Are There any Methods Preventing Spirits from Following Us Home?
(This translation only includes content pertaining to IIP #154 Q-1 & Q-2)
Q1: Question from Taiwan Lianhua Chiming. Greetings, Grandmaster. In the book Heavens and the Great Beyond, Grandmaster wrote in the article "Shining Brightly" that a monk went to someone’s house to preach the Dharma. Usually, the monk also does chanting for the deceased. For some unknown reason, 37 ghosts followed him and entered the house as well. I humbly ask Grandmaster, do spirits follow a person who goes to help chant for the deceased? If we are helping people chant for their deceased, are there any methods preventing spirits from following us home? I ask Grandmaster more, when we are practicing food offerings to spirits, we recite "Da-peng-jin-chi-niao, kuang-ye-gui-shen-zhong…" and then sprinkle the water outside the house to make food offerings to the spirits. But if we are inside the house, can we just offer triple-hum blessed water to our ancestors without reciting "Da-peng-jin-chi-niao, kuang-ye-gui-shen-zhong…", so that the spirits outside would not be attracted to enter the house?
A1: This is a problem. The main issue he raised is that he does not want to attract spirits into his home. After doing food offerings outside or chanting for the deceased, he hopes that, when he returns home, the spirits will not follow him back. There should be a method for this. Generally speaking, we perform Ushnisha Sitatapatra boundary protection. In the past, when Trayastrimsa fought against the Asura King, when the Heaven Realm waged war against the Asura Realm, the Buddha taught Trayastrimsa to cover and protect the entire Trayastrimsa Heaven with a big white parasol (Sitatapatra). If all of you know how to use Sitatapatra to protect the boundary to shield your home, the ghosts and spirits will not be able to gain entry. This is a very simple method. Protect the boundary of your entire home with the Sitatapatra Practice. All the ghosts and spirits will not be able to enter the home.
This is only one of the methods I'm sharing, because there are many other boundary protection practices. At home, you can perform boundary protection for yourself or for your house. Even if a ghost follows you home after you were out chanting for someone else, you can enter your house but the ghosts and spirits are blocked from entering by the protective boundaries. Understand? It's very simple, very easy. Just use the Ushnisha Sitatapatra Practice: form the mudra of Ushnisha Sitatapatra, recite the Ushnisha Sitatapatra mantra, and visualize a parasol covering your home. The visualization is to visualize your entire home being covered by the Ushnisha Sitatapatra’s parasol. You form the mudra, and recite the mantra of Ushnisha Sitatapatra, "Hum, ma-ma-hum-ni-so-ha. Hum, ma-ma-hum-ni-so-ha. Hum, ma-ma-hum-ni-so-ha." Recite the mantra and sense that Ushnisha Sitatapatra forms a boundary to protect your house and yourself.
Those ghosts and spirits then would not be able to enter.
His next question: "At home, can one make offerings of triple-Hum blessed water to ancestors?" Can it be done? Yes, it can. At home, the spirits of your ancestors, you can offer them with the triple-Hum blessed water. Will it attract spirits and ghosts from outside into the house? Actually, it won't. As long as you did boundary protection for your house, they won't be able to enter. However, it is different for Grandmaster, because I practice bardo deliverance every night. Ghosts and spirits are allowed to enter. When they come in, they are well-behaved and will let me know they are coming. Although, there are many Dharma protectors in my house, many Dharma protectors.
Deities that I enshrined at home… I have already talked about it. The first deity outside of Shimu’s room is Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, followed by Mahasri, Shakyamuni Buddha, Mahottara Heruka, and Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva standing in the living room. The High King Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is on the other side of the living room. Amitabha Buddha is also in the living room, and so is the Padmasambhava. Further down in my study room, there is the Troma Nagmo [Black Wrathful Dakini]. In my own small altar, there is the Golden Mother of Jade Pond, Above, there is the Padmasambhava, and below is Acala. Amitabha Buddha is next to it. There are also Vajrasattva, Yamantaka, and all the Earth Gods - all the Earth Gods are placed on the lower level.
In addition, there is a Golden Mother of Jade Pond and a Tiger Head Vajra in my room. They are very powerful. When I enshrined them, I informed them beforehand, "Golden Mother of Jade Pond and Tiger Head Vajra, I sleep here at night. This side is the bedroom. This side is the bathroom. When I take a bath in the bathroom, please don't look at me because I take off my clothes. And, this side here is the restroom." Do you have your clothes on when going to the restroom? Of course. When you go to bed, do you have your clothes on - going to bed with all your clothes on? No, just the undershirt and underwear. In the past, I wanted to take off all my clothes, removing all my clothes like others. It's very good to sleep without clothes on. It's the healthiest way to sleep. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to sleep naked. I can’t do it. I can’t be like the others. I still have to wear an undershirt and underwear. I told them, "Please forgive me if I am ever being rude in the bedroom."
I really enshrined the Golden Mother of Jade Pond and Tiger Head Vajra in my room, on the bedside table. I pay respect to them by putting my palms together every night. On the first day upon enshrining them, I had already said that, on the first day, they rocked my bed like a cradle, (Grandmaster sings) "Rock, rock, rock, rock the boat to Grandma's bridge. When Grandma saw me, she gave me a piece of cake. Rock and rock, rock and rock, the boat rocks to Grandma's bridge. Grandma says good baby. Grandma gave me a piece of cake." [Translator note: This is a Chinese lullaby]
It’s true. On the first day I enshrined them. They rocked my bed like a cradle... The rocking made me fall asleep quickly. I sensed that they rocked my bed back and forth. You see, they are very spiritually responsive. Sometimes with my palms together, I tell them I want to see a certain person today. I then go to bed. Eh! my primordial spirit transcended and went to see that person, very spiritually responsive! So, it doesn't matter. Although many ghosts and spirits enter my house because of my bardo deliverance, there are also many buddhas, bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors in my house. I sit in front of Tiger Head Vajra and perform the thousands of Dharma vessels bardo deliverance. In conclusion, as long as you can perform Ushnisha Sitatapatra boundary protection, ghosts and spirits will be unable to enter your house.
