Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Talang is a small housing estate situated in Kuala Kangsar county. Behind this small housing estate is a Chinese cemetery. There is a big earth deity’s shrine situated at the entrance of the cemetery where all of the visitors of the cemetery would first pray in this shrine before proceeding to the cemetery area. Many years ago, a giant banyan tree grew on the right side of this shrine. No one knew for sure if the banyan tree was there first or the shrine was setup first.
What I know for sure, is that a lady hung herself on this banyan tree when I was still studying in standard one. It was a commotion in this small region and rumours had it that the lady committed suicide after she was jilted by her boyfriend. Soon, this tragic case was forgotten in time. My school mates and I used to play under this banyan tree after Friday classes and the place felt quite decent.
Just 50 yards away from this banyan tree was a small Taoist shrine which is taken care by a ‘tangki’ (spirit medium). This shrine has an annual festive to celebrate the birthday of a Taoist deity and this is when the shrine would be packed by visitors from around this area. During this festival, the medium would fall into trance and the believers would gather to ask for the deity’s advices. I too started to visit the shrine when I was 9 mainly for the free foods offered to the shrine visitors.
Everything went well until during one of the annual celebrations, the medium was possessed by an unknown sprit which later identified itself as the hung ghost which dwelled in the banyan tree. This turned out to be a big case in local Taoist circle and a few mediums were summoned to perform exorcism ritual in the hope to expel this hung ghost. These mediums brought with them sharp weapons such as swords, spiky batons, spears etc. to harm the ghost. But after a few rounds of physical torturing, the hung ghost still had no intention to leave the possessed medium. The crowd decided to stop the exorcism ritual since the said medium already covered with his own blood and his physical conditions were not looking too good. Looked like the lady hung ghost was far from being harmed.
The poor medium was sent to the hospital for treatment but he remained to be possessed by this hung ghost for days even after being discharged from the hospital. He could only moan and groan in pain. Finally, the news was brought to the attention of a local headman, Lee. For the first time, the hung ghost spoke through the tongue of the medium and it demanded that a small shrine be built under the banyan tree.
After some negotiations, the headman agreed and the hung ghost left the medium’s body. People thought the case was settled then.
A year later, the promised shrine for the hung ghost was not built perhaps due to lack of money. No one brought up the case anymore.
About 50 yards away from my house was a Singh family who had a few cattle. My pa used to buy fresh cow milks from the Singh every other morning. The Singh’s cows were normally tame and always stayed in their bullpen. Somehow, one of the cows suddenly went berserk and rammed into the house of the headman, Lee. After the cow had created much damage, it gently strolled out and return to its barn as if nothing had happened.
The news of the destructive cow spread like wildfire. Feared for his own safety, Lee decided to fork out some money and built a small shrine as requested by the hung ghost. Everything went well for a few more years until during one stormy night, this old banyan tree was struck by lightning and toppled. The newly built shrine was destroyed under the tree weight. The rubbles then caught fire and burnt to the ground. That was the end of the tree, shrine and the hung ghost as no news or new requests were heard ever since.
People said that the hung ghost had asked for something that it does not deserve and that invited the wrath of gods. Or perhaps there is a more scientific explanation to this matter?
Sunday, September 25, 2016
First let me iterate that there is no single formula to success in entertainment industry. Of course the general criteria including but not limited to: the person must be tall, slim, handsome/pretty, having a fair complexion etc. But most of all, he/she should also have a very good luck too! Unfortunately speaking, now days with so many talent search shows around; so many young talents are discovered and continue to be discovered every year. With so many singers, musicians and actors flooding the market to grab just a few places in the market; many of those talented people would be deadly desperate to find their way out. And one of the many cheaper ways to make an artist popular is to seek help from supernatural or religion.
I post this passage on behalf of Racheal who had struggled as an actress for a great many years. This is her real experience meant to be a lesson for all others who seek fame and fortune in the dazzling world of entertainment.
