My mother was gravely ill in the Intensive Care Unit for 25 days. On the 2nd of May 2009, we decided to bring her home for her last breaths. Fifteen minutes after arriving home, she passed away at 6:45pm. We were chanting Amituofo from the moment she got home and continued for slightly more than eight hours after she died. The amazing thing was that halfway through the eight hours, my brother, a family friend and I all noticed that my mother’s facial expression had transformed from sheer agony and discomfort to one that was calm, composed, tranquil and smiling.
After we had completed our Amituofo chants, it was already 2:50 in the morning. Our next task was to clean my mother’s body with sandalwood water. To our surprise, her entire body remained soft even after nine and a half hours. It was not difficult cleaning and dressing her at all. I was told by an undertaker that a body would usually harden and stiffen after eight hours.
On the next day in the evening, six Venerables from Kong Meng San came to my house to recite the Ksitigarbha Sutra (Dizang Jing). The chanting was divine and almost musical. I was very sure I heard heavenly music throughout the session. At one stage, I even stretched my neck to see if they were playing back some prerecorded music. I can’t quite distinguish the type of musical instrument I heard but it sounded like an organ but not exactly like it. I wish to add that my wife who was not a fan of Buddhist chants was so impressed by what she heard that she even liked it and wanted to have it recorded.
A week later on the first seventh day, I invited the same group of Venerables to my place again to recite the same sutra. I was looking forward to enjoying the session all over again. This time though, I couldn’t have been more disappointed. As hard as I strained my ears to listen in anticipation, there was absolutely no accompanying music. I was a little puzzled by the difference. My disappointment was later replaced by the thought that on the second night, my mother could have started embarking on her journey to the Pureland. Heavenly deities were probably present then, which also explained the music I heard.
About thirteen days after my mother’s demise, I had a dream about her. In it, my mother who appeared extremely calm and at peace came home and surprised all of us. In the dream, my two brothers who had just planted joss sticks at my mother’s altar were visible and pleasantly shocked to see her in the room with me. We were all very happy to know that she had recovered completely from her illness and her death as well!
My mother was not a religious person and, like myself, she did not know much about Buddhism. I’m very glad I had the opportunity and the karmic affinity to complete the six-week Amituofo course conducted by Shen Shi’an. (Next course, now with 10 lessons: http://thedailyenlightenment.com/?s=+Understanding+Amituofo+Via+The+Amitabha+Sutra+run) I learnt about the ‘shortcut’ to enlightenment by way of seeking birth in Amituofo’s Western Pureland, but I knew I was fighting against time.
Concurrently, in the seven weeks leading to my mother’s passing, I seized every opportunity I had to share the salient points with her on how to get to the Pureland. I also arranged for my mother to take the Three Refuges while she was in the hospital. In addition, I narrowed my nightly chanting by my mother’s bedside from a repertoire of five mantras to single-mindedly reciting just the name of Amituofo. I honestly feel that my mother had made it to the Pureland and I’m very thankful to the tremendous support and guidance I received from Shi’an as well as many Venerables and staff at KMSPKS.