([For The] Last [Day] Of [This] Human Life)
By Great Master Hóngyī
[In the] ninth year [of the sixty-year cycle’s] twelfth [lunar] month [i.e. January of 1933 C.E.], Xiàmén’s Miàoshì Monastery’s Buddha Recitation Assembly invited me [to] lecture [on this, now as] recorded, [with the] writing [of] this manuscript.
At that time, Vinaya Master Liǎoshí [was] bedridden, not [able to] rise, [in] day [and] night [with] anxiety suffering. Seeing this lecture’s manuscript, [with] sorrow [and] joy mixed together, [he] thereupon let go [of his] body [and] mind, rejected medicine, [and] strived hard [to] recite [the] Buddha[‘s name]. Furthermore, assisted [with his] sickness [to] rise, [he] prostrated [with the] ‘Great Compassion Repentance’, uttering [its] words [when] reciting, long kneeling throughout [this] period, [with] bold [and] powerful diligence, [that] transcended [and] surpassed ordinary persons. Those [who] saw [and] those [who] heard [him, were with] none not by him pleasantly surprised, highly praising [him], saying [they were] moved [by] his efforts [which] had such intensity, [that was] moreover great.
I, because mindful [that] this manuscript, although [is] only [with a] few [sheets of] paper, yet [they] all gather [and] record ancient [and] modern excellent words, and that [from] personal experiences. Those [who] delight [in the] brief [will] perhaps have that [to be] obtained. And for rewording [and] altering definitively, [I am] handing this over [for] publication [and] propagation. [By] Hóngyī Yǎnyīn recorded.
[Note 1: This was first published in Chinese in 1935 C.E.]
The First Section: Introductory Words
[An] ancient poem says,
‘I, [when] seeing other people die, my mind [becomes] hot like fire, not hot [because of] other people, [but] seeing [that] pretty soon, [it will] become my turn.’
[Of this] human life’s last day’s one great matter, how can [it be for] a moment forgotten?
[To] enable, for narrating [on it], next dividing [into] six sections, [they are] as below, [with] those listed.
The Second Section: When Seriously Sick
When seriously sick, [all] should have all family matters and one’s body all let go [of]. Focus [the] mind [on] recitation [of the] Buddha[‘s name] [i.e. Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛], wholeheartedly hoping [to be] reborn [in his] Western [Pure Land. Of] those able [to do] thus, if [their] lifespans [are] already ending, [they will] definitely [be] reborn [there].
[Note 2: Mindfulness of the Buddha (念佛) via verbal or silent recitation of his name is Practice (行), the third of the Three Provisions (三资粮), which expresses wholehearted hope to be reborn in his Pure Land, which is to have Faith (信) and Aspiration (愿) together, as the first and second of the Three Provisions respectively.]
If [their] lifespans [are] yet [to] end, although seeking rebirth [there], yet [having] sickness instead able [to be] quickly healed, because [of their] minds [being] utmost focused [with] sincerity, thus able [to] eradicate past lives’ evil karma.
[Note 3: Some of past lives’ evil karma, along with this present life’s evil karma, can ripen at this present life’s end too. Thus, one seriously sick should not lament of not having done evil (in this present life) to deserve one’s suffering, but be repentant with sincere recitation of the Buddha’s name instead.]
If not those thus letting go [of] all [matters to] focus [their] minds [on] recitation [of the] Buddha[‘s name], if [their] lifespans [are] already ending, [they] definitely [will] not [be] able [to be] reborn [there], because [of] oneself focusing [on] seeking sickness [to be] healed, not seeking rebirth [there, they are] not able [to be] reborn [there] thus.
If [their] lifespans [are] yet [to] end, because [of] that wholehearted hoping [for] sickness [to be] healed, [with] deluded giving [rise of] worries [and] fear, [they will] not only not [be] able [to] quickly heal, instead [with] even more increase [of] suffering [from] sickness.