When Racheal just came out as a new actress following a talent search, she thought only the sky is the limit; only if she worked hard and success and money shall be hers. But after many years of struggling, Racheal found herself in financial difficulty and hardly could make her ends meet. In her own words: “Even a bagger in the street earns much more than I!” It was during this time that Racheal’s buddy, Mary who was another actress recommended Racheal to a Taoist temple. According to Mary the Taoist in that particular temple worships fox spirits and the spirits are very powerful; they can help Racheal to gain popularity in the industry.
So, Racheal took Mary’s advice and started to visit the temple about once every fortnight. At first, Racheal just prayed to the fox spirits for good business and after a while; her acting career seemed to gain momentum. Racheal started to get more acting opportunities thought all her roles were relatively minor. As Racheal’s confident with the temple’s fox spirits grew, she visited the Temple more often and eventually she got acquainted with the Taoist in-charge, Chew.
After a few more visits, Chew told Racheal that if she wanted to excel in her acting career, she must get some ‘special’ empowerment from the fox spirits. Since Racheal’s career has seen some improvement after her visits to the temple, she agreed to Chew’s suggestion and started her ‘special’ empowerment process.
At first, the so-called ‘empowerment’ was only inscription of cryptic symbols on the hands, arms and face with cinnabar powder. Perhaps it was a coincidence, Racheal’s opportunities increased further more. Such sudden career development has strengthened Racheal’s confident with Chew. Then during a visit to Chew’s temple, Chew suggested Racheal to receive a ‘further’ empowerment so that the fox spirits can possess her body more permanently.
In order to do this empowerment, Racheal must first take off all her clothes so that Chew could write on Racheal’s body. Such suggestions had stunned Racheal as she came from a relatively conservative family and exposing herself in front of a stranger was the last thing in her mind. So Racheal excused herself and locked herself in toilet. She quickly called Mary and asked if Mary knew about this ‘special’ empowerment. Surprisingly Mary’s replied was: “It is okay. I have done that before.”
Still feeling insecure, Racheal called her boyfriend and asked him to standby just in case. So her boyfriend said: “I will go to the temple with a couple of friends. If you need help, just send me a message ‘HELP’ and we will come to your rescue…”
After Racheal got assurance from her boyfriend, she returned to Chew and agreed to receive his special ‘empowerment’.
On hearing Racheal’s decision, Chew asked Rachael to take a bath and then lay in a bed naked. With some hesitation, Racheal complied. Then it was Chew’s turn to take a bath. At this point, Racheal took out her phone and typed the word ‘HELP’ just in case. To Racheal’s horror, Chew emerged from the bathroom naked. Panicked, Racheal shouted at Chew: “What do think you want to do?”
Chew replied: “Just treat me as your boyfriend. It will be over pretty soon…”
It was at this moment that Racheal sent the ‘HELP’ message and in a jiffy, a few macho and hairy guy rushed into the room and pushed Chew to a corner. Racheal’s boyfriend asked Chew: “What do you think you are doing!?”
Chew repeated: “I was about to do the empowerment…”
Before Chew could finish the words, he was beaten up and eventually chased out from the area.
In this case, Racheal was a lucky one as she could seek help pretty fast. However, I know many people are not so lucky. So the best way is not to trust that anyone can make you rich or lucky. There is no magic in this world can make you a superstar! You can fight hard but eventually you have to think if your sacrifice to your struggle worth all your effort to do so. This posting is done on Racheal’s request for those unwary ones.
If you think of going into entertainment industry, then you should listen to what Rachael had to say first. Rachael was a movie star far from making fame for more than 20 years. According to her, perhaps out of 100 persons, only 1 to 2 will make it to the top and the rest would be lost and forgotten in time. And Rachael was one of those majority that could hardly make her ends meet until she decided to do something else. Being once a small time star, Rachael tried all her efforts to make herself known but most of the time, she was only given supporting roles in movies making.
There was one role in a movie that made Rachael finally decided to quit her acting career. It was a movie about a drown ghost seeking revenge and finally Rachael was given a substantial role to act as the drown ghost. Although Rachael didn’t like to act in ghost movies, she had no choice as she was fed up with all her other small roles; perhaps acting ghost movie for once could bring up her name in the local silk screen.
