Second, everyone should take shifts to recite the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], so as to support pure mindfulness.
Before, we have already inspired and guided the dying person, to enable giving rise to right Faith. However, that dying person’s power of mind may be weak, not to mention one who usually never recites the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], who will find it not easy to, in continuous succession, recite for long. Even those who all along have recitation of the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] as their Practice, at this moment, should also all rely on other persons’ support. Then are they able to attain benefits.
Therefore, relatives at home should together give rise to the mind of filial piety, loving-kindness and compassion, and for the dying person, practise support-chanting of the Buddha’s name [Āmítuófó].
If the sickness has not yet, but will soon end, you should divide into three shifts for recitation, with every shift limited and fixed to a few persons. The first shift recites aloud, while the second and the third shifts recite silently. Having recited for one hour, the second shift continues reciting, while the first and third shifts recite silently.
If there are minor matters, they should be handled during silent recitation, while the duty shift absolutely must not leave. As the second shift completes reciting, the third shift continues reciting, upon ending, again starting [the cycle]. Reciting for one hour, and resting for two hours, even if passing through day and night, it will also not be extremely exhausting.
You should know that if you are willing to support others to have pure mindfulness for rebirth in Pure Land, you will also attain the reward of others’ support-chanting [for you]. Do not ever say that only for expressing filial piety to your father and mother it should be thus, as doing so for common people, also cultivates your field of blessings, and grows your good roots. In reality, this is the path for benefiting oneself, and not for others only. Accomplishing one person’s rebirth in Pure Land is to accomplish one sentient being to become a Buddha. Of this kind of meritorious virtues, how can they be conceivable?
With the three shifts in continuous succession, the sound of the Buddha’s name [Āmítuófó] is uninterrupted. If the dying person has the strength to recite, thus can one follow with reciting at a low volume. If not able to recite, thus should one gather in the name through the ears with attentive listening. The mind being without a second thought, one can naturally, with the Buddha correspond.
The volume, [pitch and tone] of reciting the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] must not be too high, as if too high, it thus harms the breathing, making it difficult to last long. It must also not be too low, with the result of the dying person not being able to hear it clearly.
It must be neither too fast nor too slow. If too fast, thus will the dying person not be able to follow, and even if heard, it will also be difficult to hear clearly. If too slow, thus will the breathing not be able to connect, also making it difficult to attain benefits.
It must be neither high nor low, neither slow nor fast, with each word distinct, and every line clear. This enables the dying person to receive every word and line through the ears and into the mind, thus making it easy to attain benefits.
For Dharma instruments when reciting the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], only use the guiding [hand] bell. All others are not suitable for use. As the guiding bell’s sound is clear, hearing it enables one’s mind-ground to become clear and pure. As the wooden fish’s sound is low and heavy, it is thus not suitable for use in support-chanting when approaching death.
It is also suitable to recite the four words of the Buddha’s name. At first, recite a few lines of the six words [Námó Āmítuófó], and thereafter focus on reciting the four words ‘Āmítuófó’, not reciting ‘Námó’, as with fewer words, it is easier to recite, for the dying person to either follow with reciting, or gathering in the mind with listening, saving everyone’s mental and physical efforts.
Relatives at home should thus recite, and good friends invited from outside should also thus recite. Be there many persons or few persons, all should thus recite. There must not be reciting together, resting for a while, and again reciting, which causes the dying person’s mindfulness of Buddha [Āmítuófó] to be interrupted.
If taking turns for meals, there should be change of shift to eat, to not break the sound of the Buddha’s name [Āmítuófó]. If the dying person is about to end breathing, all in the three shifts should recite together.
Until after the breathing ends, once again divide into shifts to recite for three hours [or more], after that stopping for a rest [if needed], so as to arrange resettlement and other matters.
When reciting the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], do not let relatives and friends come before the dying person, to [greet], make inquires or console.
Even the affectionate who come to visit should follow reciting of the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] for some time, for this is true love, that is beneficial to the dying person.
If expressing worldly common emotions, this directly pushes the person down into the sea of suffering. Although such emotions might be touching, such matters are extremely painful [and distressing].
It all depends on those in charge to understand these principles, and explain them to all in advance, to avoid causing obstruction of feelings [being expressed], and harm of the dying person, whom due to the mind being distracted, thus does not attain rebirth in Pure Land.
English text © Shen Shi’an (Recirculation with permission via purelanders.com/contact)