Verses [On] Quick Connection
Although wishing [to be] without sickness, most practitioners, due [to] karmic obstacles [being] many, [when] approaching [the] end [of life, are] still sick.
Transforming suffering [to] become willpower, [with the] sincere mind mindful [of] Buddha, heavy retribution [is] lighter received, definitely attaining tranquillity.
Knowing [there] will [be] departure [from] sickness, [is] superior [to] not knowing when, [able [to] first diligently [be] mindful [of] Buddha, [to] quickly connect [with] Āmítuófó.
Note: The last verse is counterintuitive. It means it is actually BETTER to know one will be dying of some sickness soon, to be diagnosed so, than to die suddenly unprepared, including by accident. Knowing roughly when one will be dying offers a buffer period of time, to take stock of matters quickly, to pull up one’s spiritual socks swiftly by focusing on wholehearted mindfulness of Buddha to reach Pure Land.
Many have wishful thinking instead, hoping to ‘die peacefully in their sleep, to slip away gently into the night unknowingly.’ This is impossible, as dying is ALWAYS a conscious event, with the consciousness consciously departing from the body. Even if a person appeared to have died while unconscious and immobile, the consciousness was wide awake when death occurred, be it confused or not, willing or not. If knowing when one is dying instead, confusion and reluctance can be eradicated by pumping up the Three Provisions (三资粮) (of profound Faith [深信], sincere Aspiration [切愿] and true Practice [实行]) in time.
The above principles are very helpful for CONSOLING and guiding those diagnosed to be dying, to explain why having gradual dying is better than to have sudden death, as they have a wider window period to connect to the Buddha for the best rebirth possible.