Question: How do we know if there are karmic creditors (冤亲债主) disturbing a dying person?
Answer: When it comes to the issue of karmic creditors, it should be noted that the primary karmic creditor is always oneself, who might or might not incur other karmic creditors, who are secondary ones. This also means that if the person’s mind is taken care of, other karmic creditors will be given no conditions to disturb that person.
If there are external karmic creditors disturbing, the person will be speaking as if to someone who cannot be seen, or reacting with expressions and gestures, as if in response to someone, usually with fear. This should NOT be mixed up with speaking a little incoherently due to disorientation or confusion, due to medication or passing visions in the dying process. It should also NOT be mixed up with the person thinking aloud or expressing some frustration. Assuring and advising can help reduce such confusions and frustrations.
If the person seems to be having a bad dream, with disturbing sleep-talking and expressions, gently awaken the person with physically closer Niànfó, to tell the person that it was just a dream, and to also Niànfó for peace of mind. If the person seems disturbed by external karmic creditor(s) when awake, ask the person to close his or her eyes, to listen only to the guided Niànfó while sincerely reciting Āmítuófó’s name for peace and protection.
Doing the above is important because as taught by Śākyamuni Buddha in the ‘Sūtra On Ten Methods Of Rebirth In Amitābha Buddha’s Land’《十往生阿弥陀佛国经》, ‘If there are sentient beings… mindful of Āmítuófó, aspiring to be reborn, in that Land Of Ultimate Bliss of his, Āmítuófó will immediately send [25 Bodhisattvas as listed below, for] supporting and protecting them, if walking, if standing, if sitting, if lying down, if in day, if in night, at all times, at all places, not letting evil ghosts and evil gods attain advantage over them.’
This means that once there is personal Niànfó, there can be no disturbances by karmic creditors. What more, if there are others also practising Niànfó nearby for support-chanting, the area will be spiritually charged up with the same protection of Āmítuófó’s golden light. Thus, the dying person and support-chanters never need to have fear at all. If using a Rebirth Blanket, which has many powerful mantras, there will be protection too, such that the karmic creditors cannot approach the person at all. (While the above is for personal protection, see the first Related Article below for guidance of karmic creditors too.)
Thus, it is NOT such that there definitely will be karmic creditors approaching to disturb when dying, although negative karma can manifest naturally and directly as sicknesses. While haunting karmic creditors can condition some physical and mental sicknesses, sicknesses can also be karmically caused by past and present living habits, in terms of unskilful thoughts, words and deeds (such as choice of food and drink).
Here is the fuller version of the quote mentioned: ‘… If there are sentient beings… mindful of Amitābha Buddha[‘s name – Āmítuófó], aspiring to be reborn, in that Land Of Ultimate Bliss of his, Amitābha Buddha, will immediately send Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds [Avalokiteśvara] Bodhisattva, Great Power Arrived [Mahāsthāmaprāpta] Bodhisattva, Medicine King [Bhaişajyarāja] Bodhisattva, Medicine Supreme [Bhaiṣajyasamudgata] Bodhisattva, Universal Virtues [Samantabhadra] Bodhisattva, Dharma Ease Bodhisattva, Lion’s Roar Bodhisattva, Dhāraṇī Bodhisattva, Empty Space Treasury [Ākāśagarbha] Bodhisattva, Virtues’ Treasury Bodhisattva, Treasures’ Treasury Bodhisattva, Golden Treasury Bodhisattva, Vajra Bodhisattva, Wisdom Of Mountains And Seas Bodhisattva, King Of Bright Light Bodhisattva, King Of Flower Adornment Bodhisattva, King Of Many Treasures Bodhisattva, King Of Moonlight Bodhisattva, King Of Sunshine Bodhisattva, King Of Samādhi Bodhisattva, King Of Ease Bodhisattva, King Of Great Ease Bodhisattva, King Of White Elephants Bodhisattva, King Of Great Majestic Virtues Bodhisattva, and Boundless Body Bodhisattva, with these 25 Bodhisattvas, supporting and protecting them, if walking, if standing, if sitting, if lying down, if in day, if in night, at all times, at all places, not letting evil ghosts and evil gods attain advantage over them.’
‘… 若有众生… 念阿弥陀佛，愿往生者，彼极乐世界，阿弥陀佛，即遣观世音菩萨、大势至菩萨、药王菩萨、药上菩萨、普贤菩萨、法自在菩萨、狮子吼菩萨、陀罗尼菩萨、虚空藏菩萨、德藏菩萨、宝藏菩萨、金藏菩萨、金刚菩萨、山海慧菩萨、光明王菩萨、华严王菩萨、众宝王菩萨、月光王菩萨、日照王菩萨、三昧王菩萨、自在王菩萨、大自在王菩萨、白象王菩萨、大威德王菩萨、无边身菩萨，是二十五菩萨，拥护行者，若行、若住、若坐、若卧、若昼、若夜、一切时、一切处，不令恶鬼恶神得其便也。’
Section  & : Guidance For Dying Persons & Karmic Creditors
How Are Negative Karma & Karmic Creditors Different?
Three Pieces Of Bad & Good News
How Mindfulness Of Āmítuófó Protects From Evil Unseen Beings