[85] How We Siblings Guided Our Mother To Reach Pure Land

My family and I were prepared for that day to come, when the doctor told us that our Mother was unlikely to live past Chinese New Year (CNY). I contacted a support-chanting group leader few days later, to arrange for support-chanting (助念). He told me that based on her condition, it was still a little ‘too early’ to start, with CNY being about a month away. What more crucial was to guide her to Niànfó (念佛), to aspire for rebirth in Pure Land (发愿生净土).

He came to my house that very evening to share with my family about Niànfó, on how it will help a dying person. It was at about 10 pm that he advised us to start support-chanting soon, when he saw that my Mother’s breathing was heavy. We were not able to check her blood pressure and heart rate then.

He offered my Mum guidance (开示) in Chinese, advising to let go of her suffering body, and to sincerely Niànfó, to seek rebirth in the Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss (极乐世界). He put the Rebirth Blanket (往生被) on her, and sprinkled the Sand Of Golden Bright Light (金光明沙) on the five parts of her body, before starting the support-chanting. (Note: For more on how to use these aids, see sections [25][28] of https://purelanders.com/2015/12/30/important-guidelines-2-during-dying-pure-land-passport-section-4b.)

After about an hour of Niànfó, her breathing returned to normal. He then told us to take shifts in small groups, to continue the Niànfó. (This is to be able to keep offering sustainable support that made rest for ‘off-duty’ support-chanters possible.) (Note: For more teachings on what to take note of, do mindfully study all the links at purelanders.com/now.) My Mother was on a small dose of morphine and her eyes were closed throughout…

About just a minute before her departure, she opened her eyes. I could see that she was looking at the picture of Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛) hanging on the wall in front of her. (This can be seen as expression of taking refuge in him.) She then closed her eyes and passed away peacefully. I could feel the strong pure energy in the room during that period, arising from the Niànfó by my family members.

After her passing, my brother guided her in our dialect, once again, to seek rebirth in Pure Land. This was advised by the support-chanting leader, so as to remind my Mother of her goal, in case her consciousness is still around. One of my sisters smelled fragrance in the room. (This is the auspicious sign [瑞相] of ‘extraordinary fragrance filling the room’ [异香满堂], which arises from connection to Āmítuófó’s great blessings.)

My Mother’s body was soft when we cleaned and changed her the next day, after 10 hours of support-chanting. (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.)

My sister said her crown was warm too. (This is the auspicious sign of the ‘head crown alone being warm’ [头顶独热], as the consciousness has either just departed, or is about to depart from there, to reach Āmítuófó’s Pure Land.) The undertaker told me he could feel the positive energy (磁场) when he stepped into my house too.

During the wake and throughout the 49 days after, we chanted the Amitābha Sūtra《阿弥陀经》followed by Niànfó. In all our dreams, our Mother always looked young and happy. (This is so as in the Pure Land, all have wellness and bliss of body and mind. Without ageing and sickness, they are always strong, in the prime of youthfulness.)

We have a Buddhist friend who knew my family. However, we meet only once a year, during CNY at a temple, as we were not very close. On the 13th day after my Mother’s departure, she was observing the Eight Precepts (八戒). During a circumambulation (绕佛) Niànfó session, an image suddenly appeared in her mind...

She saw my late Mother. She also looked young, and was also smiling happily. She was ‘shocked’ at first, but later joyful at what she saw. As she was genuinely surprised, I think it was unlikely that she was thinking about my Mother then, which makes this also an auspicious sign, that independently confirmed the validity of our common auspicious dreams about her.

(P.S. I wanted to thank you, Shi’an, for your guidance during the earlier period, when my Mother was in a critical condition. She managed to pull through and returned home, before departing 3 months later. Thank you too, for sharing the Dharma in creative and easy to understand ways in class. May you stay well and continue to share the Dharma to benefit all sentient beings.)

Āmítuófó : Ivy Loh
27 December 2020

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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