Knowing Buddha Organization
Many Buddhists do not believe in supernatural concepts, such as hungry ghosts, demons and angels…etc. However, in the traditional Buddhist worldview, the universe is inhabited not only by the gross physical beings that comprise the human and animal worlds but also by various classes of nonphysical, divine beings, called devas, that exist in a hierarchy of increasing subtlety and refinement, and by numerous classes of lower beings living in the sub-human realms of existence.
Many venerable teachers of our time have acknowledged that these other beings dwell in a spiritual dimension that exists outside the range of human concepts of space and time, and therefore, beyond the sphere of the material universe as we perceive it. In fact, it was Ven. Ajahn Mun’s remarkable, inherent capacity for communicating with many classes of living beings that made him a teacher of truly universal significance. During his stay in some of the Northeastern towns, the Ven. Ajahn Mun knew that there were at times terrestrial and celestial angels listening to the instructions he was giving to his disciples late at night. They had a profound reverence for him.
Having the eye of wisdom, he made no fundamental distinction between the hearts of people and the hearts of devas, but tailored his teaching to fit their specific circumstances and levels of understanding. Although the message was essentially the same, the medium of communication was different. He communicated with human beings through verbal expression, while he used non-verbal, mind-to-mind communication with all classes of non-human beings.
Buddhists do not deny the existence of beings known as devas in higher realms, but they, like humans, are said to be suffering in samsara, and not necessarily wiser than us. In fact, the Buddha is often portrayed as a teacher of the gods. Many Buddhists do believe in devas and spirits, and some don’t. However, it’s not required to follow the Bless One’s path to the ultimate Nirvana through the eightfold path. Buddha spoke often of not asking questions which can’t be empirically answered, and to focus on the usefulness of beliefs and practices rather than the truthfulness of them. What matters is why we believe in such supernatural worlds. The reasons we should believe in these other sentient beings, especially the lower realms, are for us to lead a truly virtuous life and have a good shield of moral and noble living, and to refrain from all evil deeds. For genuine Buddhists, we all realize that Buddhism doesn’t make god belief or non-god belief an issue.
Source: Column “Forest Monk”, 5000s Magazine Vol.11