If you do ghostly things, you are a ghost.
If you act like a human being, you're a human being.
If you do the deeds of Buddhas, you're a Buddha.
A Ghost is a Mass of Negative Energy
There are as many ghosts as there are human beings. There are innumerable human beings, and there are also innumerable ghosts. In cultivation, whatever thought you have, a corresponding ghost will appear. A ghost is a mass of negative energy. Whenever you have a bad thought, a mass of negative energy comes; but if you change your thinking, then the sunlight will shine in, and you'll have wisdom. What is a ghost? Stupidity is a ghost. What is a spirit? Wisdom is a spirit. Spirits are intelligent. This is just an analogy, so you should not take it literally and think that stupidity is a ghost and wisdom is a spirit. Spirits like to help people. Those who draw near ghosts don't like to follow rules. Anyone who doesn't like to follow rules is close to ghosts. Those who draw near spirits like to follow rules and do proper things. If you want to know whether a person has a ghost in him, you can tell right away by observing his behavior. If that person likes to take dope or smoke opium, then ghosts are his constant companions. In Chinese, those who indulge in wine are called "wine ghosts." If they get drunk, they are called "drunken ghosts." There are ghosts who like to drink, too.
Perform the Deeds of Buddhas, Not the Deeds of Ghosts
If you're intelligent, then you're a spirit; if you're stupid, you're a ghost. If you take hallucinogenic drugs, you're nothing but a ghost. Don't think that you have to die before you become a ghost; you're already friends with the ghosts right now. Didn't I just mention that if you only do ghostly things, you are a ghost? If you act like a human being, you're a human being. If you do the deeds of Buddhas, you're a Buddha. It's all up to you. Since you become whatever you do, why not act like a Buddha instead of a ghost? What are Buddhas' deeds? Sitting in Chan meditation everyday, reciting sutras, and reciting the Buddha's name are all Buddhas' deeds. If you receive the Buddhadharma's influence every day, you'll eventually become a Buddha. So every one of us should prime our energy, and do the deeds of Buddhas instead of the deeds of ghosts. We want to chase away the ghosts in our minds. What ghosts are in our minds? There's a greedy ghost which you don't recognize, an angry ghost which you don't know about, a stupid ghost in your belly, an arrogant ghost and a suspicious ghost. Whatever I tell you, you simply don't believe it. "Is it really like this?" you wonder. That's the suspicious ghost in you. "Doubt causes ghostly diseases." If you harbor a suspicious ghost, then you'll come down with a ghostly disease.
So you should be all very careful. Don't indulge in so many false thoughts or make friends with the ghosts. This way, evil can be transformed into good fortune. Everything is created by the mind. If you keep thinking about improper ghostly deeds, then the ghost will have it's way with you. If you're proper, without so many ghostly ideas, then nothing will happen. So, whoever has a ghostly mind and wants to go near the ghosts should quickly realize his mistakes and reform himself. You should quickly sweep clean your mind. If you don't have so many desires, and so many thoughts of greed, hatred, stupidity, arrogance and doubt, then everything will be fine.
The Five Ghosts Which Haunt the House: Hatred, Resentment, Annoyance, Anger and Vexation.
Why do we say that if you don't have ghosts in your mind, then the ghosts outside your body can't do anything? The external ghosts appear only when you have ghosts in your mind. If there aren't any ghosts in your mind, then the external ghosts cannot come in. The internal ghosts are: greed, hatred, stupidity, arrogance and doubt. They are also hatred, resentment, annoyance, anger and vexation. When you hate others, then there's a red-faced ghost. When you resent others, there's a yellow-faced ghost. When you feel annoyed by others, there's a white-faced ghost. When you are angry at others, there's a blue-faced ghost. When you're vexed at others, the black-faced ghost comes. See how serious it is!
As soon as your mind stirs, and you think, "Yes, I hate him to the extreme," you are harboring hatred. Where does hatred come from? It comes from love. If there's no love, there's no hatred. If one person loves another, but cannot get what he desires, he starts to feel hatred. With hatred, the red-faced ghost comes along. If you aren't afraid of that, you can try it out. What about resenting others? "He lets me down. I've been so kind to him, yet he's so mean to me." So he resents heaven and blames others. To resent heaven is like scolding heaven when it rains, "Why do you cause such a downpour? You scoundrel!" To blame others is to give way to anger and complain, "This person is rotten to the core. I treat him so well, yet he's so unkind to me."
Hatred is related to the heart. The heart is red, and so the red-faced ghost appears. Resentment is related to the spleen. Since the spleen is represented by the color yellow, the yellow-faced ghost comes. Annoyance is related to the lungs. The lungs are designated a white color, so the white-faced ghost follows. To be angry is to lose one's temper. Anger is an attribute of the liver. When a person gets angry, the fire in his liver blazes up. If you go into a fury, it hurts the liver and you become a green-faced ghost. When you hate others, it harms the heart. When you resent others, it hurts the spleen. When you get annoyed, it damages the lungs. When you're angry at others, it harms the liver. When you are vexed at others, it hurts the kidneys. What is vexation? For instance, you say, "This child is disgusting. He's so dishonest. Look at him, he cries the whole day long." And you're overcome with vexation. Vexation damages the kidneys, so it brings a black-faced ghost. The kidneys belong to the water element. Water is related to the color black, so it's represented by a black-faced ghost. These are "the five ghosts which haunt the house." When you have these five ghosts inside you, the ghosts from outside will also come, and all sorts of phantoms will show their faces.
Ghosts Are Inside the Mind
Here's another analogy. If you feed a cat and don't wash its dish after it has finished eating, the dirty dish will attract flies. Because the area is not clean, flies gather to feed off the leftovers. Another analogy is the polar bears who live in the frozen northern regions. The polar bear is fierce and intelligent, and it feeds exclusively on seals. How does it catch them? It conceals itself in the snow and waits for a seal to come out. When a seal passes unaware in front of the polar bear, the bear seizes it and devours it. But since the bear can't finish all the meat, there are always some leftovers. Then the polar fox, who constantly scavenges for the filthy meat left over by the polar bear, goes and steals the rest of the seal carcass. But the fox can't finish the meat either, so it makes a hole in the ice and stores it in there. When the fox runs out of food, it takes the meat out to eat. Since the polar bear just ate its fill and didn't care about the leftovers, sometimes it has nothing to eat. Since the polar fox found the leftovers and stored them away, it still has something to eat when its food runs out.
The polar bear is like the cat, in that it always leaves leftovers. The cat's leftovers are eaten by flies. Flies and the polar fox are both analogies for ghosts. So we should be especially careful not to have ghosts inside our mind. We shouldn't harbor hatred, resentment, annoyance, anger and vexation. The presence of these is very troublesome, for the five ghosts will haunt the house. When you cultivators and left-home people lose your tempers, the ghosts will come around. If you have left home only superficially, and there are ghosts in your belly, the ghosts outside will come too. So be careful! No one realizes that the ghosts are in his own mind.