The 2022 Reincarnation Symposium is magically coming together. This year it will be a two-day event during Halloween weekend. It will be In-Person here in historic Richmond, VA as well as on-line. The format will be different this year with a combination of speakers and workshops by leaders in the field of reincarnation research and past life regression therapy. The topics are sure to open, expand, and inspire you as you embrace your spiritual journey. So, SAVE THE DATE and plan to join us in-person or on-line.
For many years, I bounced back and forth through time as I remembered past lives.
It took patience and perseverance to sort out what was happening and to stay grounded and centered in my daily life. It was challenging…and also rewarding. I am pleased to share the stories of eight past lives in my new book Unstuck in Time: Memoir of a Time Traveler, a true story about how love transcends time.
Conversations with a Hungry Ghost: Memoir of a Reluctant Medium was published in 2017 and I am thrilled that so many people are interested to learn more about the Chinese culture, about what it’s like talking with a ghost, and about being a medium. I love all of the questions that people ask and the stories they share about their own experiences.
My story begins with my family, but as I started writing, the story took on a life of its own. It was and continues to be an adventure of a lifetime.
Even though we had gathered together individually, our family reunion in 1989 was the first time my brothers, sister and I had been together with our Dad, James On Louie.
My father died one year after the reunion, but as you will discover his ghost came to me and began a conversation unlike any we had when he was alive.
Have you ever been to a Buddhist funeral? It’s fascinating and quite different from other funerals.
For many years, these were the only images I had of my family’s life in China, but with the help of my father’s and ancestors’ spirits, that changed.
I was successful in finding files at NARA, the National Archives in San Bruno, that helped me paint a picture of my family’s sojourns from China to the “Gold Mountain.” From their small villages in Taishan, they travelled to Canton (Guangzhou) in the 1800s and established a trading company, Fong Sang Lung. From Canton, they ventured across the Pacific to the bustling “Big City” (San Francisco) as merchants. Sometimes, I think we take for granted what these places were like “back in the day.”
Our family continued to import “fancy goods” from China and Japan and sold them in their retail store on DuPont/later Grant Avenue and wholesale to American merchants such as G.T. Marsh.
They traveled many times back and forth; they jumped through legal hoops first on the docks at San Francisco and then at the detention center on Angel Island; they persevered with the help of the family association, Caucasian friends, and even lawyers and a Senator.
Records of the company’s partners’ list reveal a well-organized business. I love reading the lists and what they tell me about the family. Twenty-two thousand dollars doesn’t seem like a lot today, but when converted from the value of $22,500 in 1890 to today’s dollars, it amounts to over half-a-million.
Merchants provided services as well as merchandise, such as sending letters and remittances to family back in China and across the United States.
What did Huang Ti (the Yellow Emperor) and Louie Jo (legendary Chinese empress and wife of the Yellow Emperor) have to do with my story? According to tradition, Louie Jo, aka Leizu (Chinese: 嫘祖; pinyin: Léi Zǔ) discovered sericulture, and invented the silk loom, in the 27th century BC.) Lazlo Montgomery’s research helped me learn more about their story. Check out his podcast, The Ancient History of Silk, on The China History Podcast (Teacup Media).
The Silk Empress and many other stories are still a mystery to me. Whether their stories are fact or myth, there is something about them that resonates with me. My journey of “Rooting for Truth” continues. Who knows where it will lead me next.
Do you sweep your ancestors tombs and/or honor your ancestors for Qing Ming? Even though I am far away from my family’s tombs, my father’s spirit visits me every year to remind me that it’s Qing Ming time, so I “bow” to those who have gone before.
Until I started doing my Chinese genealogical research, I did not know anything about this tradition. That changed after Dad passed and his spirit started visiting me and sharing things he did not talk about when he was in the physical world.
Years later, I pieced together a story, Qing Ming, for a writing assignment in a writing group. The assignment was to imagine a conversation among the three spirits of people who were buried next to each other. The ‘back stories’ of the characters are composites of what I have learned about my family members from my research. I honor my ancestors by sharing their stories.
I bow with love and compassion to my ancestors who continue to guide me in this life.
Qing Ti loved her life of luxury, being waited on hand and foot, giving an attending parties galore and buying everything she fancied. Her one disappointment in life was her only son, Mulian, who gave up his wealth to become a disciple of the Buddha. Mulian gave up more than his riches and position. He turned his back on his filial duty to care for her. She was humiliated by his decision and despised Mulian and every fleabag monk who came begging at her door. She died surrounded by servants and extended family that waited to discover what she left them while Mulian and his fellow monks sang chants to help her spirit journey to the Afterlife.
Mulian was no ordinary monk and disciple. He was one of the most accomplished of the Buddha’s disciples in various supernormal powers developed through meditation, including being able to use mind-reading for such things as detecting lies from truth, transporting his body into the various realms of existence and speaking with ghosts and gods. He had gifts that the Buddha knew could help others. In fact, it was his gift that caused him to leave his worldly comforts and joined the monastic life.
Mulian chanted with the other monks to ward off evil spirits and to appeal to the guards of the Afterlife to receive Qing Ti’s pirit. He watched as his mother met the guardians and was directed through various stages in the afterlife. He paid attention as his mother entered the Tenth Hell. The tormented cries were unbearable for her and no matter how hard she tried she could not manage to lift the morsels of rice to her mouth. Her stomach rumbled but the rice fell to the floor.
