Monday, March 17, 2008

Lydia Sum returns as White Locust

On Saturday (16.3.2008) the Shin Min paper reported that the late HK actress comedian Lydia Sum returned as a big white locust on Tuesday (11.3.2008), 3 weeks after her passing away. According to traditional Chinese beliefs, that day was supposed to be her "Soul-returning Night". On this night, King Yama would allow departed souls to visit their former houses and see their relatives for one last time, under escort by Oxhead and Horseface. The uncanny thing was that a fortune-teller, Mr Lin Bingnan had earlier predicted that during the evening on Mar 11th from 7 to 9pm Lydia would return to her residence from the northwest direction. He also mentioned that she would transform into a white yellow animal or insect upon her arrival, and would appear bigger than normal. Just as Lin had predicted, the reporters stationed outside Lydia's residence felt a strong cold wind and heard dogs' howling after 7pm. Later at 8.30pm they sighted a big white locust flying in to perch on her manager's car outside the house. Was the locust Lydia herself?
Lydia passed away with a lot of attachment in her mind. Besides clinging strongly to her physical body, which had been tormented by sickness for a long period, everybody knows she still worried much for her daughter's future. When a person dies with such a clinging mind, the consciousness would be drawn by karma to be reborn in the realm of the Petas (hungry ghosts). Although the traditional belief in "soul-returning night" is not recognised in Buddhist doctrine, there is nevertheless some truth in it. According to the Book of Bardo, the consciousness is bound to go back to see its former family during the 7 weeks after a person dies. During this bardo period the consciousness does have some degree of psychic powers, like teleportation and transformation. So it is highly possible for Lydia to come back in the form of an insect. But the question is, where would her consciousness go after its last visit? Without any relatives to make merit for her, it is inevitable for her to be reborn in the lower realms to reap her karmic fruits. Fortune-tellers may be knowledgeable enough to know when and how a person comes back after death, but they cannot guide the departed one to any real happiness. Only the Buddhadharma can offer reliable refuge from the endless suffering of dying again and again. Lydia's daughter should use her (Lydia) wealth accumulated through the years to perform Sanghadana (offering to the Sangha) in her name. This would prevent her from being reborn in the woeful realms and lead to her long term happiness. If the daughter can practice meditation and transfer merit to her, that would be even more effective. Thus, the importance of making merit for one's departed relatives cannot be emphasized enough.

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