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June 3, 2016
Boo! Why Do We Love The Things That Scare Us?
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Despite their keeping us up at night, we all love a good ghost story. We are constantly fascinated by tales of ghouls, demonic possessions and those spirits that cannot be put to rest. So why do we get so scared yet relish the fright factor? Shakila Rajendra explores.

I’ve seen a ghost. Or perhaps it was a demon. I’m not entirely sure what it was exactly but in Malaysia they refer to it as a ‘Toyol’ which is a goblin-like demonic creature that’s small, has red eyes and exists mainly to steal money for its owner. I swear I saw it one night in Langkawi, a Malaysian island known for its spiritual nature, when I was asleep in a chalet and I was woken up by a dream that something was trying to get into my room. When I saw it, I knew it had to be real because I could see my friend sleeping in the bed across from me and I even noticed the time and yet, it felt strange, like a dream. The Toyol didn’t harm me and I somehow managed to go back to sleep. The next morning, when I suggested that we get out of the hotel as soon as possible, my friend did not question me. Instead, a few days later, she told me she too didn’t like that hotel, because the night we spent there she had the strangest dream, that a demonic creature was trying to get into our room…

A carved depiction of a Toyol

A carved depiction of a Toyol

I have been a collector of ghost stories my whole life. From numerous copies of True Singapore Ghost Stories to watching movies like The Exorcist numerous times to simply listening to anyone who will tell me of an experience, I’ve committed the most frightful and most believable to memory and store it up only to re-tell when an opportune event presents itself.

Yet, when it comes to my actual acknowledgement of the existence of ghosts, demons, ghouls and spirits of the undead, I remain quite sceptical. To quote Mulder from The X-files, ‘I want to believe’. You could say I am a fan of the unexplained but to actually acknowledge its reality might be too far of a stretch for me. If these things exist, then it opens up the possibility that many other scarier things can exist too and I guess the chicken in me would rather remain blissfully ignorant.

 

What Are Ghosts?

The depiction of a Pontianak, lady vampire ghost

The depiction of a Pontianak, lady vampire ghost

The traditional meaning of ghosts you could say are simply manifestations of the belief that there is life after death. Ghosts are believed to be lost souls, belonging to those who were once alive and who may have unfinished business in the world before they died and therefore are trapped in purgatory, which is believed to be a dimension between life and a higher ascension like heaven. Those whose souls are trapped will therefore have to try to find peace and until they do, they roam the Earth looking for closure.

Ghosts are therefore thought to usually be those who have died an untimely death. As ghosts are the remnants of those who were once humans, they usually take on the characteristics of the person they were before death. This means that not all ghosts can be bad and there are just as many incidences of ghosts who prove themselves to be helpful or kind than there are of those that may cause mischief or fear.

Spirits however, are somewhat different. These are beings that have not been human before and are believed to exist on a completely different plain than the one we live on. Spookily, these can be demonic spirits that have manifested not from restless human souls but rather are manifestations of evil and are thought to have risen from hell itself to cause mischief and mayhem on our living world.

A Penanggalan. It is thought that this spirit is the result of a woman who has used dark magic to obtain otherworldly powers and has to pay the price.

A Penanggalan. It is thought that this spirit is the result of a woman who has used dark magic to obtain otherworldly powers and has to pay the price.

Demons and demonic spirits can take on any number of forms such as vampires, demons or evil forces and they are thought to be unleashed on the world when humans dabble in practices that are best left alone. These practices can be referred to as dark magic which are ways in which humans try to manipulate or contact the spirit world so as to produce some sort of outcome that will benefit them in some way. Similar to ghosts, there are also good spirits that can take the form of guardians like angels.

Of course, due to various cultural and religious beliefs, peoples’ perception of the afterlife can be very different and ghosts, spirits and demons can take on very different forms according to culture and tradition and religion. It must also be understood that any being that isn’t human is somehow also linked to the perception of good and evil and will differ according to geography and practice of faith. They do however, have one thing in common and that is that they are based on the never ending fascination humans have with death and what comes after.

 

Why Do They Scare Us and What Drives Our Fascination?

As I mentioned before, I have had a lifelong fascination with ghost stories and tales of the unknown and as I’ve discovered I am not alone in this fascination. I’ve noticed that horror films have never failed to take in good ratings at the cinema and this summer is no different. Remakes of hits like Amityville are highly anticipated and movies like The Conjuring and The Ring have been so successful that producers have made them into franchises. As it turns out, everybody loves a good scare!

What appears to be a lady hanging from a tree...

What appears to be a lady hanging from a tree…

So what is it that drives us to continue being scared silly yet coming back for more? The writer Neil Gaiman has offered his insight into why we love telling each other ghost stories. He says, “It goes way back. We have ghost stories from ancient Egypt, after all, ghost stories in the Bible, classical ghost stories from Rome (along with werewolves, cases of demonic possession and, of course, over and over, witches). We have been telling each other tales of otherness, of life beyond the grave, for a long time; stories that prickle the flesh and make the shadows deeper and, most important, remind us that we live, and that there is something special, something unique and remarkable about the state of being alive. Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses.”

Perhaps it is this sense of experiencing a controlled fear that keeps us wanting to know more, and the rush is in knowing that we are somehow protected from it. As long as we remain in the land of the living. The rush can be likened to that of going on a roller coaster. Fear is indeed wonderful when we know we aren’t in actual danger!

 

Why Do We Fear Ghosts?

What drives our fear of these other worldly beings in the first place? Perhaps it is as basic as being afraid of that which we cannot predict, like death, ending up alone or the inability to fulfil a desire.

It could also be culture, tradition or religion that drives us to make distinctions between what’s good and evil and that in death, we will experience judgement. The emergence of these spirits only reiterates the trepidation of being judged in death and perhaps they symbolise our fears of not being able to fulfil our hopes or desires.