[Note 4: Natural declining of health, along with needless worries and fear can aggravate physical and mental suffering.]
When sick [but] yet [to be] serious, [they] also can accept medicine, but [they] still must diligently recite [the] Buddha[‘s name, and] not have [the] thought of accepting medicine [for] healing [the] sickness. When sick, since [it is] serious, [they] can not accept medicine.
[With] remaining [days and] nights bedridden [in a] stone room, [to] those [who] have encouragement [of] continuing [with] healing [and] accepting [of] medicine, say [these] verses [to] thank [and decline them],
[Note 5: The stone room refers to any stable and protected room, for privacy and facilitating peace of mind.]
‘[As] Āmítuófó [i.e. Amitā(bha) Buddha], [is the] Unsurpassable [Great] Healing King, [with the] forsaking [of] this, not seeking [him], is called deluded madness.
[The] one line [of] Āmítuófó[‘s name, is] Agada Medicine [that heals all], [with the] forsaking [of] this, not accepting [it], is called [a] great mistake.’
[Note 6: Although healing is possible here, it is ultimately limited, with complete and lasting healing being in Pure Land. (注：虽然可能在此得疗愈，但终究有限，而圆满长久之疗愈在净土。)]
If when seriously sick, those [with] pain [and] suffering extremely severe, must not [have] fear [and] panic.
[Note 7: All negative emotions arising should be seen as reminders to have even more sincere recitation of the Buddha’s name, transforming pointless distress to diligent Practice. It is with good Practice, that connects to the Buddha’s blessings, that all negative emotions are transformed to be peace and bliss too.]
Because this suffering [from] sickness, [is] only past lives’ karmic obstacles.
[Note 8: No matter how many karmic obstacles there are from evil karma, they will not be more powerful than the pure karma created with mindfulness of Buddha, that can easily dissolve them.]
Perhaps, [this] also is transformation [of] future suffering of [the] three realms’ evil paths, [to] in [this] present life [be] lighter received, with [this karmic debit] quickly [and] completely repaid.
[Note 9: Upon reaching Pure Land, there will be no more future suffering at all. Thus, even if going through some suffering presently before reaching it, this is still worth it.]
All [of] one’s clothes [and] all [other] objects, should [be], when with serious sickness, [be] immediately given [to] other people.
[Note 10: Once there is confirmation of being in one’s last days, it is alright to begin giving possessions away, to create rejoice and even more good karma, which can eradicate evil karma. This can be assisted by others. If it is troublesome to handle these before death, this should be done quickly after death.]
If relying [on the] Sūtra [Of] Earth Treasury Bodhisattva’s Fundamental Vows’ Chapter [On The] Thus Come [One’s] Praises, that spoke [of] offering sūtras, images [and] others, [this] then [is doing] extensive good.
[Note 11: Dedicating meritorious virtues from recitation of the Buddha’s name to all beings is also doing of great good, in the easiest way possible, as the Buddha’s name is the ‘Great Name Of Ten Thousand Virtues’ (万德洪名).]
If when seriously sick, [with the] consciousness still clear, [there] should [be] inviting [of] good-knowing [friends], for them speaking [the] Dharma, [to] do their best [to] console [them].
[Note 12: The direct and best consolation is to encourage with sincere guidance (开示) and support-chanting (助念).]
[For] those sick, [in this] present life, [of] all [their] cultivated good karma, raise each [and every] one, detailedly speak and highly praise them, [to] enable [the] minds [of] those sick [to] give [rise to] joy, without having doubts [and] worries.
[Note 13: This should be done quickly, without taking too much time, so as to spend more time offering guidance and support-chanting.]
[With] oneself knowing [that] after life ends, bearing this good karma, [one will] definitely [be] born [in the] Western [Pure Land].
[Note 14: Knowing there is more good karma created can offer more peace of mind and confidence of reaching Pure Land. While good karma can aid smoother reach of Pure Land with a higher grade of birth, what essential for reaching Pure Land are the Three Provisions. This is so even if there was not much good karma created in this present life.]
