How I Escaped From A Surreal And Scary Maze
As reported recently (on 16 April 2023), there was an unfortunate misadventure involving an off-duty SCDF serviceman on Pulau Ubin. This promptly reminded me of several such tragedies that occurred on the island, as it continues to attract locals with its rugged outdoor appeal.
Personally, the island represents a huge ‘play area’ (or training ground) to me as I used to work there at Outward Bound Singapore (OBS). In the early 90s, my team and I would constantly explore the entire island to develop new outdoor experiential activities on land and in water for our programme participants. We would encounter various adventures, with elephant incursion, tiger sightings and more.
There were also some spooky ones, but one stood out as it took place in broad daylight! Pulau Ubin used to be populated by village residents, who would bury their family members there after they have passed on. Over time, the village communities resettled on mainland Singapore, while their deceased relatives’ remains stayed on the island.
The fateful event saw me bush tramping in an all familiar western part of the island near OBS. I suddenly found myself in a dense undergrowth of ferns with graves. I could not comprehend how it actually happened at all. I realised I was uncontrollably led into a trance-like state, to be guided into that area, which felt surreal and strangely new, as though I had never seen it before!
Very quickly, I felt uneasy, as if being watched by an unexplained ominous presence! Adding to that, it was approaching dusk. An overwhelming feeling of someone unpleasant approaching was also unfolding. I knew I had to do something urgently to get out of that precarious environment!
Instinctively, I remembered what my late father had always encouraged me to chant – ‘Oṃ Maṇi Padme Hūṃ’ (the Six-Syllable Great Bright Mantra [六字大明咒] of Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds Bodhisattva [观世音菩萨]). I also combined it with ‘Námó Āmítuófó’ (南无阿弥陀佛) (the Six-Worded Great Name [六字洪名]).
Miraculously, within moments, I was able to identify the general direction I took earlier and got out of that eerie maze! As I ran out, I felt a tremendous sense of relief and was greatly awe-inspired by the power of the two recitations!
P.S. Perhaps I was young, brash and free-spirited back then, not entirely bought into Buddhism. But I knew deep down that I embraced it. My father, a staunch Buddhist, was the main driver in guiding me to learn more about myself through Buddhism. In fact, it was through him that I learnt about the six-syllable mantra, which paved the way to Āmítuófó today.
Námó Āmítuófó : Guānhé
27 April 2023
 Being ‘Walled’: There is a supernatural phenomenon called ‘ghostly rotating around (打转) a wall’ (鬼打墙), also called encountering of a ‘ghostly constructed wall’ (鬼砌墙). This refers to the strange ghost-induced experience of going in ‘circles’, be it on foot or in a vehicle, being unable to exit an area, when it should be easily doable.
Unless due to personal confusion only, this could be due to ghostly ‘pranking’ to perhaps trap, scare and lead to somewhere dangerous. (It is possible to be scared to or led to death.) The ‘wall’ refers to the idea that there is as if an unseen ‘wall’ constructed by the ghost(s), to direct the person(s) trapped to walk in ‘circles’, thus ‘rotating around’ within the ‘walled’ area.
 Wall-Preventing And Wall-Breaking: This phenomenon is created by ghost(s)’ ‘messing’ with the (relatively weaker) minds of the person(s) lost, to create illusions with spatial and temporal distortion. With perceptions askew, this is why a small area might seem big and vice versa, and a little time might seem long and vice versa.
If there is more or less constant practice of sincere mindfulness of Buddha (念佛), especially when in potentially haunted areas, with the Buddha’s protection, these situations will be avoidable. When caught in such situations, mindfulness of Buddha will help to break free from supernatural manipulation. Initially weaker minds with confusion will gain strength with clarity from the Buddha’s blessings.
 Efficacy: It is not that both Buddhist recitations mentioned have to be recited one after another for escape, as focusing on either wholeheartedly will do. It should be noted that some keep switching between multiple recitations, (which include recitations from other religions) in the midst of similar emergencies, but seemingly, to their horror, without efficacy of rescue and protection, leading to further loss of faith after.
This occurs because the fickle and thus continual changing of that chanted means there is inadequate (firm and) sincere faith in any particular recitation. Thus, it is difficult to have any connection for response. This is due to the wrong thinking that ‘the more kinds of chants there are, the better it is’. This is a reason why we should learn and practise the Dharma systematically and comprehensively in everyday life, so as to have strong faith for focused and wholehearted practice during emergencies, including when about to depart from life.
 Four Kinds Of Recitations: Recitations of different faiths of might seem efficacious to some and not so to others due to the below reasons.
[i] Efficacious Recitation: The recitation chanted by the faithful does connect to an actual higher being with blessings to offer, thus being efficacious.
[ii] Faithless Recitation: The recitation chanted by the faithless does not connect to an actual higher being, even if there are blessings to offer, thus appearing to be ‘inefficacious’.
[iii] Inefficacious Recitation: The recitation chanted by the faithful does not connect to an actual higher being with blessings to offer, thus being inefficacious.
[iv] Self-Powered Recitation: The recitation chanted by the faithful does not connect to an actual higher being with blessings to offer, but the reciter has strong uprightness (正气) , thus with the recitation appearing to be ‘efficacious’, when the protection arises from asserting of righteousness.
To summarise, the best recitation should be chanted faithfully, and as sincerely as possible, to connect to an actual higher being with much blessings to offer, thus being truly efficacious. For Buddhists, there is clearly no greater being than a Buddha, such as Āmítuófó, who is also connected to all other Buddhas and their blessings.
 Relief, Calm And Conviction From Mindfulness Of Āmítuófó In A Nightmare
 How We Encouraged Mum To Strive For Pure Land
Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!