A haunted house in Ohio where a man killed himself and his family. It is said that ghosts and spirits like to hang around places where they died, reliving their deaths over and over again. In Buddhism, this is because the most traumatic event of their lives left such an imprint on their minds, that they returned to the place in their next life as a spirit (Credit: Seph Lawless)

A haunted house in Ohio where a man killed himself and his family. It is said that ghosts and spirits hang around places where they died, reliving their deaths over and over again. In Buddhism, this is especially true if their death was a traumatic and difficult one. They become attached to the places where they died, or even where they lived, because a very traumatic event in their life left such an imprint in their mindstream, that they returned to the place in their next life as a spirit. (Credit: Seph Lawless)

It is also interesting to note that in most cultures, ghosts are used as a scare tactic to warn children against misbehaving. To keep us on the path of good behaviour, ghosts and spirits and their stories are an age old way of simply keeping us in check.

Whatever the reason, we simply cannot deny that there are some things on this earth that cannot be explained. As we explore our humanity, there still remains one question that for many people, neither science nor religion can give us a definitive answer to and that is: What happens to us after we die? As we continue to seek a true answer, we will continue to be fascinated by ghosts.

 

Ghosts Around The World

Pontianak

Pontianak

Growing up in South East Asia you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has not heard about the lady in white who waits for unsuspecting men who will fall prey to her beauty before she sucks their blood. The ‘pontianak’ is something that is a cross between a restless spirit and what the Western world refer to as vampires. Again, a vampire is a form of an undead being that sucks blood and preys on the living in order to continue their own ghoulish existences.

There are also a few other famous types of ghosts that manifest in both Eastern and Western cultures although they differ in fear factor as some can be interpreted as more sinister than others.

Here are some of the ghosts that I am most fascinated by in both the Eastern and Western worlds:

 

From Asia:

Penanggalan

Penanggalan

Pontianak – The lady ghost who is said to lure men or stalk pregnant women for their babies. She is said to be either a woman who had died on her way to her wedding or the restless soul of a woman who had died in labour. Beware if you come across a beautiful woman with long hair all dressed in white in a lonely area at night!

Penanggalan – The word means ‘detached’ and this is an evil creature which is a detached head with dangling entrails who roams the night looking for a child to ensnare. It is thought that this spirit is the result of a woman who has used dark magic to obtain otherworldly powers and has to pay the price.

Ghost-7

Hungry ghost (preta / yidak)

Hungry Ghosts – These are ghosts who have been ‘let out the gates of hell’ during the one month respite that is celebrated in Chinese culture. It is believed that these are souls who have unfinished business who are allowed to come back to their loved ones for that month to try seeking solace and that leaving food out will appease them.

Insect Ghosts – These could be spirits that take on the shape of insects such as a beetle or in some cases a grasshopper. They are said to take these forms in order to spy on whoever their owners (practitioners of black magic) tell them to.

Ghost in chains

Ghost in chains

Forest Ghosts – The jungles of Asia manifest spirits such as the long-legged ghost, who appears as a giant pair of legs and not much else and also the Orang Bunian (Hidden People) who are spirits who can lure those who tread into forest territories and do not respect the sanctity of the forest into their hidden realms.

 

From the West:

Ghost in Chains – If you visit an old castle, chances are you will hear tales of the ghosts of former prisoners who were held captive in dungeons and continue to rattle phantom chains to tell of their sad plight.

The lady in white. Stories abound of such apparitions

The lady in white. Stories abound of such apparitions

Lady in White – Similar to the Asian Pontianak, this is a beautiful lady all dressed in white who may haunt a lonely area or a house. In the American legend that inspired a film, the lady in white is the spirit of an aggrieved mother who will not rest, even in death to search for her missing daughter.

Friendly Ghost – Just like Casper the friendly ghost, these are ghosts that appear in times of crisis to offer their assistance.

The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. Sightings of the ship have been reported since the late 18th century.

The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. Sightings of the ship have been reported since the late 18th century.

Ghostly Apparitions – Many reports of ghosts may not come in the form of people at all. Instead, one of the most famous ghostly apparitions is that of an entire ship! The Flying Dutchman is said to appear out of the fog near the Cape of Good Hope and is supposed to be a ship that has been cursed to sail the seas forever due to demonic pact.

 

Sources:

  • The Atlantic.com – http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/10/why-do-some-brains-enjoy-fear/280938/
  • Brainpickings.org – https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/03/20/neil-gaiman-ghost-stories/
  • BBC News – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-19599083
  • Paranormalistics: http://paranormalistics.blogspot.co.uk/p/types-of-ghosts-and-spirits.html

 

For more interesting information:

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  1. Samfoonheei on Mar 1, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Since young i loved reading ghost stories ,I am scared but not now as i grow older.As i believe we do not disturb them, they will too not disturb us.They do exist after all ….trust and have faith in whatever religion we practice for sure and we will not be connected to them and have protection by our powerful protector.We do love the things that scare us ,maybe out of curiosity wanted to know more. Thats it nothing more.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing and Shakila for explanation in details , different unseen beings or ghost.

  2. Julia Tan on Mar 1, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I think it’s because some lives ago we were ghosts. We are somehow connected to ghosts strongly. We remembered who we were. No matter we believe in ghosts or not in reality we were one of them before. That’s why some people are having the attitude just like ghosts. The fear is because we went through tremendous suffering being a ghost before hence we don’t want to associate with them and we avoid them.

  3. Pastor Chia on Mar 1, 2017 at 7:58 am

    In my opinion most of the people scar thing are unknown or thing are not familiar due to their fear which never experience before. Since as a child i was always scar about ghost which i had experience seen them before. After study Buddhism, i able to understand more about ghost and spirit existence. My fear toward unknown thing are getting lesser. Study buddhism also helping me understand more ego wanting to protect ourself when i am counter unknown thing like ghost. Which helping me overcome my fear to ghost and spirit.

