Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:27 pm

Im posting this after seeing a post by a member, for whom i have much respect, where he referred to "hostile spiritual forces".

Im one of those folks who has trouble beleiving much of anything that cant be directly experienced. I try to keep an open mind, but i realize a stance like this comes with its own set of blinders. So im looking for opinions.

Are there hostile spiritual forces? What are they?
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Moggalana » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:40 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Are there hostile spiritual forces? What are they?

Greed. Hatred. Delusion.
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:58 pm

:goodpost:

The fetters too.
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:22 pm

What about Mara devaputta?
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Anicca » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:23 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Are there hostile spiritual forces? What are they?

Yep. Meet and greet them:
The Demons ...
As for us, we still lie under the sway of Maras of various kinds. These intimidating Maras are called Kilesa-Maras, the demons of defilement. The big ones, the really infamous ones, are greed, aversion, and delusion. These are the famous ones. As for the ones that stay more in the background, behind the scenes, those are kama-tanha, craving for sensuality, struggling to get things in ways that are offensive to the Dhamma; bhava-tanha, craving for things to be this way or that; and vibhava-tanha, craving that things not happen. For instance, once we've gained wealth, we don't want to lose it; once we've gained status, we don't want anyone to wipe out the edge we have over others. This is vibhava-tanha. These three forms of craving are also demons of defilement, but they're not very well known. Only once in a long, long while do you hear anyone mention their names.


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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Fede » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:38 pm

Yes, but these are all mind-wrought and self-made.
I thought the OP was referring to personifications and actual beings, or supernatural phenomena... or am I missing something here?
Really, if I'm being thick, I apologise. But I don't see "Greed, Hatred and Delusion" as 'Hostile Spiritual Forces'.
More illusory defilements and attachments we grasp and cling to....

(I've got the 'Ride of the Valkyries' pounding through my head now, for some reason.....)
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

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Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Anicca » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:04 pm

Only m0rl0ck can say what he meant .
If he meant beings - then the answer is Asuras.
We all answered assuming forces - that which deforms ...

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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby m0rl0ck » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:12 am

Anicca wrote:Only m0rl0ck can say what he meant .




Actually i was hoping you all would clarify my thinking on the matter. I didnt realize that knowing what you meant was prerequisite for posting :)

If he meant beings - then the answer is Asuras.


could you expand on that?

We all answered assuming forces - that which deforms ...

metta


Include beings in the original question then, please.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:44 am

There's different Rupalokas (formal worlds/realms)

The realms of the Deva or 'God' and Asura or 'Demi-Gods' - Devas are blissful and beings of happiness. Rather reminiscent of Greek myths about the realm of the gods. But in Buddhism, this is not an immortal state, and also not the ideal one for attaining liberation. The Ashura existence is also pleasurable, but these beings are jealous and competitive.

There's the Preta 'hungry ghost' Realm - This realm is defined by constant desire and greed where hungry ghosts obsess about things they are attached to. They're so overcome by a desire for more food, drink, sex, wealth, or even certain emotional states that they become consumed by it. They cannot focus on anything else.

Then there's Naraka or 'Hell' Realms. These beings are defined by hatred and rage, and by defining all other beings as enemies. Is that what you meant?
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby plwk » Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:05 am

Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Anicca » Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:11 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
Anicca wrote:If he meant beings - then the answer is Asuras.

could you expand on that?
No, :broke: I didnt realize that knowing what I meant was prerequisite for posting :tongue:


But according to the experts that I respect -
Of all "spiritual beings" listed in the Buddhist cosmology - the Asuras are the violent ones

From Ajahn Geoff's footnote to SN 11.5 Subhasita-jaya Sutta
The asuras, known for their fierce anger, later became classed as angry demons ...

Ajahn Lee in Knowledge paints a humorous picture of the peta loka (ghosts - hungry shades)
Hungry shades come in all different shapes and sizes — really entertaining, the hungry shades.
and he says even visiting hell can be enjoyable
you can go sightseeing in hell. It's nice and relaxing. You can play with the denizens of hell, fool around with the denizens of hell. Any of them who have only a little bad kamma can come up and chat with you, to send word back to their relatives. Once you get back from touring around hell you can tell the relatives to make merit in the dead person's name.
Unfortunately, he says nothing of Asuras.

From that great arbiter of all knowledge Wikipedia:
The state of an Asura reflects the mental state of a human being obsessed with force and violence, always looking for an excuse to get into a fight, angry with everyone and unable to maintain calm or solve problems peacefully.


The important thing is that those beings are no threat to us - but the "forces" are another story ...

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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby cooran » Tue Dec 28, 2010 5:57 am

Hello m0rl0ck,

Are you asking if there are hostile spiritual forces who exist in a form which has access to the human realm, and who could harm you personally?

with metta
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:57 am

Ven Dhammika describes believing whatever is written in the texts as "Flat Earth Buddhism," but that is not how I describe it. Flat Earth Buddhism, for me, means dismissing whatever is beyond your own personal experience.

For example, if one stands on the cliff tops at Dover, one can see France, and even a Flat Earth Buddhist can rightly conclude that land exists on the other side of the English Channel without crossing the channel, whereas a Spherical Earth Buddhist can come to the same conclusion without even visiting Dover, let alone visiting France.

