Ghostly encounters at Chinese Manjushri Class

5 August 2010 - 1:51am Comments Off

Last Friday, our weekly Chinese Manjushri Class aimed to give attendees a new perception of the Hungry Ghost Month. Our tutor for the night, Chee Kien Seng, began by sharing with everyone the background of the festival, and the origin of hungry ghosts.

The Hungry Ghost Month and the festival has its roots in Buddhism. Most Chinese elders will refer to a special story from the Ullambana Sutra that is popular for its message of filial piety. The Ullambana Sutra tells the story of Maudgalyayana, a chief disciple of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni who possessed clairvoyant powers. Read more about the origins of the Hungry Ghost Festival here.

Sharing a guru’s view of the Hungry Ghost Month

Having explained the history of the Hungry Ghost Month, Liaison Kok Yek Yee also showed two short videos about spirits which she extracted from His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche’s personal blog. There were a few nervous giggles in the room as the lights were switched off and the videos began…two of younger attendees later said they had felt a bit scared!

A participant at the class shares his experiences

Speaking after the videos, Yek Yee shared that Rinpoche has always advised us to be compassionate towards all sentient beings, even hungry ghosts, because they were our mothers or a loved one in a previous life. We should not make fun of them, or try to scare them away. Some of them may be suffering for a very long time so instead, we should generate compassion for them.

As human beings, we are so fortunate to have the precious chance to practise Dharma. As part of our practice, we should take the opportunity to help them so that they may be able to receive and practise Dharma themselves one day.

Ghostly sharings

Inevitably, a discussion on the Hungry Ghost Month led to personal sharings of ghostly encounters. Patrick Soo, a former reporter from China Press, told us about an experience he had with a temple medium who invited him to visit hell. A young man at the time who felt like a challenge was being posed to him, Patrick accepted the medium’s invitation. To this day, Patrick says he is not really sure whether he went down to one of the hells or not. All that he can remember is a very big black shadow, and the sensation that he had travelled somewhere…

Louise Lee from Kechara Discovery then shared her experiences with everyone. Where Louise previously worked, she and her former colleague would make prayers to a particular spirit to help their business. One year, she was selected as the “Nine Gods Holy Cup Holder”. Louise said that at the time, her friends warned her about such a position, saying that even though this god would give her a lot of wealth, he could also create a lot of damage, especially if he was angered. At first, she did not really believe their warnings until an incident occurred that made her change her mind about praying to worldly gods.

Louise said that one day, her house was burgled and all of her shoes were stolen. Amusingly enough, none of her housemates’ shoes went missing! Because of this incident, Louise went to visit the person in charge at the temple, asking if she had done anything to make the god unhappy. She was advised to make offerings and apologise to the god immediately – after she did that, everything was smooth once again. However, from that day on, Louise decided never to pray to worldly gods again.

Based on Louise’s sharing, Chris Tan from Kechara inMotion shared that Rinpoche has always advised us not to seek protection or blessings from worldly gods. Because they are not enlightened and are still within samsara, they have their own characters, preferences, moods and tempers. As a result, we can displease, upset or anger them, and this can be dangerous. As Buddhists, we should have compassion for such beings but as they are unenlightened, we should not take refuge or seek blessings from them.

There is lots to talk about and share at the Chinese Manjushri Class, where everyone can come and learn together! So please join us and bring Dharma into your life! For more information about the classes, please contact Kok Yek Yee at +6012 388 3390 or Dr Hank at +6017 371 9988. And if you’re interested in more of Rinpoche’s teachings, check out his blog postings!

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