宣化上人开示录:你想知道鬼是什么吗?四种灵性动物不能放生 ? Do You Wa


Demons and spirits can also change into various kinds of animals.When we first moved to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in 1976, alayman brought a bunch of turtles to be set free. One of theturtles was overturned and had its legs sticking up in the air. Thelayman Feng , who was there at the time, saw a person wearing greencome to ask him for help. When he went around to check it out, hecame upon the turtle on its back. So, you see, turtles also have aspiritual nature; that’s why that turtle went to him for help. Noone paid any attention to this matter for many years. This incidentshows that all living beings gather with their own kind.


I didn’t invent it; it has always existed. If you don’t believe it,go to the heavens and see for yourself. The heavenly computerdoesn’t need people to type commands into it to tell it what to do.All you have to do is think about what you would like to know, andthe celestial computer will calculate the answer without theslightest mistake. It knows immediately what is on your mind. Icall it ’spiritual’ because it’s so mysteriously efficacious.However, given the incredible number of ghosts, probably even theheavenly computer wouldn’t be able to calculate their numberaccurately. One second after it calculated an answer, the ghostpopulation would already have increased by hundreds of billions.What’s more, ghosts are always unpredictably moving from theheavens to the earth and back. It’s impossible to get an accuratecount of them.

Before hearing the Shurangama Mantra explained, we didn’t knowthere were so many ghosts. Ghosts are even more numerous thanpeople. When people create offenses, they fall into the realm ofghosts and cannot escape by themselves. When the Buddha was in theworld, he once picked up a handful of dirt and asked his disciples,“Is there more dirt in my hand or on the ground?”


3.Eating by thought. Heavenly beings getfull just by thinking about food.

“The number of beings who have attained a human body can becompared to the dirt in my hand,” said the Buddha, “while those whohave lost their human form are as numerous as the particles of dirton the ground.” What do most people become after they lose theirhuman form? Ghosts, of course! And so there are more ghosts thanpeople. You could never calculate their number, even with the helpof a computerunless you used the spiritual or celestialcomputer.


The Four Types of Eating


1.Eating in portions. All sentientliving beings-those possessed of blood, breath, and materialform-eat in portions, that is in distinct segments of time. Forexample, we eat breakfast in the morning, lunch at noon, and dinnerin the evening. We don’t eat in the intervals between meals. Humanbeings and animals all eat in portions.

There are many kinds of ghosts. [Chinese] people usually pictureghosts as grotesque beings with green faces and long fangs, butthis is not necessarily the case. Sometimes ghosts take on humanform. You may think they are people, but they are actually ghosts.If you have opened the Five Eyes, ghosts won’t be able to deceiveyou. Using their spiritual powers, ghosts can also transform intoanimals, such as pigs, cows, sheep, dogs, fish, and rabbits. Theymay also change into small creatures such as ants, mosquitoes,flies, sparrows, and bees. When flowers bloom in the spring, forinstance, many of the bees gathering pollen are actually ghostsmanifesting as bees. There are real bees as well as phony ones. Thereal bees are undergoing their retribution as bees in accord withtheir karma, while the phony ones are ghosts in transformation whogo around collecting pollen and drinking nectar from the flowers.Don’t assume that all ghosts are invisible. You face them everyday; you just don’t recognize them. This is like “facing GuanshiyinBodhisattva and not recognizing him.” You meet ghosts withoutrecognizing them.


“Since when did you invent a ‘celestial computer’?” you ask.



Fruits are not animals, for they lack blood and energy. But theyare living things as well. Anything with a life has a nature. Whenfruit is offered to the ghosts and spirits, the ghosts and spiritseat the nature of the fruit. Ghosts don’t have to bite the fruit toeat it. They simply touch the fruit and absorb its nature, andthat’s how they eat. Therefore, the fruit that has been offered tothe ghosts and spirits doesn’t have much flavor left.


