Wednesday, October 26, 2016
During the 80’s I was a little obsessed with the True Buddha School movements so I did join many of their activities then. Although the True Buddha School was and still is being treated as the new kid on the block, it continued to flourish within local Chinese community. The reason behind its popularity is perhaps the loosely combined Taoist and Buddhist doctrines coupled with lots of folk beliefs. Almost everything one can think of would present in True Buddha School. Also, with the avocation of supernatural power which is strictly prohibited by mainstream religions; no wonder why so many people were crazy about the True Buddha. In addition, gurus could be ordinated easily too compared to other Buddhist schools.
At that time, many small common practise groups (共修组) comprised of 3~5 people were being formed within a residential area; and a small True Buddha shrine were setup within a community. Other than the standard True Buddha rituals; many localised and private practices were naturally being incorporated. A very interesting practice similar to the auto-movement or Tenaga Dalam exercise was called ‘soul awakening’ (启灵学) was the foundation practice.
Now, a very interesting phenomenon could be observed when a few people having auto-movements together in a rather small living room. With the ‘awakening’ of each person’s soul, all of the participants would individually started to dance and performing various mudras indicating their own patron spirits. The advocate of that time was ‘1 mantra, 1 mudra and 1 method’ as I could still remember it.
When one’s soul is ‘awakened’, he/she would be in a trancelike state as practitioners would proudly say that it is the person’s spiritual guide that is training the practitioner; I would not want to argue. So said, many pretty funny cases happened during these private practise sessions. During of the session for example after everyone was in a trance state:
Bro Lim started to move about in the living room amongst the 5 practitioners. After some movements, he made the gesture of Guan’gong (关公) and said: “Ho! Ho! Ho! I am the invincible Guan’gong’!”
Sis Tan also moved in a trance state while making the mudra of Green Tara and proclaimed herself as the ‘Green Tara’.
Aunt Lee danced for a while and sang in high pitch and announced she was the ‘Golden Mother Of The Heavenly Pond’ (瑶池金母).
Sandy also danced for a while and sang the ‘om mani padme hum’ mantra and indicated she was the ‘Avalokitesvara’.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling too well that day. So, for safety reasons, I couldn’t fall into trance. My spiritual guide for that time was the ‘Manjushri’.
As I sat in a corner and watched the fantastic display of spiritual dances, a commotion broke out after Guan’gong bumped into the Golden Mother and Green Tara. Both of them started to argue in trance state:
Guan’gong: “Golden Mother and Green Tara, do you mean to find fault with me? Why do you block my way?”
Goledm Mother: “Guan’gong, have you no respect on me?”
Green Tara: “Wait! You are no Guan’gong… I can see you with my 3rd eye… You are actually a pig spirit!!”
(While the arguments were raging, the compassionate Avalokitesvara continued to dance…)
Guan’gong: “How can you insult me! Now, eat this!!”
(Guan’gong was making a series of hand gestures at Golden Mother and Green Tara. And both of the said goddesses retaliated with more hand gestures…)
“Now, eat our powers!!” Both Golden Mother and Green Tara responded quickly.
(After a grand display of body movements and hand gestures, the Golden Mother and Green Tara were losing ground…)
Guan’gong: “Ha! Ha! Ha! Now, who is the mightiest? On second look, you are no Golden Mother and Green Tara; both of you are actually pigs!!”
(Just as when Guan’gong was celebrating on his victory, suddenly Avalokitesvara jumped in…)
Avalokitesvara: “Hey, pig head! I am the Thousand-Armed- Avalokitesvara! Retreat now or meet your doom!”
(Of course Guan’gong would not take the insult and another grand display of hand gestures between each other… And finally, Guan’gong dropped onto the floor…)
Guan’gong: “I cannot fight this long-armed lady ghost now! I must go now…”
So, said; Bro Lim shivered and a few seconds later; he was himself again. Likewise happened to Sis Tan, Aunt Lee and Sandy in turn. All of them celebrated with each other on another happy and progressive spiritual training… But I could only keep quiet…
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Everyone must have experienced bad dreams one time or another. People would suddenly awaken in the middle of the night and even long after that the fright remains deep inside the heart. Oddly speaking, when such scary bad dreams are being flashed back during daytime, people would then laugh at him/herself on being afraid of those absurd dreams. In old time, premonitions of dreams were of much importance but today, dreams are just dreams. Having said so, if a person is having bad dreams constantly, then his/her sleeping quality and mental wellbeing will definitely be affected. It is particular bad if children experience bad dreams on regular basis as their mental and physical developments would certainly be affected.
