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What Is The Proper Buddhist View On Rearing Of Child Spirits?

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开示忏悔,念佛回向,
即是最速,超度法门。

Offering guidance, repentance,
mindfulness of Buddha and dedication of merits
is the most swift Dharma Door for deliverance.

Rearing of child spirits (养小鬼) was never taught by the Buddha in any sūtra. It is thus discouraged in orthodox Buddhism, not to be confused with some culturally distorted pseudo-‘Buddhist’ practices. Deceased beings should be directly guided with mindfulness of Buddha (阿弥陀佛: Āmítuófó) to reach his Pure Land, to be free from suffering — regardless of age and manner of death, even if by miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion. (Of course, abortion should be avoided as it breaks the First Precept of abstaining from killing.)

Rearing of child spirits is done by some for various reasons, none of which is considered truly compassionate and wise. It is often imagined to be like an act of ‘charity’, to help deceased infants create ‘good karma’ to have ‘good rebirths’. However, sincere mindfulness of Buddha can already create immense merits for the best rebirth in Pure Land. Dedication of merits can assist in this to some extent too. Rearing of child spirits, deliberately or ignorantly, delays the facilitation of this swift rebirth, keeping them as ghosts indefinitely instead.

Some mistakenly think they can help child spirits create ‘good karma’ by getting them to do them favours for success in worldly life, while making regular offerings to appease them. As these exchanges are essentially agreements with ghosts made for selfish purposes, this is not true charity. When dealing with ghosts, who are unenlightened, who still have greed, hatred and delusion, this can backfire with disastrous results if they are enraged, bearing in mind that ghosts are unseen and have some supernormal powers. Realising they were made used of can trigger this.

相由心生,相由心转。
念佛见佛,念鬼见鬼。

Forms due to the mind arise,
forms due to the mind transform.
With mindfulness of Buddha see the Buddha,
with mindfulness of ghosts see ghosts.

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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