When approaching [the] end [of] life, [this is] then one lifetime’s 12th lunar month’s 30th day.
Note : When dying, these are the last moments for final ‘accounting’ of positive and negative karma in this life.
If Faith, Aspiration [and] Practice [as the Three] Provisions [are] yet [to be] complete, attachment, aversion [and] delusion [as] evil habits [will] still exist [actively].
Note : This is while… ‘Due to being complete with Faith, Aspiration and Practice, there will be no greedy attachment to [this transpiring] life, or fearful aversion to death, without confused delusion, being sincerely mindful of Buddha, until Buddha comes to receive and guide [to his Pure Land].’ (因具信愿行，不贪生怕死，不慌诚念佛，直到佛接引。)
Thus, [from] immeasurable kalpas since, [with] enemy [karmic] creditors, [who might] come [to] gather, [to] forcibly demand [repayment by afflicting suffering], how [can they be] willing [to] spare you?
Note : Since our last day can be any day, we might as well, now, in everyday life, not just when dying, with sincere personal practice, inspire any possibly present karma creditors, to also be mindful of Buddha with us, to be reborn in Pure Land. This is how all these karmic debts can be most graciously settled, with the Buddha’s blessings, beginning from today. When dying, if there are still disturbances, there should be clear guidance and support-chanting for this same purpose.
Not speaking [only of] those [who do] not know [the] Pure Land Dharma Door, [who are] without [any] other way out, [only to] accord [with their] karma [to] receive [re]birth,
Note : As it is common to have the presence of karmic creditors when dying, those who are disturbed by them, while not knowing how to protect themselves and to appease them, might become fearfully mindful of them. In the worse-case scenario, if they take rebirth during such disturbances by ghostly karmic creditors, they can be reborn to become ghosts like them.
[for] those, even if knowing, yet not engaging [in] true cultivation, [they will be] likewise so, by [their] evil karma [be] led towards [the] three paths [and] six realms within, [to] forever be reborn.
Note : Merely knowing but not practising the Pure Land Dharma Door accordingly is clearly not enough, as evil karma, as possibly expressed through karmic creditors can still bear fruit, leading to being trapped in the rounds of rebirth for indefinitely long time.
[What] is essential, if seeking [to] depart [from] suffering, [is to] only have thought after thought, fear [of] death [at first], and [with] death then falling [into the] three paths’ evil realms. Thus [will your] Buddha mindfulness naturally [be sincere and] pure, [with your] pure karma [for reaching Pure Land] naturally accomplished.
Note : ‘Due to fear of death, be mindful of Buddha. Due to mindfulness of Buddha, be fearless of death.’ (因怕死而念佛，因念佛不怕死。)
All conditions [of] dust [or six sense objects], naturally [will] not [be] able [to] take away your right mindfulness [of the name of Amitā(bha) Buddha – ‘Āmítuófó’].
Note : With only utmost sincere mindfulness of Buddha, all distractions will fade away, while there will be mindful protection by him, along with peace and bliss of body and mind with his light of blessings. Even the most vengeful karmic creditors will have the retreat, if not also mindful of Buddha with you to reach Pure Land.
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(Reply letter to a certain Níngbō layperson)
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an