The idea of ghosts



A merchant who lived near a graveyard got the idea that ghosts from the graves were threatening to enter his house. He got a spell from a priest and went over the graveyard at sunset as he had been told, reciting the spell with all his force. “You have to feel that you are spitting out all your insides with the spell,” the priest had instructed him. At first he was trembling with fear, but after a little he felt the effects of the spell, and finally realized that the ghosts had been quelled.
He boasted of his success to a friend, a man who had attained discernment through Zen practise. “You don’t have anything like this in your Zen, I suppose.”
“I wouldn’t say there’s nothing like it,” replied the friend, “but in Zen the question would have to be asked, what is this being done for? And what about the feelings of the ghosts? They may have been subdued, but they are still there, aren’t they? Surely this is not the right way.”
“Then what ought I to do?” asked the merchant.
“Get another prayer, this time for the salvation of ghosts. They will become freed from the bonds of unfulfilled karma which still hold them here, and there will be no more ghosts. That is the right way to meet ghosts, inner and outer.

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