Halloween Vampires and Ghosts All Reflect Truths About Yin and Yang
Did you ever notice that really long lasting literary pieces or literary characters are often the embodiment of cultivation knowledge and theory? In fact, people don't usually recognize this, but that's actually the factor which accounts for their longevity.
Let's take a look at the myth of the vampire to understand this.
Everyone knows a bit about yin and yang. Yang stands for positive things such as sunshine, good fortune, energy, movement, kings, men, luck and so on. Yin stands for dark things, bad fortune, sickness, scary things, the moon, the night, females and so on.
So what about the vampire?
Guess what? He's the archetypal example of yin. After all, he's dead (yin), comes out at night (yin), lives in his own coffin (yin), can't stand sunshine (yang) yet needs blood (yang) to survive. He's invisible in mirrors (yin), cannot stand garlic (yang) or holy images (yang), and if you get rid of the head vampire (the source of yin), all the others fade away.
All right, what about the green hulk, who is popular in the movie theaters at present?
Well we know from Chinese medicine that getting angry involves the liver chi, which is green just like bile. Whenever people get angry they lose their heads as well. Put two and two together and you have a successful cartoon character, namely the Hulk. He's green like liver chi and when angry all his chi comes up and he gets powerfully strong.
Smash, smash, smash!
In JOURNEY TO THE WEST, which is a famous Chinese literary classic, most people don't know that the Monkey king stands for the sixth mind (discriminatory consciousness). The Pig stands for the six senses which always want to be fed (that's why he's always after food and women). The monk, Xuan Zang, is totally useless because he stands for the indeterminate alaya consciousness which is simply a receiving, not a doing consciousness. If you want more info on that, grab a copy of How to Measure and Deepen Your Spiritual Realization which has all sorts of goodies inside, just like this discussion.
Whenever Xuan Zang is riding on his horse, it means he's cultivating his breath and whenever anyone recites the correct mantra, the Monkey King is subdued because mantras calm the mind and keep it under control. It's all cultivation science! As to Chuang Tzu, most of his stories involve cultivation topics as well.
Now on to ghosts - why is it you never see their feet? Even pictures of ghosts in books rarely show their feet. Why?
As we've told you many times, it's very hard to open up the chi channels to the bottom of the feet. If you can do that you can even transform your hell karma. In fact, that's why medieval pictures of the devil represent him with a cloven foot. It all has to do with the chi not being able to reach the bottom of the feet because if it truly can, then your yang chi can arise. Yang chi, as you know, scares ghosts away because ghosts are yin. That's why they give you the willies and why you usually encounter them in the twilight (yin) hours, or at certain hours of the day when yin chi is strong. When people are sick and dying, their chi is quite yin and that's when they can start to see other spirits too. It all has to do with chi communication.
Which tells us that if you want to connect with higher spiritual beings, then cultivate and mantra!
Ghosts and spirits and sickness brings up the topic of hospitals.
Many people tell me they're quite sensitive and hate going to hospitals. Not just because of the smell of all those disinfectants, but because they just feel "ucky" due to all the yin chi. It feels like their chi is drained every time they visit friends who are sick.
Here's what Master Nan always tells people when visiting hospitals or places full of yin chi.
Open up your palm, and look at your left hand. Now take your thumb and touch the base of your third finger. Close your fingers over the thumb and while you're in the hospital, or in any place with energy sucking beings, keep the hand closed. They won't be able to see you or bother you if you do it.
Does it work?
I don't know but since it costs nothing to do and no one sees you doing it, then why not? There's always an esoteric reason behind things like this, and this one would presumably have protective characteristics due to the fact that the pressure of the thumb on that point would activate a certain chi mai and chi flow in the body to produce certain effects. That's the sort of thing martial artists and acupuncturist study.
Many folks who are sensitive have said this closed fist procedure helps, so even if it were just a placebo rather than an esoteric factoid, why not? What's wrong with placebos if they produce the desired effect? I'd use any placebo if it "helps."
Think about it.
Now you already know that as you get more advanced in meditation, your chi changes. When your chi changes, you'll start to get more sensitive and notice that there's lots of sentient beings that live off human beings just as we live off animals. Many people notice these things in their dreams.
So what do you do inside your dreams when some thing is chasing or attacking you?
One word answer: MANTRA.
The yang power of a mantra is usually enough to scare any baddies away when they aren't just the psychological manifestation of a bad tummy and so forth. Mantras call the attention of protection deities to your plight and if you don't have the karma for it, away the baddies must go.
People who make it a habit to mantra usually find it easy to mantra in heir dreams when they get scared, so mantra is a very good cultivation practice. Actually, part of your reason for being here in this world is that you want to MANTRA anyway that lower level sentient beings get saved so that they can stop any evil ways and leave their unfortunate lower realm of existence. That's true mercy and merit making.
You want to help beings that come at you with a mind of greed or hate, not hurt them or destroy them. After all, most beings turn to evil ways when they have no other choice. You're not out to punish or destroy, otherwise the circle of karma will come back to you. You want to turn a yin situation into a yang situation so you want to help them with a mind of mercy. You want to help them and convert them. You want to transform the situation since you only encounter what you karmically merit.
