[11] An Unexpected Group Practice Session

Testimony: I moved to a new workplace in 2008. One evening, I was still around at 8pm after some on-site work. Most workers in the building have already left, as there was not much industrial work then, probably due to the slow economy. Working on my laptop, I was alone in a small office room within a factory unit. As usual, I did not bother to switch on any lights elsewhere. If you can imagine, I would be in total darkness if the office light is switched off. It would be so dark that I would be unable to see my fingers. As all was quiet, I thought it was a wonderful time to have peace of mind, and to focus on my work for a little longer.

While working, it struck me that I might be late for my usual personal recitation practice (of mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha’s name) at home. Hence, I turned on my mp3 player and put on the earphones, playing the regular six-character ‘Namo Amituofo’ (Refuge in Amitabha Buddha) tune while doing silent recitation with it. While pausing to listen to the words, I had a small shock. I heard a little voice reciting along with the tune. I stopped my work, and listened for it intently. To my amazement, there was indeed a very elderly woman’s voice, reciting along.

Fortunately, I was able to remain calm – probably because I did not have any stray thoughts, but was focused between my work and the recitation. Curious to double-check if it was just my imagination, I listened hard again. There it was again, reciting along clearly, but in a very low voice. Hearing this, I immediately decided to recite silently with the tune, and with her. At that instant, I hoped in my heart that Amitabha Buddha (Amituofo) could be mindful of her recitation and receive her for birth in his Pure Land.

On the following days after this incident, whenever I listened to the player again, I no longer heard any voice. If it was the voice of an unseen being, I hope the merits of our brief group practice helped her to gain rebirth in Pure Land, by giving rise to the right Faith, Aspiration and Practice. I am still amazed by what happened, and by the power of Buddha mindfulness. I realised that whether an experience is spooky or not, it depends not on what is outside, but whether we are calm inside. Habitual mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha helped me to stay calm, while I also used mindfulness of his name to practise compassion and rejoice by chanting together. As such, this incident not only did not deter me to continue practice, it further strengthened my faith and confidence in Amitabha Buddha, and the practice of being mindful of his name. Namo Amituofo!

– A Novice Practitioner from Pure Land Practice Fellowship (July 2010)

Comments: As right mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha already protects us from any potentially harmful unseen beings, there is no need to worry about such experiences, which are rare, though they might also be naturally experienced in other deepened Dharma practices. In fact, it is wiser to practise well in everyday life, so as to be instinctively mindful of Amitabha Buddha in times of need, than to never practise, and be caught unaware if one encounters a hostile unseen being. However, encounters with unseen beings should be regarded positively with compassion; not fearfully with aversion, as they present golden opportunities to guide those we have karmic affinity with to practise mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha well, to attain rebirth in his Pure Land.

1 Comment

  • [Questions by the named, with answers by other commenters]

    Q: After the next week, there was no sound chanting from the ghost. Does that mean it has died and gain rebirth? Do ghosts die at desired time? Can humans choose to die at will too? So many questions.

    A: Probably. Only if they practise the Dharma well, especially Nianfo, which technically does not even lead to death then, as it is just the mind departing for Pure Land, casting the body behind, without necessarily going through ageing, sickness or dying.

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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