[The] Third Section: When Approaching [Life’s] End
[At the] time of approaching [life’s] end, [there] must not [be] enquiries [on] wills, also not [having] chatting [and] mixed talking. [This is] fearing that [they might] lead [to] love [and] affection, [with] greedy attachment [to the] world, [thus] having obstacles [for] rebirth [in Pure Land]. Those if desiring [to] leave wills, should when healthy write [them, and] hand [them] over [to] people [for] protected storage.
If [there are] those personally saying [they] desire [to] bathe [and] change clothes, then can [there be] following [of] their desire, and trying [to] do that. If [there are] those saying [they are] not desired, or [those] not able [to] speak, all need not forcibly do [so].
Because ordinary persons, before [their] lives end, [their] bodies unavoidably [have] pain [and] suffering. If forcibly doing moving [and] touching, bathing [and] changing [of] clothes, then [will] pain [and] suffering going [to be] even more severe.
[The] world has people who gave rise [to the] Aspiration [to be] born [in the] Western [Pure Land, when] approaching [life’s] end, because of family members [and] others moving, touching [and] disturbing [them], destroying their Right Mindfulness. Those thereupon caused [to] not [be] able [to be] reborn [there, are] extremely many, extremely many.
Also having [those when] approaching [life’s] end, [who] can [be] born [in] good paths, thus because of other people mistakenly touching [them], thereupon giving rise [to the] angry mind, then led [to] enter evil paths, like that [a] sūtra recorded, [of] King Agnidatta dying [and] falling [to be with a] snake’s body, how can [this] not [be] feared?
When approaching [life’s] end, perhaps sitting or lying [down], all [should] follow their wishes, [as it is] not suitable [to] force [them] to do [otherwise]. If [there are] those personally aware [that their] energy [is] weak, all can lie [on the] bed, not seeking [to, for] looking good, exerting energy [to] sit up.
When lying [down, they] originally should [be] facing [the] West, [on their] right sides lying. If because [of the] body’s pain [and] suffering, changing into supine lying, perhaps [with] those facing East [on their] left sides lying, also let them [do so] naturally, [as changing this] cannot [be] forced.
[The] great assembly when [with] support-chanting [of the] Buddha’s name, should request [an] Āmítuófó’s image [of him] receiving [and] guiding, offering [it] in [the] sick person’s bedroom, [to] enable it [to be] seen [and] gazed [upon].
Of people support-chanting, [whether they are] more [or] less, [there are] no restrictions. Those [with] many people, should [take] shifts [to] recite, [in] continuous succession without interruption.
Perhaps reciting six words [i.e. ‘Námó Āmítuófó’: 南无阿弥陀佛], or reciting four words [i.e. ‘Āmítuófó’: 阿弥陀佛], perhaps fast or slow, all must in advance [be with] asking [of the] sick persons, following their ordinary days’ habits, and [with] that [they have] fondness [and] delight [of]. Reciting that, [the] sick persons [are] then able [to] follow one another, [with] silent [or verbal] recitation.
Nowadays, seeing those support-chanting all following [their] own wishes, not asking [the] sick persons. Since already apart from their ordinary days’ habits, and [with that they have] fondness [and] delight [of], how [are they] able [to] follow one another [with] silent recitation?
I hope [that] from now onwards, all those undertaking support-chanting, [know that they] must [and] should [be] mindful of this one matter.
Also common [for] those [doing] support-chanting, all use [a] guiding bell [or] small wooden fish. With my experience speaking of [this], those [with] nervous breakdowns, when sick, [are] extremely fearful [of the] sounds [of the] guiding bell [and] small wooden fish, because their sounds [are] sharp, [which] stimulate [their] nerves, causing [their] state [of] mind [to be] not [at] peace instead.
