Question : Can scolding of vulgarities ‘shoo away’ a troublesome ghost?
Answer: This might work — only if one is more intimidating than the ghost, who becomes intimidated instead.
Question : What if it does not work?
Answer: Harsh speech (which is not Right Speech) might further provoke the ghost, to become more troublesome.
Question : What should be done then?
Answer: There should be sincere reciting of a Buddha’s name, such as that of ‘Āmítuófó’ (阿弥陀佛), which is brief yet still efficacious.
Question : Why do some who had ghostly encounters say it does not work?
Answer: This only does not work if there is lack of sincerity, thus also lacking faith.
Question : How quickly will it work?
Answer: If truly sincere, there will be protection with a few or even a single recitation, as attested in many cases.
Question : What if one is supernaturally ‘paralysed’ or fearfully petrified, to be unable to recite?
Answer: Recitation need not be verbal, as it can be done mentally too, again with sincerity being key.
Question : How can troublesome ghosts be avoided in the first place?
Answer: There should be stricter upholding of at least the Five Precepts (of abstaining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxicants), to further avoid doing evil, with more doing of good, and more sincere recitation of the Buddha’s name in everyday life. Practising accordingly, there will be natural protection with personal good karma and supernormal protection by the Buddha.
Question : Why are there troublesome ghosts?
Answer: They are ‘troublesome’ because of strong deluded attachment and aversion, with whom we have some negative karmic affinity. In this sense, if troubled by them, they can be considered as karmic creditors.
Question : How can troublesome ghosts be helped?
Answer: There can be offering of guidance with these words before sincerely reciting the Buddha’s name –
Words For Guidance
‘I sincerely apologise for all the mistakes I had done, in this and past lives, to cause you suffering. As the Buddha taught, the suffering from hatred cannot be ceased by more hatred. As such, may you forgive me. I will also do much good to share merits with you, to ease your suffering. After I recite the following “Verse For Repentance” for both of us, may we Niànfó together sincerely, until you see Āmítuófó come to guide you to his Pure Land, where there is no more suffering, where there is only bliss. Please follow only Āmítuófó and no one else.
Verse For Repentance
Of all my past created evil karma,
all by beginningless greed, anger and delusion,
from my body, speech and mind as arisen,
for all I now express repentance.
[Recite thrice, prostrating before Buddha image (if available) once after each time]
Āmítuófó, Āmítuófó, Āmítuófó…’
Question : What if there is lack of confidence to help?
Answer: Spiritual and physical safety should always come first. With sincere recitation of the Buddha’s name, there will be protection. If there is not enough calm and clear presence of mind to offer the guidance above, there should at least be continual recitation of the Buddha’s name for some time, before dedicating merits for the well-being of all beings, which should include the troublesome ghost in mind. There can also be signing up of tablets for karmic creditors at Buddhist temples and centres, to dedicate more merits to them during Dharma ceremonies.