◎ 清 • 王贞生
Qīng [Dynasty’s] Wáng Zhēnshēng
Wáng Zhēnshēng [was a] Kūnshān person. [His] father Yànfū was Kūnxiáng’s good friend, [who] worshipped [and] made offerings [to the] Triple Gem. Yet, Zhēnshēng [had] many bad habits, neither [having] much faith [in the Triple Gem nor] making offerings.
One day, [he] got sick, [and] saw [that there] was [a] tall [and] big black ghost, [who] said [that he] is [his] past life’s enemy [with a] grudge.
Zhēnshēng [was] extremely terrified, thereupon [becoming] full of valour and vigour [in] mindfulness [of] Buddha, [to] seek birth [in the] Western [Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss].
[Note 1: This is the transformation of fear to be motivation for more sincere and diligent mindfulness of Buddha.]
[When his] mindfulness [of] Buddha [became] slightly lax, [the] ghost’s form [would] thereupon appear.
[Note 2: In many, if not most cases, unless with unrelenting enmity, evil ghosts will back off and/or depart within one or more faithful recitations of the Buddha’s name, as there will be protective light of blessings extended.]
Because [his] seeking [of] birth increased [in] sincerity, [his] mindfulness [of] Buddha increased [in] keenness [and sharpness. With] mindfulness reaching several days, [the] ghost [did] not again appear.
[Note 3: The ghost probably either backed off for good, or has departed for Pure Land by following his example of practice.]
When approaching death, until [his] breathing ended [and his] strength exhausted, his voice gradually lowered. [When] barely audible, towards [the] West [he] departed. (Western Return’s Direct Pointers)
Commentary: Good friends [when] approaching [the] end [of life are the] most difficult [to] meet.
[Note 4: Truly good and helpful spiritual friends (or ‘good-knowing advisors’: 善知识) are those who can be present to offer guidance (开示) to one departing for Pure Land with support-chanting (助念). May all be such good friends to one another, and have such good friends.]
[The] ‘evil’ ghost that Zhēnshēng saw, [was] clearly as [his] enemy [with a] grudge, [yet] truly then [was his] good friend.
[Note 5: Although the ghost was actually evil in intention and action, functionally, he became as if his ‘best friend’ in ‘offering’ great motivation. This is so even if there was no practice of thought transformation.]
Moreover, both Zhēnshēng [was able to] attain rebirth [in Pure Land, and the] evil ghost [was] definitely able [to be] liberated [from his hatred, and/or the cycle of birth and death. With] one attainment satisfying both sides, [this] cannot [be] said [to be] not fortunate.
[Note 6: Thus, when (living or) dying, with all the more sincere and diligent mindfulness of Buddha upon encounters with ghostly or human karmic creditors, the ideal win-win situation can be created, with both sides reaching Pure Land. Otherwise, there might be the lose-lose situation, of being distracted to be mindful of a ghost, to be reborn as a ghost too, to join ghostly karmic creditors to be further tormented, also letting them create more negative karma, with both sides not liberated from their negative affinity.]
(Record [Of] Pure Land’s Noble Sages):
续编卷二 • 往生居士第四之一
Continued Compilation’s Scroll Two: First [Of] Fourth [Section On] Reborn Laypersons
Compiled [By] Hú Tǐng
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an