Jul 9, 2017

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About the Realm of Demons: Lesson 1: WHO IS A DEMON? (Ma quỷ là ai?)

About the Realm of Demons: Lesson 1: WHO IS A DEMON? (Ma quỷ là ai?)

About the Realm of Demons:

Lesson 1: who is a demon?

Many people have confused about the storied of demons. They considered the demonic possession the phenomena of being possessed by ghost or being haunted by the dead or being foreseen by the dead grandfathers in their dreams…Recently have the northern newspapers been written about these phenomena. Is it true or not? We cannot make a conclusion without any grounds. In Song Nguyen Tantra House, Mat Thuy and other disciples saw these phenomena with their own eyes and Mat Thuy wrote the article “demonic possession”. Mat Kien also told the story of the mason whose face was changed into green color because of his fear, then he bowed to the Lord Buddha and then fell down to the floor through his comment in the “demonic possession”. Mat Hai, Mat Kien, Mat Thuy and other disciples all appealed me to interpret these supernatural phenomena. Therefore, based on the supernatural power of Guru Rinpoche, Deity and Dakini, I will make some explanations about these phenomena in order to help my disciples and others avoid from misunderstanding about this…


Many people said that they saw devas, known as “ghosts” or they were afraid of ghosts. In fact, they did not see ghosts. According to the interpretation of Buddhism, the ghosts (devas) belong to the highest of the desire-heavens, at the top of the Kamadhatu, called the abode of Mahesvara (Siva), and of Mara (Paranirmita-Vasavartin). The Lord Buddha explained the cause for being born as the Deva Mara as follows: “any beings who have no mundane mind but living in worldly life with desire. While they are doing such mundane activities, their mind is absolutely liberated, they desire to depart from this mundane realm. After death, they transcend all the realms of transformation. They are called Paranirmita-Vasavartin. (the quote from The Surangama Sutra, chapter VI: other heavens). The ghosts are the Deva Maras who belong to the heaven realm. Deva Maras are described as virtuous, mighty, long-lived, beautiful, enjoying great well-being life. They have the deva’s span of life, their bliss, their sway, their retinue, and their form, voice, smell, taste, touch, garments and ornaments. They enjoy food freely, have a blissful life. They live in the castle. Their food is recitation. That means they enjoy every food whenever they think of such food. The Buddha defines the heavenly species as the outer form of off-movement, although the mind is still attached, so called the heaven of desire; (quoted from The Surangama Sutra) in which the deva is the highest pinnacle of the desire realm heavens.

Such an explanation implies that “Ghosts mean Devas” who amasses great amounts of causes for liberation with high level. However, the nature of the deva is “transforming into another person naturally” or “arrogance” and expressed by robbing the others’ achievements for their own wrong purposes. They can live for millions of years up (according to worldly calendar).

There are both good and evil devas. The evil devas often harass a spiritual practitioner with high level by displaying horrible or desirable images, which makes him fearful or enjoyable so that he is in despair. Particularly, this kind of deva mara has great spiritual power and can generate tremendous hardships for cultivators seeking liberation from life and death. They can also generate various kinds of obstacles and hardships to harm cultivators. The night before the enlightenment, the mara king tried his best to attack the Buddha but the mara king failed in this attack. Thus, it can be concluded that devas are not as trivial as many misconceptions. They confused devas with demons.

Demons or hungry-ghosts are one of six realms in samsara (hell, hungry, animal, human, demi-god (asuras), gods (devas)). According to the Surangama Sutra, evil deeds are caused to be reborn as a hungry-ghost. The Lord Buddha affirmed that “And then, Ananda, after the living beings (hungry ghosts) who have slandered and destroyed rules and deportment, violated the Bodhisattva precepts, slandered the Buddha’s nirvana, and created various other kinds of karma, pass through many kalpas of being burned in the inferno, they finally finish paying for their offenses and are reborn as demons.”

There are two types of beings: hungry ghosts and demons. There are 36 kinds of hungry-ghosts described in Buddhist scriptures. The main characteristic of these hungry-ghosts is to always suffer from hunger, so called hungry ghosts. Hungry-ghosts’ food is blood, pus, phlegm. The hungry-ghosts have ugly appearance with bloated stomach and necks too thin to pass food as well as long and thin legs. Some hungry- ghosts have a human body and different faces of pigs, cows, buffalos, snakes… Some are naked with smelly and ruffled hairs. They have lived for at least 5,000 – 10,000 years (according to worldly calendar).