There was only one thing that disturbed Rachael: she hates water! Naturally, in a movie about drown ghost; there are scenes about drowning or there would be no drown ghost. In order to make the movie more realistic, the film director have chosen an abandoned tin mine pool near KL that was notorious about drowning. So the time for shooting was set and the film crews went to the site accordingly.
Just as when Rachael was about to dip herself into the pool, suddenly a series of siren sounds of police car and ambulance was heard. The siren came from far and gradually moved towards the film crews; and finally halted at about 100m away from the location of the shooting. Some of the crews including Racheal went to the place where police car and ambulance stopped. There they first smelt the foul odour of decaying flesh and then the saw a dead male body flowing face down in the water.
Rachael and the gang were stopped by policemen standing guard so they decided to return the filming site to continue with their work. As recalled by Rachael, she was very reluctant to continue with the film shooting as she was afraid of becoming the next drown person in the pond. So she made a special request to the film director that she wanted two life guards standing by in the pool just in case she should have any problems; or Rachael would not continue with the film shooting.
After some heated arguments, the film director finally found two tough young men to stand in the water around Racheal. That had certainly solved Racheal’s emotional problem but the shooting wasn’t proceeding too smoothly. First, the camera jammed and could not function, then the voice recorder could not record voice and the batteries suddenly went flat. Lastly, the giant umbrella that was used to shelter the director suddenly toppled and stroke the director’s head.
A series of problems led the director to stop the shooting momentarily and he quickly despatched his crews to buy some foods and incense as offerings to whatever spirits were there. Strangely speaking, after the simple prayers; all of the equipment function as normal.
At last, off Racheal went into the water and the required actions were filmed. After the last shooting, Racheal turned her back and thanked the two life guards for their service. As a gesture of curtesy, Racheal asked both gentlemen: “I supposed you are life guards working around here?”
Surprisingly, both of the gentlemen replied: “What life guards? We are morgue workers who just picked up the dead body nearby. Your director asked us standing by so that we would not need to travel twice!”
Racheal almost hearing the last words. And the movie was the last one she had taken part of. Interestingly speaking, the ghost movie never hit the silver screen because the movie production was facing with financial crisis. Having said that, poor Racheal was never paid!
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Simon and Anderson are brothers from Australia. I met them during one of the dharma talks held in my guru’s Buddhist centre some time ago. Apparently the brothers are also pretty faithful Tibetan Buddhism practitioners. Of course, my interest was solely on their ghostly and nearly fatal swimming experience off Tanjung Bunga beach in Penang.
Both Simon and Anderson are frequent Penang visitors and they are fairly good swimmers too. During one of their visits to Penang, they put up with a hotel situated just beside Tanjung Bunga beach. It was just a few weeks passed the infamous South Asia Tsunami tragedy. The nights in February are pretty stuffy in Penang and after the Australian brothers’ dinner, both of them decided to have a walk along the stretch of hotel beach to get some sea breeze. Apparently, none of them fancied to stay inside air-conditioned hotel environment. Besides it was a full moon night, the seaside was pretty well lit by the moon light; nothing could possibly go wrong.
As Simon and Anderson was walking and chatting on the beach, their eyes were fixed on a light buoy located about 50 meters off the beach. So Simon suggested to Anderson that both of them have a race to the light buoy and then return; who ever made the round trip first won the race. Since this was not the first time both of the brothers had this kind of competition and that both of them are pretty good swimmers; safety factors were naturally being thrown behind their minds.
After Simon made the call, both of the brothers swam headed towards the buoy. At first, Anderson was taking the lead but suddenly he dived into the sea and disappeared from Simon’s view. Before Simon could make sense of what had happened, he saw Anderson’s hands raised out from the sea and he quickly swam towards his brother and grabbed Anderson’s hands. At the same time, Simon yelled out loudly for help and luckily there was a small fishing boat nearby to their rescue.
