Kṣitigarbha Sūtra’s Chapter Seventh: Benefits [For The] Living [And] Deceased (Excerpt)
[The] assembly within had an elder, named Great Eloquence. This elder [had] long realised non-birth, [with] transforming [and] delivering [in the] ten directions. Appearing [with an] elder’s body, [with] joined palms reverencing, [he] asked Earth Treasury [Kṣitigarbha] Bodhisattva, saying, ‘Great One! [Of] these Southern Jambudvīpa’s sentient beings, after [their] lives end, [if] young [and] old family members, for [them] cultivate meritorious virtues, and even arrange veg[etari]an [offerings], creating many good causes, [will] these people [with] lives ended, attain great benefits and liberation [or] not?’
Earth Treasury [Bodhisattva] replied, saying, ‘Elder! I now, for future [and] present all sentient beings, [with] receiving [of the] Buddha’s majestic power, [will] briefly speak [on] these matters.
Elder! All future, present sentient beings [and] others, [when] approaching life’s ending day, [who] attain hearing [of] one Buddha’s name, one Bodhisattva’s name, [or] one Pratyekabuddha’s name, regardless [of] having transgressions [or] without transgressions, all [will] attain liberation.
Note 1: Such hearing of sacred names should ideally be done reverently, with utmost sincerity, which will create much more meritorious virtues. This is the practice of mindfulness of Buddha (or Bodhisattva, which includes Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva), that should be done repeatedly, especially when dying, so as to connect accordingly. This is the easiest yet most effective practice to have then, for ensuring the dying has the most peaceful passing and the most blissful rebirth. For ease of focus, using one Buddha’s name will do, and none is as brief and thus easy to focus upon, as that of Amitābha Buddha in Chinese – ‘阿弥陀佛’ (Āmítuófó).
Note 2: With sincerity in Practice of mindfulness, there would already be Faith with a sense of repentance. To reach Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, there must also be Aspiration to do so. Even those with heavy transgressions will be able to eradicate them when connected to Āmítuófó’s blessings, which will dilute them. Once his Pure Land is reached, it is as good as having attained liberation, as there will only be non-retrogressive progress towards Buddhahood there.
If [there] are men [and] women, when living, [who did] not cultivate good causes, [and] created many transgressions, after [when their] lives end, [with] family members [of] children [and] adults, for [them] creating blessings’ benefits [with] all holy deeds, of seven parts within, [they will] thereupon obtain one, [with] six parts [of] meritorious virtues, [for] living ones’ self-benefits.
Note 3: If there are the dying or the recently deceased (especially within 49 days of passing), who are unable or unwilling to practise the Dharma to benefit themselves then, family members and others concerned should all the more do so on their behalf. The easiest way to do so is with the same practice of mindfulness of Buddha above in Note 1 and Note 2, before dedicating the meritorious virtues (merits) to them, as in Note 5 below. With adequate practice of RAM in Note 4 done in time, the dying or deceased might change their mind, to be willing to practise as suggested.
Note 4: Repentance can easily be practised on their behalf too, by chanting a short Repentance Verse, before commencing practice of mindfulness of Buddha. Together is the practice sequence of Repentance, Āmítuófó-chanting and Merits-dedication (RAM). However, the dying or deceased should be guided to personally give rise to the Three Provisions of Faith, Aspiration and Practice in Note 2, to be able to reach Pure Land. If not, dedication of adequate merits can at least ensure not falling into a lower realm, and in better cases, enable rise to a heavenly realm. With six-sevenths of the merits created directly for those helping, such support practice should be all the more done – to more greatly benefit the ones concerned (and oneself).
With this thus, future, present good men, women [and] others, [who] hear [this when] healthy, [should] self-cultivate, [with] every part personally obtained.
Note 5: If without dedication of merits for other(s), all seven parts of meritorious virtues from personal practice will by default benefit only oneself – be one a human or any other sentient being. As such, those younger and fitter should all the more practise more diligently and regularly on behalf of one and all. As dedication of merits for all beings is an expression of Bodhicitta, that nurtures compassion and generosity, it is ideal to always dedicate to all, who will include recently and past deceased ones concerned about.
[When the] great ‘ghost’ [of] impermanence, not expected yet arrives, [from] darkness [to] darkness [with] wandering consciousnesses, yet [to] know [their] transgressions [and] blessings. [In] seven [of] seven days within, like [the] deluded [and] like [the] deaf, perhaps at many officials’ [courts], debating [on their] karmic fruits. After examining [and] deciding, according [to their] karma receiving birth. [When] in between, yet [to be] surveyed, [with] ten million worries suffering, moreover [when] falling into all evil realms [and] others.
These people [with] lives ended, [when] yet [to] attain receiving [of] births, in seven [of] seven days within, hope [that] all [their] kin [and] family members, [will] give [and] create blessings’ power [to] save [them]. After passing these days, [they will] according [to their] karma receive retribution.
If [there are] these transgressive persons, [with the] moving [and] passing [of] hundreds [of] thousands [of] years within, [they are] without liberation’s day. If [with] these five uninterrupted transgressions, falling [into] great hells, [passing] thousands [of] kalpas [and] ten thousands [of] kalpas, [for a] long [time] receiving all suffering.
Furthermore, Elder! [Of] such karmically transgressive sentient beings, after their lives end, [their] family members [and] kin, [should] for [them] cultivate managing [of] veg[etari]an [offerings, to] provide support [of their] karmic paths. [When] yet [to have] veg[etari]an [offerings] eaten completely, and [when] next [with] managing of veg[etari]an [offerings’ (leftovers)], rice slops [and] vegetable leaves, [should] not [be] thrown on [the] ground [i.e. be wasted]. And even [with] all food yet [to be] dedicated [to the] Buddha [and] Saṃgha, [there] must not [be] first eating [them] [i.e. to express reverence].
If [there] are [those with] violative eating and [those] not diligent, [for] these persons [with] lives ended, [this] completely [does] not attain [meritorious virtues’] power. If diligently protecting purely, dedicated [to the] Buddha [and] Saṃgha, [for] these persons [with] lives ended, [of] seven parts [of the meritorious virtues created, they will] obtain one [i.e. with the other six parts belonging to those making the offerings].
Therefore, Elder, Jambudvīpa sentient beings, if able [to], for their fathers [and] mothers, and even family members, after their lives end, establish veg[etari]an offerings, [with] aspiring minds diligent [and] sincere, [because] of such persons, [the] living [and] deceased [will] obtain benefits.’
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
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