Where are hungry-ghosts? They are in their realm but they are living with human realm in the Saha world. They often hide in moors, cemeteries, wild houses, swamps, ponds. Their nature is to harm others, they often play a dirty trick among themselves. It is said such a phenomenon is to “bite the newcomers”.

However, hungry-ghosts are often fear of their hunger. They are the same as animals, they do not dare to harm human beings, except for some unforeseen circumstances. Hungry-ghosts live miserably. They have to spend decades on managing a piece of food. In Buddhist scriptures, it is noted that Moggallana had met the hungry-ghost who had confided that he was lucky enough to manage some food from a piece of shit prayed by the monk since the past 11 years.

Song Nguyen Tantra House at night

Be different from the hungry-ghost, demons are called divinities. They live in the beautiful places. The more powerful they are, the more luxurious life they live. The king of demons lives in the magnificent castle, there are many concubines and servants around him and he lives a comfortable life. According to Buddhist scriptures, they are (1) Nagas – Dragons, (2) Garudas – Heavenly (celestial) birds, (3) Yaksas – Extremely fast demons that guard Heaven’s Gates, (4) Mahoragas- Serpent or Snake gods with body length over 100 miles, (5) Asuras, (6) Kinnaras, (7) Gandharvas, (8) the god of the earth or guardian spirit and the goddess of fortune who are demons but the type of demonic god has no position compared to the king of demons and their royal families. The demons are co-inhabitants with human in the world, they are not species in the hell. However, despite the number of demons is countless, in general, demons and people are not interfered with each other because they are in the spirit existence while human beings have their own body. They use their demonic sight to see human beings if necessary, but human beings cannot see them.

In addition, they also occasionally interfere with human activities, by possessing human bodies through their addictive habits. The demons sometimes find out one who has the same spiritual frequency with them like spiritual medium, then they will possess his mind, causing him to talk foolishly and have crazy actions of body, speech like the madman. The demons travel in this world, they sometimes possess some people for pleasure. There also is a demon self-proclaimed to be the holy man or god to call for people’s sacrifice.

Because demons use the scent as their food, they like smelling the worldly food. Therefore, when worshiping in the temples, people often prepare the meal with meat of pigs, cows, chickens and ducks. The demons enjoy this taste and they live a comfortable life!

In addition to sacrifices, people often prepare chickens, ducks and buffalos with diverse and tasty food in their daily meals. So the demons can enjoy the smell freely, which makes them comfortable. And in this Saha world, especially, in the East, they prepare for sacrifices every day, which attracts the demon to come.



There are 2 types including hungry-ghosts and powerful demons. Whichever types they are, they are both good demons and evil ones. The nature of demons is evil. So the majority often preys on human beings’ mind. We see demons as the evil forces. According to the Earth-Store Bodhisattva’s Original Vows Sutra, in chapter 12, Buddha said that when a demon who was aware of good deed and manage to help people, was called Devil.

Lotus Flower Estrade in Song Nguyen Tantra House

The hungry ghosts cannot care for themselves, all day they are struggling with hunger and thirst. They should not have the opportunity to harm people. Particularly evil demons sometimes find ways to harm human beings to satisfy his “power” and his malignity, they possess human body to satisfy their desire of worldly pleasure.

Therefore, addicts of alcohol, gambling, drug smoking addicts or sex  … will be the cause for the evil demons to possess the body and mind to satisfy their desires. This is the reasoning for the case of meek men who suddenly becomes violent after drinking alcohol resulting from being possessed by evil forces. Or the youth has abnormal and disorder behaviors and becomes extravagant after taking illegal drugs. In addition, there are evil demons who directly cause calamities such as destructive crops, illness, animal death or rabies…then such evil demons use spiritual medium’s body to threaten victims. They are so fearful that they organize sacrifices and evil demons can get benefit of smell from such sacrifices.

