At the age of 76, my Mother, Lín Àizhì (林爱治), whose Dharma name (法名) is Jìngyìn (净印), departed for Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土) on 26 October 2021 at Sengkang General Hospital. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer 5 years ago. As she did not want to go for any surgery, she was only on hormone therapy. She was a vegetarian and had practised Buddhism for 15 to 20 years. (Note: It is best to go vegan as one of the ways to more fully prevent cancer.)
She had received the Five Precepts (五戒) many years ago, and also participated in Eight Precepts (八关斋戒) retreats. She used to volunteer at a temple, especially during Vesak (卫塞) in her 60s and 70s, when she was fit. Although she did not really know how to read, she would follow the crowd during chanting. She always practised Niànfó (念佛) at home twice a day, in the morning and in the late afternoon.
Miraculous Life Extension
In 2016, near the 19th day of the 9th lunar month, which is Guānshìyīn Bodhisattva’s Renunciation Day (观音菩萨出家日), as she had heavy bleeding at her wound, she mentioned that she is departing soon. At that moment, I was very sad and confused. Without any further thought, I went to the shrine with Guānyīn Bodhisattva’s picture at house and said, ‘I will go vegetarian from now onwards, and dedicate the merits to her. Please help her to stay with me for another 5 years, and I will take good care of her.’
2 Days Before Departure
On 24 October, she was in great pain, with hands and legs swollen. When I visited her at the hospital, she said this is her last ‘show’ already. This suddenly reminded me of my request 5 years ago. I did not know then, that my request would come true, or I might have requested for 10 or even 15 years more. (Note: There is a limit to healing in this defiled world, while complete and lasting healing is via reaching Āmítuófó’s Pure Land.)
Day Of Departure
On the early morning of 26 October, the doctor called to inform that she was not doing well as her oxygen level was dropping. We quickly rushed to the hospital. She was not able to talk by then. The doctor said that she is going to depart in a few hours. I quickly asked the staff for a room to do Niànfó. They agreed and allowed a maximum of 3 hours. (Note: This duration can sometimes be ‘extended’ if the room is still available later, and/or if the staff are too busy.)
Before my Mum departed, I kept reminding her to Niànfó, and that she ‘must go to Āmítuófó’s Pure Land’. The helper taking care of her saw her lips moving with reciting of ‘Āmítuófó’. She was excited and asked me to see ‘Ah Ma’ (阿妈) chanting ‘Āmítuófó’. After just a while, she departed with a peaceful smile.
Support-Chanting At Hospital
Due to COVID visitor rules, I was not able to be in the room to do support-chanting (助念) all the time, as other family members also wanted to take turns to see her. I just did my best to Niànfó as much as possible, leaving the Niànfó device (念佛机) turned on all the time. She was also covered with the Rebirth Blanket (往生被) that I brought.
Departure With Peaceful Expression And Suppleness
While chanting, my Mum’s face was ‘golden bright’, as if she was sleeping peacefully. (This is the auspicious sign [瑞相] of the ‘facial expression as if alive’ [面相如生].) The nurses who helped to change her later also commented likewise, saying her body was supple too. (This is the auspicious sign of the ‘body and mind being gentle and soft’ [身心柔软], which reflects physical and mental peace and bliss, with connection to Āmítuófó’s great blessings.)
Fragrance At Mortuary
As her body had to be retrieved via the mortuary before leaving the hospital, I had to enter a room to confirm her body, to receive the death certificate. I was a bit afraid before entering as I thought there might be many bodies in ‘drawers’, as depicted in movies. However, it was a ‘viewing room’, only with her body in it. When I was about to enter, smelling a very nice fragrance, like that of special incense, I felt peaceful. (This is the auspicious sign of ‘extraordinary fragrance filling the room’ [异香满堂], which arises from connection to Āmítuófó’s great blessings.)
Wake And Funeral
During the encoffining service, my Mum still looked peaceful, with her face ample, as if she is sleeping. The wake lasted for 5 days. We arranged for monastic chanting on the third and last night. At the wake, I did Niànfó using the BGRAAM sequence (purelanders.com/wake) at least 3 times a day. A Pureland Practice Fellowship Dharma sister came and practised with me on the first and second nights too.
During The 49 Days
On the morning of first seventh day, for just a short while, I saw my Mum in her hǎiqīng (海青) (Buddhist black lay robes) praying to the Buddha sincerely. During the other days of the 49 days, I practised Niànfó every day, as much as I could, using BGRAAM. On each of the seven seventh day, I would try to create extra meritorious virtues for her (e.g. with contributions for printing of Dharma Books [印经], life liberation [放生], offering to Buddhas [供佛], offering of veg[etari]an meals [供斋] and giving of medicine [施药]).
‘May all merits dedicated help her attain a higher grade of birth in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land.’ (Note: The grade of birth in Pure Land is mainly determined by one’s personal Dharma learning and practice, which give rise to wisdom and meritorious virtues. However, while wisdom cannot be dedicated like merits, as part of the criteria of the grade born in depends on the ‘component’ of meritorious virtues, merits dedicated by others can help one to attain a higher grade too, to some extent.)
Fragrance In Room
I would also visit the temple where her tablet is placed to practise Niànfó regularly. I also practised Niànfó in her room using BGRAAM daily, with Āmítuófó’s picture put up, and a Niànfó device turned on all the time. After Niànfó in her room for a while, there was always fragrance, that did not come from any neighbour, even many times in a day.
(Note: The initial fragrance at the mortuary should mean she was already born in Pure Land by that time, with further fragrances for assurance, to ease any worries – as there was prayer to Āmítuófó later, for more signs that all is well. When such signs are experienced, there should not be distraction or doubt, only having continual sincere Niànfó, to be certain of what is experienced, and to express gratitude. Fragrance can also arise from sincere personal practice.)
Assurance With The Three Provisions
On her Faith (信), my Mother definitely had Faith in Āmítuófó. With this Faith, before his departure four years ago, she also encouraged my Father ‘to Niànfó, to go find Āmítuófó’. On her Aspiration (愿), my Mother did mention to me, that she wanted to go to Āmítuófó’s Pure Land. On her Practice (行), my Mother already had sincere and regular Niànfó practice in her everyday life, and when about to depart, with these leading to the auspicious signs of her peaceful expression when departing, her supple body and the recurring fragrances. With her Three Provisions (三资粮) prepared so well, I am sure my Mother had already reached Āmítuófó’s Pure Land.
I would like to express gratitude (感恩) to my late Father and Mother. We will meet in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land. I would also like to thank Shi’an Laoshi, for guiding us on how to use BGRAAM. It is very useful, especially when group support-chanting is not advisable (due to COVID rules). Without this useful guide, I might not have known how to guide my Mum to Āmítuófó’s Pure Land.
🙏 南无阿弥陀佛 🙏 Námó Āmítuófó : Serene NHP
13 December 2021
(49th day after my Mother’s departure for Pure Land)
In The Night When Sleeping Mindful Of The Buddha Seeing His Light