Monday, June 18, 2018

Taoist Newbie Vs Gambler (新手道士与赌徒)

It is not a surprised to understand that a new comer to the world of magic would like to try out his latest acquired magical knowledge on whatever occasion he encounters.

My pals, Eric and James were fans of Maoshan magic and we studied under an old Maoshan Taoist in Kajang many years back. My gang used to organize so-called ghost hunting trips across the Peninsular Malaysia just to 'test' our newly acquired Taoist rituals in the name to save the world.

One evening after we had our dinner, Eric pulled me aside and said that he wanted to ask for lucky numbers from a notoriously haunted grave in the middle of Kwont Tong Cemetery in KL. But Eric was afraid to go alone and he figured that I could accompany him since my magic is more 'powerful'.

Since asking for lucky numbers from pregnant spirit is straightly forbidden by our master, so we were to do it quietly and secretly; not even our best pal, James had any knowledge of our secret mission.

The best time to ask for lucky numbers is at 12 midnight and in the dark. So, both of us started our travel from Petaling Jaya to Bukit Petaling around 10 pm on an old Honda 70 with some offerings and incense.

We reached the said grave at around 11:30pm and we hastily arrange the offerings. Due to the fear of attracting attentions of public, we performed the ritual in the dark under candlelight. 

After spending about 30 minutes chanting mantras to beg the pregnant spirit to bestow us with fortune, I sat down beside the grave stone and lid a cigarette while Eric tied up the place.

Just as when I was taking puffs, suddenly I was hit by a small pebble. I thought it must be the work of the pregnant ghost who dislike us disturbing her peace. So I hurriedly changed a location and continued to take my puffs.

Not long after that, another pebble flew towards me with a near missed. Thinking that it might be the pregnant ghost that were seeking revenge, Eric and I took out a piece of fishing net to blanket over both of us.

It was believed that pregnant ghost cannot penetrate a fishing net. We thought it was lucky for us to have it with us or our lives flied.

Just as when we were rolling our bodies under the net, we heard a very familiar voice came from a near distance: "Damn it! I thought I saw a ghostly orb flew from right side of that haunted grave to the left but it vanished after I threw two empowered stones at it and it suddenly vanished!"

Then I realized that I was holding the half burnt secret in my hands. Immediately, I threw the burning cigarette away. And the voice came out again: "Wow! This light orb must be the powerful notorious pregnant ghost. It can even survive my magic pebbles! Now take my 5 thunder palm (五雷掌)..."

There was another rounds of chanting of very familiar mantras of 5 thunder palm... All of a sudden, I realized that the voice was that of the Jame's. Apparently, James was also in the cemetery to show off to his friends.

I tugged Eric's sleeve and hinted him to wriggle our way back to our motorcycle and returned to our rented house quietly.

Two hours later, James returned with his girlfriend. I could even hear his voice bragging how powerful his magic had became. I was lying in the sofa reading newspaper when the couple entered the living room.

As soon as James saw me, he yelled excitedly: "Hey Liew! I finally defeated the notorious pregnant ghost of the Kwong Tong Cemetery with my 5 thunder palm! I must tell the master about it tomorrow!"

I turned my head at him and said: "Yeah, yeah, yeah! So you have mastered the most powerful magic of our master..."

Of course, I dared not tell him that it was Eric and I and not the pregnant ghost!

And for the lucky numbers? None of us dared to bid as it was: 9413 which stands for '9 deaths and only 1 lives'...

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Conjuration of 'Pains'

I can understand how much trouble an overzealous magic student can bring to a guru now after being chased after by so many folks for more magic rituals.

The same thing happened to me way back when I was learning Maoshan magic.

My guru was staying in Kajang then and I was in Subang Jaya sharing the upper floor of a shop lot with a few of my factory coworkers. Since I was learning Maoshan magic, I took a small room to keep my magical stuffs.

I used to travel from Subang Jaya to Kajang once or twice every week to learn how to keep ghosts and other weird rituals. After a while, my master had ran out of rituals to teach me but I continued to bug him for more as I somehow thought he has reserved some super secret knowledge from me.