  4. June Kang on Mar 1, 2017 at 7:58 am

    I think we love the ghost story is because we believe the ghosts are exist and is preparation for getting scared in reality. The question is why as a Buddhist, most of us fear of ghost. According to Buddhism Hungry ghost exist in the 6 realms of samsara and therefore hungry ghosts are simply suffering spirits who should be treated with compassion and not feared. Also ghosts can remain around people through their concern and love for them. So, I think the fear is we think ghost will harm us. Personally I believe ghost exist.

  5. Mingwen on Mar 1, 2017 at 7:54 am

    I think there’re lot of reasons for us to love to be scared. Curiosity, wanting to explore more, to search for the truth. Wanted to try and be the victim, role play, for fun, to feel excited, to obtain the sense of security when we explored the unknowns and more.

    It’s okay for us to explore, but we should always show respects and behave well during the adventure. We can make irreversible mistake that could hand our lives to the lord of death at anytime and anywhere.

    “ONCE BROKEN, CONSIDER SOLD”
    “TAKE YOUR OWN RISK”

  6. Pastor Albert on Mar 1, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Ghosts do exist whether we believe it or not, since young, I heard many of my friends saying they do not believe in ghost simply because they have not met 1 yet, and it is not scientifically proven that ghost existed.

    Science is only working based on our level of knowledge, there are many things in this world that science has yet to discovered or proved, but Buddha has already mentioned this over 2500 years ago, there are six realms in samsara, due to the karma we created, we will take rebirth either in God realm, Demi God realm, Human realm, Animal realm, Ghost realm, or Hell, and ghosts belong to one of the six realms.

    Taking rebirth in human realm has great advantage, because we can learn the Dharma and practice it so that we can achieve liberation, but when we use our limited lifetime to chase after our desire, we are building up our attachment towards the all the impermanent things in this world, being it material things, fame, power, etc. We have wasted this precious human life, and after this life, we dont know when we will reborn again as human. We may take rebirth in the spirit realm.

    Same like human, spirits feels cold, hungry, sick, lonely, etc. But the difference is human has antitode to these suffering and spirits dont have, they will keep on suffering until their karma being as a spirit exhausted, then only they can take rebirth again.

    With many people experiencing disturbances, it is impossible to deny the existence of spirits / ghosts. We cannot see them, but doesnt mean they dont exist. Spirits are human before, because of the grasping they still holding on, hence they took rebirth in the spirit realm and continue to suffer.

    If we get disturbances, we can always request for Dorje Shugden’s help to protect against the spirit disturbance, he is a great Protector who can help us in many ways from any harm of spirits to fulfilling our goals, to ease our suffering, to provide assistence and to heal us when we are sick.

    We can find more information about Dorje Shugden @
    http://www.dorjeshugden.org, and also to learn about how to request for Dorje Shugden help in overcoming disturbances.

  7. Pastor Antoinette on Mar 1, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Watching ghost movies is something out of the ordinary and we don’t really understand what is going on especially if we are not familiar with the 6 realms in Buddhism. So, we may be attracted to them, thinking that such things are far away.

    But understanding now more about ghosts for example, watching horror movies can have another “function”. We have a limited time only in this human form and we don’t know how we will take rebirth. It is important to do as much Dharma as we can so that we can clear negatvie karma and improve our chances to take a fortunate human rebirth again.

    Yes, we love to watch things that scare us but with the right motivation, it will serve us to improve our life and be of service to others.

  8. Andrea Lai on Mar 1, 2017 at 12:06 am

    Actually,I’m not really fancy of reading or watching horror movies.As what was written in this article title,I felt triggering inside.Yes,my first feeling is fear.

    The fear, I’ve experienced when I was little, where I was been disturbed in my sleep by a very weird cry(human and dog) and together with something hairy that brushes my feet!!It traumatized me so much that every night I sleep I will covered up myself tightly with blanket from feet up to my shoulder,pillow to cover my head.

    In curiosity,people love to hear about spirits,demon because they might not have experience of their disturbance before.For me,fear is protection. Protect myself from getting harm or disturb.But now,I have overcome this fear by practicing walking in the dark.From fear to fearless.

    Thank you Shakila for the article and Rinpoche for sharing.

  9. Eric kksiow on Feb 28, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Ghosts, Spirits, Devils, Demons and even Vampires that i really wanted to communicate with all of them. Why? ( If i have the attainments or abilities to communicate with all of “them”, i would like to ask “them” a question “why still holding on, why don’t want to go for reincarnate to be a human and practice Dharma? )

    Or If i have the attainments or abilities to communicate with all of “them”, i would like to send all of “them” to Pure Land and study Dharma. Pity to all of “them”

    Sincerely
    Eric kksiow

  10. nicholas on Feb 28, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Actually it’s a good question of why we love things that scare us. Personally I like those true story very much. Not that I like to scare myself but to know as an education for me how such phenomena happen in reality and of course before I know dharma after watching such movie will also give me a big question of why it happen in such. Not knowing where we go after life and so many unexplained incident with related to ghost, spirits, demon and etc. will just make one keep searching for an answer.

    But if we believe the existent of all these being then we should believe of after life and it’s best we also learn some spiritual protection from these paranormal disturbance.

    It’s very fortunate for myself to have learn the dharma from H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche and received the protector practice of Dorje Shugden to help me in my spiritual practice. One can read more about this protector and learn how he can help and protect us at http://www.dorjeshugden.org/benefits/how-dorje-shugden-helps

    There are many articles in this blog that one can search and learn about these mysterious phenomena at http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/category/science-mysteries

  11. Pastor Henry Ooi on Feb 28, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    I think most of us love ghost stories and tales of spirit encounters because these stories excite us and give us an adrenaline rush that sends our heart palpitating, leaving us gasping for air, and giving a short burst of energy. But too much of these may overwork our kidneys, and may result with a panic attack. Yet at the same time we fear the unknown because we over protect ourselves, not wanting any harm that could befall our body and mind. We hold on to this fear, anticipating that it would harm us. We would do everything possible just to protect our ego.

  12. pammie yap on Feb 28, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    I believe spirits, ghost, demons, etc exist just like we do. Not being able to see them with our naked eyes, doesn’t mean that they do not exist. Then what about those who can?
    These beings have been suffering for a long time, being trapped the way they are, until their karma exhaust.