There are many methods to prevent bad dreams amongst others, true to my own experiences:
1. Prior to sleeping: the pillow should be raised a little higher, and the person should sleep on either left or right sides. It is forbidden to sleep while lying flat face down or face up like a corpse.
2. One should not sleep more than 8 hours a day.
3. One should not talk once he has laid down.
4. It is best to wear light clothing while sleeping and avoid sleeping naked. Even in tropical areas, temperature differences can be pretty high especially after a midnight rain.
5. One should not laugh loudly before sleep or his unsettled emotion may bring forth bad dreams at night.
6. One should not go straight to bed after a heavy meal, or after he/she has consumed something hot.
7. One should wait until his/body is dried after bathing at night before sleeping.
8. Postures such as putting one’s hand on his/her chest or sleep with crossed leg should be avoided altogether.
9. Avoid sleeping in cold, especially right under a window or near a door.
Of course, all those precautions may still bring forth bad dreams. There are some small tricks to calm our mind if we find difficult to continue to sleep:
1. One may chant the Sanskrit mantra of the watcher of the night: Vasanta Vayanti repeatedly until we fall asleep again; or any simple holy names repeatedly.
2. A person can also use his/her left hand to pinch the area between his/her nose and upper lip 14 times and then biting his/her teeth 14 times then all his/her unreasonable fear shall be gone.
Generally speaking, when a person is too free and having nothing to do; it is very likely that he/she will get many odd dreams at night. So, instead of staying in the house and grumbling on badluck as scapegoat; maybe involving some charity works would make the person sleep better at night. Also, it is certainly true that doing charity work can boost one’s luck too! The idea is just to make the body tired so that we can rest-in-peace at night really.
None of the Asian magical schools utilizes the power of water ghost except one. The Thai magic makes use of earth spirits while the Vietnamese magic utilises the power of plants predominantly. The only system I have ever known that make uses of water ghost is the Javanese ‘name of power of great river’ aka ‘Asma Sungei Rajah’ and the ‘sword’ aka ‘saefi’ typically speaking.
The understanding of water ghost is different in various cultures. The Chinese version of water ghost is anyone who is drowned in water, the West have their own version of water spirit and the Malay version of water spirit is totally different from any other traditions. The Malay water ghost has something to do with mythical story of Badang; who became extremely powerful after swallowing the vomit stuffs of a water ghost. This story was being filmed in 1962 locally.
According to the story, a water ghost used to steal fishes caught by Badang from a lake near his house quite frequently. Badang felt very angry after finding all his catch was being stolen by someone. So, one night after he has caught some fishes, instead of going for more catches; Badang hid behind a bush as he wanted to catch the culprit red-handed. After some waiting, a water ghost appeared from the lake and start devouring Badang’s fishes. In a state of furiousness, Badang caught hold of this water ghost and threatened to kill it unless the water ghost would pay him for all his loses.
As a gesture to redeem its guilt, the water ghost promised to bestow Badang supernatural power if and only if he would swallow all of the vomit stuffs from the water ghost’s stomach. Badang did as told and he became super powerful. Of course, that was the mythos.
Having so said, water ghost in the belief of local Malay is dominated by unisex: male. Its body is covered by thick and big scales and this water ghost has long beard that reaches its chest level. This water ghost is also believed to be bold, with a pair of pointed ears and sharp teeth and also claws.
I am sure you would agree with me that by now, the Malay version of water ghost subspecies is quite different and more powerful from the Chinese ones.
Now, if you have followed my earlier posting of Asma Sungei Rajah, then you would notice that for best results; Asma Sungei Rajah is best to be practised by submerging one’s lower body up to waist level into a river with clear running water starting Friday night coupled with a consecutive of 7 night’s mantra recitations.
I certainly don’t expect people to go into a river, lake or sea at night these days… But if you really do, then you might see a black figure linger near you. If you continue to stay put and not run away; then this creature shall jump onto your shoulder and then merge into your body. It is only after the entity has entered into your body successfully that the practice of Asma Sungei Rajah and some Saefi (sword) practices can be considered successful. The power of Asma Sungei Rajah must be recharged every two weeks by dipping into a river, lake or sea or else the water ghost will leave; and hence the power bestowed into a practitioner will also fade.