According to the old fisherman who pulled Simon and Anderson out of the sea, he actually noticed both of the brothers swimming in the sea. The fisherman added that he saw a black figure clinging onto Anderson’s back as if wanting to press Anderson into the sea and as he saw Anderson struggling to keep his head above the water, he immediately steered his boat to the rescue. Had it not because of Anderson’s good swimming skill, he could have been drowned. The old man said that that stretch of the beach was pretty haunted by drown ghosts and locals would not come out to swim after dark.
Later, Anderson was sent to hospital where he was hospitalised for 3 days and lived to tell his version of the story.
As recalled by Anderson, after he had taken the lead; he suddenly felt a load was put on his back and that simultaneously, he also heard someone whispered beside his ear: “Go into the sea… rest in the sea and relax…” After a while Anderson felt that he has lost control of all his muscles and started to sink into the sea. Somehow his reflexes helped him to resurface from the sea. Had it not because of Simon and the fishing boat; he was probably a thing of the past.
Apparently the black shadow wasn’t ready to let Anderson go easily and it continued to haunt him even after they had returned to Australia. It was not until he visited a local Buddhist centre and told by a Tibetan guru that a drown ghost in the form of half decayed body and a broken arm was still clinging onto his back. The drown ghost was later sent off with some food offering rituals and both Simon and Anderson then became ardent followers of this guru.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
I can sometimes see ghosts and this gives me a problem as I would think twice of what I see if the one stands in front of me is a real person or a spirit. My brother in dharma is more powerful as he claimed to be able to see and distinguish a ghost from a man. Of course, I don’t doubt his ability.
Both of us studied under a Tibetan master or Rinpoche. Our guru used to perform Buddhist rituals and ‘phowa’ (transference of consciousness) services for anyone who requests for such services. Now such jobs are normally taken over by the master’s disciples as our master is not always stationed in the dharma centre; for he needs to take care of many dharma centres around the world too. Looks like Tibetan Buddhist centres are a big international business.
Anyway, this was one of such occasion that the master was out of town and there was an urgent request for a blessing ceremony to be carried out for a sick patient; and so happened that my bro, Tan and I were the persons on duty that week. So we made some preparations and off we went to the requestor’s house.
The blessing ceremony was to carry out after dinner to bless Lee and his recently recovered old mom.
After we have made arrangements, the ritual started off at 7pm sharp. We chanted and sprinkled holy water around the house and suddenly I saw a row of ‘men-in-white’ walked straight into the living room. Since I was performing the ritual, I could only veer the ‘men’ or ‘things’ with my eyes as it is not proper to turn my head in the middle of ritual performance. But I could feel them moving around quietly around the house and us and then exited the house in a fairly quiet manner too.
At the end of the blessing ritual, we threw flowers and tied five colour cords on Lee and his mom’s wrists. Then the ceremony was officially ended. The first thing I asked my bro was: “Did you see what I saw?”
My bro-in-dharma nodded solemnly and said: “Yes. I did. Those were ghosts meant to fetch the old lady’s soul to where she belonged to. Perhaps the old lady’s days are numbered and we should perform a phowa service for her soul to depart too…”
As both of us were lamenting the fate of the would be departing old lady, Lee came to us with a ‘red packet’ (money) and in an apological manner he said:
“Thank you for your service. We feel much better now… My apologies on behalf of my friends from disturbing. They just completed they dharma practice in a Theravada Buddhist Temple nearby and they just want to pay my mom a visit…”
On hearing Lee’s words, both of us stood dumfounded for a long time. None of us wanted to look into each other’s face for fairly long time too. After the incident, we just keep our big mouth shut about our ability to see ghosts. If you are interested in old lady’s fate? Well, she is now around 90 and going strong…
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Reticulated python is one of the largest and longest python species found in Malaysian forests. It can reach to a length of 7m and a weight of a quarter ton. My grandma was a rubber tapper who stayed in a rubber tree plantation behind Kuala Kangsar railway station had many encounters with these giant pythons during the 40’s and 50’s.
