Posted on March 10th, 2016

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando

Whether one likes or not, personal experiences of many people with the spirits account for its existence. Buddhists believe that once a person dies, the creature’s jiva (‘living essence’ or the ‘soul’) wanders about for three months in a limbo situation before it enters into another life in the process of reincarnation! Christians call it the ‘ purgatory‘. This belief leads Buddhists to perform the three-month’s alms giving to transfer merit to the departed soul to help it move into a state of tranquility or an advanced spiritual station.

House at West Hampstead

 West Hampstead is a beautiful hamlet in London surrounded by a woody environment called the Hampstead Heath. Those who are familiar with English literature will recall a poem by Alfred Noyes called the Highway man, where the horse- ridden robber stops at the window of the Hampstead Heath Inn to flirt with the Barman’s daughter Bess!

At Hampstead Heath lived a Sri Lankan family migrated to the UK some years ago. After the husband’s sudden death the wife brought up their only daughter single-handed affording her all the creature comforts. When she grew up mother became ambitious to find a cultured, educated wealthy professional Sri Lankan to give her in marriage.

The children born and/or bred in England, who are not used to Sri Lankan backgrounds and culture, adopt a different attitude when it comes to deciding on their marriage partners. They believe the choice should be given to them rather than getting subjected to parents’ demands like winding toys!

This turned into a conflict situation, but finally ended up the mother having to bow down to daughter’s wishes. When her choice was introduced her mother realised the young man was in his mid twenties and hailed from a rich Indian family.

Finally the wedding took place majestically. After two weeks or so, the young couple decided to leave the mother’s house and live separately on their own. With the passage of time they were blessed with a boy, who initially showed signs of having mysterious in built extrasensory powers but the boy’s mother paid no heed to such attributes but discarding them as ‘utter nonsense’.

Mixed marriages

 Mixed marriages do not always blend one hundred per cent due to minor irritations arising out of cultural differences, habits and religious monopolies! Over a period of time however, some undetectable hairline cracks began to appear which later developed into gaping holes between the husband and wife, the result being one morning the wife left the husband and went back to her mother with her son who was 4 years old at the time. Subsequently, a final decree of dissolution of marriage from a Family Court separated them permanently.

The little boy, who was very much attached to the father, missed him badly. According to the Court Order father could visit the son by prior arrangement that gradually turned into a routine. However, one fine morning the man decided to bring all his wife’s jewelry and handed over to her saying there was no use by keeping gold with him.

On that occasion he appeared to be exceptionally calm, friendly and spent all his time playing with his son. In the afternoon a friend phoned his ex-wife to break the sad news that the young man had committed suicide by hanging from the ceiling using bed sheets!

It was the end of a valuable young life and a tragic death followed by a broken marriage! Within weeks of the funeral, the little son, who had exhibited some mystical perceptions in the past, started seeing his ‘ dead father’ standing on the landing of the staircase at the Hampstead Heath house and gazing at him adoringly.

At first he became petrified, but seemingly got accustomed to the scene. He could not however confine this information to himself much longer but simultaneously he was afraid to tell the mother. So, he waited for a suitable opportunity and explained in detail to his grandmother about his father standing on the stairway looking very sad, especially after the dark.

The grandmother did not want to frighten the young lad, neither did she give him the impression about her disbelief on what the boy uttered but became rather worried simultaneously. The mother-in law one day unexpectedly spotted ‘the dead son-in-law’ standing on the stairway while climbing the stairs. He appeared to her in drab, filthy clothes and looked sad.

Out of fear more than being brave, she involuntarily screamed at the spirit: “Aren’t you dead, and what the hell are you doing here“? Instantly the spirit disappeared. In the night, once again he appeared in her dream in a very sorry state of affairs looking melancholy. He had told her in her dream how he ‘regrets’ very much having committed suicide, and as a consequence he is continuously suffering and having to undergo horrific experiences. His pleading to the mother-in law had been ‘not to breathe a word to his wife’ but to transfer some good merit on his behalf to get himself released from the trap.

A week later the mother-in-law organized an alms giving on his behalf at the Kingsbury, Buddhist Temple in NW London with the participation of some of their family and friends and conferred merit to the departed soul in a ritualistic manner.

Subsequently ‘he’ had appeared once again in her dream wearing a shiny golden colour outfit and thanked her for helping the soul to elevate to a better spiritual station. After all that only, her daughter was briefed on her encounter. This goes to prove how departed souls can enter this ecosphere similar to one enters a room!

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  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    Dr. Tilak !!!

    Most of the ancient Castles in UK are believed to be haunted. I have read many articles on that subject.

  2. Dham Says:

    “Buddhists believe that once a person dies, the creature’s jiva (‘living essence’ or the ‘soul’) wanders about for three months in a limbo situation before it enters into another life in the process of reincarnation! ”

    I don’t think there is such Buddhist belief. May be a Hindu myth.

    It means “living essence’ is permanent, carrying on body to body.
    It is against “Anatta” or ” impermanence ” essence of Buddhism.

    It is difficult to grasp the meaning of re-brith. If it is not “I” that is re-born, then I don’t care people will say.
    But Buddhism is beyond “I” conceit. It is extremely compassionate. Whether it is “you” suffering or “some one else” suffering, true Buddhist treats it equally.

    Then only one could understand “Anatta”. It means the beginning of another set of ‘suffering”. If there is suffering, it has to stopped.

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