Who Are Your Karmic Creditors?

Create not karmic creditors
by harming any.
Be not karmic creditors
by harming any.

– Nowanden

Who are karmic creditors (冤亲债主)? They are those whom we owe karmic debts to, who we have harmed, from whom our negative karma is expressed by bearing fruit. Usually, they are thought to be unseen and vengeful ghosts, which makes them seem mysterious and frightening. Indeed, these forms of karmic creditors are among the scariest. They might manifest throughout life and on the deathbed to disturb. They can be the spirit forms of past humans, even animals and insects.

For protection and to guide one and all to Pure Land, the most popular practice is sincere mindfulness of Amitā[bha] Buddha’s name – ‘Āmítuófó’. Incidentally, ghostly karmic creditors can read minds to manifest as anyone dead or alive, in dreams and when dying, to stir attachment, aversion and delusion. Again, mindfulness of Buddha will prevent this. Once there is mindfulness of Buddha, they will have to retreat, and are unable to manifest as the Buddha you are mindful of.

As our karma is not known exactly, any sentient being has the potential of functioning as our karmic creditors. It is also possible to experience suffering through those who do not really have grudges against us. They are not intentional, but as if ‘incidental creditors’, who can include troublesome family members, friends, colleagues, neighbours, pets, strangers… It is sensible to never bear grudges or retaliate, to add fuel to the fire by becoming their karmic creditors in turn.

Before demonising karmic creditors, the essential answer to the titular question requires us to reflect inwards, to realise that we are our own first and primary karmic creditors. After all, we personally incurred karmic debts with our three poisons (of attachment, aversion and delusion). These poisons are the actual culprits to identify but not identify with. We should name these inner demons, and not give in to them. We should also repent and make amends to resolve our debts.

Just as our three poisons are the source of our suffering, that created karmic creditors, the three poisons of our karmic creditors is the source of their suffering too. Thus, our true and common enemies are the three poisons, not one another. Let us be one another’s ‘karmic creditors’ in the good and pure sense, instead of creditors. We should all, with skilful means of compassion and wisdom, guide and support one another, to recognise and eradicate these poisons. Doing so is how we can vanquish karmic debts, and transform karmic creditors to be our spiritual friends.

Repay karmic debts.
by helping many.
Be ‘karmic creditors’
by helping many.

– Nowanden


  • I don’t quite understand the difference between karmic Creditor and karmic debtors…..care to elaborate. Tqvm

  • Thank you for sharing such insightful understanding of karmic creditors.
    Hope to know further in depth of this painful lesson.


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