During my visits to my grandma’s place, she used to tell me many stories about her strange and eerie encounters with spirits and wild animals. Amongst those wild animals, snakes namely king cobra and giant python are two most feared ones. The former one is deadly poisonous while the latter one killed by strangling its victims. My grandma said as a rubber tapper, she had to wake up very early in the morning; somewhere like 4am and then cycled for about 20 minutes into the rubber plantation which was situated near maiden jungle at that time. The rubber plantation where she worked at was not very organised like those of today’s. For one thing, the grass was always taller than man for sure.
For many times, when she cycled passed an old well where she used to bail for some water; granny could hear something smashing against the well. For many times too, granny ignored the noise until when her curiosity made her veered off her usual route and approached the well. There granny saw under her headlight, a giant python was smashing its bulging body against the wall of the well. Apparently the giant python had devoured some wild boar and perhaps the boar was too big for the python and it was trying to smash its stomach load to a more manageable size.
I will leave the king cobra alone for now and to tell you a story about the said “revenge of giant python spirit”. This story happened in the 60’s:
As I have said that the rubber plantation was situated beside a maiden jungle during until the early 60’s. The maiden jungle was a vast piece of dense tropical forest and it is beyond doubt that the forest was home for many exotic animals. It was said that during that time, a British company that owns the rubber plantation wished to expand its territory into the maiden jungle.
The beginning of this story was that a rubber tapper who was on his way to work in the dark suddenly rammed his bicycle into a giant log. At first he thought some logger had accidently left the log. Since the ‘log’ blocked his way and that the said ‘log’ was so long that he could not see both ends of it. So having no choice as this rubber tapper did not wish to return empty handed, he took out his machete and started to chop the ‘log’ into halves. On the first chop, this rubber tapper felt the texture of the log was a little too cold and relatively flexible. Then on the second chop, the ‘log’ moved and instinctively, he knew that the ‘log’ was instead a giant python! So, having no second thought, he ran as fast as he could back to his village to tell the story. No one seemed to believe his story.
However, another plantation worker had a second encounter with the giant python and the news of the giant python spread like wildfires. Eventually this news reached the plantation supervisor who was a British. This gentleman decided to get rid of the python as it was apparently a threat to his fellow workers. After some thoughts, the British decided to clear the forest by open burning since this is the most effective way to get rid of anything; and the cheapest too.
The British supervisor’s plan was at first objected by fellow local workers as they believed that the python was in fact the emanation of mountain spirits or at least, a pet of some mountain spirit. The British was not too superstitious and he ignored the plead of those seemingly superstitious local folks; so he ordered the plan to burn the jungle to be executed.
Strangely speaking, a night before the jungle burning, a worker known as Ah Fatt had a strange dream. In the dream, a giant python appeared in his dream and asked the plan to be delayed for 3 days because the said jungle was the meditative place for this giant python. It had been in the place for over 500 years and that the python was only short of 2 days to achieve enlightenment. Only after its enlightenment that the python could leave its existing place. So the giant python asked Ah Fatt’s help to convey its message to his superior.
As expected, the British refused to buy Ah Fatt’s story and decided to press on with his original plan.
Strangely speaking, no plantation workers willing to light the fire next day. Perhaps everyone has bought in with Ah Fatt’s story. After some yelling and grumbling, the British supervisor decided to lit the fire himself. The wind was blowing strongly that day so the piece of jungle was quick to be engulfed by flame in a very short while. Some plantation workers claimed to have seen the giant python twisted and turned in agony in the fire and at times, it raised its body as if wanted to fly into the sky; but eventually engulfed by fierce jungle fire and succumbed at the end.
The most bizarre thing was that as the jungle was burning, suddenly an explosion occurred within the flame and a piece of burning wood suddenly flew towards the British supervisor’s car and hit the car on the spot. Almost immediately the car caught fire and exploded with the supervisor in it. Perhaps it was just a coincident or perhaps it was the revenge of the giant python; no one really knows until today.
