It was all along my wish that Dad could learn Dharma with me. But it was not easy to do so in this modern world with so many distractions. Moreover, my family members were not strong believers in the Buddha’s teachings.
However, I know in my heart that the Buddha is a great teacher, and that he had already realised the truth, and can show us the path to enlightenment. As such, I continued to have faith in his teachings, in search for how to achieve enlightenment, or at least lessen suffering in this lifetime. Especially since Dad and Mum were getting old, there was no more time to lose. I needed to find the shortest and simplest way to help them and myself to depart from suffering, and to attain bliss.
I want to thank my friend Sharon who introduced me to Teacher Shi’an’s ‘Destination Pureland: How To Have The Best Rebirth‘ class three years ago. After attending it, I understood the importance of how sincere Nianfo [practice of mindfulness of the name of Amitabha Buddha – ‘Amituofo’] can help when dying. It was timely as my fourth Aunt passed on after the class. And I had the chance to arrange some wake supporting-chanting for her. It was a great opportunity to experience sincere Nianfo for a close family member.
With this case, I was able to convince my parents that there is no better way, than to Nianfo and follow Amituofo when the last day comes. They were open to listen as they knew my good intentions. I tried various means to convince them that it is with Nianfo is the best, which is why in most wakes, there is chanting of Amituofo, as it will not go wrong. Having said that, as I had to continue Nianfo practice myself, I attended Teacher Shi’an’s Pureland Practice Fellowship (PPF).
I am thankful to Teacher Shi’an’s teaching, for showing us that with sincere Nianfo, one can surely reach Pure Land. This motivation kept me going and helped me a lot in the two and a half months of Dad’s final mile. I kept this strong faith going, and used many ways to get his attention to Nianfo when he was not in pain. [Note: When there is pain, there should be encouragement to Nianfo wholeheartedly (sincerely) with support-chanting, so as to take the mind off the pain. This will truly lessen and eradicate pain too, replacing it with peace and bliss.] One of the best ways I used to encourage him to Nianfo was through my little nephew’s Nianfo. We had taught him to Nianfo way before, and played the recording to Dad to lift him up. [Note: If there is likely to be much emotional attachment to the person in the recording, that hampers sincere Nianfo, it might be better not to play it.]
It was painful to see Dad struggle, vomit and in pain as the cancer cells spread to his brain. No medicine could cure him then. So, I continued to supplicate to the Buddha, to guide me with wisdom. I connected with his dearest sister, who always practised Nianfo sincerely, and she asked him to take refuge, to let go of what he was attached to, and assured him that he will reach Pure Land with Nianfo. [Note: Taking of refuge before Nianfo is optional, but it is useful if it helps the patient to feel more connected to the Buddha.]
I continued to Nianfo with him, motivating by telling him that his best gift for his children is to Nianfo, and that we will also Nianfo with him. When he saw ‘unseen’ beings around him, he told me that when he practised Nianfo, he could sleep better. In between, I also did animal liberation on his behalf as he saw visions of fish, after which, his vomiting stopped.
I was blessed to have my Buddhist sister who guided me to put on the Rebirth Blanket for protection against unseen beings who might disturb the dying. She also assisted in explaining to my brothers, that embalmment will cause suffering for the deceased if the consciousness remains in the body. It was thus agreed that it will be skipped.
I am really thankful to Teacher Shi’an that I could get help from PPF when the doctor announced that Dad could depart at any time. Sister Jacqueline came to my rescue to offer support-chanting. She first explained how to start chanting over the phone, and shared a Teochew recording of words of guidance from another PPF sister. After chanting repentance for Dad and his karmic creditors at around 12.30 pm, support-chanting started, till about 3.30 pm when Brother Seng, another volunteer support-chanting leader arrived to give a short briefing. Support-chanting continued till 5 pm before they shared merits and left. My family members continued to take turns to chant. They became more focused in Nianfo, with no more talking around Dad. My brothers chanted intently, to urge him to let go, to reach Pure Land. Dad passed on peacefully at around 9.30 pm. Sister Jacqueline, Brother Kee, Brother Chin Kiat, Brother Seng and Brother Shi’an came (back) at around 10 pm, to Nianfo till 1 am. In total, we had around 12 hours of support-chanting for Dad from before to after his passing.
Before Dad passed on peacefully, his stomach was bloated, but without pain. I was told that for most cancer patients near the end, it is very painful, and blood can come out from the nose and eyes, but these did not happen. His body was also confirmed to not be stiff by the undertaker, which is another good sign.
Sister Jacqueline followed up to help arrange our PPF classmates for support-chanting at the wake. The big turnout rate of 43 participants was unexpected. Now, I am really convinced that true Buddhist practitioners should work hand in hand, with the one intention to guide one another to reach Pure Land. All went well, with blissful blessings.
After this incident, my family members could feel the importance of Nianfo, and all were united in Nianfo for Dad. Nianfo is amazing. I can feel it bringing my family closer. With such meaningful Nianfo, there are no regrets, in offering this best gift for Dad. And there are no doubts about Nianfo’s power anymore.
I am sorry that I could not share this personally as I have an important family matter to attend to this Saturday, but I sincerely hope the above can motivate more people to Nianfo. And I want to say a million thanks to Teacher Shi’an and our PPF classmates, who gave your greatest support when I needed you most.
May all PPF classmates continue to Nianfo sincerely, and we will meet one another in Pure Land one day, where we will continue to practise the Dharma together. Have faith in Amituofo! Stay strong everyone, and we will make it to Pure Land together!
Amituofo! Amituofo! Amituofo!
14 April 2017