More and more often I have students ask me about the Tibetan Buddhist approach to dealing with “spirits” or unusual disturbances in the home.
Most religions have some sort of belief regarding spirits, demons, entities, and non-humans, though our science-based Western culture ridicules the idea of believing in anything you can’t tangibly experience with one of your five senses.
That’s why the ability to see, hear, or feel the presence of spirits is often referred to as an “extra-sensory” perception.
The more I practice Tantra, the more healed and aware I become of my own “extrasensory perceptions”, which I believe we ALL have in varying degrees.
Like many of our innocent expressions as children, these “extra” perceptions are simply socialized out of us, so that we learn to mistrust rather than trust, our intuitive knowing and more subtle sense perceptions.
The Tibetan culture is rich with awareness of the spirit realm and gives specific instructions for pacifying, taming, and even benefitting the non-corporeal beings that inhabit our spaces.
But how do you know if you are troubled by spirits?
Here are a few things to be aware of:
1. According to the Tibetan tradition, the spirit realm is one of the 6 realms of rebirth and is considered to be one of the “lower” realms, meaning- that’s not where you want to hang out for any period of time.
After a human birth, rebirthing in the spirit realm or getting “trapped” there (ghosts), is actually a step backward...kinda like getting Demoted instead of Promoted.
2. Spirits live among us, all the time. There are literally THOUSANDS of classification of spirits, ranging from beneficial or benign, to malicious, and even demonic. Then there are “non-humans” and “entities” as well.
Most spirits/non-humans are just hanging out, doing their thing… doing whatever it is that spirits do. But some of them are pernicious, meaning- they cause trouble, sometimes even sickness and death.
The thing that could blow your Western mind, is the idea that we co-exist with unseen beings ALL the time, and that is actually normal.
3. Many spirits or entities are in varying degrees of pain, and we can help ease it. The Buddhist approach is one of compassion for ALL sentient beings, including the ones we can’t see with our eyeballs (though many people CAN see spirits).
So how do you know if have spirits in your environment?
There are a number of red flags when it comes to spirit activity in your home. Some are super obvious, like things flying across the room, or footsteps, strange noises, etc. But many of the signs are actually really subtle and are often overlooked.
1. Insomnia- Not saying insomnia is ALWAYS caused by spirit activity, but if you are normally a fairly good sleeper, and all of a sudden you keep getting “yanked” back to consciousness, just as you are drifting off, that’s usually an indication of a spirit messing with you. Also- if there seems to be a lot of “movement” in the room, or “buzzy energy”, that could be spirit activity.
2. Nightmares- Holy cow! Some of the dreams I have had while purifying a spirit, OMG. And it’s not so much what happens in the dream, it’s the feeling of the dream. Just, like, YUCK. And we aren’t talking your normal, Jungian nightmare, we are talking intense, reoccurring nastiness!
3. Emotional Drama– Example- I have a friend who moved into a new house with her partner. They had previously had a very easy going relationship, no harsh arguments, no extreme conflicts. They move into this new place, and all of a sudden, they want to kill each other. Screaming, yelling, hair pulling (okay, not really hair pulling, but you get the picture.)
Their relationship went from fairly idyllic to a murder-suicide in about 24 hours. And yes, moving is stressful, but this was unusual and extreme, and it lasted for weeks!
She followed some of the suggestions I outline below, and voila! Happy Couple again. I wish all relationship issues were that easy to fix!
4. Mental Disturbance– Foggy, cloudy head. Feeling “imbalanced”, unstable, disoriented. Not just “I’m a little hung over today” feeling, but like all day, every single day.
Also- make note if you feel better when you are away from that environment. Example- you feel GREAT, and then you go to work, or someone’s house, (or even to your own home) and within a few minutes to an hour, you start having these symptoms….just notice….
5. Unexplained nausea- The #1 sign you have encountered a nasty spirit- you will suddenly feel nauseous for no apparent reason. Nasty spirits can reverse the flow of your life force, or what Tibetans call your “life-sustaining winds”. When that happens, you will suddenly feel nauseous, maybe even a little headachey.
6. Unusual or extreme illness that can’t be explained. Do I ever know this one! I was a textbook case for getting “spirit sickness”. If someone had a nasty spirit around them, I was sure to take it home and take it to bed, both literally and figuratively.
These are just a few of the more common, and often overlooked symptoms of spirit activity in your home.
So what to do about it? That really depends on what type of spirit they are.
For your average, every day “spirit”, non-human, or entity, your best bet is to feed them. Yep, you read that right. Most spirits are hungry. They are actually called “Hungry Ghosts”, and they are in terrible suffering.
Imagine being ravenous and having no food for like 1,000 years or more! They have serious HANGRY going on, and they are acting out trying to get your attention.
One of my mentors shares his #1 recommendation for pacifying active spirits in the house:
“You cannot “banish” spirits, as it can make matters worse. Feed them: get rice and water, recite the mantra : “om mani peme hung” over the food and water several times. This makes it possible for the spirits to “eat” the essence of the food. Place the water and rice in small bowls around your place. Do this for several days in a row. Throw the water and rice away after a few hours, never eat it! They will be pacified and maybe even like you! Spirits live thousands of years and may well be trapped in that place unable to leave, so live in peace. The Buddha said the greatest protection is “metta”, loving kindness. Very good karma. You must continue this over time.”
Once you have fed the spirits in the house, you can then take the rice and water to feed the spirits outside the house, as well as give the environment a blessing.
To do this: take the rice and water you have already offered inside the home (or office, or wherever) and sprinkle/throw the rice all around the base of the structure while walking in a clockwise direction, and chanting “Om Mani Peme Hung”.
There are various other Tibetan Tantric and Shamanic practices for taming and pacifying non-corporeal beings in your environment.
If the being is demonic, or super nasty, you may need the power of the Lamas, or a priest, or someone with a little more oomph than Uncle Ben’s white or brown rice.
But in most cases, feeding them should help diminish the activity, as well as benefit the suffering beings trapped in that state.
You can also dedicate the merit of your Tantra practice to any sentient beings in or around your home.
If you have been using any of the Tantra practices we suggest here at Authentic Tantra you are generating positive karma, so make sure you share the love and dedicate those good pleasure vibes to all living beings!