    “It is also interesting to note that in most cultures, ghosts are used as a scare tactic to warn children against misbehaving.”
    When I read this, I found it funny because it was the other way round. When I was a little girl, I was the one who was scaring my family with ghost stories.

    If one happen to have spirit problems, perhaps you would like to read and do this practice
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/trakze-to-dispel-black-magic-spirits.html
    You can also read “Questions on Ghost’ here
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/questions-on-ghosts.html

  13. Pastor Antoinette on Feb 27, 2017 at 1:50 am

    FOR EXTREME PROTECTION
    A powerful mantra from Tibet to protect from paranormal disturbances. It invokes upon the powerful angel Dorje Shugden, who rides on a mystical snow lion and rescues all that call upon this supreme awakened one from the land of the snows. His avatar has manifested in our world system to benefit us during the most turbulent of times. Dorje means adamantine energy, and Shugden means immovable and unchanging power.

    This mantra is:
    … excellent for those who do paranormal research and must enter into places that are afflicted with negative energies.
    … powerful to protect psychics and astral travellers. For those who do astral travel, it is good to do this mantra before travelling.
    … indispensable for those who visit cemeteries or places where violent energies are present.
    … excellent to give protection for those who are afflicted with paranormal disturbances, and is highly protective.

    Mantra: OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA
    – You can recite this mantra 108 times every day. If you miss a day, it does not matter. Simply continue reciting when you can.
    -Recite the mantra slowly and with concentration during times of distress and fear. Breathe deeply.
    -When you have visitations from spirits, disturbances or negative forces, recite strongly and with full trust. While reciting, request the spirits, disturbances and negative forces to be dispelled into the light. You can include this mantra with any other rituals you may or may not have. There is no conflict.
    -If you have spirits in the house, bodies of water, land, office or where you are residing, wish the spirit well and recite this mantra asking for the light and love to bless the spirit to be on its way.
    -When one is under the influence of hexes/spells and feels abnormally uncomfortable, you can recite this mantra more than 108 times (number up each individual) until you feel the affliction has subsided. It will also help in dispelling bad dreams.
    -If one comes across animal spirits, one can recite this mantra to bless the animal to cross over.
    -It is an overall mantra that energizes the place where we live, work or reside. It is most powerful especially if done every day. It activates and invokes upon the wisdom, compassion, blessings, abundance and protective energies of the ascended and awakened angel Dorje Shugden.

    Meaning of the Mantra
    OM: Refers to the form of Dorje Shugden; as such recitation of this syllable calls upon Dorje Shugden.
    It invokes upon his divine presence to manifest now to bless, help and dispel negative energies.

    BENZA: Represents the awakened mind of Dorje Shudgen, the indestrubtible nature of which is filled with compassion and wisdom inherent in all awakened beings. This increases wisdom within our minds to help us make good decisions to tackle life’s vicissitudes.

    WIKI BITANA: Represents the four energies of peaceful, increasing, controlling and wrathful enlightening activities that are invoked upon adepending on the situaion. These are the four energies invoked to subdue, counter, bless and send a spirit on its way.

    SOHA: Represents the exhortation to grant requests. It means bless me with abundance, wisdom, love and fulfilment.
    With this syllable we invoke the blessings of all good things into our lives.

    Source: http://www.dorjeshugden.org

  14. Vivian Ong on Feb 27, 2017 at 12:10 am

    Thank you Shakila for sharing this article. Personally I believe in ghosts and spirits. But as for others like vampires, pontianak & penanggalan I still have doubts. Maybe it’s because I have not heard before true story of people encountering this situation. As a Buddhist practitioner, we try not to harm the unseen beings but on the other hand we pray for them so they will receive the Dharma in their future lives. If the unseen beings are too violent and keep disturbing our daily lives, then we must seek the professional help of Pastors to do puja to keep the unseen being away from harming us.

    Regards,
    Vivian

  15. Anne Ong on Dec 29, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Its interesting to read and know the many types of ghost existed. Didnt know there are so many types. Really scary but a very good write up Shakila. Keep it up! 🙂

  16. Wan Wai Meng on Oct 31, 2016 at 1:48 am

    I remember clearly that Tsem Rinpoche said before the more attachment we have then the more fear we will endure. It makes quite a lot of sense. If we are attached to how things are, or how things should be then encountering things that are outside the norm could shock us and bring us into a state of fear. As if we are always used to and is attached to having things as it is then that fear from encountering something beyond our expectation would amplify our fear even more.

  17. HelenaC on Jun 16, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Uuuuuhhhh… nice and scary haha. I do believe their existence.
    We always get curious about the unseen and at the same time we are scare about it. There are so many unseen beings around us just that we can’t see it. but as a buddhist, we must show compassion to all beings. We really can’t do much but recite DS mantra and dedicate to them for their swift rebirth.
    What i think they are actually the same as us but in a different realm. The “Ghost”, is just like human we have bad and good ones. not all are harmful but some are really wanted to seek for help actually as they are wandering around, very lost due to their grudge, anger, jealousy, hatred and unfinished business…very sad!
    That is why its important to have religion practice so that we are well prepare on our passing.

    Thanks for the interesting article…

  18. Edward Ooi on Jun 13, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    I personally have been very fascinated with paranormal/supernatural things throughout my whole life. I have also watched countless of horror movies, but the funny thing is, I am still afraid of spirits/ghosts even though I know not all of them are harmful. I always find it oddly humorous why people like me are so interested in watching horror movies and we just want to keep on watching them even though we ourselves are trembling in fear.

    I have heard of many types of spirits but I have not heard of chain spirits until now. There are indeed different kinds of spirits out there and they are just like any other living beings, they have emotions too which also means that not all of them are evil, demonic and bloodthirsty. We only view spirits in this perspective is simply because of all the horror movie we watched has unconsciously made us think this way.

