The 99 Ghosts

After all the serious Buddhist scriptural studies, it’s paranormal story time!

This story happened in Taiwan and the victim was a young man studying in university. Lets just call him Ah Wei.

Ah Wei was a studious and polite guy born into a compassionate Buddhist family. He was well liked by neighbors and friends. On that fateful day, he was riding his scooter to school when a cat dashed into his path. He lost his balance while avoiding it, and suffered some abrasion to his arms and legs. Feeling none the worse, he continued to school and did not think much about it.

Unfortunately, he developed a fever that evening and soon became delirious by 2 a.m. His parents brought him to the local hospital and the doctor managed to bring his fever down. He was discharged the next day along with some antibiotics and fever pills because they couldn’t find anything wrong with him.

The fever came and go for the next few days. His fever would return at night and disappear by morning. Besides that, he started having nightmares. In his dream, there was a huge tree and many shadowy figures were dragging him towards the tree where a noose awaited him! This repeating nightmare tormented him for 3 nights before his mother accompanied him to see the doctor again. During the day, there wasn’t any fever and after going through a thorough check-up, nothing was found amiss. However, the fever would return at night along with the same dream.

His mother who was a devout Buddhist, decided to bring him to the Buddhist centre for spiritual help. A ceremonial plague was setup for his “Karmic creditor”. Invocation was chanted to invite his “karmic creditor” to come forth. Buddhist scriptures were recited and loving kindness radiated towards the unseen beings, merits were dedicated to them. Wei was told to recite the name of Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva and sincerely ask the unseen beings for forgiveness. Wei felt consoled and returned home with his mother.

That night, his evening conditions worsen and Wei suffered a seizure at 3 a.m. That resulted in his re-admittance to the hospital. This time via an ambulance.

While staying at the hospital, Wei began seeing shadowy figures in his waking moments too. The difference between reality and dream were starting to blur. Finding nothing wrong with Wei’s health, the doctor discharged Wei and suggested that he visit a psychiatrist instead.

He took his medicine and went to sleep upon reaching home. At 6pm, he was yelling in his sleep and couldn’t be woken. “Let go of me! help! I am sorry!” He was in a trance, yelling and thrashing about. Both his parents didn’t know what to do next. Fortunately, he managed to wake up on his own and was crying like a little boy.

When his mother tried to console him, he yelled at her with such vehemence that she recoiled.

“FUCK YOU! I killed them and they want me dead!”

Wei’s temper and frustrated yelling startled his family. He seemed like a completely different person. That was the first time they heard vulgarities from him. That polite boy from a pious Buddhist family had changed personality?

Although taken aback, his mother was patient and open minded about spiritual matters.

She kept her composure and soothed Wei as much as she could. After coaxing Wei to drink a glass of Great Compassion Mantra water, Wei calmed down a bit. He re- narrated his nightmares and recounted how it all started when he injured himself while avoiding a black cat on the road. The next morning, his fever did not subside but his mother insisted that they visit the Buddhist centre again.

The elders listened and suggested looking for that tree in Wei’s nightmare. Wei was slipping in and out of his trance. Without even a proper address, they drove Wei around and he directed them in his trance. That journey took them out of town and into an abandoned industrial suburb. After getting out of the car, Wei continued to guide the small entourage into a forested area. All this while, he was propped and supported by his parents. It was late afternoon and the sun would be setting soon.

The sight that greeted everybody was unexpectedly eerie.

After going through a dense thicket, they arrived at a small clearing with a huge banyan tree with a little wooden shed beside it. Hanging from that tree were nooses made from various materials; such as cloth, ropes, wire and strings. Scattered around that tree were skeletal remains of animals! There was an old table and some chairs near the tree. Empty beer bottles lay scattered around it. That place appeared to be completely deserted.

Wei was getting worked up again. He was crying, confused and frustrated, scared and angry. As it was getting dark soon and the Buddhist elders decided to leave quickly. They reached the city late in the evening and returned to their home respectively. That night, Wei continued to have fever but this time, his nightmare became vivid.

The shadowy figures in his nightmare merged together and spoke. They were cats tortured and killed by Wei in his previous lifetime. They had been following him since his previous lifetime. (99 of them) They couldn’t do anything to him until recently.

In his previous life, Wei worked at that abandoned industrial area and he had enjoyed torturing stray cats while drinking!

With this new insight, the elders were able to conduct various rituals to appease the vengeful spirits.

The animal remains were respectfully cremated and long process of prayers and repentance ceremony was conducted with Wei’s participation. His fever disappeared and the shadowy figures did not trouble him again. Wei recovered from his ordeal and returned to school.

This story is special because it involves spirits of abused animals. In Buddhism, a being can be reborn into any one of the 6 realms of existences. In this case, their hatred caused them to be reborn as vengeful spirits. I read this story from a Buddhist magazine 20 years ago. Wei is a fictitious name for my easier narration.

You may wonder how someone who was torturing cats can be reborn into a good Buddhist family or can be reborn as a human being! Shouldn’t he go to hell first?

  1. The result of a karmic actions takes time to manifest and may not appear as per our expectation. We shouldn’t think of Karma as a simplistic system of reward and punishment that works just like our legal system.
  2. Wei might have greater good karma that were from a distant past lives or Wei could have done some greater merits in his previous lifetime too.

Without any ability to see other’s past existence, it is futile for us to speculate and be judgmental.

Nonetheless, I hope you like this story and will remember to be kind to all animals. In Buddhism, all sentient beings are equal.

May all be well and happy.

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3 replies »

    • I remembered a few ghost stories in Buddha’s time too. Most of the time, it is about revenge by the aggrieved victims. This is also a form of karma. For harming others, we attract ill will, such as in this story. This can easily result in both parties going after one another, life after life. Thus hatred becomes magnified over a long period of time. Consequently, it pulls both parties deeper into suffering.

      Liked by 1 person

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