Translations

How To Have Death Without Regrets 如何死而无憾?

观姚荷生所叙其父节卿临终各节,盖其平日实未决欲往生者。

Contemplating what Yáo Héshēng narrated [of] his Father Yáo Jiéqīng, [of] each part [when] approaching [the] end [of life covered, [in] ordinary days, [he had] yet [to be] truly determined [with the] desire [to be] reborn [in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land].

[Note 1: It is important to be mindful in everyday life, that we will die, and that the day of death might arrive sooner than expected, due to ‘sudden’ sickness or accident. In this way, whenever needed, we will always be prepared to swiftly let go of attachment to worldly life to reach Pure Land.]

使决欲往生,何得令家人念观音求病愈,待气绝始念佛乎。

If determined [with the] desire [to be] reborn [there], why [did he] order family members [to] recite Guānyīn [Bodhisattva’s name to] seek healing [of his] sickness, [and to] wait [for his] breathing [to] end, [before] beginning [to] recite [the] Buddha’s [name: ‘Āmítuófó’]?

[Note 2: While it is possible to recite Guānyīn Bodhisattva’s name to be reborn in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, it must be done with profound Faith and sincere Aspiration for this purpose; instead of for healing or other purposes. As below, mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name is able to have the effect of healing too.]

念佛之人,有病,即作将死想,一心念佛。

People who [are] mindful [of] Buddha, [when] having [severe] sickness, [should] immediately have [the] thought [that they are] about to die, [to] wholeheartedly [be] mindful [of] Buddha[‘s name].

[Note 3: Even if they might not die of the sickness, the fact that they might indeed die should motivate them to be mindful of Buddha with utmost sincerity, in case they do die.]

寿若未尽,反能速愈。

[Their] lifespans, if yet [to] exhaust, [they] instead [will be] able [to have] swift healing.

[Note 4: Although prepared to be reborn in Pure Land, with mindfulness of Buddha that eradicates potentially ‘deadly’ negative karma, if it is not much, there can be healing instead. If it is truly time to depart, there will be rebirth in Pure Land, where there is total and lasting healing.]

若唯望病愈,则是怕死。有怕死之心,便难感佛。

If only hoping [the] sickness [to] heal, thus is [to] fear death. Having [the] mind fearful of death, then [is] difficult [to] correspond [with the] Buddha.

[Note 5: Although wanting to heal, yet if it is truly time to depart, one will still depart without being healed. If preoccupied with fear of death, thus not sincerely mindful of Buddha, this makes it hard to connect to the Buddha. Once there is fear, it should be seen as a reminder to have even more sincere mindfulness of Buddha, which makes it easy to connect to the Buddha. Once there is sincere mindfulness, there will be no fear.]

节卿临终幸有人助念,荷生不以未竭力助念为歉憾,反以医药未能精到为歉憾,直是无谓之极。

Jiéqīng [when] approaching [the] end [of life, was] fortunate [to] have people [offering] support-chanting. Héshēng [was] not with having not with [his] utmost [efforts offering] support-chanting as regretful, instead with medical [care] yet able [to be] fine [and] thorough [enough] as regretful. [This] frankly is pointless [to the] extreme.

[Note 6: If the consciousness has yet to be reborn after physical death, one can still be offered guidance and support-chanting to be reborn in Pure Land. Although this must be done, it is however more risky to do so only after death, as karmic winds might sweep the deceased person to be reborn elsewhere swiftly. It is thus best to do so, and focus on mindfulness of Buddha for rebirth in Pure Land once possibly dying; not only after definite death.

Note 7: As medical care will always fall short of permanently preventing death, it is meaningless to lament of its inadequacies, especially after a death, while what worth reflecting on, is why one did not offer adequate guidance and support-chanting sincerely, if this was the case. That said, within 49 days of passing, there should be more regular guidance and support-chanting offered, especially if the deceased might still be around. Even if already reborn elsewhere with suffering, the merits dedicated can alleviate suffering and expedite a better rebirth.]

净土宗十三祖印光大师
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
复曾怡之居士书
Reply Letter To Layperson Céng Yízhī

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

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Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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