghost had enormous eyes and a black face. He was wearing a long white robe. The two looked steadily at each other for a while. Then, Yuan broke into a laugh and said, "People have always told me that ghosts have ugly faces. Now I can see for myself that they are right!"
When he heard Yuan say this, the ghost felt so embarrassed his ears and face turned red and he had to leave. Sometimes a ghost’s sense of shame can be even more developed than a human being’s. If we are clear in our minds about what constitutes good and bad, and if we always try to behave in the right way, no ghost will ever dare interfere in our lives.




1 Response to “The Good and Bad Ghosts and the Law of Causation”

  1. 1 Steve
    March 22, 2006 at 15:43

    According to Vedic teachings the material cosmic creation consists of eight elements namely: earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego. When in contact with the material energy we spirit souls are covered over by two bodies — the gross body and the subtle body. The gross body consists of a combination of the first five elements and the subtle body consists of mind, intellect and ego. A ghost is simply a living entity who is existing without a gross physical body — but still covered by the subtle body. Perhaps ghosts whoosh around singing "I ain’t got no body …." but that’s another subject.
        Even though they lack a physical body often times ghosts will still have sensual desires in which case they might try to possess an embodied living entity in order to enjoy sense gratification through him/her. When we are just falling asleep or waking up — in that twilight state between consciousness and unconsciousness — sometimes we will feel paralyzed and can’t even utter a sound. That is when a ghost has us pinned down — is sitting on our chest and trying to manipulate us. Many people experience this, are very frightened by it, and have no idea what’s happening to them.
        Yes, there are ghosts everywhere and yes, there are good ghosts and bad ghosts. Casper, for instance — is a very good ghost.

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