Translated by TBTTs
Translator: Jupiter Seow
Editors: Ky Ly and DJ Chang
Will the Illness Linger After Death if One Has Passed Away Due to an Illness?
Q2-1. Asked by Master Shi Lianjin in Indonesia. Most Revered Grandmaster, Amitofo! Your disciple pays sincere homage to you. I have three questions for Guru Buddha regarding death: Some Dharma propagating personnel say that if the deceased has passed away due to an illness, the illness will linger after death. So that the deceased won’t continue to suffer the illness after death, one should perform Medicine Buddha repentance to eradicate the deceased’s illness. Is this correct? Isn’t the sickness gone when the soul departs the physical body after death?
A2-1. Sickness comes from having a physical body. Without a physical body, there can be no illness. All true practitioners knew that Laozi said, “All the calamities of life are due to my having a physical body.” Therefore, one could certainly perform Medicine Buddha repentance on behalf of the deceased. On the other hand, one could also not perform it. It is up to the individual. The true cause of the illness is the physical body.
Don’t you believe it? We can get cavities, right? Teeth can get cavities. It was only a few days ago that Guiqing, my dentist, brought me to her clinic to clean my teeth and fix up a few things. She commented that my teeth were free of cavities and that I had maintained them very well. I can tell you that after one dies, it won’t be necessary to maintain one’s teeth anymore. The teeth will definitely not have cavities. One can put one’s teeth anywhere for as long as one likes, and they will never have cavities. It is only because one is living that one has cavities.
One must be living to have an illness. Take the case of Master Lianyin, who suffered from dizziness and epilepsy. X-rays revealed that cancer cells had spread everywhere throughout his brain. He died! He has now passed away. I shouldn’t say “death” too loudly. He was delivered and cremated. I can tell you that he no longer suffers from dizziness, epilepsy, or cancer. That’s all gone. Now, he is very, very free. It’s true! He is so free now. Sometimes, he even visits my house as a guest. He wants me to pay attention to him. He knocks loudly on my door to signal “I came!” I say, “You are gone!” As if coming, as if going. Both “as if coming” and “as if going” are epithets for Tathagata. In reality, there is no coming and there is no going. Without a physical body, there are no problems at all. Illness comes only with the physical body. Apart from the physical body, illness does not exist. This is my answer to your question.
Q2-2. What if, during the deceased's lifetime, the deceased spoke just one language and was totally unfamiliar with any other language. For example, the deceased spoke Indonesian and couldn’t understand Chinese. If Dharma spreading personnel use Chinese to perform bardo deliverance, and chant sutras for the deceased in Chinese, will the deceased understand? Or must one use the deceased’s own language?
A2-2: Communicating in any language will be effective. Reciting silently in one’s mind will also be effective. Did you know that Grandmaster has used a Ouija board? I am able to operate a Die Xian [a spiritual dish, similar to Ouija board]. A Die Xian normally requires three people to operate so that the dish will turn, but Grandmaster can operate the dish just by himself. Just like the spirit table, there is movement when Grandmaster touches it. (Grandmaster makes a demonstration with a Dharma implement on his table.) I have used my blessing power on this implement and one will now find it is very heavy to pick up. This implement is different than it normally is. It is magnetized to the surface of the table. It is absolutely heavier than before. In fact, it can't be lifted up. It’s simple. This is spiritual power.
The deceased has already become a spirit. After people die, they become spirits. The deceased is acutely sensitive and able to understand any language and communicate mentally as well. Previously, when consulting a Die Xian on a matter, I did not make any sound. This was because I was asking about something very secret and I wanted to keep it to myself. There was no need for onlookers to know. Therefore, one can communicate by words and the dish spirit will know and answer. One can also communicate with the plate spirit mentally and it will also know. This is spiritual.
The period when a person is dying is a time of great spiritual sensitivity. A person who is dying experiences great spiritual responsiveness. During this period, wherever the spirit wants to go, it can close its eyes and go there instantly just by a thought. Therefore, one can use any language to guide a spirit in the bardo. This is my answer to your question. Any language will be effective. English, Spanish, Japanese. Any language. The departed spirit will understand.
Q2-3. While alive, the deceased could have been in various situations. They may have had little contact with Buddhist sutras. When we recite sutras on behalf of the deceased, will the deceased understand and recite along with us? Most sutras are written in classical Chinese, and many people don’t actually understand the meaning. If we recite these sutras for the deceased, will the deceased understand what we are reciting? Should we change to sutras that are easier to understand, so that they will know what we are chanting? Thank you Grandmaster for your compassionate guidance.
A2-3: The answer to this question is the same as the answer to part (2). The deceased will understand whatever language the sutras are recited in and the meaning of the sutras as well. This is a very strange thing. After death, one becomes incredibly spiritual and can understand many things.
Translated by TBTTs
Translator: Henry Wolf
Editor: DJ Chang