Purelander A: Dear Brother Shi’an, I wish to share this joy with you. Remember when I emailed to ask if my faith in Amituofo (Amitabha Buddha) is enough? (See http://purelanders.com/2016/11/19/do-i-have-enough-faith-in-amituofo) You advised me to extend my Nianfo practice sessions with more sincerity. I followed your instructions and experienced the following. I realised that Faith really increases with more sincere Nianfo. Sincerity is really key.
Shi’an: Exactly! Most Pure Land practitioners already have the Three Provisions (Faith, Aspiration and Practice) to some extent. What might be missing is more sincerity in practice after learning – to bind the provisions together, to strengthen and express them – so as to experience the true benefits of Nianfo more clearly. Experiencing these benefits thus increases Faith to make it unshakeable.
Purelander A: With thoughts in terms of the time of departure in the future, I could not let go of attachment to my family members in the midst of Nianfo. So I persevered and prayed to Amituofo, to help me overcome this distraction, which disturbed me for a few days. I could even feel it really ‘blocking’ my motivation to Nianfo well. I just persevered though it was tough. But it finally clicked when I continued to extend my Nianfo session as sincerely as I could.
I realised that Amituofo WILL not only compassionately take care of the departing when it is time to go, but he WILL also take care of the person’s family then. He does this by helping the deceased to manifest auspicious signs, such as having a clearly peaceful and blissful smile on the face, sometimes with extraordinary fragrance in the room and more, as shared during your lessons.
Amituofo can simply receive and guide the departing to his Pure Land directly, but through these auspicious signs, he compassionately assures the family members that the person is in his good hands. It is also a way to encourage family members to generate wisdom to Nianfo with Faith. When the departing know the family is assured, the departing will also be assured. Amituofo is indeed compassionate!
This is like the testimonial of how a couple guided their unborn baby to reach Pure Land: http://purelanders.com/2016/07/27/how-we-guided-our-baby-to-amituofos-pure-land One auspicious sign was that the Mother could hear mass Nianfo. Amituofo could had simply fetched the baby without manifesting such signs. But they helped to assure that the baby is well taken care of, at the same time increasing Faith in the couple to continue their sincere Nianfo.
To add, with reference to ‘The Pure Land Passport: The Three Essentials When Approaching Death‘ page 30, as Great Master Yinguang taught, ‘your one thought’s true nature, is originally without death’ (一念真性，本无有死). Actually, we all do not need to go through death and rebirth if we can realise the true nature of all things, including our Buddha-nature. However, since we are still stuck in Samsara in this Dharma-Ending Age, we should rely on Amituofo’s teachings to use Nianfo to align to our Buddha-nature, and realise it fully in his Pure Land.
With reference to page 33, ‘it is only with deep and heavy delusions and negative karma, that we do not attain use of it [true nature; Buddha-nature]’ (但以惑业深重，不得受用). It is only right, and our responsibility to guide our family and friends to see that though we are heavily deluded, we all have Buddha-nature. During this lifetime, we may use words and actions to guide them, but due to many disadvantageous conditions in this Dharma-Ending Age, they may not be convinced. However, we can still practise Nianfo well, to, with Amituofo’s skilful assistance, manifest auspicious signs to inspire them that what we shared is true. Having reached Pure Land, with Amituofo’s further guidance, we will be much more competent in continuing to convince them.
Shi’an: Yes indeed! The way we can really take care of our family when we have to depart (since no one can live forever here) is to ensure that we Nianfo sincerely to reach Pure Land, wherein we will be able to train well and keep track of them, to know how to best guide them also to Pure Land.
This is versus not practising Nianfo sincerely and thus not reaching Pure Land, only to drift around in Samsara karmically, while forgetting all the Dharma learnt, along with all past life connections, which makes it impossible to really take care of family members with the Dharma.
Our good personal practice will inspire family members to have confidence in the power of Nianfo, which will encourage them to also practise Nianfo to reach Pure Land, where liberation is guaranteed. What better way is there to take care of our family in the long run? We must not be short-sighted by hankering over this life’s minor issues, lest we forget the big picture of helping all our past lives’ family members (who are all beings) in the most efficient way.
Purelander A: I learned that we must build our Faith on Amituofo’s great compassion and wisdom. Nianfo sessions can sometimes be mental marathons when we need to overcome distractions. However, with sincerity, there will be perseverance that leads to successful practice. Thank you, Brother Shi’an, for your advice in the last email. It worked! Amituofo.