Three Doubts When Approaching The End Of Life 临终三疑

Three Doubts [When] Approaching [The] End [Of Life]


[The Pure Land] Tradition’s Master Cízhào, [in ‘The] Pure Land’s Ten Gates’ Admonishments’ said, ‘People [who are] mindful [of] Buddha, [when] approaching [the] end [of life with] three doubts, [are] not born [in] Pure Land.

[1] 一者疑我生来作业极重,修行日浅,恐不得生;

[1] First, [is the] doubt [that as] I, since birth, [have] created [negative] karma [that is] extremely heavy, [and with] cultivation [of] practice’s time [that is] short, [I] fear not attaining birth [in Pure Land].

[Note 1: The quality of practice matters much more than its quantity. Even a single utmost sincere thought with mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name with Faith and Aspiration is able to connect to him, for reaching his Pure Land.]

[2] 二者疑我欠人债负,或有心愿未了及贪瞋痴未息,恐不得生;

[2] Second, [is the] doubt [that as] I owe people, [with karmic] debts [to] bear, or have [my] mind’s [worldly] wishes yet [to be] fulfilled, and [have] greed, anger [and] delusion yet [to] cease, [I] fear not attaining birth [in Pure Land].

[Note 2: Pure Land practice enables carrying of negative karma to be reborn (带业往生) in Pure Land. If knowing there are worldly wishes attached to, they should be fulfilled swiftly now, and/or let go of swiftly when it is time to depart. The Three Poisons (三毒) of greed, anger (i.e. hatred) and delusion do not need to be eradicated fully to reach Pure Land, but they need to be subdued or suspended with proper practice when it is time to depart.]

[3] 三者疑我虽念弥陀,临命终时,恐佛不来迎接。

[3] Third, [is the] doubt [that as] I, although mindful [of] Āmítuófó, when approaching [the] end [of life, I] fear [that the] Buddha [might] not come [to] welcome [and] receive [me].

[Note 3: Āmítuófó has clearly vowed that he will receive and guide all with the Three Provisions (三资粮) of Faith, Aspiration and Practice (信愿行), and this is vouched for by all other Buddhas.]


Having these three doubts, because [of these] doubts becoming obstacles, losing their right mindfulness, [they do] not attain rebirth [in Pure Land]. Thus, of people mindful [of] Buddha, [they] must essentially truly believe [that the] Buddhist sūtras’ clearly decreed, [and] not give rise [to the] doubtful mind.

[Note 4: Right mindfulness in Pure Land practice is to be mindful of Āmítuófó’s name with profound Faith and sincere Aspiration.]


[The Contemplation] Sūtra《观经》says, “[With] one mindful recitation [of] Āmítuófó, [this] eradicates eighty koṭis [of] kalpas [of] births’ [and] deaths’ heavy transgressions.”

[Note 5: This works as stated when practised with utmost sincerity.]


Up until [those with] wholeheartedness without [being] scattered, [to] below until [those with one to] ten thoughts successful, [they are all] received [to go] towards [the] nine lotus [grades in Pure Land], enabled [to] take leave [from the] Five Defilements [of Kalpa (劫浊), Views (见浊), Afflictions (烦恼浊), Sentient Beings (众生浊) and Lifespan (命浊) here].


If able [to, with the] mind’s mental [condition] not [being] ignorant, [and with] thought after thought without difference [mindful of Āmítuófó’s name], then [will the] doubtful state [be] forever severed, [to] definitely [attain] rebirth [in Pure Land].


[It] can [be] said [that a] hundred thousand koṭis’ journey [to Pure Land is with a] snap [of] fingers reached, [and when with the] slightest bit [of doubt] proposed, [there will be] separation [by a] thousand mountains.’


[Note: If with profound Faith and sincere Aspiration mindful of Āmítuófó’s name, then are these three doubts able to be severed.]

Mount Lú’s Lotus Tradition’s Treasury [Of] Reflections: Scroll Eight
元  普度编
[By] Yuán [Dynasty’s Master] Pǔdù Compiled

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Related Article:

Four Passes When Approaching The End Of Life

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