36 types of hungry ghosts – Part 3 of 3

The advice we received from our teacher is; “Do not associate with Ghost and create karmic connections with them” This mean

  • we shouldn’t condition our mind to yearn for connection with spirits (aka Ghost)
  • we shouldn’t indulge in prayers and rituals that attract ghosts

This particular sutra didn’t gain popularity in China and most people don’t read about it. I think some part of the sutra may inevitably read like a critique of ancestral worship. In fact many rituals across cultures will fall within its ambit. If you are familiar with Theravada Buddhism, the Buddha was very critical about religious rituals. In fact, one of the signs of enlightenment is a freedom from useless rituals.

In the sutra, certain rituals are described as foolish and people who practice such rituals, fools. This is because people are misled into praying to ghost while believing that they are praying to Gods/Buddha. (by the way, praying to Buddha is already wrong foot forward because Buddha never taught us to pray to him.)

I find this sutra and the topic useful because, if we think deeply and observe the practice and result of many spiritualist or occultist, most often than not, the entities that they managed to summon are such “low level” ghosts. Because they are non-the-wiser, they easily mistaken these ghosts to be powerful beings like Yashas, Asuras, elemental fairies, Gods, tutelary deities, guardian spirits, terrestrial angels or demigods etc.

I had joined a facebook group that is interested in the western paranormal for a few months.

Many who started to indulge in the paranormal activities were looking for signs from love ones who had passed on. (Séance, Ouija board, mediumship etc) Some suffer from immense sorrow, others were feeling guilt, some are suffering from attachment or regret etc, they are all hoping for and looking for messages from their love ones. Without the knowledge of Dharma, many believe that when a person dies, they can only become spirits. They don’t seem too concerned about the types of entities they are dealing with. Terms like ghost, angels and spirits are used interchangeably.

According to our teacher, the best way to remember our deceased love ones, is to

  • practice Dharma (aka, being a good person with a healthy mind) and share our merits with them.
  • Aspire to become enlightened so that we can truly help them.

Attachment is not useful because it creates sufferings. When we attempt to communicate with the dead, more often than not, we attract ghost and not the spirits of our love ones. (Remember, the Buddha taught about “no-soul” and rebirth?)

These ghosts may influence a weak minded person to indulge in dark thoughts that may lead to bad actions.

Some lead you to conclude that live is precious and YOLO. Why not indulge in all you want while alive. Mindless living tend to lead to indulgence in our senses. (alcoholism, sexual addictions, relentless pursuit of material success etc) Something as innocent as wanting to look our best (being healthy or slim) can also developed into darker thoughts, if we start starving ourselves or induce vomiting after every meal.

Ghost with supernatural power can read us like an open book. So it is a piece of cake for them to impersonate our dead relatives or friend. If one’s mind is weak, it can be easily influenced into darker thoughts. Some of these ghost feed on dark mental energy.

Therefore, we shouldn’t crave for connection with spirits or the dead. The advice boils down to;



We should focus on living a good lifestyle with a healthy mind, to benefit anyone (dead or alive)

Last but not least, before I continue with the types of ghost. Not all mental issues are caused by ghost. If we adopt that kind of belief, it is also a type of ignorance.

Energy eating ghost食人精氣鬼烏殊婆叉

This type of ghost target people who are ill and depress. They lurk around critically ill people and feed on their energy when the opportunity arise. I think the western paranormal call them dark shadow man?

Brahmanic rākṣasa-ghost梵羅剎鬼婆羅門羅剎

These are ghosts with supernatural powers. They are “lost” and usually haunt crossroads and backstreets. At the right opportunity, they create mishap or possess man. It is a retribution rebirth for religious people who lost their way in faith. Imagine a religious person becoming cruel in the name of his religion….

Hearth ghost火爐鬼君茶

Lurk around kitchens of religious places to steal food. This is a retributional rebirth for people who “steal” food from religious organisation. In the Buddhist context, the funds in a working temple with monks are meant to support the religious life of monks. If we are working at the temple and like to “steal” a free meal, misuse the funds etc, that kind of casual mental habit will lead us to seek food in a temple in the next life.

That is why, many monk will advice the volunteer to donate a token sum when they eat at a temple. Or seek permission from the monk before eating. This is to train our mind not take temple food offerings for granted.

Dirty streets不淨巷陌鬼 阿輸婆囉他

These ghost haunts the dirty and impure streets at night. Those where vices are rampant and the streets are polluted with vomit and urine etc.

Wind-eating ghost食風鬼婆移婆叉

These ghost sees food and drinks but when they reach for the food and drinks, the food and drinks becomes an illusive vision. Just like the wind.

This is a retributional rebirth for people who make empty promises of donation to charity.

Coal-eating ghost食火炭鬼鴦伽囉婆叉

These ghost feed on the smouldering substance at a cremation fire. It is a retributional rebirth for people who deprive captives of food.

Poison eating ghost食毒鬼毘沙婆叉

Their food is poisonous fumes. This is a retributional rebirth for poisoning beings to steal from them.

Jungle ghost 曠野鬼阿吒毘

They roam the jungle for food, driven by intense hunger. They suffer from cuts by the leaves and thorns and attacks by the animals.

Living in cremation grounds and eating hot ashes塚間住食熱灰土賒摩舍羅

The name of this ghost says it all. A retributional rebirth for people who steals offerings from religious organization.

Ghost living in trees樹中住­鬼毘利差

This ghost lives in tree and suffer the pains of it’s habitat. Gnawed by insects and the damage from weather. Forest monks sometime encounter an entire village of such beings.

Crossroads ghost四交道遮多波他

This type of ghost specifically resides at crossroad junctions. Some people still practice making offerings to such ghost in this part of the world. Their purpose may be to ward off a mysterious ailments or troubles at work etc.

During the hungry ghost festival, offerings at crossroad becomes more commonly sighted.

Māra-body ghost魔羅身鬼 魔羅迦耶

The last type of ghost specifically target practitioners. Basically anyone who do good, avoid evil and develop their mind through concentration and wisdom. If you look beyond conventional definition, I think it includes any holy people.

These ghost feeds on the confusion arising from spiritual practices. Consequently, they enjoy disturbing practitioners to sabotage their success in the way.

May all be well and happy.

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