One day after the burning, the plantation worker went into the burnt scene and collected the remains of the python and buried them beside a temple. The case was thought to have settled with one fatal ‘accident’.
A decade later, the temple was demolished to make way for the construction of industrial park. And a few years later, Kuala Kangsar town was hit by major floods that engulfed almost all of the small town for many years until Temenggor Dam in Grik was built in late 70’s. Many people thought the flood was the revenge of the giant python spirit; or maybe it was only a coincidence.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
I would personally think that the core of Buddhist teaching is about understanding the nature of our human mind; which is same as our modern day psychology. No more and no less. Of course, you may have other thoughts but please hold yours first.
Many people only interested in chanting mantras and in the hope of chanting mantra that they could be reborn into Pure Land. Unfortunately speaking, not many people are successful in entering the so-called ‘Pure Land’ for if they did enter; they will surely return to spread the good news to all of us. The fact is: not even the Buddha himself even managed to appear to his disciples to proof the existence of his holy pure land.
So, what does Buddhism about? Actually, if a Buddhist does not understand the nature of human ‘mind’ and the way to tackle his/her own mind; then there is not much to say about Buddhism especially the Tibetan Buddhism specifically.
Simply speaking, our mind creates the ‘intermediate states’ and there are actually 6 types of intermediate states in our human lives. More specifically, we all gone through 3 intermediate states when we are alive; and another 3 intermediate states when we have kicked-the-bucket.
When we are alive, our mind constantly churns up various thoughts every moment until we fall into sleep. This thought creating process is known as ‘intermediate states of living’. When we sleep, we have dreams; this is called the ‘intermediate states of dreaming’. For those who meditate, then they would have the ‘intermediate states of meditation’.
When we are about to die, then we experience the ‘intermediate states of near death’. Then when we have finally died, we entered the ‘intermediate states of actual death’; or we become ‘ghosts’ for a period of time. Finally, when it is time for us to move on; we again experience the ‘intermediate states of birth’.
All of the above 6 intermediate states are actually caused by our unsettled mind.
Our mind reacts to the stimulations of the outside world: When people praised us, we are happy; otherwise we are sad. Starting from the time of beginning of our happiness to the end of our happiness; we have created an ‘intermediate sate of happiness’. Likewise, when we fall in love; we would constantly ask ourselves:
“Does he/she love me?”
“Does he/she love me not?”
I am sure for those who had fallen in love before, they should know that they must have repeated the above two questions in their minds for countless of times every day during their period of falling in love until finally a ‘happy ending’ or ‘sad ending’. Likewise happens after we have slept and during our meditations. All in all, our mind has seen countless of thoughts being created and destroyed every day. Hence, we have passed numerous ‘intermediate states’ in just one day.
If we understand how our mind works, then we would understand that it is the changing of our minds according to outside stimulations come and go; none of those things are permanent in nature. If we choose to grasp on what had happened in the past, then we would feel troubled and constantly in bad mood. If then we opted to move on, we would be happier and since our mind is free; we would be able to grasp more opportunities in future. And in order to unlock the grasping of our minds on worldly matters; Buddhist scholars had come out with the ‘theory of emptiness’.
Basically, there are three main schools to explain this theory of emptiness but I would just leave them for now. The core of theory of emptiness is that the nature of all happenings are without own characteristics. It is our mind that thinks what it feels is real and permanent. It is only by understanding that both our mind and outside happenings are impermanent and nothing happens specifically meant for a person; we can let our mind rest in peace. It is only possible to see our own pure light when we have ceased to create more thoughts.
Of course, our mind is forever active and it is virtually impossible to stop its thought creating activities. The indigenous Buddhist masters had devised many mind training activities and concepts such as the ‘trikaya’ (three bodies), sadhanas (rituals) and meditation trainings to enhance our understanding and relaxation of our own mind.
I have steered away from most Buddhist terminologies but rest assure that, the higher Buddhist teachings can go hand-in-hand with the modern day psychology treatments. Perhaps I would leave someone to bridge the gaps of these two philosophies.