February 2006 (Part 3)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I am your student and have attended an Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. I have had quite a few encounters with ghosts or spirits lately. I have given this some thought and do not say this lightly. I was strangled and I literally could not move. I could not even cry out because my voice failed me.
About a week ago I actually saw a form that was of a gray colour approach me. I think I responded in the wrong way. I growled at it and even tried to reach out and grab it forcibly. However, it took a great deal of physical effort to move even a bit. Actually it faded away on its own though I barely managed to move at all.
— Leroy, South Africa
Don't worry about the experiences with ghosts and other spirits. Such things happen to more people than is generally known because those involved may not mention their experiences..
Actually ghosts as well as gods and other beings are all around us, but we all may not realize one another's presence because of the limitation of our senses.
Gods and higher beings may see us because their senses are superior to ours. This is a good reminder to people thinking of doing wicked things. They think no one knows their wicked deeds but they are mistaken. As my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam who had very high spiritual attainment and therefore was probably speaking from experience, mentioned to me many years ago, “Kuoi tau sam cheik yau shen ming”, which is literally “lift-head-three-feet-have-spiritual-beings”, and which actually means there are spiritual beings all around us.
When you progress in your kungfu training you enlarge and sharpen your senses. Hence, you may see some of these spiritual beings which have been there all the time although you did not see them earlier. Because of your past karma, you see lower beings like ghosts or nature spirits. But as you progress in your cultivation you may see gods and other heavenly beings. In chi kung terms, this is opening of your “heavenly eye”.
If you see ghosts, you need not be afraid of them. If you feel frightened, it is because you frighten yourself due to ignorance. Ghosts are of a lower spiritual level than human beings, and they cannot harm human beings. The chi or life force of human being is like electricity to ghosts. Hence when ghosts come near humans, the ghosts will be repelled by the human chi field.
But ghosts have certain abilities that humans do not have. (On the other hand, there are many normal human activities that ghosts cannot do.) Some ghosts, for example, can transform themselves. They may transform themselves into fearful-looking beings or turn their head around to frighten humans. Those that cannot do this, may pull out their tongue, which is very long, or make hideous faces.
If you meet a ghost, the right attitude is to show pity. Ghosts are pitiful. They are often lonely and almost always hungry. They are also ignorant. If they had spiritual knowledge when they were humans and had spent some time to acquire blessings, they would have been reborn in heavens. One of the best things you can do to ghosts is to give them some spiritual teaching, such as the teaching of Kstigarbha (Earth Store) Bodhisattva and of Amitabha (Infinite Light) Buddha.
How are these ghosts/spirits able to affect me physically? I feel an actual weight and I really cannot move. Why am I unable to shout?
You could not move or cry out not because of the ability of the ghost to cause these effects but because your spirit went out of alignment with your physical body. In sleep the spirit may move out of the body. The dis-alignment may also happen in waking times if you are highly agitated, surprised or afraid.
All you need to do is to relax and gently think of your dan tian. This should be easy as we do this every time when we complete a chi kung or a kungfu exercise.
After focusing on your dan tian, you can bless the ghost and ask him (or her) to leave. Speak firmly but kindly. If you are ready, you may tell the ghost about the wonderful teachings of Ksitigarbha Bodhiwsattva or Amitabha Buddha. Tell the ghost to recite the mantra “Namo Kstitgarbha Bodhisattva” or “Nam Amitabhan Buddha” three or more times, and then ask for guidance.
If you feel comfortable, you may ask whether the ghost has any problem. It is very important that you must not make any promise to a ghost. If you cannot or do not wish to help, gently but firmly tell the ghost that you are sorry but you cannot help. If you wish to help, tell the ghost that you cannot promise anything, but you will do what you can. If you make this commitment, you must do what you can to help the ghost.
Is my karma really that bad? I committed many sins in this life and certainly in lives gone by. My knowledge of Buddhism is very limited but I humbly think that there are numerous clues indicating my heavy karmic burden.