If one stands on the cliffs in Cornwall, it is not possible to see America. The Flat Earth Buddhist should conclude that America does not exist. Fortunately, early explorers who gained confidence in their ability to navigate, ventured out beyond the sight of dry land, and discovered new continents. They learnt that the earth was not flat. At first, their knowledge was patchy and inaccurate, but as more mariners successfully navigated the oceans they were able to draw better maps. Today, space travel leaves no doubt about the shape of the earth.

The Spherical Earth Buddhists will believe those who say that other realms exist even though they are not able to see them personally. They will rightly conclude that these realms exist by examining the teachings thoroughly and verifying their integrity through personal experience. The greater their knowledge and experience of the Buddha's teaching, the more clearly they can understand the extraordinary powers that the Buddha possessed. Of course, the ability to read and interpret maps correctly is not the same as actually being able to travel to distant places.
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby unspoken » Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:12 pm

Hey m0rl0ck,

Do you meant the "hostile spiritual forces" are something like a --- ghost/spirit which are bad and hunt you for revenge or so???

Because I'm an Asian, and here at my area buddhism is somehow kinda misunderstood and delivered some wrong informations to peoples sometimes. Here Daoism will likely to refer hostile spiritual forces as angry/avenging ghost that hunts its enemy.

So I would like to know does these kind of "forces" or "ghost/spirits" exist?
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby nobody12345 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 3:28 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Ven Dhammika describes believing whatever is written in the texts as "Flat Earth Buddhism," but that is not how I describe it. Flat Earth Buddhism, for me, means dismissing whatever is beyond your own personal experience.

For example, if one stands on the cliff tops at Dover, one can see France, and even a Flat Earth Buddhist can rightly conclude that land exists on the other side of the English Channel without crossing the channel, whereas a Spherical Earth Buddhist can come to the same conclusion without even visiting Dover, let alone visiting France.

If one stands on the cliffs in Cornwall, it is not possible to see America. The Flat Earth Buddhist should conclude that America does not exist. Fortunately, early explorers who gained confidence in their ability to navigate, ventured out beyond the sight of dry land, and discovered new continents. They learnt that the earth was not flat. At first, their knowledge was patchy and inaccurate, but as more mariners successfully navigated the oceans they were able to draw better maps. Today, space travel leaves no doubt about the shape of the earth.

The Spherical Earth Buddhists will believe those who say that other realms exist even though they are not able to see them personally. They will rightly conclude that these realms exist by examining the teachings thoroughly and verifying their integrity through personal experience. The greater their knowledge and experience of the Buddha's teaching, the more clearly they can understand the extraordinary powers that the Buddha possessed. Of course, the ability to read and interpret maps correctly is not the same as actually being able to travel to distant places.

Thank you for the great post.
I couldn't agree more with you.
Just because we don't have the Divine eye doesn't mean the only world out there is our own dimension.
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby khlawng » Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:34 am

Dear m0rl0ck,

If you are talking about poltergeists types or the crawling out of TV types or the traditional floating girl with long hair in white that scares the heck out of you type of spirits, I would say that it will be difficult to solicit any type of constructive response from this forum especially from our brothers and sisters from the more Western part of the world.

However, we Asians believe that ghost and spirits do exists. Buddhism does acknowledge the existence of Petas and Hungry Ghost. It is inevitable that at some stage our Karma is link to one of these entities through past lives and past actions. Personally, I believe that when our karma comes home to roost, proximity with these "wondering" spirits affects us mostly in the form of subtle things like creating sudden animosity among groups of living beings (family), ill-health, bad luck and depression among individuals etc.

If you read some of the contemporary non-fictional Thai literatures on Karma and Buddhism e.g. “Fruits of Karma”, there were also mention of angry spirits that causes road accidents by temporarily blinding people to on-coming vehicles etc. Such stories and believes have been making their rounds in Asia for centuries and do become the bread and butter for mediums, clairvoyants and certainly unscrupulous individuals that take on the ochre robes to make a living out of ignorant individuals.

My point is that it is difficult to answer direct questions on them with certainty because aside from what is mentioned in the scriptures and suttas, a lot of the views on spirits and ghosts are also shaped by different cultural believes, the media, pranksters, personal experience and tales that have been passed on from generation to generation. Better to put such curiosity and energy into pursuing and practicing the path and develop vision, insight, discernment, illumination and knowledge that may one day answer your questions on them anyway.

:anjali:
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:10 am

khlawng wrote:Better to put such curiosity and energy into pursuing and practicing the path and develop vision, insight, discernment, illumination and knowledge that may one day answer your questions on them anyway.

Well said.
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Re: Do hostile spiritual forces exist?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:19 am

khlawng wrote:My point is that it is difficult to answer direct questions on them with certainty because aside from what is mentioned in the scriptures and suttas, a lot of the views on spirits and ghosts are also shaped by different cultural believes, the media, pranksters, personal experience and tales that have been passed on from generation to generation. Better to put such curiosity and energy into pursuing and practicing the path and develop vision, insight, discernment, illumination and knowledge that may one day answer your questions on them anyway.

:anjali:

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