Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛), Shi’an Lǎoshī, I am K, H’s son-in-law. I wish to share with you what I experienced after Gōnggōng’s (公公: Grandfather) departure. When I received the message in the morning that he had passed on, I called Mum (H) to ask if she needed a jacket, as it is quite cold to Niànfó (i.e. sincerely recite the name of Āmítuófó) in the hospice room. (This practice is support-chanting [助念], which is chanting to guide the dying or deceased to also chant along sincerely, so as to connect to Āmítuófó, to have the best rebirth.) Instead, she instructed me to find and bring the Rebirth Blanket (往生被). After putting it on him, she went out to answer a call from the undertaker. (The Rebirth Blanket is ideally put on once in the dying phase, not just after passing, for extra blessings and protection.)
I stood by the bed to Niànfó, following the chant from the Niànfó device (念佛机), chanting the name of Āmítuófó slowly and clearly. After a while, I saw Āmítuófó’s image at the foot of the bed, the same as that we see in pictures of the Western Pure Land’s Three Sages (西方三圣). Rays of light were radiating from the aura around Āmítuófó’s head towards Gōnggōng. (Āmítuófó is well-known for gathering in beings mindful of him with his light of blessings.) In my heart, I told Gōnggōng to go towards Āmítuófó’s light, as this is to follow him for rebirth in his Pure Land. I’m unsure how long I had chanted before seeing Āmítuófó. It could be slightly more than half an hour as I had to leave to pick up my daughter from school.
In the afternoon, my wife wanted to go to the hospice to see Gōnggōng too. There again, Dad (H’s husband), my wife and I did more support-chanting for him. I did not recite the Guidance Text (开示文) as I know Mum already do that from time to time, also having recited the Repentance Verse (忏悔偈) on his behalf. (The Guidance Text is for summarising and reminding on the right attitude and practice to have, while the Repentance Verse is to facilitate having more peace of mind. The latter should follow the first, before Niànfó starts.)
During this round of support-chanting, I saw Āmítuófó’s image with his light again, the same as before. Next was a vision of Gōnggōng levitating, seated in the lotus posture with his eyes closed. (This is the same as that of the Buddha in meditation, the ideal posture for cultivating concentration, including by chanting.) He was in his usual white shirt, tranquil and peaceful, as rays of light from Āmítuófó shone upon him. He looked fair but not pale. This was while I could also see his body lying on the bed. (The vision reflected his actual state of mind, which is now free from the burden of his expired body.)
The second time I saw Gōnggōng (after his passing) was during the support-chanting session at his wake, as facilitated by Pureland Practice Fellowship’s Purelanders. Gōnggōng appeared in the same posture, as he faced the Purelanders. It was as if he was receiving blessings from Āmítuófó’s name. May Gōnggōng finally reach Āmítuófó’s Pure Land! (May the above remind all of the great value of sincere support-chanting practice. May more be inspired to join in.)
Additional Account: As another more or less concurrent experience that affirms the above, H’s brother-in-law, although not a practising Buddhist before, was also with K practising Niànfó after the Rebirth Blanket was put on. He was chanting Āmítuófó’s name with his eyes closed when the room became bright. It was so bright that he could see the light with his eyes closed. He knew then, that something extraordinary was happening.
He simply stayed focused to concentrate on Niànfó. It could not be sunlight through the window as the blinds were put down. The light was described as ‘bright orange’ (which can be gold-like). It could be light radiating from the many sacred mantras on the blanket, from Āmítuófó himself, or from both, with these two sources of light becoming one. (As long as there is sincere Niànfó, even for those not so familiar with Āmítuófó, his blessings will likewise manifest. Āmítuófó’s name, being the supreme mantra, is right at the top of the Rebirth Blanket too.)
Additional Encouragement (to H’s son-in-law and brother-in-law): Wonderful! From your experiences shared, you should know that you clearly have great affinity with Āmítuófó and the Pure Land teachings. Thus, may you further sincerely learn and practise Niànfó, so as to more greatly benefit yourself and others. Námó Āmítuófó.
Question: Why did the deceased not depart with Āmítuófó when he was first seen?
Answer: If the repeated visions were accurate, it is usually due to attachment, that he did not depart for Pure Land immediately. It is possible to receive blessings from Āmítuófó, but still not be willing to depart immediately. For example, many of us experience some bliss during Niànfó, but it does not lead to departure for Pure Land straightaway either, due to some worldly attachment still present. This is the state of Aspiration (愿) as the Second Provision not being pumped up fully yet. This is a reason why it is powerful to have many present during offering of guidance and support-chanting, to further motivate the dying or deceased to go to Pure Land, noting that the deceased can read the minds of those present. (This case of connecting to Āmítuófó is extra convincing because of the brother-in-law’s experience of bright light at around the same time.)
Námó Āmítuófó: K (with additional notes by Shen Shi’an)
11 Nov 2020
(Names abbreviated for privacy)