First, skilfully inspire, guide and console the dying person, to enable giving rise to right Faith.
You must urge the dying person, to let go of attachment to everything [worldly], and wholeheartedly [single-mindedly] recite the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó]. If there are matters that should be accounted for, swiftly account for them. After accounting for them, thus set them aside from consideration, and immediately contemplate, ‘I am now going to follow the Buddha [Āmítuófó] to be reborn in his Buddha Land. All the pleasures from wealth, relatives, and various conditions of dust [sense objects] in this world, are all obstacles, which cause the receiving of misfortune and harm. Therefore, I should not give rise to a thought of binding attachment to them.’
You should know that your one thought’s true nature, is originally without death. What said to be death, is then the renouncing of this body, to yet again receive another kind of body only. If not reciting the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], thus following the power of good or evil karma, you will again receive birth within a good or evil realm.
If, when approaching the end of life, you are to wholeheartedly [single-mindedly] recite ‘Námó Āmítuófó’ [Homage to (and refuge for life) in Amitā(bha) Buddha], with this mind of sincere Aspiration that recites the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], you will definitely receive response from the Buddha, who will express great loving-kindness and compassion, personally approaching to receive and guide you, to enable attainment of rebirth in his Pure Land.
Further, do not ever doubt that, ‘As I am an ordinary being bound by the power of negative karma, how am I able to, with a short duration of time reciting the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], thus be able to renounce birth and death, and be reborn in his Western Pure Land?’
You should know that the Buddha has great loving-kindness and compassion. Even for those with extremely heavy transgressions, who have done the Ten Evil Deeds [killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, slander, harsh speech, useless speech, covetousness, ill will, false views] and Five Heinous Transgressions [killing father, killing mother, killing Arhat, causing Buddha to bleed, causing schism in Saṅgha], when approaching death with forms of the hells already appearing, if there are good-knowing friends who teach them to recite the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], be it with recitation for ten times, or only one time, they will also attain the Buddha’s receiving and guiding, to be reborn in his Western Pure Land. If these kinds of persons who recite these few lines, are still able to attain rebirth there, again why give rise to doubt of birth there, with the power of negative karma being heavy, and recitation of the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] for a small number of times?
You should know that we are originally complete with true nature, that is without difference from the Buddhas’. It is only with deep and heavy delusions and negative karma, that we do not attain use of it. Now, since we have taken refuge for life in [Amitā(bha)] Buddha [Āmítuófó], like children going to our father, this is returning to the homeland that we originally have. How can we not have a part in this matter?
Moreover, in the past, [Amitā(bha)] Buddha made the vow that, ‘If there are sentient beings, who [mindfully] hear my name [Āmítuófó], sincerely with joyful Faith, even if for ten [thoughts of] mindfulness, if [they are] not born [in my Pure Land, I shall] not attain right awakening [Buddhahood].’
Therefore, for all sentient beings, when approaching death, who give rise to the mind of utmost sincerity, to recite the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], for seeking birth in his Western Pure Land, there is no one will he not approach with loving-kindness to receive and guide. Do not ever doubt this, as doubt will harm oneself, and this misfortune is not small.
Moreover, to depart from this suffering world, and to be born in that Land Of Bliss, is ultimately the happiest of matters, which we should give rise to rejoice for.
Do not ever be fearful of death, as fearing death thus, you are still not able to not die, instead causing you to not have a part in being born in the Western Pure Land. With one’s mind and the Buddha going against each other thus, the Buddha, although complete with great compassion, also cannot help sentient beings who do not rely on the Buddha’s teachings.
Amitā[bha] Buddha’s great name [Āmítuófó] of ten thousand virtues, is like a great smelting furnace. Our karmic transgressions of many lives, are like snowflakes in the sky. Ordinary beings bound by the power of negative karma, with recitation of the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] thus, their negative karma is then eradicated, like snowflakes nearing a great furnace melting, immediately ending, becoming unattainable. Moreover, since the power of negative karma is eradicated, all good roots naturally increase to be the most excellent, again why doubt that you cannot attain birth, and that the Buddha will not come to receive and guide you?
Thus, from the beginning to the end, skilfully inspire, guide and console, and the dying person can naturally give rise to the mind of right Faith. These are all for inspiring and guiding the dying person. As for what you should do to express filial piety with utmost sincerity, it is also only in this way.
You must not follow common emotions, to seek gods and ask doctors [for cures]. When your lifespan is about to exhaust, how can ghosts, gods and medicines of doctors enable you not to die? Since emotions are laboured upon these kinds of matters without benefits, thus for the one matter of reciting the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], you will then be scattered in your sincerity, and not receive response with connection.
For many people, when their fathers and mothers are approaching death, they will not spare their wealth for inviting many doctors to visit them. This is named ‘selling of filial piety’, desiring worldly people to call them to be, for their fathers and mothers, able to express filial piety, not knowing that the heavens’ and earth’s ghosts and gods, can truly examine their minds. Thus, for all fathers’ and mothers’ funeral, burial and other matters, with excessive planning and preparation, if there are no natural disasters, there will be man-made misfortune. As children, we should emphasise on the attainment of settlement for our parents’ consciousnesses. Those whom the worldly praise, are certainly not worth a smile from those who see things clearly. Moreover, with extreme intention to seek recognition, they will truly suffer from this great mistake of being not filial.
English text © Shen Shi’an (Recirculation with permission via purelanders.com/contact)