Hence Buddhist scriptures are full of stories about spirits, ghost and demons. They are an integral part of Buddhist cosmology, says the Buddhist expert DeCaroli (2004). Even the story of Buddha’s awakening emerged in a drama where spirit-deities played a significant role.
To demonstrate their power and to become associated with the otherworld, many Buddhist monasteries were built on sites known to be occupied by fearsome demons. This direct linkage and association meant for the local population that the monks became true masters of the spiritual world. Spirits were, like humans, full of hate, greed, emotions and anxieties. Buddhist texts give countless narratives of how spirits were converted to Buddhism and relieved from their suffering just as living ordinary people were.
What in the eyes of the population entitled the monks to be associated with masters of spirits’? Through their ascetic and ethical discipline, Buddhist monks had built up courage, wisdom and ethics to withstand the frightening deities, so they knew how to handle and appease them, according to DeCaroli (2004). Thus the Buddhist dharma – the Buddhist yogaâ tapped into underlying belief systems, code and habitus, claiming that if a person performs certain disciplines, then he can manage spirits. A symbolic link is established: the monk’ (a sign with a physical referent) is associated with spirit management’ (a sign with no physical referent). This resource – this perceived knowhow skill – accumulates cultural and symbolic capital.