The Buddha conquered some demons and these non-human beings are regarded as protectors of Buddhist Dharma and Buddhism, as part of the audience attending the Buddha’s sermons. The demons partly understood some value of Buddha’s teachings which is pure and subliminal. So they occasionally travel the human realm and they are interested in possessing the mind and body of spiritual medium to self-proclaim that they are “holy saints”, “holy deity”, “Bodhisattva”, “Buddha”….appearing in the human real to advise listeners to do good things, keep away from bad things. Because of “the divine ear”, they could listen clearly what the Lord Buddha taught. But they could not master the true meaning of Buddhist teachings and they did not get fully knowledge from the holy teachings. However, when they “take control of a spiritual medium’s body, speech and mind”, they repeat what they had listened to Buddha’s teachings, they at once get the respect from the listeners due to their smooth speech on Buddhism. It is very easy to know that such an “empty vessels make the most sound” talk because they only “repeat” what they listened to, they did not “digest” what they listened to. On the other hand, when the demon “possess” the spiritual medium’s body to speak of Buddhist teachings, they do not dare to talk about Buddhist percepts. When they speak out the five percepts, the dharma guardians at once appear, which makes them (both evil demons and good demons) fearful. In addition, after the demons went out of the spiritual medium, the medium one feels very tired. This is the reason why he has to eat too much or engages in sexual activity with someone. Moreover, the demons often focus on the outward beauty and have much desire of fame with much greed. From this standpoint, those who are Buddhist practitioner or wear Buddhist ropes but have such demonic qualities, are called “demonic” Buddhists. We should study carefully such demonic Buddhists in order to keep ourselves from bad consequence involved with demons.

It is said that there was a normal shepherd boy, he often leaf little food on the rock and he often sat in silence to think about his life. There were three good devils who enjoyed the food for many years, so one day, they decided to help the shepherd boy become rich. So a black dragon possessed his body. Then the boy did not come back home as usual, he went straight to a temple to preach the Dharma. His smooth speech with fluent expression on Buddhist teachings made villagers surprised. From being amazed then they give respect towards him due to his proclaim of that he is the incarnation of the Bodhisattva. The villagers were so happy that they built for him a new temple, where he could preach the Dharma every day. Since then, he became a “holy saint” in the eye of villages. They made the offering filled with good food and drink to him. So that, the three demons could enjoy such comfortable life through his body.

When an enlightened lama travelled this village, he saw the black dragon possessing the boy’s body to preach the dharma. He asked his disciple to put burning incense near the seat of the “master”, suddenly, the black dragon disappeared. At that time, the shepherd boy said in the dreaming state: “where are my sheep? Why are there so many people around me?” You all know the end of this story. This true story was told to thousands of people in the lecture of Tibetan monk Pabongka (Liberation in the palm of your hand by Pabongka Rinpoche).

What can demons do? How to encounter such their doings if we are not holy beings? I would like to write about this issue in the next article.

Phuoc Thanh village, date 26th April 2013.


Translated by Mat Dieu Hang

Original Vietnamese version: Bài 1: MA QUỶ LÀ AI?

About the Realm of Demons:


Lesson 1: WHO IS A DEMON?



Lesson 4: Spiritual medium and spiritual power 





Lesson 9: Need to determine by right view

Lesson 10: Notice manifestation of demonic possession from raw to sophisticated elements




  1. Dear Holy Guru,

    I am delighted to read your article. I used to be confused and afraid of “ghost” or “demon” before I put a step in Tantra House’Gate. I think there are a lot of people like me when they scare what they don’t understand. Thanks for the Guru’s article, I finally understand the clear explanation about the realm of demon, also the true nature of “ghost” and “demon”.

    I understand that “ghost” in traditional thinkings is a mistake with the deva named Mara, living in the highest of the desire-heavens. The “ghost” they mistake is actually “demon”, which is  divided into “ hungry-ghost” and “powerful demon”. They are one of six realms in samsara. Besides, I know that the demon cannot harm human unless  they have addicted habit such as alcohol, gambling, durgs, smoking or sex,…There is a kind of human who has the same spiritual frequency  with the demon and easily become the victim that they can possess his mind to satisfy their desires.

    I am very thankful to the Guru to help us verifying the characteristics of demon and those who is affected by them. Even if they talk about Buddhism, they are not considered as a true Buddhist practitioner when they only “repeat” and cannot “digest” what they are talking about.

    I am elited by Mat Dieu Hang’s translation. May you achieve all wishes due to deligent cultivation.

    May Guru and your consort have a good health and live long for the benefit of all sentient beings.

    May all sentinent beings free from suffering.

    Om Ah Hum.



  2. Mô Phật!

    Mật thúy rất hoan hỉ với thiện hạnh dịch bài viết của vị Thầy sang tiếng Anh của đạo huynh Mật Diệu Hằng cầu nguyện cho huynh luôn tin tấn thực hành pháp để được thành thông thế sự con cầu nguyện sức khoẻ và sự trường thọ của thầy cô vì lợi lạc của chúng sanh Om ah hùm

  3. Tantra Upatissa says:

    Dear Guru thanks for sharing this valuable information.

