In the ‘Sūtra [On] Earth Treasury [Kṣitigarbha] Bodhisattva’s Fundamental Vows’ 12th Chapter [On] Benefits [From] Sight [And] Hearing’ (《地藏菩萨本愿经》见闻利益品第十二), Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) taught the following to Contemplation [Of The] World’s Sounds Bodhisattva (观世音菩萨) and all in the assembly.
‘… 若… 有男子女人… 亡失父母，乃及亡失兄弟姐妹… 不知… 生何世界…
‘… If… [there] are men [and] women… [who have] lost [their] Fathers [and] Mothers, and even [having] lost [their] elder [and] younger brothers [and] sisters… [who do] not know… [they are] born [in] which world..,
if [they are] able [to] sculpt [and] draw Earth Treasury [i.e. Kṣitigarbha] Bodhisattva’s image, and even hear [his] name [i.e. 南无地藏菩萨: Námó Dìzàng Púsà], [have] one gaze [and] one prostration, [for] one day to seven days..,
these persons’ family members, if due [to their] karma thus, [have] fallen [into] evil paths.., [they will] immediately [attain] liberation, [to be] born within human [and] heavenly [realms, to] receive supreme wonderful bliss…
If having [the] power [of] blessings, already born [in the] human [and] heavenly [realms.., they will] in turn accumulate noble causes, [to] receive immeasurable bliss.
These people, [if] even able [to], within three seven [i.e. 21] days, wholeheartedly gaze [upon and] prostrate [to] Earth Treasury [Bodhisattva’s] image, [and be] mindful [of] his name, fulfilling of ten thousand times, [they] will attain [the] Bodhisattva’s appearing [of his] boundless bodies, all telling these people, [of their] relatives’ birth realms.
Perhaps within dreams, [the] Bodhisattva [will] appear [with] great supernormal power, [to] personally lead these people, to all worlds, [to] see all [their] family members.
[If] even able [to], every day recite [the] Bodhisattva’s name [one] thousand times, reaching of [one] thousand days, these people will attain [the] Bodhisattva’s sent earth ghosts [and] gods’s lifelong protection, [in this] present life [having] clothing [and] food abundant with surplus, without all difficulties and suffering.
And even unfortunate events [will] not enter their doors, what more and [their] bodies.
These people, after all, [will] attain [the] Bodhisattva’s rubbing [of their] crowns [to] receive prediction [of enlightenment].
Summary: Those who wish to help deceased ones can reverently, with utmost sincerity, practise sculpting, drawing of Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva’s image, gazing at him, prostrating to him, and/or by being mindful of his name, for one to seven days.
If they have fallen into lower rebirths, meritorious virtues from practising the above can be dedicated, to help them attain higher rebirths. If already with higher rebirths, they will be connected to learning and practice of the Dharma.
For the best rebirth, in Amitābha Buddha’s [i.e. Āmítuófó] Pure Land, the deceased and reborn will have to receive guidance, to know how to be mindful of Āmítuófó’s name with profound Faith and sincere Aspiration. Connection to the Buddha or Bodhisattva can lead to meeting of them to offer such guidance. The key criteria for such connection is utmost sincerity.
Those who practise mindfulness of the Bodhisattva’s name sincerely a thousand times daily for a thousand days will attain lifelong protection of good ghosts and gods, having ample necessities such as clothing and food, without all kinds of suffering, including those from accidents. With all the above practices, they will receive prediction of enlightenment by him.
Can we also practise mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name in the same way, to receive confirmation of birth in his Pure Land, and even of enlightenment? It is possible, when there is utmost sincerity, in expressing all Three Provisions of profound Faith, sincere Aspiration via Practice of mindfulness (of his name).
Once this criteria is met, there need not be the ‘thousand’ practice. Without meeting it, the ‘thousand’ practice will be inadequate. However, it is not a must to attain confirmation now, to reach Pure Land later. As long as there are the Three Provisions above when departing, it will be reachable.
Namo Amituofo : Translation and summary by Shen Shi’an
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