Hi Brother Shi’an, I am currently attending one of your Pure Land courses. Just wanted to share with you about this horrible nightmare that I had last night. It was the the first time in more than 50 years, that I had such a scary nightmare! Yesterday afternoon, I had a bad fall. My left knee, cheek and eye were swollen and bruised. Last night, after taking two common pills to relieve pain and for better sleep, I fell asleep at around midnight. It was rather early as I am a late sleeper.
Suddenly, I was awakened, even before opening by eyes, by a sharp pain on my left knee, going upwards to my chest, just below my Guanyin Bodhisattva pendant on my neck. (I also have a Guanyin Bodhisattva shrine in my living room, where I pray every day.) Besides the pain, I felt a ‘force’ trying to pull out my consciousness. The same ‘force’ was trying to get into my body! I was breathless. I could neither open my eyes nor shout! It was a struggle between this ‘force’ versus my consciousness. I could feel that this ‘force’ had gotten into my lower half but could not get into my upper half from chest up!
My mind was crystal clear then, as I fought very hard. I managed to shout out the name of ‘AMITUOFO’ (Amitabha Buddha) very loudly. With that loud chant, I could feel the tense part of my body starting to loosen, as the ‘force’ retreated! I continued chanting until my whole body loosened, as my eyes automatically opened! The time was 2:02 am. I am not sure if it was just a dream due to the shock I had during my fall, or if something supernatural really happened. However, this encounter greatly enhanced my faith in Nianfo practice, of mindfulness of Amituofo’s name!
Amituofo: Leia (name changed for privacy)
 This is indeed wonderful, to be able to practise Nianfo as only partially taught, even before completing the course! In the face of the uncertainties of life and death, it is never too soon or late to practise Nianfo best we can, with as much as we already know of how to do it properly!
 Accidents that cause suffering never happen by random chance. They are results of negative karma ripening suddenly, sometimes through unseen karmic creditors. It is a humbling truth that we all have negative karma that can ripen abruptly, catching us off-guard. This is why we should practise Nianfo regularly and diligently, to create positive karma to dilute existing negative karma best we can. More practice which brings peace of mind will reduce and end occurrences of nightmares too.
 Despite not having had any terrifying experience of similar physical and spiritual nature for many years before, or even for one’s entire life, it is still possible for an experience of such nature to occur without warning when the karmic conditions are ripe. This is similar to how usually unseen but vengeful unseen karmic creditors can take form to attack when weak, sick or dying.
 While some might argue that the experience is due to sleep paralysis, which is the mind waking up before the whole body does, many unique details make it extremely likely. For instance, there was medication taken willingly for calmer sleep, clear thinking, sharp moving pain, yet with pendant limiting its reach, push-pull sensations and Nianfo being the immediate rescue.
 The double association with Guanyin Bodhisattva in terms of having a pendant with her image and having prayers at her shrine daily suggest that the pendant offered some protection by limiting the pain. However, even if so, it was Nianfo that ceased the pain entirely in this case. While external blessed items might offer protection, it is best to learn how to Nianfo well.
 The ‘force’ could be an unseen karmic creditor or karmic pain itself, operating like a ‘living force’ that caused the feelings of paralysis, suffocation, and ‘displacement’ for ‘possession’. In some ways, as it felt like a life or death struggle, this can be seen as a probable near-death experience. (Not all of dying experiences are ‘pleasant’ or ‘smooth’ in nature, as dependent on karma.)
 With strong sincere (which is also faithful) Nianfo, even amidst great fear, the most compassionate Amituofo and his blessings can be connected to for clear and present protection. This can be as swift as an instant, with a single chant. Whether the sincere chanting is audible, loud or silent does not matter. For this case, it was probably loud due to it being a desperate cry for help.
 Whether the experience was a dream or real does not really matter. What mattered is it was experienced as real as it could be then. Just as the terror and suffering was real enough, the sincere Nianfo and its protection was real enough too. If it was all mind-made due to stress, Nianfo did relieve the suffering. If it was a supernatural encounter, Nianfo too saved the day (or night)! If it was a mix of both, of distress conditioning a supernatural encounter, Nianfo still worked!
 When we practise Nianfo sincerely, diligently and regularly in everyday life during more peaceful times, we are already in these moments connecting to the protective blessings of Amituofo, which dilutes our negative karma in the moment with each chant. In this sense, the fact that there are no dramatically traumatic experiences such as the above is itself a blessing!
 Yet, we should all also ‘welcome’ nightmares, horrifying as they might be, because they can be seen as ‘extraordinary’ tests for gauging how deep our Nianfo practice from moments awake have permeated into our less wakeful moments. If we remember to Nianfo even in very urgent and disturbing situations, be they ‘mind-simulated’ or actual, this does offer greater assurance and confidence of our practice going well, that we are better prepared than others, should death by on the way!
Namo Amituofo : Shen Shi’an
How To Handle Ghostly Disturbances
How To Protect Yourself In Nightmares