My parents lived in Australia and they did not believe in Buddhadharma. When I first started to study Buddhadharma, I also exhorted my family to study, my mother and younger sister followed with me, and they became vegetarians and started to recite the Buddha’s name, however, my father still insisted that we were being superstitious, and he even obstructed my cultivation.
One day, my parents and younger sister had a car accident when they were driving. The accident was quite serious, the whole car was almost wrecked, and my father went into coma and bled a lot, however, my mother and younger sister remained safe and sound. After this experience, mother and sister gained more faith in the Buddhadharma, while my father was sick in bed and could not walk, but he had a strong belief that his body would recover as wholesome as before, and he could walk freely, therefore, he asked many good doctors to treat him, but all efforts went in vain, his physical health did not get any better. Because of this, he lose his temper all the times, which made my mother afflicted a lot, therefore I went back to Australia to visit them.
After I got home, I explained to my father the truth of “birth, old age, sickness, death, and other Buddhadharma. I told him, ‘you have already gone through the suffering of birth and old age,now you are undergoing the suffering of sickness, and the last one would be the suffering of death.’ I explained Buddhadharma to him everyday, so he started to gain a bit of faith, he told me that one day when he was lying in bed, he saw his room caught on a heavy fire, but strange indeed was that there were some fish amid the fire, he hurried to call my mother in, however when my mother came, she saw nothing. My father asked me what did that mean, I told him my personal view ‘Our physical body is like the house we are living in, now the house is on fire, it means that your body is being broken down; as for the fish, when did you see a fish with closed eyes? Fish always keep their eyes open, which means that you should wake up soon, don’t get attached and confused any more. You really had a lot of blessings, since Buddhas and Bodhisattvas showed you these in order to make you wake up soon! You body condition is getting down soon, do not get attached to it any longer.’ From this on, my father changed to a vegetarian diet and started to recite the Buddha’s name.
Half a year before my father’s rebirth, my elder sister visited him once. She is a filial daughter with a kind heart, but being a Catholic, she believes animals are created to be eaten by human, as long as humans are kind. So when she found that our father was sick, weak, and on a veggie diet, she was worried that our father did not get enough nutrition. Therefore, she explained her concern to father, and asked him whether she could cook meat for him. He took her advice at once, and was happy that he could eat meat again. So one thing led to another, and he could not stop, later on he even desired to eat pig’s feet every day. My mother called me and asked me to talk to my father, over the phone, I just said a few words to him, ‘Dad, if you eat other beings’ feet now, in the future, other beings will eat your feet.’ One week later, my mom called me again and told me that my father had returned to a vegetarian diet.
Two months before my father’s rebirth, he could not fall asleep every night. It seemed that he kept talking to someone, getting angry and yelling. Therefore, I went back again to Australia to visit him. I asked him why he could not sleep. He said that some beings came to bother him every night, and none of them had feet. I realized at once that they were his enemies and debtees. I told him, “It is because you ate others’ feet in the past, now they all came back to you.” Then I asked him, ‘How did you treat them?’ He said, ‘I am not afraid of them, I never did a single evil thing or harm a single person in my life, therefore I do not need be afraid of them, if they come, I will fight with them!’ I advised him not behave like that, because those ghost beings are in great suffering, without blessings, they have no opportunities of encountering Buddhadharma, that is why we should be compassionate with them. I said, ‘If they come again tonight, you apologize to them, and tell them because you did not understand principles, you harmed them, now you are seeking forgiveness from them. Also you can tell them to recite the Buddha’s name, so that they can seek rebirth, and end birth and death. You yourself also have to recite the Buddha’s name on behalf of them, recite Amitabha Buddha.’ The next morning, I asked father whether they came or not and how was it. He said they did come, and he addressed them as I taught, then he recited the Buddha’s name on their behalf, and they did not disturb him any longer. They stood there listening to the Buddha’s name. After that, they left.
A week before my father’s rebirth, one day, it looked like he was dying, therefore, my mother and younger sister started to recite the Buddha’s name. After a whole day, my father is still alive. Suddenly, my younger sister smelt fragrant incense, which lasts for about five minutes. At that time, she understood that she need offer incense. Therefore, she asked mother to bring an incensory for her to lit incense, wishing the Buddha could come to welcome father and his enemies and debtees into Pure Land. [< This is optional.] After making the incense offering, they continued reciting the Buddha’s name. At that time, my younger sister heard other voices around them, a lot of melodic voices resound in the air, reciting the Buddha’s name. My younger sister said that upon hearing these wonderful sounds, she felt very pure and clear in heart. One week later, my father passed away. His mind was quite clear when he was dying, but he already put down everything, his wife, children, and houses. His only wish was to follow the Buddha and he was ready. He passed away very peacefully. His face looked ruddy and pleasant, and even had a smile on it. His body was also very soft. Some people who came to assist reciting the Buddha’s name even smelt fragrant incense.
Forty-nine days after my father’s rebirth, one day when my son Mingguang was in sleep, he felt someone nudging his elbows in his dream, when he opened eyes, he saw his grandfather. Mingguang said that his grandfather did not look like before, since his grandfather had the appearance of a Bhikkhu (Buddhist monk), with hair already being shaved, a very fresh and smooth face without any wrinkle, wearing a bright orange sash, smiling happily. Mingguang asked him, ‘Grandpa, how come you are here?’ His grandpa answered, smiling, ‘I came to tell you, I have already followed with Amitabha and been reborn in the Pure Land. Mingguang, you should vigorously recite Buddha’s name, and follow with Amitabha Buddha.’
By Guo Xuan Lee (translated by Yuan Hua Li)
Must Pure Land Practitioners be Vegetarian?