I suffered with many sores and also anxiety attacks from a very young age and still have great difficulty concentrating. I cannot even keep my head still as this results in a very uncomfortable tension. I was also a rebellious child. By rebellious, unfortunately I mean rebellious in the sense of the five rebellious acts. It shames me to think of how I behaved.
I read in the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra and other sources that (a) my karmic conditions may be uncertain or (b) relatives of mine may have fallen into evil destinies and that they are reaching out to my brother and me for assistance.
Is there a chance I may fall into the evil destinies? Sometimes I get the impression that my karma is close to the evil destines, even hell.
Good and bad are relative terms, and karma is a continuous process. Compared to some people, your karma is bad. But compared to many, many beings, you karma is good.
It is rare to be born a human. You must have accumulated a lot of blessings in the past to have this rare opportunity. It is a great blessing to be born wholesome. It is a greater blessing to be born wholesome in a civilized and peaceful society. You live in South Africa, the most prosperous and, in my opinion, the highest civilized country in Africa.
It is rarer still to be exposed to spiritual teaching. On top of all these, you are not only exposed to spiritual teaching intellectually, but actually benefit experientially. Your karma is exceptionally good, and this is only the beginning. Remember that karma is a continuous process.
Your feeling of shame for your previous behaviour is not a bad thing. It is a wonderful start. In Buddhist teaching, it is a manifestation of Right Understanding. Only when you realize your previous mistakes, can you start to improve and progress. From now on, while acknowledging your mistakes you should not look back with shame but with gratitude.
In the Buddhist teaching, there is no such a thing as an unredeemable sin. In fact in Buddhism one does not talk about sin, one talks about ignorance. In the past your karmic conditions were uncertain because you were ignorant. As you had no spiritual guidance, your karma would continue either way — it might deteriorate into evil destines or it might improve leading to heavenly existence.
But now you have passed that crucial point. Now you are “enlightened” and have spiritual guidance. Continue not only to accumulate blessings but also to cultivate cosmic wisdom. There is also a saying in Chinese as follows “long tze wooi tau kam pat woon” (Cantonese pronunciation), which means that when a wrong-doer regrets his wrong-doings and changes to improve himself, one would not exchange that for his weight in gold.
Although the Buddha's teaching is profound, it can be summed up in the Buddha's own words into three phrases:
- Avoid all evil.
- Do good.
- Cultivate the mind.
Avoiding all evil and doing good lead to blessings. Cultivating the mind leads to cosmic wisdom. These three phrases should be carried out simultaneously, not one after another. If one follows this teaching of the Buddha, no matter how bad his karma might be when he starts his cultivation, he will inevitable arrive at good destinies.
You are right. The ghosts you met were probably your relatives or other people known to you or in your earlier lives, and they were reaching for you and your brother for help. You can help them tremendously by sharing with them the teaching of the Buddha, i.e. Shakyamuni Buddha, as well as the teaching of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva and of Amitabha Buddha.
You can share the teachings face to face when you next meet them, or in your meditation, like at the end of your kungfu session. Send them a blessing when you share the teaching.
How do ghosts cultivate their mind? An excellent way is to recite one of the following mantras with a focus mind:
- Namo Skakyamuni Buddha.
- Namo Kstitgarbha Bodhisattva.
- Namo Amitabha Buddha.
The Ksitigrabha Bodhisattva Sutra says I should recite the Sutra either three or seven times. Does this mean three or seven times consecutively in one go, in one day, or over a few days?
One may recite a mantra once, three, seven or many times.
To recite a manta three times means as follows:
“Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.”
This three-time recitation (or seven or more times) is done in one go. You may just have a three-time recitation in one go in one session. Alternatively, if you wish, you may have a second go, a third go or more goes in the same session.
You may have just one session a day, or more sessions a day, or one session in a few days. There is no hard and fast rule, but it must be carried out with sincerity and a focused mind.
For consistent effort, which is important if you wish to have good result, it is recommended to recite or chant the mantra nine times in the morning, and again nine times in the evening. It is even better, though not necessary due to various constraints, if you recite or chant the mantra hundreds or thousands of times in the morning and again in the evening everyday.
