Why Have The Thought Of Being Already Dead But Yet To Be Reborn In Pure Land? 为何作已死未往生净土想?

How To Have Most Sincerity In Mindfulness Of Buddha?


[Of] those humans in [this] world, [who are] not able [to] transcend [the] ordinary [to] enter [the] sagely, [to be] liberated [from the cycle of] birth [and] death, all [are] due to false [or stray] thoughts, [with] them [as the] cause.

Note 1: As whether all are able to be reach the Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss (极乐世界) or not is dependent on the last thought just before rebirth being with wholehearted mindfulness of Amitābha Buddha (阿弥陀佛: Āmítuófó) or not, all who do not reach Pure Land are those who had other thoughts instead, which are thus all considered as stray thoughts, that strayed away from right mindfulness (正念) of Buddha with profound Faith (深信) and sincere Aspiration (切愿).


Now, when mindful of Buddha, immediately have ‘[I am] already dead [but] yet [to be] reborn [in Pure Land’ as] thought.

Note 2: The first way to utilise the truth of impermanence (无常) as motivation for more wholehearted practice is to remember that since we are all going to die, be it sooner or later, we should practise diligently now. However, this method might not work so well for those who are younger and healthier due to complacence, although death that occurs karmically does not discriminate between the young and old, or the healthy and sick. To summarise, this first way is to think that as death will be occurring, and that it can occur at any time, including now, there should be earnest practice now. This first way inculcates a great sense of urgency.          

Note 3: The second way, which further utilises the truth of impermanence, is to imagine that the moment of death has already come and passed, with now being after physical death but before rebirth has taken place. In this karmically determined window period between one life and the next, which can be as brief as one moment to only as long as 49 days, there is no time to lose. As such, we cannot afford to have even one stray thought, or risk being swept away by the winds of karma to be reborn in Saṃsāra again. To summarise, this second way is to think that as rebirth will be occurring at any time now, there should be earnest practice now. This second way inculcates a greater sense of urgency than the first.   


In thought to thought within, [of] all worldly thoughts [of] attachment, all [should be] set aside from consideration.  

Note 4: With thought to thought of Buddha, in between, there should be no other thoughts, which are all due to worldly attachment. Without death or rebirth in mind, due to subconscious projecting ahead in terms of this life, stray thoughts tend to arise. With death or rebirth in mind, there is only projecting ahead in terms of reaching Pure Land, thus without stray thoughts.   


Aside [from this] one line [of the] Buddha’s name, without having [any] other one thought available.

Note 5: It is possible to have less or no stray thoughts without thinking one is already dead, but it might less easy doing so. If truly with the mindset that one is already dead, other than the Buddha’s name, no other thought should arise. If not yet truly with the mindset, all kinds of stray thoughts might still arise. 


With what [thought are you] able [to] enable so? With ‘[As] I [am] already dead, of all false thoughts, all have no use.’ 

Note 6: To increase wholeheartedness in mindfulness of Buddha, right before doing so, think of yourself as already dead, with no other option than to be mindful of Buddha, with no other hope than to connect to Buddha, thus not daring to give rise to even one stray thought, which is both useless and harmful. Thus, will there be swift and true connection. When facing death, we are either more lost with distractions or more focused with wholeheartedness. We can start training towards the latter now. When sick, this should remind us of death’s approach too, to be more wholehearted in practice. 


[If] able [to] thus [be] mindful, [this] definitely [will] have great benefits.

Note 7: If mindful this way when well and alive, there will be the great benefit of being always ready to reach Pure Land. If mindful this way when dying or after death, there will be the great benefit of being able to swiftly reach Pure Land. There is no need to worry about reaching Pure Land ‘too early’ with this method of practice now as reach of it pivots upon Aspiration to do so in the moment.

Note 8: To be even more sincere, practise with Bodhicitta (菩提心) as motivation, which urges one to practise diligently to reach Pure Land, so as to be able to most skilfully guide all remembered and forgotten loved ones (i.e. all beings) to reach Pure Land too.

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Second Reply Letter [To] Layperson Zhū Zhònghuá

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Related Article:

How To Have Thought Of Being Reborn In Pure Land?

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