After some bugging, during one of my visits to this guru; he finally admitted that he did keep a very secret ritual from me but this ritual could be life threatening. I was certainly very thrilled to hear and begged him to tell me more.

And the master said: "Please do this ritual... Go to the middle of the living room at 12 midnight with your ritual sword and bell. Then, violently shake the sword and bell for 30 seconds. After that, you must walk 3 circles counterclockwise. Finally, you must shout out as loud as you can: COME OUT!! COME OUT!! You will be besieged by a very violent force and you are warned!"

I thanked my guru and returned home with full of eagerness...

I decided to try out the ritual the next night and followed what my guru told me...

By my third shout of 'COME OUT', true enough my housemates who were in their rooms rushed out and walloped me nicely leaving me with their words:

"Are you possessed by demon or you are simply insane asking us to 'come out' to see you standing in the living room doing nothing?"

Luckily for me, my pals didn't really strike me intentionally but only cursing with four letter words...

You must laugh at me but when a person is too engrossed with magical matters, there could be no reasoning. Unfortunately a person must find out the hard way... And, I must thank my guru for an unforgettable lesson. 

Of course, I never return to my guru in Kajang again. Not that I hate him so much, but he has really nothing to offer but asking for high fees.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Haunted By...

This is an interesting real story and you will never have guessed of the outcome of the story I can assure you...

Many people ask me to audit their new houses once they have made a deal with the housing developer or the owner of the house. Eric came to me to make an appointment to audit his newly acquired house.

Since the purchase agreement was made orally, Eric didn't has the key as yet. So he asked the seller, Albert to open the gate for us to enter.

On entering the house, I opened up my compass and took some readings. After walking inside the house for 20 minutes or so, Eric, Albert and me sat in the living room and I started to read my findings...

Before I could finished my analysis, Albert barged in and proclaimed:

"Master Liew! You are wrong! This house is haunted by two ghosts! My 3 year old boy told me that he saw two men by the air-conditioner...

You know, my family has a history of being able to 'see' ghosts. And a 3 year old kid would not tell lies... I went to a famous temple nearby and the 'tangki' (medium) confirmed that there are not only two male spirits but more!

I paid the tangki MYR360 dollars to come to perform exorcism ritual but after the ritual, my son still said that the two men are still by the air-conditioner!

So, I hired another 'bomoh' (shaman) to come. The shaman said that there are indeed two ghosts sent by my enemy to curse me. He asked for MYR1000 to perform the exorcism and yet my son still said that he could see the two men...

Later, I went to an Indian temple worshiping Goddess Kali. The caretaker asked me to sacrifice one male goat and smear the blood around this house. I paid MYR2000 for the service. And yet, my son said both of the men are still by the air-conditioner...

Finally, my uncle asked a famous Feng Shui master from Taiwan and in less than 5 minutes, he proclaimed that the house is unsuitable to stay. The best way is to move out. I paid him MYR5000..."

"How much did you sell for the house?" I interrupted Albert.

Albert stunned for a moment and replied: "MYR450k..."

"You know it is difficult to sell a famous haunted house once the news spread out... And I supposed good luck to the new owner..." Albert shrugged and veered at Eric.

Now Eric became agitated and rose his voice: 

"Master Liew, tell me honestly about your findings!"

I shrugged and said: "The worst effect of the house is that it will cause some quarrel and fights... and MYR450k for a semi-detach house in Penang? Worth it!"

Now I turned to Albert and said: "I cannot find any ghosts here. Can you call your son to point them out to me? I can do a free service to remove them."

Albert nodded and we made another appointment to visit the place the next morning.

First thing in the morning, Albert, Eric, the child and me were again in the living room.

I squat down and asked the child: "Can you see the 2 ghosts now?"

The child shook his head innocently and said: "Not ghosts uncle! Two men!!" 

Albert's son immediately ran towards the air-conditioner and pointed at a sticker printed with Mario Brothers. He said: "These two men uncle!"

"So your previous house is haunted by Mario Brothers!?" I turned my back and veered at Albert.

Albert's face immediately turned from pale to green and then to flush red. He yelled at Eric:

"I wanna to cancel the agreement to sell this house! It should worth MYR850k at least!"

