Buddhists certainly have ghost stories. These restless or "hungry ghosts" (pretas) have an entire section of the ancient texts devoted to them called the Petavatthu. These ghost stories (a counterpart to stories of celestial planes called the Vimanavatthu) tell tales of karma and its result. They will be recognizable to the Western as rewards and punishments for well and ill done deeds.
The danger of making contact with ghosts is that they are very needy and clingy, even parasitic. To interact with them is somewhat like feeding a cat and expecting it to go away afterwards. To help, as for example to benefit lost relatives one misses and worries about, an offering may be made in their name. This skillful karma is the doer's alone. However, if the ghost approves and applauds the act, that very act of approval is a mental deed that benefits the doer, that is to say, the ghost.
That having been said, for the most part exonerating ghosts, there are malevolent beings:
Whereas later schools often simplify Buddhist cosmology down to six worlds (depicted in this Tibetan thangka), the Buddha in fact detailed 31 Planes of Existence.
In Buddhism the difference (and this is a central yet woefully neglected point that non-meditating scholars fail to appreciate) is that this pantheon of "mythological" creatures is verifiable. The same is true of entities in Buddhist physics and psychology (Abhidharma), such as:
- elementary particles (kalapas)
- consciousnesses or thought-moments (cittas)
- the factors of Dependent Origination
How? With the power of jhana one turns attention toward them and the unseen becomes visible. Because these things are so far removed from normal awareness, however, they are hard to believe in. Therefore many scholars and most Western Buddhists choose to regard all such things as quaint myths and philosophical speculations rather than real and literal things that can be known directly.
On the other hand, (attention Goths) anyone morbidly obsessed with sadness, suffering, loss, or pessimism would do well to avoid wallowing in negativity for a day to dress up as a bright faerie, a loving bodhisattva, or even a repugnant Teletubby.
- trickiness (when we don't get treats)
- obsession with celebrity
- fear of disease and death
- sex symbols
- social transgressions
- wild revelry
- killing (even under the banner of war)
- stealing (defrauding people and institutions)
- sexually misconducting ourselves
- lying/slandering/perjuring or speaking harshly/divisively/idly
- intoxicants that abuse the body and lead to negligence