Third, you must avoid [touching or] moving the body and crying, so as to prevent bungling the matter [of reaching Pure Land].
When the dying person’s life is about to end, this is precisely the time that decides rebirth as an ordinary being, sage [in Pure Land], human or ghost. With one thousand jūns [fifteen thousand kilograms] hanging by a single hair, it is the most critical moment. You can only recite the Buddha’s name [Āmítuófó], to inspire and guide that person’s consciousness.
You absolutely must not bathe the person, change the clothes, or move the resting place. Let whatever that person’s sitting or lying position be, only adapting to its conditions. You must not move the person even slightly, also not face to face give rise to forms of sorrow, or even cry. As at this moment, the body is not in personal control, with one [touch or] movement thus, the hands, legs and body all receive the pain of bending, breaking, twisting and cracking. This pain thus gives rise to the mind of anger, and mindfulness of Buddha [Āmítuófó] will cease.
If following the mind of anger when departing, many fall to be reborn as poisonous beings. How extremely horrifying! If seeing sorrowful crying, thus will the mind of passionate attachment arise, and mindfulness of Buddha [Āmítuófó] then cease. Following the mind of passionate attachment when departing, is with the result of not attaining liberation, life after life.
At this moment, of the greatest attainable benefits, nothing is more beneficial than to wholeheartedly [single-mindedly] recite the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó]. Of the greatest harms, nothing is more harmful than to rashly [touch or] move the body, and to cry. If rashly [touching or] moving and crying, this can cause the rise of anger and hatred, and the mind of passionate attachment. Thus desiring to be born in the Western Pure Land, of ten thousand such persons, not even one can.
Moreover, when a person is about to die, if the body warmth, from the below reaches the above, this is a sign of rise to a higher rebirth. If from the above reaches the below, this is a sign of fall to a lower rebirth.
Thus is there the saying that, ‘From the crown to be sages and from the eyes to be heavenly beings [gods] born, to be humans from the heart and hungry ghosts from the belly, to be animals from the kneecaps they depart, to be hell-beings from soles of the feet they exit.’
If everyone, with utmost sincerity, practises support-chanting, the dying person can naturally and straightaway be reborn in the Western Pure Land. You must not time and again explore [for the last warm area]. As a result, the consciousness yet to depart, due to this, might become upset. With the mind giving rise to afflictions and pain, this causes rebirth in Pure Land not to be attained. Such transgressions and misgivings, in reality, are immeasurable and boundless.
I hope all relatives and friends, will each sincerely recite the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], with no need to explore for that warm area, where the body last turns cold. As children, being careful about this, is thus true filial piety.
If you follow various worldly common emotions, you are not hesitating to push your parents down into the sea of suffering. For inviting those who are similarly ignorant and without knowledge, rallying a crowd to praise you for being able to express filial piety, such ‘filial piety’ and female rākṣasaḥs’ ‘love’ are precisely the same.
A sūtra says, ‘Female rākṣasaḥs [violent demonesses] who eat humans say, “As I ‘love’ you, thus am I eating you.”’ Of those ignorant persons’ practice of ‘filial piety’, that causes their parents to lose [opportunities to attain] bliss, and to instead attain suffering, how is this not the same as female rākṣasaḥs’ ‘love’ towards humans?
I, writing these words, am not being distant from human emotions, as I desire everyone to each emphasise on what is practical, with certain hope that the deceased [and dying] can be reborn in Pure Land, and that the living can attain blessings. In order to fulfil total and absolute sincerity of filial children and virtuous grandchildren for beloved ones, unwittingly, these words might seem sharp. Those who truly love their parents will definitely be able to understand this.
For those of ‘from the crown to be sages and from the eyes to be heavenly beings born’, this is to say that when the person’s breathing has already ended, and the whole body is fully cold, with only the crown of the head warm, thus has one definitely transcended the ordinary and entered the realm of sages [in Pure Land], having attained liberation from birth and death.
For those of ‘from the eyes to be heavenly beings born’, if the eyes and forehead are the only warm areas, thus is there birth in the heavenly realm. If the heart is the only warm area, thus is there birth in the human realm. If the belly is the only warm area, thus is there birth in the hungry ghost realm. If the kneecaps are the only warm areas, thus is there birth in the animal realm. If soles of the feet are the only warm areas, thus is there birth in the hell realm.
This is due to the person, when living, his or her created good and evil, with these two kinds of karma, here manifesting as such, not what can be forcibly falsified.
At this moment, if the dying person is able to, with sincere Aspiration, recite the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó], further added with the power of relatives’ and good friends’ support-chanting, one definitely can bring one’s negative karma along to be reborn in Pure Land, to transcend the ordinary and enter the realm of sages.
There is no need to focus on the matter of confirmation by exploration and examination, with the result of bungling the matter [of reaching Pure Land]. This is my utmost sincere exhortation and utmost sincere request!
English text © Shen Shi’an (Recirculation with permission via purelanders.com/contact)