The two men started to quarrel and then some pushing happened. Before things gotten out of the hands, I went out to asked some neighbors to help to separate the guys.

Later, I half dragged Eric into my car and told him: "See, I told you that the house will cause some quarrel!"

I have not met Eric or Albert since the incident but I heard they brought the case to the court and it may drag on for years...

Would you believe that a house can be haunted by Mario Brothers?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Haunted Basketball Court (II)

If you still remember James who was injured in the haunted basketball court sometime ago? I visited him again... this time another friend Eric was there too.

After I arrived at James's place, he and his dad came out to greet me. Since it was a Sunday morning, I persuaded the father-son team and Eric to visit the said haunted basketball court.

The basketball court just located opposite James's house about 100 yards away. We walked to the court and I looked around and didn't find anything unusual.

Eric suggested we went to a coffee shop to drink and chat. We agreed and off we went.

While waiting for coffee to be served, Eric pointed at the basketball court and said: "I was seriously hurt once when playing basketball with my friends."

"With all ears." I was intrigued.

Eric cleared his throat and continued: 

"It was during an evening a few years ago. I played basketball with a few friends after my work while waiting for dinner to be served.

When I was trying a slam dunk stunt, and as I was in the air trying to put the basketball in the basket; I suddenly felt a tug at my right foot. The pulling force was so strong that I lose balance and fell face down...

Needless to say that my face became bruised and turned into green black color. I had to rest for 2 weeks due to the injury.

During the night, I dreamed of an old man in white with long beard approached me and scolded me that I have thrown basketball on his face repeatedly and our shouting voices disturbed his peace.

The old man vanished after I was scolded.

Early the next morning, I asked my wife about the old man in the dream. She bought me to a spirit medium and the medium fell into trance. His voice changed into an old man's: "I was my doing, young man... I was only teaching you a lesson. I would not be so tolerant next time..."

The medium shivered and then woke up from his trance. He said that the restless old man was getting agitated. If nothing is done to curb the old spirit; then worse will happen.

So, this issue was brought to the residents' committee for discussion. A piece of stone tablet inscribed with 'O MI TUO FO' was decided to be erected to pacify the angry spirit."

"I supposed that solved the haunting?" I interrupted impatiently.

"Well, sort of... The basketball court did see an incident free period... But it is another story." Eric smiled and gave me a cheeky look.

I knew that he wanted a free meal or something. So, I said to him: "Okay then. Next time."

A Messed Up Death Rite (乱七八糟的超度法)

It is important for me at least to know what the doctrine of my religion is about. In this case, most Buddhists lacked the knowledge of their own Buddhism. This is a worrying situation and it is not surprised to say that true Buddhism will disappear in near future.

I have attended and seen many messed up funeral services. One of those was of my grandma's some 10 years ago.

It was arranged by my uncles that there shall be 3 nights of deliverance services. The first night being the chanting session by local Buddhist center and the subsequent two nights were dedicated to Taoist dead rites.

"What is wrong with different dead rituals?" You may ask.

Well, practically none logically speaking because the dead won't be able to wake up and complaint of course. Such action is not acceptable logically speaking...

First, my grandma's soul (if she could hear) would be asked to listen to some Buddhist chanting and mantra and probably asked to follow the Amitabah Buddha to the Pure Land on the first day. So be it. At least she can now rest in peace happily in Amitabah's land.

Then, on the second day, my grandma's soul was summoned from the Amitabah's care back to her body and that she had to go through all the hassle of Taoist ritual of hell breaking ceremony etc. and then enjoy her life with all those burnt offerings of cars, houses, flower gardens and maids...

So is it logical then may I ask you to first send your love ones to the Pure Land, then asked he/she to return from Pure Land and to go to hell, and then broke the hell and send the person to underworld into a house?

I have even saw people performed Buddhist, Taoist and Christian funeral rites because the descendants were followers of different religions. So the poor dead soul had to travel from Pure Land to the hell and then out of hell to underworld; and then to heaven to meet with God?

Assuming that those dead rites worked as they are meant to be.

Perhaps it is not a problem still if the rituals are authentic at least the dead souls would end up somewhere for heaven's sake...

