Dear fellow Purelanders, I would like to share this testimony on my Mum’s recent passing, so as to help increase everyone’s Faith, and to inspire more to walk the Pure Land path with greater conviction and confidence. My Mum, who was a diligent Pure Land practitioner for many years, was suffering from a terminal illness. Incredibly, she experienced neither extreme pain nor discomfort all along, until her last days, only occasionally becoming restless and uncertain of what was to come hereafter.
Later, she had physical discomfort, loss of appetite, weakness and lethargy, feeling inexplicable hot and cold with a drifting mind… all of which led to her lack of motivation to practise her regular Niànfó. My family members and I constantly rallied around her to provide as much encouragement and support as she needed. We would constantly accompany her to chant Āmítuófó, to ensure it remained a regular routine for her.
Regardless of her state of mind, we regularly used various approaches to encourage her to Niànfó wholeheartedly (一心念佛). We would proactively engage her to practise Niànfó while walking, sitting and lying down, be it verbally or mentally. With our accompanying chanting, we always reminded her to compose herself, to stay focused and not give up.
The day before my Mum’s passing (which was sooner than expected), I held and gently tapped her hand, as I encouraged her to follow my chanting rhythm by mentally reciting Āmítuófó. She followed my instructions and became noticeably peaceful and at ease. It lasted for some time before my sibling took over. When we ended the chanting, she looked very different – with much more calmness, peace and ease. (For those more clearly in the last stages of dying and the early stages after death, there should be no touching, so as to prevent possible magnified pain.)
The next day, she started experiencing slight breathing difficulty but was not in pain, before passing on shortly. My siblings and I immediately commenced eight hours of post-departure support-chanting (往生助念), which we exceeded in duration. Initially, my Mum’s mouth was slightly open. Midway through our chanting, as it started to close, she looked increasingly at peace.
By the end of the ninth hour, with it fully closed and her complexion looking very natural, she resembled one who is resting peacefully. This phenomenon carried on until her body was encoffined. When I consulted teacher Shi’an, he informed that such an auspicious sign (瑞相) is called having the ‘facial appearance as if alive’ (面相如生), which is an expression of the peace and bliss (安乐) of the departed. My family and I are extremely thankful for Āmítuófó’s blessings and his benevolence for my late Mum.
4 April 2021