Q&A

Buddha or Demon? / Multiple Vs Main Chant?

Question: When Amitabha Buddha appears to Pure Land practitioners who are on the brink of death, how can they be sure it is not a demon?

Answer: If a Zen follower is not meditating on the Buddha, and yet Buddha suddenly appears unexpectedly, this is called a demon (delusion). A Pure Land practitioner sees the Buddha while focusing on the Buddha. Thus in his case, cause and effect coincide and his mind is in unison with that of the Buddhas. The appearance of the Buddha is therefore not a demon. There is no need to worry about this. (From p.94 of ‘Mind-Seal of the Buddhas’ by Patriarch Ou-I)

Another Answer: If we are sincerely mindful of Amitabha Buddha (Amituofo) with right faith, aspiration and understanding, the one who appears cannot be a demon, especially since the mindfulness of Buddha itself protects one from demons, while all Buddhas of the six directions bless the practitioner. This is recorded in the Amitabha Sutra. As taught by the Buddha –

… why do you think this teaching is called ‘the Sutra of Protection by All Buddhas’? Shariputra, all good men and women who hear this sutra and hold fast to it and also those who hear the names of those Buddhas are protected by all the Buddhas…

If visions of other ‘enlightened beings’ (Buddhas and Bodhisattvas) appear despite not being mindful of them, one should continue being mindful of Amitabha Buddha till he appears as other visions might be manifested from demons.

Q: Is it alright to also chant ‘Om Mani Padme Hung’ and/or ‘Namo Guanshiyin Pusa’ while chanting Amituofo’s name at other times?

A: It’s alright, as chanting the above can also be for birth in Pure Land. But it’s good to have one main practice too, the one that we are most used to. You can think of it like riding the bike you are most familiar with versus riding others’. The one you ride the most should be your main vehicle – the one that would most efficiently lead you to your destination with ease and security.

Related Article:
Should We Focus on All Buddhas & Bodhisattvas?
http://purelanders.com/2009/12/03/should-we-focus-on-all-buddhas-bodhisattvas

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  • Q: Some practitioners may see unfamiliar deities who could be their yidam or protector in previous lives.

    A: One should only practise presently, especially when dying, mindfulness of one’s present yidam, while regarding all others as distractions due to the warnings in the article above.

  • Q: If a Buddha comes to a Buddhist right before he or she passing away, i would think twice before i believe it, unless the dying person is on the brink of enlightenment and are asked if they want to stay to teach or they want to go to nibbana in some form.

    A: The time-tested Pure Land teachings in the sutras state that when one is mindful of Amituofo (Amitabha Buddha) with the Three Provisions when departing Amituofo will manifest to receive and guide to his Pure Land. The Three Provisions can be learnt at http://purelanders.com/2015/12/30/%E5%BE%80%E7%94%9F%E5%87%80%E5%9C%9F%E4%B8%89%E8%B5%84%E7%B2%AE-the-three-provisions-for-rebirth-in-pure-land Amituofo

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!