I have come across some cunningly edited deliverance rites of Vajrasattva taken from Guhyagrabha Tantra. The tantra was transmitted by Dudjom Rinpoche and the dead rite is complete by itself.

Someone who does not understand that the Vajrasattva rites led the dead soul to 'emptiness' and added a mantra of Amitabah Buddha. Perhaps the editor hoped to give the deceased a 'bonus'.

Without his/her knowing, this editor is asking the dead soul first to go into emptiness and then return from emptiness and then into Amitabah's Pure Land!

So, even though the dead cannot complaint, we as the living cannot make such a mistake that defied our religious doctrine.

A Long Discourse About Buddhist Deliverance Ritual (长论佛教超度)

1. Introduction

While we looked at some of the blind spots in Buddhism, it maybe worthwhile to have a walk through of how dead ritual is developed within Buddhism to understand more about if we have really understood the Buddhism that we think that we know.

Below is an attempt to bring us back to the beginning of history till today...

2. The Beginning

In order to understand Buddhist deliverance ritual, we must first start from Brahmanism, which is an ancient Indian religion.

The ancestor of Indian today, the Aryan race perhaps was influenced by the belief of Dravadian people and created the Brahmanism together with the law of reincarnation.

According to the teaching, after a man died, his soul will transform into a subtle body known as 'suksma sarira'. Buddhists convert it to antarabhava or bardo (中陰身) or better known as the 'in between body'.

This in between body will be reincarnated according to the karma it accumulated in its previous lives: be it to the heaven,reborn as man or be cast to hell etc.

According to Brahmanism, this subtle body (or soul) shall linger within a certain realm before being reincarnated. The period is 49 days in Buddhism.

If the deceased family can pay Brahmin priests to recite Veda on behalf of the deceased as a means of deliverance, then this subtle body shall be benefited and it shall be reincarnated to a better realm without the worry of becoming an animal or being cast into hell to suffer.

The Buddha later adapted this idea of subtle body and formed the primitive dead rites. Such rites started to flourish around 5BC to 6BC.

During 5BC or so, Buddhism took shape in today's Nepal and then transmitted to the Ganges River Basin. At that time, the Buddha did not participate wedding ceremonies nor funeral ervices. Because the Buddha felt that human must engage in self practice so as to be liberated from cycles of reincarnation, hence free from the sorrow of life and death.

The Buddha felt that deliverance ritual is useless to salvage; and the deliverance ritual contradicts with the law of karma (In Buddhism, a person should be reincarnated according to the good or bad karma he accumulated in previous lives hence the karma cannot be cancelled by simple chanting of mantas).

So said, in early years; most Indian folks still employed Brahma priest for dead rituals.

3. Post-Buddha Era

After the Buddha has achieved 'nirvana' (died), Buddhism immediately be subdivided into two schools and then broken into many sects...

It was not until around 300BC to 1AD that Indian Buddhism has been divided into 11 sects of conservative Sthaviravada/上座部 (Sanskrit) or better known as Theraveda (Pali). And about 9 sects of Mahasamghika (大衆部). Both of the schools were later known as 'Hinayana' by the later formed 'Mahayana' School.

The Theraveda becomes the contemporary Buddhist school in Southeast Asia and the Mahasamghika became the Mahayana School that we see today in China, Korea nad Japan.

The most powerful sect within Theraveda is the Sarvasti-vada Sect (說壹切有部) and this sect flourished during 2AD during the period of Kanishka.

The Indian Sarvasti-vada Sect adapted the 'subtle body' of Brahmanism and converted it to 'in-between' (中有). The Sarvasti-vada is the same as Brahmanism believed in the theory: After human died, the dead soul becomes intermediate body and then passes through the reincarnation process.

But there was no agreement between the intermediate time: Some thinks it is 7 days while the others think more. Finally the period was fixed as 49 days.

This concept was adapted by Mahayana Buddhism between 2AD to 3AD in India and later this concept was brought to China.

3. Into China

Generally speaking, around 1BC the Chinese Buddhist has already performed dead ritals. However, not many detals were recorded because many of the records were destroyed by Mongolian and Islamic invasions in 12th Century.

