When I was a younger, I grew up in a home that practiced two religions. My sisters and I would regularly go to a Lutheran church on Sundays, while my mother, who was Buddhist would go to "temple" on the weekends as well. What I mean by "temple" is that in my small home town there was no dedicated Buddhist temple. The Buddhist community was growing but scattered so services/gatherings would often be held in another member's home. Often she would invite me to go with her instead of to church. Sometimes I would go with her, but often times not. I think it was her way of showing me, in her mind, that all Gods where the same, and wanted to expose me to all ideologies so that I could decide when I got older.
My point in bringing up my early religious background is just to show that I grew up with various influences and my strange experiences, in my opinion, were not due to unfamiliarity or culture shock.
My earliest encounters, between 4 and 5 years old, are very clear and involve an apparition. My friends often tell me my imagination and youth make my memories unreliable, but I have a lot of memories beginning at the age of 3 that many people can confirm. This account is not about the ones that happened to me then but rather, the one that terrified me the most when I was about 7 years old.
Growing up my parents were good friends with another family of the Buddhist/Vietnamese community. My best friend during childhood was their son, Truong, who was the same age as me. I remember a lot of activities and stuff we used to do together, but I also remember this Buddha statue they used to own. The statue wasn't uncommon itself, but it was still very different than the chubby jolly Buddha most people are accustomed to. This one had a white face while the rest of it was painted in bright gaudy colors, a devilish grin, and its eyes were painted wide open. I always got creepy vibes whenever I saw it even though they kept it on an altar in the family room.
The worst experience I had was a day I went over there to play with Truong. I can't remember why, but my parents had dropped me off and so we were alone downstairs playing in the living room. His oldest sister was watching us at the time, but eventually had gone upstairs. Truong was the youngest boy in their home so, often in the middle of playing, he would get called away to do various tasks or chores for a few minutes and then return. That day was no different so when his sister called for him, he obediently went upstairs and left me in the room alone.
I want to say the room got really cold and dim, but I know that part is probably just my imagination of reliving this story, but I do know that all of a sudden I was filled with this feeling of absolute terror. The sense of being watched overcame me completely, and I looked up at the altar to find the Buddha staring down at me. I froze for a few seconds and told myself, "It's just a creepy statue... It's not really watching you". To prove it to myself I got up and walked across the room, only to become absolutely panicked when the painted pupils shifted to the corner of its eye to stay fixed on me. At this point I darted across the room in the other direction to get away from its gaze, but once again, the eyes followed me. What was worse is that it still had that same closed mouthed, freakish grin. I admit that I didn't see them, but racing through my head was that right there beneath the surface, it had teeth- not sharp pointy teeth, just some regular pearly whites.
Standing there with its eyes on me, I felt completely weak and drained so all I could do was sit down. I looked up at it one last time to see it still staring at me, and then put my head down and sat there waiting for Truong to come back. He was gone for only a few minutes, and soon I heard his footsteps coming down the stairs. The feeling of dread immediately lifted, and we went back to playing as usual. I didn't mention anything to him at the time. He didn't ask me why I was just sitting there or mention that anything felt out of place so I kept quiet.
As I mentioned earlier, the Buddhist community was budding. His mother was extremely involved in it. Eventually his family moved to a new home next door to an old building that she and others started renovating. The plan was to open up a temple that could be used for regular services and holidays. She also was the one who coordinated bringing a few monks into the community to live at the temple. During the renovation, the monks lived with his family until the building became habitable.
Jumping a few years later, one Halloween (Truong and I both in high school now) him and his sister and my sisters and I went over to his house to have a horror movie marathon. The movies were not scary and we had a few laughs that night. Afterward, we were just sitting around trading scary stories. I told them about a few of things that happened to me when I was really young. Then I remembered the incident with the statue. I asked them if they still had it somewhere, and told them about the time I was alone with it.
After I finished telling them, I thought they would dismiss it as fantasy, but instead they got really quiet for a few seconds. Eventually his sister chuckled and said that it was weird that I mentioned that. She then told me a story related to it. Apparently they had gotten rid of the statue at the request of one of the monks that had stayed with them. His sister said the monk had come across the statue and told their mom that it was possessed. The monk also went on to say that it should not be used and that they needed to get rid of it because of its aura of bad luck. She didn't go on to say how it was discarded or if it was destroyed ceremoniously. I don't think either one of them knew what happened to it- only that it was removed from their home when the monk requested it. They also don't remember how they came to own it.
To this day, I still don't know what to make of this incident. Now that I'm older, I haven't had an experience in years, but this one is by far the clearest one I can recall.