The Chinese believe that during the 7th lunar Chinese calendar month, the gate of hell would be opened for the lost souls to roam the surface of the earth and receive blessing and offering from their living relatives or descendants. It is a common belief among Chinese to avoid holding auspicious events such as wedding ceremony, starting business ventures, opening new shops or shifting houses. During this period, one would find that restaurant and night entertainment business would also be adversely affected. Chinese families also shun going to the beaches and swimming pools during this inauspicious season. My previous experience as a voluntary lifeguard prompted me to take note of the unusually high incidents of drowning during the ghost month.
Coming back to my story, on the first day of the 7th lunar month of 1995, I was disturbed by eerie high pitched screams in the middle of the night. It happened after I went against advice and meditated into the middle of the night. My teacher had earlier warned me not to meditate during the “devil” hours between 1 am and 4 am, especially during the 7th Moon Festive month. He explained that the spirits and other negative elementals would be most active during those hours. They are especially alert in looking out for those people who meditate and generate high energy but did not have the ability to defend themselves adequately. The following evening, I took the unprecedented step of making the offerings – burning of incense and paper money – to appease the restless spirits, which I had never done before. Thereafter, the ghastly screams did not come back.