Someone is saying, “Dharma Master, I don’t believe what you’resaying.” That’s okay. I don’t demand that you believe it. I’m justletting you know the principle so you won’t encounter ghosts everyday without being aware of it. Someone else is thinking, “DharmaMaster, I’m so scared by what you said that I won’t be able tosleep at night!” Well, if you can’t sleep, you can cultivate the“Standing Buddha” Samadhi [developed through not sitting or lyingdown for ninety days and constantly reciting Amitabha Buddha’sname.]

In the mountains around my hometown in Manchuria, there is a kindof big bear. When it eats, it doesn’t chew, but just swallows thefood. There’s a type of pear that grows in the mountains callediron pellet pear, because it’s very hard. The bear simply gulps itdown without chewing, and the funny thing is, the pear comes outwhole in the bear’s excrement, looking exactly the same as beforeit was swallowed. Although it is intact, it has lost its flavor,because when it passed through the chemical factory (i.e. digestivesystem), its essence was absorbed. Only the shape remains, not itsnature. This can help us understand how the Buddhas, ghosts, andspirits eat fruit. Fruit that has been offered to the Buddhascannot be kept very long, for it spoils quickly. The same is trueof people; when they are alive, their souls stay with them. Oncethey die, their souls leave and their bodies decay rapidly. Fruitthat has lost its essence rots quickly.


If I tell you the truth, you certainly won’t believe me. That’s whyI hardly ever speak the truth. But that doesn’t mean I lie, becauselying is not permissible. We shouldn’t say too many true words, butwe should never say false words. If we speak too many truths,people won’t believe us.



In studying the Shurangama Mantra, we have learned that there areall sorts of ghosts in every conceivable form. Their appearancesdepend on the retribution they are undergoing. Many of the phrasesin the Shurangama Mantra are the names of kings of ghosts andspirits, suchasyakshas(speedyghosts),rakshasas(fearsomeghosts), soul-guarding ghosts, corpse-guardingghosts,pisachas(essence-eatingghosts),kumbhandas(paralysis ghosts),large-bodied ghosts, insane ghosts, stinkyghosts,putanas(foul-smellingghosts), heat ghosts, chilly ghosts, shadowy ghosts, musicalghosts, flower-eating ghosts, fetus-eating ghosts, grease-eatingghosts, lamplight-eating ghosts, grain-eating ghosts, and so on.Their transformations are infinite and inexhaustible.


Maybe Guo Tuo used to be a crane in his past lives, but heard someSutras and got to be born as a human in this life. It’s not forsure. He couldn’t bear to see his crane friend suffering, so hetook it to the hospital. But the doctors couldn’t do anything totreat it, so he took it back and put it beneath the tree. Althoughthe big crane tried to protect it, in the end it was caught by theeagle. From this we know that all living beings like to stay withtheir own kind and have their own retinues.

4.Eating by consciousness. These beingsdon’t even have to think about food. The function of eating takesplace in the eighth consciousness. Beings in the Heavens of theFour Stations of Emptiness eat in this way.

People who are unruly and unreasonable are the reincarnations ofevil demons. No matter how well you treat them, they don’tappreciate it. Even if you sacrifice your own blood and flesh forthem, they are ungrateful and insatiable. Why? Because they havebeen steeped in bad habits for many eons. Their habits are deeplyand firmly rooted, and their bad characters are formed from beingstubborn and unwilling to change.


Whatever kind of being one has transformed from, the shadow of thatbeing still trails one. This shadow is also called “ghost soul”(people have three souls and seven spiritual faculties). Forinstance, if someone was a horse in his previous life, there willbe the shadow of a horse following him. Had he been a mule, ox,sheep, chicken, dog, or pig in his previous life, the correspondingshadow would also remain behind him. People who have opened thefive eyes can tell at a glance: “Oh! So this person was a dog inhis previous life!” However, not everyone is able to open the fiveeyes, or else they might reveal all the problems of other people’sprevious lives. It is said, “Heavenly secrets cannot bedivulged!”

As to the four types of eating, ghosts only need to sniff or touchthe food and they will have eaten. They are not like us people whohave to go through the trouble of biting, chewing, and swallowingour food. Someone is wondering, “How come you know so much aboutthese things?” I used to be a ghost, and I still remember. Ghostseat by touching, heavenly beings eat by thinking, and beings in theHeavens of the Four Stations of Emptiness eat by consciousness.

