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The Second Great Essential | 第二大要 (Pure Land Passport Section 3C)

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第二:大家换班念佛,以助净念者。

Second, everyone should take shifts to recite the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], so as to support pure mindfulness.

前己开导病人,令生正信。然彼病人,心力孱弱,勿道平素绝不念佛之人,不易相继长念。即向来以念佛为事者,至此亦全仗他人相助,方能得力。

Before, we have already inspired and guided the dying person, to enable giving rise to right Faith. However, that dying person’s power of mind may be weak, not to mention one who usually never recites the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], who will find it not easy to, in continuous succession, recite for long. Even those who all along have recitation of the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] as their Practice, at this moment, should also all rely on other persons’ support. Then are they able to attain benefits.

以故家中眷属,同应发孝顺慈悲之心,为其助念佛号。

Therefore, relatives at home should together give rise to the mind of filial piety, loving-kindness and compassion, and for the dying person, practise support-chanting of the Buddha’s name [Āmítuófó].

若病尚未至将终,当分班念,应分三班,每班限定几人。头班出声念,二三班默持。念一点钟,二班接念,头班、三班默持。

If the sickness has not yet, but will soon end, you should divide into three shifts for recitation, with every shift limited and fixed to a few persons. The first shift recites aloud, while the second and the third shifts recite silently. Having recited for one hour, the second shift continues reciting, while the first and third shifts recite silently.

若有小事,当于默持时办,值班时断断不可走去。二班念毕,三班接念,终而复始。念一点钟,歇两点钟,纵经昼夜,亦不甚辛苦。

If there are minor matters, they should be handled during silent recitation, while the duty shift absolutely must not leave. As the second shift completes reciting, the third shift continues reciting, upon ending, again starting [the cycle]. Reciting for one hour, and resting for two hours, even if passing through day and night, it will also not be extremely exhausting.

须知肯助人净念往生,亦得人助念之报。且莫说是为父母尽孝应如是,即为平人,亦培自己福田,长自己善根。实为自利之道,不徒为人而已。成就一人往生净土,即是成就一众生作佛。此等功德,何可思议?

You should know that if you are willing to support others to have pure mindfulness for rebirth in Pure Land, you will also attain the reward of others’ support-chanting [for you]. Do not ever say that only for expressing filial piety to your father and mother it should be thus, as doing so for common people, also cultivates your field of blessings, and grows your good roots. In reality, this is the path for benefiting oneself, and not for others only. Accomplishing one person’s rebirth in Pure Land is to accomplish one sentient being to become a Buddha. Of this kind of meritorious virtues, how can they be conceivable?

三班相续,佛声不断。病人力能念,则随之小声念。不能念,则摄耳谛听。心无二念,自可与佛相应矣。

With the three shifts in continuous succession, the sound of the Buddha’s name [Āmítuófó] is uninterrupted. If the dying person has the strength to recite, thus can one follow with reciting at a low volume. If not able to recite, thus should one gather in the name through the ears with attentive listening. The mind being without a second thought, one can naturally, with the Buddha correspond.

念佛声不可太高,高则伤气,难以持久。亦不可太低,以致病人听不明白。

The volume, [pitch and tone] of reciting the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] must not be too high, as if too high, it thus harms the breathing, making it difficult to last long. It must also not be too low, with the result of the dying person not being able to hear it clearly.

不可太快,亦不可太慢。太快则病人不能随,即听亦难明了。太慢则气接不上,亦难得益。

It must be neither too fast nor too slow. If too fast, thus will the dying person not be able to follow, and even if heard, it will also be difficult to hear clearly. If too slow, thus will the breathing not be able to connect, also making it difficult to attain benefits.

须不高不低,不缓不急,字字分明,句句清楚。令病者,字字句句,入耳经心,斯易得力。

It must be neither high nor low, neither slow nor fast, with each word distinct, and every line clear. This enables the dying person to receive every word and line through the ears and into the mind, thus making it easy to attain benefits.

念佛法器,惟用引磬。其他一切,概不宜用。引磬声清,听之令人心地清净。木鱼声浊,故不宜用于临终助念。

For Dharma instruments when reciting the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], only use the guiding [hand] bell. All others are not suitable for use. As the guiding bell’s sound is clear, hearing it enables one’s mind-ground to become clear and pure. As the wooden fish’s sound is low and heavy, it is thus not suitable for use in support-chanting when approaching death.

又宜念四字佛号。初起时,念几句六字,以后专念「阿弥陀佛」四字,不念「南无」,以字少易念,病人或随之念,或摄心听,皆省心力。

It is also suitable to recite the four words of the Buddha’s name. At first, recite a few lines of the six words [Námó Āmítuófó], and thereafter focus on reciting the four words ‘Āmítuófó’, not reciting ‘Námó’, as with fewer words, it is easier to recite, for the dying person to either follow with reciting, or gathering in the mind with listening, saving everyone’s mental and physical efforts.

家中眷属如此念,外请善友亦如此念。人多人少,均如此念。不可一起念,歇歇又念,致令病人佛念间断。

Relatives at home should thus recite, and good friends invited from outside should also thus recite. Be there many persons or few persons, all should thus recite. There must not be reciting together, resting for a while, and again reciting, which causes the dying person’s mindfulness of Buddha [Āmítuófó] to be interrupted.

若值饭时,当换班吃,勿断佛声。若病人将欲断气,宜三班同念。

If taking turns for meals, there should be change of shift to eat, to not break the sound of the Buddha’s name [Āmítuófó]. If the dying person is about to end breathing, all in the three shifts should recite together.

直至气断以后,又复分班念三点钟,然后歇气,以便料理安置等事。

Until after the breathing ends, once again divide into shifts to recite for three hours [or more], after that stopping for a rest [if needed], so as to arrange resettlement and other matters.

当念佛时,不得令亲友来病人前,问讯谕慰。

When reciting the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], do not let relatives and friends come before the dying person, to [greet], make inquires or console.

既感情来看,当随念佛若干时,是为真实情爱,有益于病人。

Even the affectionate who come to visit should follow reciting of the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] for some time, for this is true love, that is beneficial to the dying person.

若用世间俗情,直是推人下海。其情虽可感,其事甚可痛。

If expressing worldly common emotions, this directly pushes the person down into the sea of suffering. Although such emotions might be touching, such matters are extremely painful [and distressing].

全在主事者明道理,预令人说之,免致有碍面情,及贻害病人,由分心而不得往生耳。

It all depends on those in charge to understand these principles, and explain them to all in advance, to avoid causing obstruction of feelings [being expressed], and harm of the dying person, whom due to the mind being distracted, thus does not attain rebirth in Pure Land.

English text © Shen Shi’an (Recirculation with permission via purelanders.com/contact)

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