    Thank you Shakila for sharing this article, it is truly a magnificent one. I really love reading articles that includes paranormal activities, animals and political issues.

  19. Paul Yap on Jun 9, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Its interesting to read and know the many types of ghost existed, we have been growing up with hearing many different types of ghost stories, and its true that we are scared and yet very eager to hear more of it. One thing for sure we should not attempt in making any contacts with these entity, it could be very harmful and life threatening.

  20. NgJesvin on Jun 8, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Thanks Shakila for the sharing.

    Like other people, I am fascinated by ghost stories since I am at my young age. Singapore Ghost story is a part of my young age activity. Thanks for introduction of the many types of ghost. 😉

    For me, the fears can be eased through understanding their existence. Frankly speaking I am not sure what kind of feeling that I will experience if I see ghost, demon or spirit, but for sure I am going to recite Om Benza Wiki Bitana Soha with both my eyes closed tightly. 🙏🙏

    Thank you.

  21. CindyH on Jun 8, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Thank you for this fascinating piece, Shakila. For some reason, I have always believed in the existence of ghosts and spirit despite (thankfully) not personally encountering any problems them. Perhaps it is because there are constantly stories of some paranormal encounters floating around either from acquaintances or from the internet or perhaps due to the influence of ghost stories used as means to scare us into submission when we were kids.

    Generally, for those who believe in the existence of ghost, fear is a common reaction and even those who don’t believe in them, caution is usually exercised anyway. The turning point came for me to not fear them was when I came to know about the origins and nature of ghosts from Dharma class. It made me realised that like us, ghosts too are beings who are caught up in the cycle of samsara due to karma. Since we are all in the same boat so to speak, it just makes sense to focus on compassion rather than fear.

    It also made me realise that very often, the fear is not of the ghosts or spirits but rather the fear of the unknown. There is a tendency to fear something which I do not understand and something which I cannot predict. It is not much about the fear of the dark but what is hidden in it. This comes from the sense of control and security that is derived from having “control” of the situation. When it is something that can be identified, there is comfort in knowing what to expect and what to do in such circumstances.

    This is likely what prompts people to like a good scare, as pointed out in the article, “the sense of experiencing a controlled fear that keeps us wanting to know more, and the rush is in knowing that we are somehow protected from it”. It is knowing that watching a horror movie poses no physical threat (save for a possible minor psychological threat being that there might have nightmares as a result of seeing it) that most viewers feel safe watching such a film, and are excited by it, not truly afraid to go back for more. Staying in a place known to be haunted however, would be a different story altogether.

    It then goes to show that the instinct to protect oneself is the more of the issue rather than the object of the ghost. This is not to say that we can’t be harmed by ghosts. As pointed out by Pastor Niral, we are affected by this harm if we have the karma for it to occur. But generally, such ghosts or spirits are not out to get you but are preoccupied by their own attachments which led them to their circumstances in the first place.

  22. samfoonheei on Jun 7, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing this interesting article.I do enjoy hearing and reading article of ghost.I do believe that ghost, spirits and ext. do exist.
    After reading the above article i now understand more about it . think out of curiosity we like to know more but are scare as well.
    I have been working in a maternity home and hospital many years before whereby babies and patients passed away.Heard a lot of stories about it.I do sometimes feel their existing but
    i had not encounter any before as long as we do not disturb them we will be alright.
    Thanks again Shakila for sharing.

  23. Pastor Niral Patel on Jun 7, 2016 at 4:37 am

    I have friends who actually dismiss ghost stories as nothing more than a fear of the unknown or even just stories that are used as fun to scare each other during Halloween.

    Having grown up in near London, I am well aware of the many ghost stories that haunt the city, given its long history and terrible history. Personally I do believe that ghosts or spirits exist, and other supernatural entities such as vampires, werewolves, fae, etc.

    Buddha taught that they actually belong to one of the Six Realms of existence, usually called the Hungry Ghost Realm. But this realm includes more than just the hungry ghosts that people often associate this realm with among communities in which this term is common. In fact ghosts are beings who are bound and caught up in the cycle of Samsara propelled by their karma, just like humans. They are born into this existence because at the time of their death the ‘throwing’ karma, or the karma that threw them (because it is uncontrolled) into their current situation came about due to either their attachment or jealousy.

    As Jutika mentioned in his comment, these beings are not all harmful. In fact they have temperaments just like we humans do. Some are generally harmful and some are generally nice, and you get those in between as well. And as Sharon mentions we should have compassion towards them.

    In some instances, either due to our own mistakes in offending them or more nefarious means, such as being the target of black magic, we may be afflicted with some form of spirit harm. We are affected by this harm if we have the karmic link to this particular being from previous lives. Once this occurs we are harmed by this being who has come after us. There are many methods in which one can deal with such instances, but the most important component of these according to the Buddhist tradition would be to purify the karma, therefore cutting the links and ending the pain and suffering between both parties involved.

    For example the practices of the meditational deities Black Manjushri (http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/black-manjushri.html), Dukkar (http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/sadhana-prayers.html#dukkar) or Singdongma (http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/sadhana-prayers.html#25a) are very beneficial in such cases.

    However, a practice that is very beneficial all in such cases and very powerful to heal people of this type of affliction is the practice of Trakze Dorje Shugden which can be found here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/trakze-to-dispel-black-magic-spirits.html

  24. Sharon Ong on Jun 7, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Don’t we all love our ghost stories? Being Malaysians, we have all heard or personally experienced some paranormal encounters with the unseen kind. Before I became a practising Buddhist, I used to be scared of spirits and ghosts. However, after attending Dharma classes where we were taught about the 6 Realms and why there are spirits/ghosts, I am no longer terrified of them. It is due to their karma that they end up suffering in the hungry ghost realm and as humans, we should not fear them but have compassion for them.

    Thank you for this interesting piece, Shakila.

  25. Sofi on Jun 6, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Thank you Shakila for sharing this fascinating article. I believe that majority of the people love to listen to or read about a ghost or supernatural story, whether they are believers or not. Its just that thrill knowing it could be real and had happened to someone else. Now I know the difference between spirit and ghost.