Sexual misconduct: In terms of causes and effects, sexualmisconduct is the most serious offense. Its punishment is the mostsevere. If a married couple gets divorced and each one remarries,then according to the law of cause and effect, their bodies will becut in half after they die. This is because when they were alive,they had two relationships. So after they die, their karmicretribution manifests. A huge saw slices people in half from headto toe. Their bodies are sawed into as many pieces as the number ofoffenses they committed. If they were married a hundred times, theyare sawed into a hundred pieces, so each of their former partnerscan have a tiny share of them. What’s so bad about being dividedinto pieces? If the soul becomes fragmented like that, it’s verydifficult to make it whole again. Probably those people won’tregain a human body again for billions of eons. When their natureis split and their souls are incomplete, they become dull andinsentient, like plants. When their inherent nature is scattered,it’s hard to become a sentient being again. Even if they became asentient being, they might be a mosquito. But one human body cantransform into 84,000 mosquitoes, and it’s not easy to get allthose mosquitoes back into one being. Most of the time, mosquitoesare reborn as mosquitoes. So they bob up and down in the cycle ofbirth and death, not understanding how to turn away from the dustand unite with enlightenment, or how to renounce confusion andreturn to the proper. It’s said, “Once the human body is lost, itcannot be regained in ten thousand eons.” If you truly understandthis principle, how could you not be afraid?


If one upholds Five Precepts and cultivates the Ten Good Deeds, onecan be reborn in the heavens and become a god. The Five Preceptsare no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, and notaking of intoxicants. Not killing is compassion. Not stealing isrighteousness. One who doesn’t commit sexual misconduct is a personof propriety. One who never lies is trustworthy. One who abstainsfrom intoxicants will not be crazy and confused. People who killreceive the retribution of having a shortened life and sufferingmany misfortunes in their next life. People who steal receive theretribution of a life of poverty and hardship. People who commitsexual misconduct may be reborn as sparrows or pigeons.


Today I’ll tell you something that happened in one of my previouslives when I was a ghost. If you are still interested, then in thefuture I can tell you about when I used to be an ant, a mosquito, ahell-being, an animal, and so on. I won’t hold back anything.

All kings of ghosts and spirits have great awesome virtue. They canslay demons, eradicate disasters, and subdue externalists. They useDharmas of Subduing to subdue all deviant cults, ghosts, andspirits. They can subdue any being that has deviant knowledge andviews, or practices deviant crafts and methods. They can inspirevirtue, get rid of vice, overcome evil, and destroy demons. Evildemons are like unruly people.

Animals all stay with their own kind. Birds of the same specieslive together in flocks, and those of other species aren’t allowedto join as guests. If outsiders come, fighting occurs. You may haveseen the white cranes fighting with the eagles in the Forest of TenThousand Sages at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Last year, oneof the white cranes was injured from fighting, or perhaps it fellfrom its nest. One of my young disciples, Guo Tuo, had been afriend with this crane in past lives.





Coming back to the topic, all living beings need food to live. Takethe fruits we eat for example. When they are freshly plucked fromthe tree, they are actually “double.” An apple is not just oneapple; superimposed on it is another apple. Someone says, “How comeI don’t see it?” Well, if you saw it you would eat it! Of the twoapples, one is a shadow, or you might call it the “nature” of theapple. By the same token, every person is not just one person. Heor she has a spiritual nature that goes along with the body.However, a person’s spiritual nature is hidden inside of the bodyand doesn’t show up on the outside. If this spiritual nature cameout, it would be eaten up by ghosts and demons.


未曾听〈楞严咒〉之前,还不认识哩!所谓“对面不识观世音”,你天天与他打照面,你不要以为鬼一定是看不见的,诸如马牛羊犬、鱼类、小白兔等。为什么能变呢?因为他有神通。或者变为蚂蚁、蚊虫、苍蝇、雀鸟、蜜蜂等。譬如:春天时百花盛开,你知道宣化上人开示录:你想知道鬼是什么吗。鬼就不能欺骗你了。鬼又能变畜生,其实是鬼。若你是开了五眼的人,以为是个人,乍看之下,其实这不一定。有时鬼能化做人身,青面獠牙,一般人皆以为鬼是狰狞可怖,永无了期。Don’t assume that allghosts are invisible.You face them every day; you justdon’t recognize them.鬼的种类很多,昼夜炽燃,所以死后变成鬼也不舒服,或证阿罗汉果。


A talk given on February 5, 1981



There is another variety of ghost that eats only fruit. All livingbeings need food to survive, and there are four ways in whichbeings can eat.

