Hello Brother Shi’an and all Purelander brothers and sisters, we would like to share our experience of how the magnificent Pure Land Passport (http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2015/12/apply-for-the-pure-land-passport-here) successfully helped our recently deceased Dharma Brother M with an auspicious outcome.
We had known Brother M for slightly over a year. He was relatively new to the Dharma, as introduced to him by his Uncle and Aunt, who are also our Dharma friends. Brother M was a chatty and jovial person, well liked by many of us because of his gentle and humorous nature. We last saw him in our weekly Saturday afternoon Dharma class. As always, we chatted during the breaks and after class.
Brother M’s Passing
However, on Wednesday (17 August 2016), we received a message from his Uncle that he had passed away on Tuesday. He urged us to pray for his good rebirth. Naturally, everyone was shocked and puzzled, wondering what had happened. After further messaging, we realised that he had an asthma attack at home, but did not survive the journey to the hospital, passing away in the ambulance. He was around 40 years old.
Interestingly, one week before, he mentioned to his Uncle and Aunt of his wish to be born in Amituofo’s Pure Land. They were puzzled by his statement but did not take much notice. Could this be a hint that he knew he was passing soon? No one knew, but it seems to show he had Faith and Aspiration to reach Pure Land. If so, all left that was needed was the Third and final provision of Practice of Nianfo, to be wholeheartedly mindful of Amituofo’s name.
Brother M’s Wake
With the news known in the morning, we (Shan, Serene and Eunice) immediately arranged to meet after work, intending to provide support-chanting (Zhunian) at his wake, while Serene relayed this intention to his Aunt. Briefly, we informed Brother Shi’an about the incident and with your kindness, we received some pointers on what to do, such as application of the guidelines in the Pure Land Passport: https://purelanders.com/passport
As planned, the three of us met at the subway station near the wake. We were pleasantly surprised to bump into some of our Dharma brothers and sisters also on their way there. Together, we all proceeded. Upon reaching, we saw a few more brothers and sisters already there. Together, there were 10 of us.
We formally greeted Brother M’s parents and went to look at him in the casket. We learnt that his body had just arrived at the wake as it was held by the hospital for the coroner. The parents had an argument earlier over the funeral rites. The Father wanted to immediately cremate and scatter the ashes into the sea, while the Mother insisted on having a proper and respectful wake. We could see that the family was very stressed, exhausted and frustrated over the unfortunate and sudden loss.
Zhunian For Brother M
As we walked around the casket, we could see that Brother M’s facial expression was normal, as in expressionless. After we had paid our respects, we sought his parents’ permission to do Zhunian, and they gratefully obliged. We also asked our Dharma brothers and sisters present if they would like to join us, to which they agreed, even though they did not know what it was about.
Without further delay, we briefed everyone on what we were about to do, as listed in the steps at https://purelanders.com/2016/07/19/what-should-be-chanted-during-after-a-funeral, showing them the relevant pages in the Pure Land Passport, which they eagerly took pictures of with their phones. Once everyone was ready, we arranged our seats near the casket and began the Zhunian, which lasted for an hour, with the main focus dedicated to Nianfo. The parents did not join in as they had to attend to visitors at the wake.
After the Zhunian, we rested at the void deck, taking the opportunity to share more with the group on the Pure Land teachings by Brother Shi’an, and what the Pure Land Passport is about. We could see that they were curious about how we knew what to do for Zhunian, and were very keen to listen to our sharing.
Brother M’s Prominent Smile
When it got late, we decided to make a move. We thought we should see Brother M one last time. While we went to the casket, we saw an amazing expression on his face… Brother M was smiling. The smile was very prominent, with the sides of his mouth and eyes upwards. We could not believe what we saw and quickly informed his Father. Immediately, he rushed in, faced Brother M and told him to listen to no one except him reciting Amituofo. We were surprised as he recited very loudly at the casket. Quietly, we left them alone as took our leave.
A copy of the Pure Land Passport was passed to the Aunt with pages marked, so that the family can continue with their Zhunian self-sufficiently for the coming days. The next day, the Aunt informed us that his facial expression is still the same – smiling. Up till the final day, of cremation, even the undertaker noticed how peaceful Brother M looked, commenting on his prominent smile. Everyone was pleasantly surprised that his smile lasted for 3 days, all the way. Everything went very smoothly for the family after the Zhunian, as compared with before.
Progressively, we offered more moral support to the family by giving them advice, encouraging them to continue Zhunian throughout the 49 days. We could see that the family was very grateful for our efforts, and were diligent in their Zhunian as on and off, they would message us for advice.
A Wonderful Experience
It was truly a wonderful experience, to see the sincerity expressed by our Dharma brothers and sisters during the Zhunian. It was also wonderful to be able to have the 10-minute ‘crash course’ to share the Pure Land teachings with them. The family’s faithful continual Zhunian by themselves throughout the 49 days was also wonderful!
As how Serene beautifully put it, ‘It’s really really amazing, how it works with practice of mindfulness of Amituofo (Nianfo). It is easy to make a living person smile, but to make the deceased smile too, is tremendously wonderful.’ Truly well said indeed!
This is the greatness of connecting to the Other-Power of Amitabha Buddha’s (Amituofo) great compassionate vows. So, do not ever doubt about the efficacy of Pure Land practice. If Amituofo has already perfected his skills to deliver all sentient beings from the sea of Samsara, we should strive to perfect our skills to deliver all sentient beings to his Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss!
Finally, our eons and eons of great thanks with immense gratitude to Brother Shi’an and all the helpers. Without your impeccable efforts to impart these noble, profound and powerful Pure Land teachings, we could not have helped Brother M.
(Zhunian skills based on the Pure Land Passport are shared in detail in the Destination Pureland course, which is taught twice a year in Singapore: http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2016/04/destination-pureland-how-to-have-the-best-rebirth-5th-run)
Namo Amituofo _/|\_
Shan, Serene & Eunice
(Written on 3rd October 2016, the 49th day of Brother M’s passing)