Before anyone started to jump into water, I must caution that inviting a water ghost into one’s body is very dangerous matter. If the practitioner failed to overcome the brute force of this water ghost, then it will take over the person’s body and this person may drown himself if not become insane. Hence, my advice is simply do not engage in this type of practices at all.
Singaporean and Malaysians are not so particular about food offerings to ghosts. This is not the case for those Taiwanese and Hong Kong people. Foods offered to ghosts especially during the Ghost Month should be selective because of their symbolic meanings.
Below are some of vegetables or fruits with their intrinsic meanings:
Banana is believed to be able to attract ghosts maybe because its link with banana plant and hence the infamous banana spirit; but also the word ‘香蕉’ in Cantonese meaning ‘to invite’. It is so afraid that once those good brothers and sisters enjoyed the meal; they refuse to leave.
Likewise, although pineapple is a must for gods and goddesses; it is not proper for ghosts due to its Chinese characters reads something like ‘come in wind’. If the ghosts do come like a wind, then this will also bring bad luck. Ideally, these ghosts should leave ASAP after the free meal and bring fortune to the worshipper ASAP too.
Apples has the same sound as ‘poor’ in Chinese. So, by offering apples to either gods or ghosts; poverty may be fallen to the worshippers.
Pomegranate also has the meaning to ‘stay put’. So, it is also no good if the ghosts staying put and not bring any fortunes to the worshipper. After all, there is no free lunch in this world… that extends to the spiritual world too!
There is a Cantonese proverb that sounds like ‘骗鬼吃豆腐’ (coaxing ghosts to eat tofu) meaning it is very easy to deceive a person. So, it is apparent that ghosts like tofu. The reason being that tofu is soft and wet, after one year in hell; the only thing ghosts can eat is tofu since their throats were already too dry and hot to swallow anything else.
Water convolvulus (蕹菜)
Water convolvulus soup is a must for some Taiwanese folks in ghost worships. The reasons are profound:
1. Water convolvulus is tasteless so it is not anyone’s favourite food. In a ghost offering ceremony when all ghosts are summoned to enjoy feasts, strong and weak ones shall rush to the offering table at once. The strong ones will devour those goodies leaving the weaker ones nothing to eat. Naturally, no one likes water convolvulus would also not be consumed by the ghosts. Since the weaker ghosts are powerless against strong ones; at least they can still drink the water convolvulus soup. So, everyone would have a piece of something to eat.
2. Water convolvulus is cheap and at times, it is also freely available from the nature. So, in old times when people cannot afford to prepare sumptuous food offerings for ghosts; just to console those lesser fortunate ones; they are allowed to present water convolvulus soup as the sole offering. In Taiwan, most of the places have joint food offering for ghosts for a village. This allowance enables practically everyone in a village, rich and poor can participate in the festivals.
3. Water convolvulus is empty inside the stems, and it has the meaning of ‘empty heart’. Indirectly telling whatever spirits that ‘I have no heart to retain you so please leave after eat’.
Just a final word, different thing means different meaning in different places too. So, please pay attention to the local customs or you will find yourself a lot of problems if things are not going well right after the food offering ceremonies… And, the above is just a short list amongst many others!
Monday, October 24, 2016
Many people wanted to know what ghosts look like. The best resources are of course, from those narrations of true mediums. Sadly speaking, most of the descriptions of ghosts in the medias are written by those who have not seen a ghost for those who also do not have a chance to see ghosts. Hence give forth the image of ghosts being: wearing red shirt, long hair, always standing by the roadside to scare taxi drivers etc. I am not about to give a lecture, suffice just to describe what ghosts look like to me who has worked with ghosts for almost 30 years.
Definition of ghosts
By ghosts, I would refer to intelligent spiritual beings that can react to the environment.
What do ghosts look like?
This is a question many people would like to know. There are two answers: when ghosts are resting (sleeping), they appear as if an orb the size of a pea. To the naked eyes, the ghosts would seem to have disappeared in thin air. The fact is that they simply discharged all their energies and became a pea-like entity. When ghosts sleep; they would attach themselves onto objects such as rocks, plants or even human beings.