Why cannot I not rely in the mercy, wisdom and power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? Is it my karma getting in the way again?
The love and compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are boundless. Kstitgarbha Bodhisattva, for example, has vowed to save all beings in hells, and this great Bodhisattva voluntarily delays his own Buddhahood so as to go to the realms of hells to carry out his great work.
Yet, you should depend on yourself as best as possible, relying on the help of the Buddhas and the Bodhisattva only when necessary. This is for your own good. It is for your cultivation. How should you cultivate? Avoid all evil, do good and cultivate your mind — as you have been doing all along since you joined Shaolin Wahnam.
Or is this a case of having to move through layers of negative karma like a bird having to fly through smog to reach clean air? I have tried mantra recitation, recitation of the Great Compassion Dharani yet I am still troubled by these ghosts/spirits.
There are countless ways to cultivate, figuratively expressed as “48,000 spiritual doors” in Buddhism. These countless ways may be classified into two extremes, namely “Other's Help” and “Self Help”, with all remaining in between. Reciting mantra belongs to the category of “Other's Help”, whereas Zen belongs to the category of “Self Help”.
The classification into “Other's Help” and “Self Help” is for convenience. In “Other's Help”, the aspirant must also put in some effort of his own; he must do the recitation himself, and it must be done in a one-pointed mind. In “Self Help” there is also help from others; by transmitting the teaching from heart to heart, a master can help his students achieve tremendously within a short time.
The countless ways to attain spiritual goals can also be generalized into two extremes, namely Gradual Enlightenment and Instant Enlightenment.
In Gradual Enlightenment the aspirant removes his ignorance layer by layer until eventually he arrives at his Original Nature or Buddhahood. This may take many years or lifetimes. Theravada Buddhism is a good example. A Theravada follower cultivates blessings by following the Noble Eight-Fold Path, until eventually he is reborn to have the opportunity to become a monk. As a monk he cultivates to attain Enlightenment.
In Instant Enlightenment, an aspirant aims to attain non-thought. As samsara or the phenomenal world is the result of thought, once non-thought is attained, samsara disappear in an instant, and the aspirant attains Enlightenment. An excellent example is Zen.
You had such experiences during the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. As you attained non-thought in your Zen meditation after your kungfu sessions, you had a glimpse of your Original Face, and you were filled with tremendous joy, peace and freedom. Was that Enlightenment? No, Enlightenment is stll far. far away. But that was a satori, a spiritual awakening, and it happened in an instant. It was also a confirmation that you have exceptionally good karma.
Today I even thought about killing one of these ghosts if I could find any. This I know is completely the wrong answer. I should try to help them but I am scared of them.
You had such thoughts and feelings because you were ignorant. Now you are “enlightened”. (Note that “enlightened” is used here not only in inverted commas but also with a small “e”, to denote it is not the same as Enlightenment as a Buddhist term meaning Supreme Spiritual Attainment.) Now you also know and have the means to help them.
It was also mistaken of you to regard your meeting of ghosts as an unfortunate occurance. It is the reverse. It is a good opportunity for you to cultivate great blessings.
As you have strong energy field as a result of your kungfu training, which is electrifying to ghosts and lower spirits, those ghosts took much risk and went through much trouble to meet you. Probably they were in great needs, and you were a rare opportunity to solve their needs.
If you can help them, you would be well rewarded, not by the Buddha or some divine being but as a result of your good action. You would, for example, have confirmation that your spiritual powers are strong enough even to help ghosts. You would also have no fear of death, knowing that your spirit will never die.
As a child or teenager I used to wish that I would have the ability to see spirits. Like many misguided human youths, I wanted to feel unique. If I remember correctly, you once said humans have the innate (though dormant) ability to actualize the future. It seems I may have done this in which case I regret the immaturity I displayed.
Your case is a proof of the great cosmic truth that we can materialize thoughts into reality. Yes, it is an innate ability we all have, but the effect by most people is neglible because their mind is not trained.
You are an exception. Your mind is trained as a reuslt of your kungfu practice. It is also a good lesson to all people.