As an aside, you shouldn't be scared of this sort of thing in the first place. Why? Because a virtuous life never attracts trouble. Whatever comes to you is always due to karma, so the key is learning how to TRANSFORM any situation that arises. That's what a Zen master does, he tries to transform hate into something positive. Playing in the dharma realm of "existence" is simply a matter of using the right wisdom and skillful means to transform things for the better. That's what it's all about.
As Master Nan also says, if you just associate with "good people" and people you like instead of also with demons and the baddies of the world, you'll have no one to teach by the time you become a Buddha. These guys need it the most, so they are the ones you have to save! Also, if you don't bother to save them, then who will? So as Ma Tse said, just throw an extra pound of these troubles on my shoulder for after all, they're not REAL anyway.
You can meet all sorts of sentient beings in the universe which are stronger than you and scarier looking than you, but actually there's never any reason to get scared. They're just doing what they do to make a living. Even if their appearance is quite startling (an apt Halloween topic for sure), on the topic of frightening appearances we have to adopt the cultivation mindset as well.
There's trillions, gadzillions of sentient beings in the universe and all of them just look different, not scary. Who's to actually say what's ugly, scary, frightening or beautiful? To a crow we look ugly and frightening; to us the crow looks ugly. Even Halle Berrie, as beautiful as she is, will scare away a pond fish if it catches a glimpse of her face. So just because sentient beings look different doesn't mean they're really ugly. That determination is a product of discriminative thought and the workings of the sensation skandha. In cultivation, that's something you have to detach from.
As another example, for the life of me I cannot say that one elephant looks prettier or is more handsome than another but I'm pretty sure they have their own way of differentiating. So who are we to judge?
Now "hungry ghosts," in particular it's reported, look unusually odd. Some have big stomachs and small mouths, others strange heads and bodies, and there are all sorts of deviations because they are suffering from bad karma. If you ever hear them speak it sounds like doves cooing.
Here's what you can do to help them if you want to be a real Buddha and gain lots of merit at the same time.
First, RECITE the Diamond Sutra for them. Recite any sutra for them because it does indeed help. Prayers show concern, but sutras can affect a transformation in their minds and thus fortunes. Their bodies, since they are made of chi, can change in an instant due to pure thoughts, so if they learn something through the sutra they hear, they can often leave their lower state and transmigrate in an instant. Plenty of people have dreams where some spirit asks them to help it and after reciting a sutra so that the being catches some understanding of emptiness, they can let go of their lower state and move ahead.
That's being a real Buddha or Bodhisattva.
Second thing you can do is MANTRA for them. The Zhunti mantra, Amitofo mantra, Hell Buddha and Kuan Yin mantra are great. The Catholic idea of saying prayers for those in purgatory is exactly this idea.
Last, MAKE OFFERINGS.
Every night you should take a few grains of rice (or vegetarian food) and some water and bless them, mantra over them and offer them to sentient beings. You pray that this food is blessed and purified through the power of the Buddhas, and that it thereby can reach and feed the hungry ghosts who are permitted to consume it. Also, dedicate the merit to your parents and others you may feel you owe, such as the Buddhas. After you bless the food, put it outside or on a window sill -- some place that becomes a habitual spot the hungry ghosts can visit. Don't worry about how they can get to it ... they have their ways.
You can make up your own little hungry ghost blessing to do this if someone hasn't taught you (see the PLUM VILLAGE CHANTING AND RECITATION BOOK for the larger ceremony), but you SHOULD do this every night. Just a few bits of VEGETARIAN food and water offered to lower sentient beings to help them out.
Everyone wants help from Buddhas and other higher beings for all sorts of projects and situations, but we never ask what we can do for those in more unfortunate situations than us. Here's your chance and it doesn't even cost you anything! A low energy, no cost way to actually be a Buddha for other sentient beings and make a difference. My teacher does this every night religiously, despite his high stage of attainment, and I can attest to its results. If you feed these sentient beings, you'll not only help them but they'll help you. But don't go at this with the idea of getting something in return. After all, it is an OFFERING, not an investment.
It only takes me a few minutes to do this every evening, like brushing your teeth which you do without thinking about it, and Master Nan actively encourages everyone to do this as it's a way to pay off sentient beings you may owe and gain tremendous merit in the process. As Taoism says, you need at least 3000 good deeds to become an immortal, so we need all the merit we can get.
In Buddha's time a blind monk asked for someone to thread his needle and he was shocked that Shakyamuni did it himself. Shakyamuni explained that despite his advanced stage of attainment, he was always greedy to accumulate merit, even the merit from something as small as threading a needle for a blind man. So you should always be greedy to accumulate merit.
That's a good lesson.
It's hard to be a Buddha for other human beings, but easy to be a Buddha for animals and ghosts and others down the ladder, so don't miss the nightly chance to do this and pay off your debts. It's very hard to accumulate merit but this is a cost free way - even spitting in the desert and praying that the water can help hungry ghosts will do exactly that, so please cultivate the mind of mercy and discipline to do this.
The scary thing is not the ghosts and ghouls and demons that parade in front of us, but our own demonic minds of anger, greed and hate and that we don't seize any chances to accumulate the merit nor clean our minds so that the lower pathways are closed off to us.
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