Mulian empathized with his mother and yet he stood back waiting. When at last she saw him, she hid in shame. Now that she knew what it was like to be hungry; now that she saw the light that radiated around him, she understood why he had to abandon his privileged life to live the life of a monk. She turned away in dismay but he assured her that he did not judge or condemn her in any way and that he was there to help her. His compassion overwhelmed her and for the first time in what seemed like a very long time she did not feel hungry.
The Buddha of the Tenth Hell sensed Mulian’s compassion for his mother and the beginnings of Qing Ti’s repentance. In celebration, he allowed her and all the other spirits to be free to journey to earth to partake in a feast with the understanding that those who could receive without greed would be allowed to go on to the next level but those who continued to hoard and still what was offered were destined to return.
Every seventh lunar moon month the gates of hell are opened, and the hungry ghosts are free to roam the earth. Even today, you can see food offerings at grave sites or on altars outside monasteries or homes in Chinese communities around the world. If you are fortunate to witness the celebrations, you may feel a cold breath on the back of your neck or every hair on your body stand on in. If you are lucky, or not so lucky dash depending on how you look at it dash you might see or talk to a hungry ghost.
Many people consider these beliefs mere superstition I was one of those people, that is, until my conversations with my father’s ghost showed me that he was hungry for more than food or objects.
To celebrate the Festival of the Hungry Ghost, download a free copy of my book from September 1st through 2nd. Click the link below.
For such a short time to pull it off, WE DID IT! Many thanks to the Soo Yuen Association for hosting our Louie Clan Reunion. It was wonderful getting together in person to hear our families’ stories and to connect people not only from the same clan but also from the same village. I’m already looking forward to the next reunion.
To know that our ancestors found comfort and assistance at the Soo Yuen Association as they began their sojourns to the Gold Mountain. And now, we also found comfort and assistance to connect the dots between the many branches of our family tree and our villages. It’s more than names in the Zupu (the genealogy book) and markers on a map in Taishan District, Guangdong Province, China.
It’s the “red thread of fate” that brought us together. I look forward to getting to know my “cousins, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews” better, of reconnecting, and with luck, going back to our villages together.
How exciting to now know more people from my father’s village. I think it’s not a coincidence to find eight houses in a village with only sixty-plus houses. What are the odds of that? (Thanks to Robert Louie for the fantastic grid.)
I feel more nudges from my ancestors telling me that the story is not finished yet, so I wonder “What’s next?”
When I began “rooting” for my ancestor’s stories, I never dreamt that it would change my life. Most rooters will tell you what an awesome feeling it is to stand on the earth where your ancestors stood, if you are lucky enough to find that location. It took me twenty-six years to find that spot of earth, but as you will read in my stories, there were a few hurdles to jump over. That’s the life-changing part.
Now that I’ve made the journey to the tiny villages in Guangdong, China twice, I’m more comfortable with who I am, daughter of a man whose family had the courage to sojourn across an ocean. Now that I’ve accepted that I am a Medium, I’m excited about the conversations I have with those ancestors and to know that just because they are no longer in the physical world, they are not dead. And now that I’ve shared their stories, I am thrilled to focus on next book about my reincarnation research and experiences. And yes, you can be sure that my ancestors play a role in that book too.
If you are in the Richmond, VA or Williamsburg, VA area in November, I hope you will join me at the book discussion groups.
To thank the Sponsors and all those who put in a lot of hard work to create the Talk Story Events and well as to those who attend, I’m offering a FREE copy of the e-book version of my first book, Conversations With a Hungry Ghost: Memoir of a Reluctant Medium. You can download your copy from April 12-16th. Please feel free to tell your friends and family.
“After a lifetime of blocking the ghosts who tried to talk to her, Carole found the courage to overcome her fear to speak with her father’s ghost. Their conversations helped Carole understand her father’s reluctance to share his story about his journey from China to the U.S. and guided her to the Louie family ancestral villages. Their conversations were more than a genealogical exploration; they were the beginning of a spiritual journey, a journey into the spirit world and past lives, a path of healing and love.”
I hope you will enjoy my story and if you do, I hope you will write a review on Amazon.
I’d like to invite you to join me at TALK STORY in Washington DC on April 14th. See the flyer for more details. Many thanks to the sponsors – the 1882 Foundation, the Chinese American Museum, OCA, Chinese Service Center & CACA – for the invitation to share my story about “rooting for truth” and my short/short story “Ching Ming.” If you are a Louie or Lei and plan to attend, let me know ahead of time so I can bring you a copy of my new book.
If you are not able to attend in person, be sure to catch the event on the 1882 Foundation Facebook page.
“There is something in all of us that thrills to this experience of touching the past. It could be an old letter, a genealogical record, a battlefield, a cemetery, or fragments of an ancient text.” (James Tabor)
Those words touched me deeply as I pondered how to share the story that I’d unearthed as I searched for my roots. I had hit many walls when it came to my immediate family, but as they say, “When one door closes, another opens.” In this case, it was the door to the Forbidden City, the world’s largest palace complex, and to Yangshi Lei, the architectural family who played a part in its creation. In fact, Yangshi Lei designed and built one fifth of China’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and was recognized by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Register.
My sincere thanks to my sister Florence Louie Bass, who joined me on the journey in 2018 even though rooting is not her cup of tea; to my guide Liu Hao from My China Roots for her assistance with my research including finding Lei Zhangbao and arranging our meeting; to Zhangbao and his family for meeting with a distant cousin from a far away land; to Friends of Roots who helped pave the way in 2016 for this journey; to all of the Louie/Lei 雷 clan; and to my ancestors who guided me to share this amazing story.