If You Encounter a Ghost

If you hear your name being called out from behind on a dark lonely street, by someone you are pretty sure you do not know, who probably isn’t human, what do you do? The common reaction is to turn around in shock and yell, ‘Who’s that?!!’

Here is the wiser approach. Take a deep breath, make sure you remain calm and resume your walking at a normal pace – since you might not be able to outrun, and since you might fall if you flee in panic. Speak aloud, “Who are you? How can I help? No promises, but I’ll see what I can do.” Be honest if you must – “I’m feeling very afraid now. Please do not come too near.” Dashing off isn’t very helpful to the unseen being also because s/he probably needs some help – which is why s/he called you. Matters requiring help might be some unresolved worldly matters. As long as they are not immoral, and as long as it is in your capacity to help personally, or to be able to get someone else to help, why not help out of compassion? Radiate loving-kindness too – as wandering spirits are sensitive to spiritual vibes and are able to feel your sincerity.

Whatever the help needed is, the true help the being needs is to let go of attachment to his/her previous life and get a good rebirth, an ideal of which is birth in Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land, wherein liberation is guaranteed. Encourage him/her to be mindful of Amitabha Buddha. Chant his name ‘Amituofo’ clearly and ask him/her to join in. Briefly explain how the Pure Land teachings work. Remember not to chant haphazardly out of fear to keep the being at bay – as this might anger the spirit. If the spirit turns out to be habitually dependent over time, it is better to consult experienced monks for help. Yes – even spirits can be greedy for the merits you continually share with them. This doesn’t do them good if they do not become wiser or take a better rebirth.

What if the spirit turns out to be a devious or malevolent one? Do the same – chant the Buddha’s name – for protection. Mindfulness of the Buddha is a rather universal solution for many spiritual problems. All the above is probably better done without ever turning around to see the being. Why so? Well, if you see a ghastly ghost, you might be scared sillier! And if you see ‘nothing’, you might be even more terrified! In truth, most wandering spirits are more pitiful than scary. If you run away without helping them, who will? That said, it does take courage to want to help. The above is only for your consideration. In any case, proper mindfulness of Amituofo will prevent being harmed.

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Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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