Buddhism started to vanish from India and together with historical records. It is safe to assume that Chinese Buddhist deliverance practices started around 6AD during the rule of Emperor Wu.

Emperor Wu invited monks to perform deliverance ritual in his palace. According to records, Amoghavajra (不空金剛) brought 500 tantric ritual books to Cangan, China during 746AD. A few years later he started to build altar to perform dead rituals.

Also around the same period, another monk authored a false sutra 'Ulambata Sutra' (盂蘭盆经) and this Ulambata Sutra started to become popular among Chinese folks.

Those old practices are carried forward to our modern time: 

The Buddhist adhered to the 7 day period memorial service (七日忌) and further added the 100 day period, annual, three years, century and etc. It has become a custom that monks must be employed to perform deliverance rituals during those timings.

4: Modern Day Critics Of Master Jingkong (净空法师)

Buddhist dead rituals begun by Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty.It was after the An Lushan Rebellion and many people died. The emperor built the Kaiyuan Temple (開元寺)to perform deliverance ritual so as to pacify those restless souls.

During that time, the deliverance rituals were just as our memorial service. Buddhist monks were employed to recite sutras, repentance and dedication of merits. The purpose was just remembrance of those died during unrest.

Since the deliverance rituals were advocated by the emperor, folks started to copy and follow. Perhaps this is the beginning of Buddhist deliverance ritual among the Chinese.

There was no such a thing beofre 713AD. The development has mutated until today.
Why say the purpose of Chinese deliverance ritual is distorted?

Well, originally, deliverance services were incidentally service done by the Buddhist temple. Further it is rarely done, at most once or twice a year. The main practice was still dharma talks and practices. Hence temple was then known as 'bodhimanda' or 'place of mind awakening'.

Let us make it clear that Buddhism is for salvation of human beings not to save ghosts! Buddhism is for the living and not for the dead!

This is why it is important that we must make it clear that a temple is only meant for 1: dharma talk and 2: dharma practices.

5. Conclusion

a. Deliverance ritual is against original Buddha teaching. Hence it is a no go.

b. Buddhism is for the living and not for the dead. So no use to talk about where one should go after death.

c. The law of karma is in conflict with dead rituals. So Buddhists today is in conflict with the original teaching of the Buddha.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Cursed Of Blessed? (祝福或诅咒)

A few years ago, Lisa and her husband together with some business friends went to Lhasa for pilgrimage. There were around 20 odd people then.

Once they entered a temple, their tour guides were all pretty ladies and handsome men said to be from religious studies graduate from Tibetan universities. 

Each person was then advised to make offerings of 9 pieces of incenses. Of course, those incenses were not free... The price for one piece was around RMB200. Everyone MUST made those offerings or else he will not be blessed by the Buddha.

After the incense offering or RMB1800 (of ransom money), the tour guides then suggested that the His Holiness Rinpoche has just returned from India bring a lot of precious and powerful amulets.

When asked, the price for an amulet plus the empowerment by HH Rinpoche would cost around RMB1000 at least.

Of course those loaded and faithful businessmen and businesswomen didn't ask too many questions and bought those blessed amulets. Some even purchased a few for their family members.

When those tour guides saw those loaded tourists could spend willfully, they started to push out more expensive items. It was only at that time that Lisa and her group found that they had fallen into spending traps and at least guarded the rest of their money more carefully. But then most of the folks had nearly exhausted their money.

Later, Lisa met with a tourism reporter and he told Lisa that what Lisa and her friends experienced was the techniques used by local tour guides to fish money from tourists. Their targets were mainly Chinese tourists from Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong because tourists from these places are more willing to spend. On the other hand, those cunning guides would not approach westerners as westerners would not buy in with their tricks.

Upon returning from Lhasa trip, Lisa's husband kept wearing the amulets blessed by HH Rinpoche but her husband was not blessed as expected for he died of heart attack three months later.

Most of those businessmen and businesswomen were either lost a lot of money or even experienced business closures due to recessions.

So Lisa sighed: "After we have spent so much money and to have experienced such a consequences... If it was not due to the mindset of wanting to create merits, we would not have been cheated all those money!"