    I do believe in their existence as it had been taught by the Buddha and it is due to their attachments that they can’t let go. If someone is being haunted by ghosts or spirits, it was explained that karmically you probably “owe” them from current or past lives. There are cases where those who commit suicide either by jumping off a high place or hanging will return at that certain time of death everyday to repeat the same action of death. So sad that they have to suffer that in the first place and then having to go through the same death everyday. Advice is to value one’s life and nothing in life could be worst as compared to being a ghost or spirit.

    Remember to chant OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA, the powerful mantra of Dorje Shugden to help when you feel fear or actually are confronted by a spirit or ghost.

  26. Jutika Lam on Jun 6, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Whether or not we have personally come across the presence of spirits, we should accept the fact that they do exist.

    Not all spirits have the intention of causing harm to people, most of them create disturbances for attention or maybe to tell us that we’ve crossed the lion in doing something which did not please them.

    We may feel scared of them but yet at the same time we are also curious and compelled to know more about them. It’s thrilling in a way, not being very sure about what exactly we are venturing into and also being curious.

    Thank you Shakila for writing this article!

    • Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Jun 6, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      Hi Jutika, I think you’re right! Too many rational and normal people have had paranormal experiences for us to deny the fact that they exist. Usually when you can see spirits and ghosts, people call you crazy. It doesn’t give you a good reputation in most societies that you can see these unseen beings. So why would anyone lie and pretend that they can see, and that all these nasty things are happening to them (if it’s the case that the entity is malevolent / bad)?

      I definitely wouldn’t pretend. When there are people who can see it for real and I’m caught lying, it would be so embarrassing!

      Good job by the way on being a regular commentator on the blog! It’s recommended for us to develop consistency when we are young, as consistency (and integrity!) is part of the recipe for success in life! 🙂

  27. chris chong on Jun 6, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Dear Shakila,

    Thank you for sharing this article. It is very interesting to see different type of ghost from different places.

    In Buddhism we believe in reincarnation and the Buddha did say that there are total of 6 realms of existence and one of them being the formless hungry ghost realm. Usually those who died with the thought of their attachments will be reborn into this realm. In this realm, they endure intense suffering of hunger, thirst, and loneliness. Rinpoche did once say that, Why are we afraid of ghost when we see one? We should be compassionate about them and have sympathy for them. They are in worst condition than we are and they have to endure constant suffering for long long time. With true compassion, we are able to help them and they will not and unable to harm us.

    Chris

  28. Beatrix Ooi on Jun 6, 2016 at 10:00 am

    This is a very interesting article, I personally believe that spirits do exist even though some of us may not come across their presence. They are definitely real, and from all the stories I have heard of, most of them are evil, some may not hurt you but their intention is to create disturbances in order to get attention.

    Then we have people who engage in spirit board games to communicate with them, please not that this is very dangerous because we are creating a portal for them to enter. Once they are invited, it’s going to be tough to ask them to leave because they can latch themselves onto the person or even take over the person’s body. That is why we don’t simply engage in activities as such.

    This article is an eye-opener, it educates people about the types of spirits that exist although this is just part of it. Thank you very much Shakila for the article.

  29. Yee Mun on Jun 6, 2016 at 12:49 am

    We have been hearing about ghost story from our family members, friends, movie, books and etc. Most of this ghost story happened in hospital, hotel, old castles, school compound and toilet, & etc. We do feel scared about it, but yet, may be out of curiosity, we still want to know more about the “special friend” in a safe situation. When one heard the ghost story, might have a short and temporary of adrenaline rush, but one is still safe, cos didn’t face the “special friend” for real.

    Thank you Shakila for your sharing.

  30. Jill Yam on Jun 5, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    I didn’t know that there are so many types of ghosts that ‘exists’ . This is an interesting article.

    We’ve heard of stories about people being possessed or had seen a ghosts or disturb by some spirits. Were these true or real?

    I think it’s true because if we believe in reincarnation then what about spirits?
    Fascinating isn’t it.

    Thank you Shakila for the sharing.

    Jill Yam

  31. Pastor David Lai on Jun 5, 2016 at 2:51 am

    How fascinating! No offence. Somehow I find it strange to read of someone who had a real life experience of seeing a toyol spirit and yet still deny the existence of these unseen beings. Nevertheless, it doesn’t really detract from a pretty good writeup on these paranormal beings.

    I personally believe they exist and like what the author said, it also means that believing in them opens the possibility of other higher beings like Buddhas, protectors and dakinis. The author is right but it doesn’t necessarily have to be evil and scary beings.

  32. May Ong on Jun 4, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    When we were in school in Malaysia, we have always heard scary ghost stories like “toyol” or “little people who steal” money from others. It was also rumored that these little people were given food and fed well by their “master” and their function was to steal from others. Fascinating, isn’t it?

    We have also heard of spirits with heads that fly in the villages. Tales about haunted toilets in school also scared us. Were these real? But as young children, we have always been fascinated by ghost or spirit stories and still remembered them till this day. At first I have always thought ‘spirits’ and ‘ghost’ are the same, in that we can’t see them with our normal eyes but Shakila has brought up their differences. To come across this article on local ghosts and spirits brought back memories.

  33. Boon on Jun 4, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Thank you Shakila.

    Just like you, I am fascinated by the paranormal stories. I too collected a series of Singapore Ghost Stories and like watching stories about poltergeist, demonic possession and ghosts. I would like to recommend a book named The Malaysian Book of The Undead by Danny Lim, which describes the many types of spirits and ghosts in Malaysian cultures.

    Thank you!

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Tsem Tulku Rinpoche

My name is Tsem Rinpoche and I am a Buddhist monk and teacher. I have a wide range of interests just like anyone else. Ever since I was a young child growing up in America, I have had a huge interest in the paranormal. I have always loved this subject. I love all things magical and mysterious – Tibet, Bigfoot, Loch Ness, Findhorn, UFO, Nazca lines, Spirits, Salem, Easter Island, Dowsing, Greek Gods, Hindu Gods, Yogis, Himalayas, Shambala, Aura, Divinations, Delphic Oracles, Tibetan Oracles, Nature Spirits, Pan, Shamans and more.