As thoughts can become reality, we must have good thoughts all the time. What a person thinks is the most important of the three factors shaping his karma, the other two being speech and action. The Buddha teaches that karma is caused by thought, speech and action — in that order of importance.
I have been doing Cheng Man Ching Tajiquan for about a year now. I was doing the 18 Taiji Qigong exercises and zhan zhuang with my sifu's sifu. After 40 minutes of chi kung I started to see stuff flying round the room and when I left to go home I thought I could even see through people like an x-ray machine.
I asked my sifu and he told me I was too young to understand and that he would explain it to me when I advanced.
I saw some weir stuff just floating in the air and it was just floating, going through walls as well.
Was I just seeing things or did I actually see something that day. It happens every time I do qigong. I can see more and more of it after every time I do qigong. Is there something wrong with me?
— Ahmed, UK
First of all, don't worry. There is nothing wrong with you.
In fact, you have reached a higher level of consciousness with your qigong practice. Congratulations. However, don't cling on to your new found ability. Don't crave for such experiences to happen again. If they happen again, fine, just enjoy yourself. If they don't, it doesn't matter.
What you saw was probably what would be called the molecular structure of energy around you. The energy is there all the time, just that human beings in their ordinary level of consciousness are unable to perceive it. Your qigong training has enlarged your range of perception, enabling you to perceive things that ordinary people cannot.
Many students in Shaolin Wahnam have similar abilities. Some of them were quite worried when they first experienced these happenings. This is mainly because in the context of modern Western culture, people generally consider such abilities weir. It may be a result of a perspective carried over from the Middle Age when witches were burnt at the stake for their abilities and wisdom.
Actually the word “witch”, which is the feminine of “wizard”, originally means “woman with wisdom”. But witches had been portrayed in such bad connotation that today people think of them as wicked, rather than wise, women.
But in Eastern culture, such abilities are valued. In Chinese, such abilities are called “zhen tong”, which literally means “spiritual break-through”, and may be translated as extra-ordinary abilities due to expansion of the mind.
As you continue your qigong training, you will further develop your mind or spirit. It is utmost important to remember the following. Always use your abilities, especially your extra-ordinary abilities, for good, and never for evil. If you use your abilities for good, you will always be rewarded; if you use them for evil, the evil doings will inevitably go back to you. This is not superstitious; it is a great cosmic truth.
My wife has been diagnosed with RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) which is a degenerative eye disease. From the research we have done there doesn't seem to be a known cure or therapy. Have you or any of your students ever treated such an illness using Chi Kung?
— Charles, USA
There is no cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa if you view your wife's eye problem form the conventional Western medical perspective. From the traditional Chinese medical perspectice there is no such a thing as an incurable disease, though not every patient can definitely be cured.
I do not know what Retinitis Pigmentosa is, so I do not know whether I or our Shaolin Wahnam instructors have treated such a disease. But from our chi kung perspective, whether I know what Retinitis Pigmentosa is, or whether I have treated it, is irrelevant.
This is because we look at your wife's problem and help her to overcome it in vastly different ways. We do not see her eye problem as Retinitis Pigmentosa, we see it as yin-yang disharmony. We can help her to restore her yin-yang harmony, and if this is successful, she will overcome her eye problem. There are three ways we can help her.
One, she can practice our “Shaolin Eight Eye Exercises”. I have described these exercises a few times in my Question-Answer Series. Please do a search for them. These exercises are safe to be practiced on her own, and they are very effective in overcoming eye problems.
Two, she can learn chi kung from one of our many chi kung instructors. You can refer to List of Certified Instructors to find a Shaolin Wahnam instructor near your place.
Three, she can apply to attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course. Please refer to Intensive Chi Kung Course for details.
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- Great Kungfu is a Process of Spiritual Cultivation
- Secrets of Sparring Methodology
- The Snake, the Crane, the Tiger and the Leopard
- The Student as Part of the Perfect Equation — Sifu Michael Durkin
- Your Course was Worth Ten Times I Paid for it — Patrick Collins Chesser