    I am waiting for your next lesson about how to overcome evil forces.

    May Guru live longer and protected for sake of other beings.

    May all beings be free from suffering and may get enlightened.

  4. JeongGeun Mok says:

    Dear Guru

    Thank You for the teaching I wanted to know & need


    I pray so I can walk right path


    Being sincere to read next article


    Thank You


    Om MaNi PadMe Hum

    • Nguyên Thành says:

      Good. Please, read more my articles! After reading you will understand deeper!

  5. Tantra Kasila says:

    Dear Guru

    Thank you for the article.It clearly gave me an idea of demons and ghosts.It is our karma that makes us good omen or bad omen.We have to be free from all materialistic emotions and attachments to be in a liberated state.This is what distinguishes normal people and enlightened​ people.

    May all sentinel beings free from suffering.

  6. Dear holy Guru,

    I am impressed by your discourse.

    Thanks to your explaination, the realms of demons and deva maras are clearly distinguished. Also, I understand that demons have two kinds of beings which are “hungry ghosts” and “power demons”. Moreover, while hungry ghosts are always suffering from hungry due to bad karma of previous life, the later seem to be more happy with beautiful places to live and comfortable things to enjoy.

    Both hungry ghosts and power demons are living with human in Saha world. Therefore, human beings are sometimes affected by them through demonic phenomena. In fact, demonic possession is the game of power demons. A human is being possessed only when he/she has the same spiritual frequency with the demon or has bad habits such as alcoholism, gambling, sex…

    Thank you for your beneficial article once again.

    May the Guru and your consort live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May all sentient beings achieve the happiness of Buddha’s nature.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.




  7. Rachel Lee says:
    Dear Guru,

    After reading the article, I just realize what is difference between demon & ghost. Thank you very much, your article make me understand the difference.

  8. Jennifer says:
    Dear Holy Guru,

    Thank you for this article and showing us the ways of the evil in the realms. I fear these things however I look forward to the next lesson. How to overcome evil demons is so important to live the right way. I too used to be afraid of demons and what they may be able to do to me. I had recurring nightmares of demons and even wrote a book about it. It was a deep fear for a very long time, many many years. I am no longer afraid for I believe they can not take me over because I’m living the right way. I need to continue to learn from you and be guided by you. May you and all sentient beings be well and reach enlightenment.

  9. Tantra Mahavita says:
    Estimado Guru: Muchas Gracias por compartir el articulo. Los unicos demonios y fantasmas , estan en nuestras mente. Al liberarnos de todas las emociones y apegos materiales podemos estar liberados. Que el Amado Guru viva muchos años para beneficio de todos los seres sintientes . Que todos los seres sensibles disfruten de la felicidad y la raiz de la felicidad. Puedan ser libres de sufrimiento y de la raiz de sufrimiento. Que no esten separados de la gran felicidad carente de sufrimiento. Que habiten en la gran ecuanimidad libre de apego y aversion . OM MANI PADME HUM
  10. Tantra Mikaya says:

    dear holy guru. Thank you for your article titled About the Realm of Demon I would like to share my thoughts on it. Yes, what are powers and devils and demons? There seems to be a certain fascination, at least people have always been interested in and believed in it. But in Buddhism, by definition, nothing has anything to do with faith but with experience and we should not believe what Buddha said, but check it. In meditation, this takes place through deeper stages that we go through. In the beginning I sat there and looked at everything in the mind. That was very exciting in the beginning and then it gets calmer and at some point I could concentrate on an object. Then the fear can arise that we can not let go of this one. The ICH gets smaller and there is nobody left to talk or reflect on it. Here, our meditative experience, that is our mindfulness, will play a major role. It is no longer our greedy desire but a spirit or demon will appear as an image in our mind’s eye. But one thing is clear and is also to be found in the words of the Dalai Lama personally in the sense of real existing forces are not these. Who personifies them moves in the realm of faith and has left the field of Buddhist experience. or not yet reached. May our holy Guru life long for the sake of all sentient beings. May all beings achieve the happiness of Buddha s nature. OM MANI PADME HUM

  11. Simon Michael says:
    Dear Guru,

    Thank you for this article the realm of demon.  you make me to understand the different kinds is demon may you protect us from encounter with bad one. may you make us to avoid alcohol,smoking,sex and doing drugs so that I can’t be used by the bad demon to destroy us may also protect me from the bad demon who are destiny destroyer and lead us to our destiny.

    Thank you for this enlightenment

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