Ghosts also have their ghost retinues and ghost friends. If a ghostknows where food can be found, it will invite some friends to gowith him. For instance, there are flower-eating ghosts thattransform into bees or butterflies and go around eating pollen anddrinking nectar.

Hungry ghosts undergo the retribution of constantly being scorchedby fire. Both the inside and the outside of their bodies are onfire. They are fried incessantly by internal and external fires,suffering unspeakable pain. As retribution for having had terribletempers as people, they are burned day and night as ghosts, with nohope of respite or escape. However, if they get a little bit ofnectar to eat, it will slightly relieve their burning agony. Theyare grateful for even one second of coolness! And so we can seethat the consequences of good and evil follow us as unfailingly asa shadow follows its form. We had better be careful!




“Of course there’s much more dirt on the ground,” said thedisciples. “There’s very little dirt in the World Honored One’shand.”


The kings of ghosts and spirits in the Shurangama Mantra lead theirrespective retinues which include heavenly generals and soldiers,heavenly officials, and vajra spirits. All of them guard the tendirections, protect cultivators and help Way-places to thrive. Wementioned many different kinds of ghosts and spirits, and theirrespective retinues. All living beings have their own “souls”. Dogshave dog souls; cats have cat souls. Large beings and small beingsall have their souls. Although people are afraid of ghosts, thereisn’t any real separation between people and ghosts. Ghosts live inthe yin realm, while people live in yang realm. However, yin andyang are basically one entity. There’s no difference and no line ofdemarcation. Ghosts have heavy greed, anger, and delusion. Incomparison, people have more precepts, samadhi, and wisdom.Therefore, ghosts are masses of yin energy, while the energy ofpeople and animals allows them to assume physical forms.



Why do they have physical forms? They have all kinds ofattachments, so they crawl into the cage offiveskandhasand can’t escape from therealms of form, feeling, thinking, formations, and consciousness.The net of thefiveskandhascovers upour own nature, just as dark clouds cover up the sun. Yin and yangare basically one substance, separated only by the “clouds” of thefiveskandhas. People are trapped by the array of thefiveskandhas, and ghosts are also entangled by the denseforest of the fiveskandhas, so they bobup and down in the sea of karma, being born and dying over and overagain. They are born human, but at death they turn into ghosts.However, with cultivation they need not become ghosts. If they aresuccessful in cultivation, they can become Buddhas or Bodhisattvas,or attain the fruition of Arhatship.


Birds like to go off into wild flights of fancy. This is themanifestation of the karmic retribution of people who committedadultery and injured their virtue in their previous lives. I alwaysteach you about this, but some people still don’t pay attention.So, I’m taking the trouble to repeat it once again: Don’t kill! Allliving beings from countless eons in the past have been my parents,friends, and relatives. My parents from previous lives committedoffenses and thus fell and were reborn as pigs, horses, cows, andsheep. If you kill animals at will, you are just indirectly killingyour parents.


Stealing: It’s said, “Don’t do to others what you don’t wish tohave done to yourself.” If you don’t desire to have your wealthrobbed or stolen, then first of all you shouldn’t steal others’property.

2.Eating by contact.These beings, whichinclude ghosts, get full just by touching the food.

The various karmic retributions of ghosts and spirits have theircauses and conditions. Every cause has its result. This is theprocess of “being deluded, creating karma, and undergoingretribution.” We should know that blessings will follow upon gooddeeds and calamities will follow upon evil deeds, just as the echofollows the sound. Whether we experience suffering or pleasure,it’s all our own doing and no one else’s. If you don’t want tobecome a ghost, then don’t create the karma of ghosts.

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