Question: Since last minute support-chanting can be effective, why do we need to practise chanting in everyday life?
Answer: The short answer is that last minute support-chanting is not always effective. Here is the detailed answer… The Three Provisions of Faith, Aspiration and Practice to be born in Pure Land are best personally cultivated well in everyday life because:
. Even when we have good Pure Land practitioner friends, we might lack the karmic conditions for them to be around when we are on our deathbeds to assist in support-chanting. For example, one might be dying alone in a foreign land, or one might have a sudden death.
. Even when we have good Pure Land practitioner friends, who arrive in time to do support-chanting, as long as one’s Three Provisions are in lack, due to not having cultivated them well in everyday life, birth in Pure Land is not possible. Or they might not be nurtured in time. The dying process might also be too painfully distracting to cultivate well at the last minute, due to lack of regular practice.
Those who seem to be able to ‘easily’ have blissful rebirths at the last minute with support-chanting actually have enough good roots, merits and karmic affinity. They too needed to diligently cultivate the Three Provisions adequately and in time. Support-chanting is thus not an guaranteed shortcut that appears out of nowhere. It is possible and effective only when the above conditions are available.
To summarise, we should always assume we might not have a single support-chanting friend present at our deathbed, which is why we should diligently strengthen the Three Provisions in everyday life to increase our ‘chances’, until we are 100 percent confident that we can reach Pure Land even without support-chanting. Support-chanting should be seen merely as an optional back-up that might be or not be there. We are always our own immediate support-chanters! In the mean time, it makes great sense to be one another’s support-chanters via group practice. The truth is, we are all already dying, inching towards death as we speak! Group practice is a great way to motivate one another to practise diligently.