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Sleep Paralysis – Medical or Paranormal?

by Vinnie Tan | Sep 16, 2016

Sleep paralysis or more commonly known in Chinese as ‘鬼压床’ is one of the most common paranormal encounters. Hence, most people would have experienced some form of sleep paralysis...

Legends of Mount Shasta

by Pastor David Lai | Sep 1, 2016

In the language of the Karuk natives, Mt Shasta is known as Úytaahkoo or ‘White Mountain’. It is an active volcano located at the southern tip of the Cascade...

China builds world’s largest radio telescope to hunt for aliens

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jul 5, 2016

Dear friends around the world, It is interesting that China is looking for extraterrestrial communications. China is really catching up on all fields of interest. Take a read. Tsem...

Einstein on Buddhism

by Tsem Rinpoche | Nov 9, 2015

Dear friends around the world, I came across this interesting article recently and thought that it’d be nice to share it on my blog. People would often pick science...

Initial DNA analysis of Paracas elongated skull released

by Tsem Rinpoche | Oct 24, 2014

Initial DNA analysis of Paracas elongated skull released – with incredible results 5 February, 2014 – 13:47 by April Holloway   An elongated skull found in Paracas   Paracas...

Guess what was found!!!

by Tsem Rinpoche | Feb 18, 2012

I have interests in many subjects. I just don’t have enough time in the day to get deeper into many of the subjects that captures my mind. One of...

Top 10 Space Mysteries

by Tsem Rinpoche | Mar 9, 2011

In something as big as the universe, there are bound to be unexplainable phenomena... and things we truly can’t grasp. The universe shows us how small we really are...

Resurrecting Mammoths

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jan 17, 2011

Researchers aim to resurrect mammoth in five years Japanese researchers will launch a project this year to resurrect the long-extinct mammoth by using cloning technology to bring the ancient...

A Planet discovered that could have life…..

by Tsem Rinpoche | Sep 30, 2010

Imagine there are 40 BILLION planets out there that can support life in our universe… Wow… There has to be other life forms. The mathematical chances is beyond doubt...

Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking – Time Travel

by Tsem Rinpoche | Aug 25, 2010

Watch enlightening documentaries online! Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking – Time Travel (2010).The promise of time travel has long been one of the worlds favorite scientific what-ifs? Hawking...

Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking – The Story Of Everything

by Tsem Rinpoche | Aug 25, 2010

Watch enlightening documentaries online! Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking – The Story Of Everything (2010) In two mind-blowing hours, Hawking reveals the wonders of the cosmos to a...

A Statue that came with Something Else

by Tsem Rinpoche | May 27, 2012

When we toy with the supernatural, we can expect the resultant effect coming back to us. Whether it is a good or bad effect depends on our motivation, and...

Paranormal Experiences Occur Everywhere – Part 2!

by Tsem Rinpoche | Feb 8, 2012

In the late 80’s, I was a university student in Essex, England. I was living in a student hostel at the university ground. The hostel was a high-rise building...

Paranormal Experiences Occur Everywhere – Part 1!

by Tsem Rinpoche | Feb 3, 2012

I like Steven Wong's stories very much as it shows that spirits and unseen beings are actually not restricted to specific areas like cemeteries or abandoned houses. Instead, they...

Bukit Antarabangsa Hauntings

by Tsem Rinpoche | Feb 2, 2012

Remember the Bukit Antarabangsa Landslide in 2008? What about the Highland Towers apartment building which collapsed in 1993? I am sure that you know many died during those two...

The Shadow On My Bed

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jan 18, 2012

More and more people are sharing their paranormal experiences with us, and I thank Mr. Michael Moore for sharing with us a very kind and sincere story... can you...

A Relieving Experience

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jan 17, 2012

Some people encounter with spirits directly and have disturbing experiences with the unseen whilst there are others who experience it very differently, where they feel that the incident has...

A swirl at the foot of my bed

by Tsem Rinpoche | Nov 24, 2011

  Perhaps Paranormal: Two night ago in the middle of the night in my hotel room, I woke up and noticed a dark swirling ‘entity’ that was not exactly...

The Lady in Red

by Admin | Sep 5, 2011

The two men disappeared into the woods and came out on the other side. They walked very fast without saying a word to one another. Finally, they stopped at...

Jean Ai

by Tsem Rinpoche | Apr 12, 2012

Thailand is known for their terrifying horror movies and you know what people say...where there is smoke, there is fire so when Jean Ai went to Bangkok to work...

JP Revisited

by Tsem Rinpoche | Feb 21, 2012

Whilst the Chinese have practised ancestral worship for centuries, for most people a visit to the graves of their forefathers stops there. A few offerings and some flowers, and...

David Lai

by Tsem Rinpoche | Feb 13, 2012

Quiet and unassuming, on first appearance David Lai does not come across as a person who has paranormal experiences. As they say however, looks can be deceiving...

JP

by Tsem Rinpoche | Feb 7, 2012

Facing college life in a new city, JP Thong had no idea what awaited him when he moved thousands of miles away from home to New York, where he...

Till I See Blood

by Tsem Rinpoche | Feb 2, 2012

After sleepless nights in Bangkok, Angel finally fell asleep, only to find herself struggling for her breath as she was rudely awakened by an unseen stranger. Feeling pressed down...

CJ

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jan 18, 2012

Many of us have heard that some people have the ability to see the dead and many of us have heard of the movie 'The Sixth Sense'. For 16...

Edward

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jan 10, 2012

There are many children around the world who tell their parents that they see dark figures. Most of the time, their parents would brush them off and tell them...

Snake Spirit

by Tsem Rinpoche | Dec 13, 2011

This week, I share with you a story that relates to the time when I was residing in southern Thailand. I stayed there for about a month to do...