In the awakening state, ghosts look like a blob of fog. Of course, in order to form a shape; ghosts need to absorb a lot of energy. When they do take forms, their surrounding would become cold.
In normal circumstances, ghosts cannot hold their forms for a very long time. They can normally materialise for 5 seconds the most and then return to its gaseous state. This is the reason why most of those authentic ghost photos only show a head with fog-like substances around.
Do ghosts have colours?
Yes. They do. Majority of ghosts I see if greyish in colour. Sometimes they appear to be in black, green and white. New ghosts are more colourful than old ghosts. A recent deceased ghost would appear as our normal person but the older it gets, its colour fades with time. Greyish ghosts are at least 40 to 50 years old. I have not seen a ghost with red colour so far.
Where can I normally see a ghost?
A ghost cannot just materialise anywhere. It cannot take form in an open space such as on a straight stretch of highway, in centre of an open field, on exposed mountain peak or in a windy place. So, the best chance for a person to see ghost is in a damped and enclosed place such as in a haunted house, a cave, in a tropical forest etc. A ghost also needs water to survive, so a ghost can also be sighted on the river banks, beside lakes, seaside and swamps.
Do ghosts need to eat?
Yes. Ghosts feed on smells, energy and water. If your house electric appliances break down too often, especially the lightning; then ghosts may be present. Of course, your electrical circuit may as well be overloaded too when you have added too many high power equipment.
Do ghosts harm living beings?
Yes. Since ghosts feed on energy, they would attach to a person and feed on his/her energy. As the person’s energy is drawn, the person would get tired and easily annoyed. Since ghosts like to feed on energy, they certainly like to dwell in a person’s internal organs such as heart, kidneys and stomach where the energy is plentiful. If these spirit parasites dwell in the organs for too long, they may cause physical illnesses such as cancers.
Other than that, ghosts would blur a person’s mind which caused he/she to make wrong judgement. For example, ghosts can cause their host to hallucinate and see things while he/she is driving resulting in freak accidents. Ghosts too can change the character of a person and made him/her isolated from the society.
Do ghosts grant wishes?
Yes. Only in the dreams. I have requested many requests to ghosts and all of my wishes were being granted in my dreams: women, work and social status. Of course, I couldn’t bring those ‘gifts’ in the dream to our physical world.
Can magician kill a ghost?
Yes, and no. Yes, a magician can temporarily put a ghost to ‘sleep’. Since a ghost is a type of energy; in Buddhist terms, it is ‘alaya’ seed which cannot be destroyed. So, No, ghosts cannot be destroyed. After sometime of sleeping, they will rise automatically.
How can I see ghosts?
You can see ghosts when you are being possessed by another ghost; or when you are practising some kind of spiritual practices. Most of the time, people who claimed to be able to see ghost themselves are already being possessed without noticed.
Also, not forget to mentioned that only those people have some kind of karmic connection can see a ghost. For example, if a person must have done something to the ghost that enabled the ghost to appear in his/her vision. When this person sees this ghost with his naked eyes; this ghost already possessed his body.
What do you think about ghosts?
Ghosts are pitiful beings yet they are best to be left alone. They are almost always sad. In fact, I have not seen a happy ghost so far. The best way to handle a ghost is to deliver it to the other side and not letting them to stay with us; even they were once our loved ones.
There is a type of very special entity lurking in the wild with many names. It looks like an orangutan with hairs but it is only about 3 feet tall. If I were to describe it, it would be the Asian miniature bigfoot. The Taiwanese calls the entity as ‘the hairy demonic kid’, the Chinese calls it ‘small mountain’ (小山) or ‘small ghost’ (小鬼). I would just call it as ‘demonic kid’ for simplicity.
Demonic kids may be seen by people frequently enters the forest. They normally live by the edge of the forest and at times their traces could also be found in rubber or oil palm plantations. They are said to possess certain magical skills and these demonic kids are believed to be responsible for mesmerizing and misleading travellers by creating the ‘ghostly maze (鬼打墙). And, they are believed to be able to make themselves invisible too.
