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The Three Great Essentials When Approaching Death | 临终三大要 (Pure Land Passport Section 3A)

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净土宗十三祖印光大师
The Pure Land Tradition’s
13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng

世间最可惨者,莫甚于死。而且举世之人,无一能幸免者。以故有心欲自利利人者,不可不早为之计虑也。

In this world, the most tragic, with nothing more so, is death. Moreover, of everyone throughout this world, no one is able to fortunately avoid it. Therefore, those with the desire to benefit oneself and benefit others, must not delay planning and consideration for it.

实则死之一字,原是假名,以宿生所感一期之报尽,故舍此身躯,复受别种身躯耳。不知佛法者,直是无法可设,只可任彼随业流转。

In reality, however, this one word of ‘death’, is originally a false name [for conventional use], with past lives’ effects for one lifetime’s retribution having exhausted, thus renouncing this body, to again receive another kind of body only. Those who do not know the Buddha’s teachings, simply have no way to prepare for it, and can only follow their karma to be reborn.

今既得闻如来普度众生之净土法门,固当信愿念佛,预备往生资粮,以期免生死轮迴之幻苦,证涅槃常住之真乐。

Now, since we have heard of the Tathāgata’s [Śākyamuni Buddha] Pure Land Dharma door [Buddhist Practice], that universally delivers sentient beings, we should resolutely, with Faith and Aspiration [Vow], recite the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], to prepare the [Three] Provisions for rebirth in his Pure Land, so as to avoid the illusory suffering in the cycle of birth and death, and to realise the true bliss of eternal Nirvāṇa [Buddhahood].

其有父母兄弟,及诸眷属,若得重病,势难痊癒者,宜发孝顺慈悲之心,劝彼念佛求生西方,并为助念。俾病者由此死已,即生净土。其为利益,何能名焉?

If you have fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and all relatives, with serious sicknesses, the conditions of which are difficult for full healing, you should give rise to the mind of filial piety, loving-kindness and compassion, to urge them to recite the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] for seeking birth in his Western Pure Land, also offering support-chanting. Enabling dying persons to die thus, they can be immediately born in Pure Land. Of its benefits, how can they be named?

今列三要,以为成就临终人往生之据。语虽鄙俚,意本佛经。遇此因缘,悉举行焉。

Now to be stated are Three Essentials, as guidelines for those approaching death to accomplish rebirth in Pure Land. Although these words seem mediocre and coarse, their principles are originally from the Buddha’s sūtras. Having encountered these causes and conditions, may all put them into practice.

这三要者:
These Three Essentials are:

第一,善巧开导安慰,令生正信。

First, skilfully inspire, guide and console the dying person, to enable giving rise to right Faith.

第二,大家换班念佛,以助净念。

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

第三,切戒搬动哭泣,以防误事。

Third, you must avoid [touching or] moving the body and crying, so as to prevent bungling the matter [of reaching Pure Land].

果能依此三法以行,决定可以消除宿业,增长净因,蒙佛接引,往生西方。

If able to rely on these three teachings in practice, one can definitely eradicate past negative karma, increase causes for birth in Pure Land, and attain the Buddha’s [Āmítuófó] receiving and guiding, for rebirth in his Western Pure Land.

一得往生,则超凡入圣,了生脱死,渐渐进修,必至圆成佛果而后已。

Once attaining rebirth there, one thus transcends the ordinary and enters the realm of sages, attaining liberation from birth and death, gradually progressing in cultivation, with certainty, until then perfectly accomplishing the fruit of Buddhahood.

如此利益,全仗眷属助念之力。能如是行,于父母,则为真孝。于兄弟、姐妹,则为真弟。于儿女,则为真慈。于朋友、于平人,则为真义、真惠。

Such benefits, all rely on the power of relatives’ support-chanting. Able to thus practise, for your fathers and mothers, it is thus true filial piety. For brothers and sisters, it is thus true brotherhood and sisterhood. For sons and daughters, it is thus true loving-kindness. For friends and for common people, it is thus true righteousness and true kindness.

以此培自已之净因,启同人之信向。久而之之,何难相习成风乎哉。今为一一条陈,庶不至临时无所适从耳。

With these, cultivate your own causes for birth in Pure Land, and inspire those of same conviction in Faith. Gradually, with what difficulty, with one another familiar, will it not become a common practice? Now, for the essentials, they are presented one by one, so that you need not, at the critical moment, not know what to follow.

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

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