Can Nianfo Be Practised In Vain?

Question: A son’s ill Father passed away despite the son’s mindfulness of a Bodhisattva’s name in the hope that he recovers. How should this be explained?

Answer: There are many cases of miraculous recovery, when enough sincere Nianfo is practised to dilute the negative karma that causes sickness to thrive. However, we should not do Nianfo (practice mindfulness of the name of a Buddha or Bodhisattva) with insistence on recovery in a specific way. This is so as beings in our Saha World, once born, already have the deeply karmically ingrained tendency to eventually die – unless we practise so well that we bypass death itself, such as by reaching Amituofo’s Pure Land directly when well and alive. Also, total and long-term recovery is attained by reaching Pure Land, where rebirth in broken free of, with death itself as the ultimate recurring disease cured once and for all. There will be no more ageing and sickness forever too. To be noted too, is that the negative karma of his ill Father might have been very heavy while Nianfo being too little. What more, if the Nianfo was mostly, if not only from the son; and not the Father personally. The son’s faith too could had been weak, thus weakening his Nianfo.

Q: Distraught with his loss, the son went to believe in ‘God’ instead. What should we see this?

A: If he prayed to ‘God’ earlier, in the hope that his Father recovers, it would not help for sure. This is so, as… First, assuming mindfulness of Bodhisattva was already practised sincerely and amply, possible assistance was maximised already. Second, gods, being still trapped in the Saha World with limited compassion, wisdom, meritorious virtues, skilful means and blessings, are spiritually weaker than fully liberated Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. Third, some gods believed in, even though assumed to be supreme and perfect creators, simply do not even exist. This was taught by the Buddha personally, as can be seen in this famous debate with a god who thought he was almighty: http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2012/03/the-buddhas-victory-over-a-god-demon Thus, it was unwise to think ‘God’ could give his Father eternal life in THIS very life. If there is such a ‘God’, all praying devotees should never die. If there is such a ‘God’, what should be wondered is why ageing, sickness and death were ‘created’ instead. And why such a ‘God’ would allow so many other kinds of suffering to thrive, as can be seen in this case: http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2016/04/is-there-a-god-who-allows-suffering

Q: How should we explain to the son that Nianfo was not practised in vain?

A: To the extent that he practised Nianfo sincerely, he did create some meritorious virtues, that he could dedicate to his Father, to relieve his suffering and facilitate a better rebirth. Ideally, he should have urged his Father to Nianfo personally. This would connect him to the Bodhisattva or Buddha directly, whose meritorious virtues linked to can help dilute his negative karma. This is in accordance with the workings of karma, as stronger karma can supersede weaker karma, as can be seen at http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2009/08/how-to-easier-stomach-a-pinch-of-salt If neither son nor Father practised any Nianfo, while praying to a non-existent or weak ‘god’, it might generate some false peace of mind, while not offering genuine help. To summarise, Nianfo practice sincerely done is never in vain. Nianfo purifies us, while it generates immense meritorious virtues for sharing with others. However, to attain birth in Pure Land (or for possible healing here), along with being aided when with difficulties, there should be sincere personal practice. This is where guidance comes in, to urge one another to Nianfo sincerely.

Related Articles:

Do Buddhas Help Many All The Time?
Do Buddhas & Bodhisattvas Only Help Those Faithfully Mindful Of Them?
Why There Should Be Aspiration To Reach Pure Land Over Aspiration For Recovery When Severely Sick
How To Share The Power Of Meritorious Virtues (Merits) & Guidance?

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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