Normally demonic kids don’t kill and they only play pranks on unwary travellers. A lonely travellers at night or at dusk would be a good target for them to play at. Usually this unfortunate traveller would first be led into the ‘ghostly maze’ and walked in circle until he/she loses concentration. Then demonic kids would pull the victim’s legs from behind to make him/her fall. Once the person is successfully toppled, then they would quickly stick some muds or weeds into the person’s mouth and nose. After that, the victim is normally leave to lay on the ground alone. Although demonic kids don’t kill; their pranks of may cause suffocation. Hence, villagers and those rubber tappers would usually bring one or two dogs to travel along if they know certain stretch of the journey is haunted by these demonic kids. The locals believed dogs are the only thing these demonic kids afraid because dogs could pick up the scent of demonic kids even though when the demonic kids are invisible.
When I stayed in my grandparent’s rubber plantation, I used to hunt for lizards and small wild boars with my cousins. Our modus operandi was first to let go 5 to 8 dogs into the bush in rubber plantation. As the dogs rushed into the bush, we would use a stick to strike onto an empty metal can or something like that to make noises. The noise would normally startle whatever animals there might be to rush out. As soon as an animal is noticed, the dogs would chase after it to a corner and we would make the kill. Small wild boar was our favourite prey of that time since pork were pretty expensive then. The only time for us to eat pork was during the New Year.
So said, one day the kids and dogs were chasing after a wild boar. We saw a small creature rode on the back of the wild boar: it looked like a hairy kid! As the wild boar was being cornered by the dogs, the hairy kid suddenly jumped off the back of the boar and rolled itself into a fur ball in the mid of the air, and as it fell onto the ground; it continued roll at high speed into the bush.
Since our target was the wild boar and not the unexpected creature, we left the fur ball alone. Later, I told grandpa about the creature. He later confirmed that was the notorious demonic kid. He said that he was once the victim of demonic kid when he returned home one night after attending a relative’s wedding. While he was passing a swamp area, suddenly something bumped his back and he subsequently lost balance and fell face down on to the ground. As soon as he was on the ground, some hairy creature started to push mud and weeds into his nose and mouth. Strangely speaking, grandpa could not resist as he found himself as stiff as a rock. Luckily, another acquaintance passed through the area and found grandpa on the ground. He later sent grandpa back or else grandpa believed if he was not helped, he would be suffocated to death in the morning.
Now that I have not seen traces of demonic kids for a long time as I have not gone back to the rubber plantation… maybe they are still there playing pranks on unwary passer-by.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
A friend brought up a very interesting topic: “red shirt female ghost”. So, let us take a closer look at this charming personality.
Traditionally, red colour is associated with love and passion in the West. The Chinese treat red as the colour of happiness and festive. In both cases, red could not by any means associate with ghosts. I have searched throughout the Chinese ghost literatures and found no descriptions at about red shirt ghosts. In other Asian mythologies, the spirits only appear in white, green, grey or black. Or in rare cases, spirits could be as colourful as us the human being.
So, from where does this red shirt ghost come from?
The red shirt ghost is believed to be the product of when a lady is bullied to such an extent that she has no way to seek justice and dead is her only option. This death seeking lady would wear read clothes, red pants, red shoes and put on red lipsticks. Then she would commit suicide and her restless soul will become the infamous ‘red shirt female ghost’ to seek justice against all those who have wronged her.
It is also possible that when a woman died due to very unjust cases and no worldly justice could be sought; then her parents or relatives would let the dead lady wear all red with red makeups. In addition, a pair of scissors would also be put in her right hand so that she could rise from her grave and seek revenge herself.
Sounds familiar? You bet.
The above descriptions are actually common scenes depicted in Hong Kong ghost movies popular in the 70’s to 90’s. Somehow those fable movie scenes gradually believed to be true by some local folks and they just copy them and re-enacted on their love ones died of very injustice cases. Of course, such actions are actually very controversial because by hoping the dead to rise and kill by itself is against religious teachings. Don’t we all want our love ones to rest-in-peace?
As a matter of fact, I have not heard of a real case that any of those deceased changed into red clothing can transform into red shirt ghosts and subsequently success in sought their revenge. Last but not least, when you visited Malaysia and have an opportunity to go to a market and you find a lot of those wearing red shirts or yellow shirts shouting in broad daylight; please don’t be panic. They are only street protesters; call them illegal if you would. Whatever case that might be; they are not ghosts…