Burmese Temple & Floating Heads

by Tsem Rinpoche | Nov 17, 2011

In this episode, we have exclusive rights to film at one of the most exotic locations in Malaysia at night: The Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple. Founded on 1st August...

Red Face

by Tsem Rinpoche | Nov 1, 2011

This week, I share with all of you 2 paranormal stories. The first relates to the filming location: Shih Chung Branch School. Around 1885, the very first 5-storey bungalow in Penang...

Banging Pots

by Tsem Rinpoche | Oct 17, 2011

It was quite a busy period, thinking back to 15 years in Singapore, as a lot of people would come to see me for discussions… usually, these were relating...

The Hand

by Tsem Rinpoche | Oct 11, 2011

In early 90s, I shared a room with a monk in a house in Gadoh. At night, I would do my studies or do my readings usually while sitting...

Legends of Mount Shasta

by Pastor David Lai | Sep 1, 2016

In the language of the Karuk natives, Mt Shasta is known as Úytaahkoo or ‘White Mountain’. It is an active volcano located at the southern tip of the Cascade...

They are Everywhere

by Tsem Rinpoche | Nov 14, 2011

Whether we believe in aliens or not, it is undeniable that the thought of other beings existing in places unknown to mankind yet is interesting...

Foreign Visitor in the Amazon!!

by Tsem Rinpoche | Nov 14, 2011

Alien enthusiasts are always eager to find the latest alien discovery or encounters. Over the years, hundreds of media releases turn out to be hoaxes… It’s difficult to figure...

Spotted in a Sandstorm

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jul 21, 2011

I received an interesting email from Philip Yong, which shows some live CNN footage of a sandstorm also known as a “Haboob”. What’s interesting to note about this live...

A HUGE Collection of UFO Photographs from 1870 to 2011

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jul 3, 2011

  I was sent an email with a link to one of the most interesting websites on UFOs: UFOCasebook.com! This website contains A LOT of information in the form...

Top 10 Space Mysteries

by Tsem Rinpoche | Mar 9, 2011

In something as big as the universe, there are bound to be unexplainable phenomena... and things we truly can’t grasp. The universe shows us how small we really are...

Astronauts & Military Men Speak

by Tsem Rinpoche | Feb 16, 2011

There are 2 videos below that are of UFOs. These are probably 2 of the most convincing videos on UFOs so far. This is mostly because the presenters are...

They’re Sighted Everywhere

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jan 31, 2011

This YouTube video was forwarded to me by Shirley Tan. It is of a UFO sighting on the 18th of January in Moscow, Russia. The video was taken from...

Second UFO sighting baffles China & Malaysia

by Tsem Rinpoche | Sep 24, 2010

Another unidentified flying object (UFO) has been spotted hovering over a part in southwestern China’s Chongqing province after a similar sighting last week caused massive flight delays at a...

More UFO videos from China!!! Very Convincing!!!

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jul 29, 2010

You have to watch these neat videos. They are very convincing. I copy and pasted the information below just so you have more to go on and understand. Enjoy...

Unsolved Mysteries – UFO’s & Me…

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jun 14, 2010

Since I was very young, I was naturally drawn to phenomena that was not accepted by ‘mainstream’ public. That didn’t bother me. I was always the type of person...

Reincarnation Videos YOU MUST WATCH!

by Tsem Rinpoche | Apr 24, 2015

(28 Nov 2012) Dear friends, I wanted to share this videos with you for the longest time and happy I can do so now. Learn, ponder and enjoy. Reincarnation...

Pastor Chia on Wah Lai Toi!

by Tsem Rinpoche | Dec 29, 2012

Pastor Chia, a long time student of mine appeared on TV recently. He was interviewed by a Paranormal Program on Astro Wah Lai Toi. It is so exciting to...

Inhuman Entity caught on film

by Tsem Rinpoche | Aug 30, 2012

See this episode. It is very good. Very interesting! Look at 5:01 and see an inhuman entity caught on film. Very interesting how these beings can be caught on...

Bigfoot Proven?? Must Watch!!!

by Tsem Rinpoche | May 22, 2012

American Paranormal is a one year old series on the National Geographic channel. They kicked-off their new series in 2010 with a documentary on Bigfoot!! This documentary uses thorough...

The Mysterious Monsters – narrated by Peter Graves

by Tsem Rinpoche | May 22, 2012

Dear Everyone, Another favorite video of mine narrated by Peter Graves. He does a good job as he seems convinced in what he is narrating. I wish I can...

Foreign Visitor in the Amazon!!

by Tsem Rinpoche | Nov 14, 2011

Alien enthusiasts are always eager to find the latest alien discovery or encounters. Over the years, hundreds of media releases turn out to be hoaxes… It’s difficult to figure...

Ancient Aliens – Season 1 to Season 3

by Tsem Rinpoche | Sep 16, 2011

Ancient Aliens is a series that launched their first episode on 20 April 2010. The series proposes various evidence around the theory that sometime within the existence of human civilization,...

League of Gentlemen visit ‘haunted’ Gloucestershire pub

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jul 21, 2011

Below is an article that my student, Shirley Tan, sent me. It is about a popular group of British comedians who decided to brave potential scares in a haunted...

Who are the Freemasons?

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jul 3, 2011

The Freemasons are known to be very secretive and according to some people, almost cult-like. Cult is a very subjective word of course. Although I do not know much....

Are angels ancient aliens??

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jul 3, 2011

Many of us believe in angels. 70% of Americans, believe in the existence of angels… 55% of Americans believe in guardian angels. It is said that every day, one...

Ancient Aliens: The Return

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jul 3, 2011

“The Return” is the last episode of Season 1 of the Ancient Aliens series. In the 20th century there was evidence that we were still being visited by alien...

Ancient Aliens: The Mission (episode 4)

by Tsem Rinpoche | Jul 3, 2011

If we can make expeditions in search of resources to sustain our culture, wouldn't any other life form who needs resources to survive do the exact same thing by...

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