If relying [on] my thought, [there] should [be] avoiding [of using a] guiding bell [and] small wooden fish, only using [the] voice’s sound [for] support-chanting, as [the] most appropriate.
Perhaps changing into [a] big bell, big [guiding] bell [or] big wooden fish, [as] their sounds [are] great [and] robust. [As] those listening [will be] able [to give] rise [to the] thought of respect, [this] truly surpass [that] of [using a] guiding bell [and] small wooden fish.
However, of that fond [of], each person has [that] not [the] same. This matter must [be], in advance, towards [the] sick persons, [be with] detailed [and] clear asking, following that they [are] fond [of], then trying [to] practise it. Perhaps [if] having [that] yet [to be] suitable, all can at any time change [it. There] absolutely [must] not [be] stubbornness.
[Note 15: Great Master Hóngyī’s teacher, who is Great Master Yìnguāng (印光大师), taught that among all Dharma instruments, if any is to be used, only the guiding bell should be used, as its sound is clear, enabling the mind-ground to become clear and pure. As the wooden fish’s sound is low and heavy, it is not suitable. (The bigger the wooden fish is, the lower and heavier is its sound too.) To ‘reconcile’ the perspectives, perhaps for those uneasy with the guiding bell’s sound, it can be struck softer, so that it will not sound too sharp.]
[The] Fourth Section: One Day After Life’s End
Since already [at] life’s end, that most important [and] essential, [is that there] must not [be] hasty moving [and] touching. Although [the] body [is] stained, [with] stools defiled, [it] also [must] not immediately be washed. [There] must [be] passing [of] eight hours later, then able [to] ‘bathe’ [the] body [and] change [the] clothes. Ordinary persons all [do] not pay attention [to] these matters, yet [they are the] most important. [I] only hope [to] widely encourage fellow [practitioners, to] rely [on] this, [to] cautiously [and] prudently practise this.
[Note 16: Although eight hours of support-chanting is nowadays popular as a target duration, Great Master Yìnguāng also taught that the body can only be touched or moved after at least three hours of support-chanting, after the end of breathing. Depending on the circumstances, such as local law on when to report death, support-chanting should be practised for as long as possible. In some busy hospitals, being permitted to have support-chanting for three hours after death is already considered remarkable. If departure is at home, there can be longer support-chanting.]
Before [and] after life ends, family members absolutely must not cry. Crying has what benefits? [It is being] able [to] do one’s best [to] help [in] support-chanting then for [the] deceased, [that] has true benefits only. If [there are] those desiring [to] cry, [there] must [be] waiting [until] life ends, eight hours later.
[Note 17: Those who find it too hard to refrain from crying can do so out of sight and hearing of the (dying and) deceased. Those who find it too hard to refrain from crying during support-chanting should quickly and discreetly exit the room too, and return to continue support-chanting only after calming down.]
Speaking of [the] crown door’s warmth, although [this] has basis, [this] however also cannot [be] stubbornly [attached to]. However, those able [to, in] ordinary days [have] Faith [and] Aspiration true [and] sincere, [when] approaching [life’s] end [with this] Right Mindfulness distinct [and] clear, immediately can [be] confirmed [to be with] rebirth [in Pure Land].
[Note 18: Although with the crown as the last part of the body being warm does mean there is reaching of Pure Land, due to various situations, this might not be easy to check. For example, if the body had to be refrigerated in a hospital’s mortuary overnight after autopsy, before retrieval of the body. The warmth might have already dissipated by then. As another example, there might be forgetting to check the crown before encoffining. There should also not be frequent checking of the crown after death, as this is touching of the body.]
After life ends, [with] recitation [of the] Buddha[‘s name] already completed, immediately lock [the] room’s door. [This is to] further prevent those other people [from] entering within, [who might] mistakenly touch [the] deceased. [There] must [be] passing [of] eight hours, then able [to] ‘bathe’ [the] body [and] change [the] clothes. ([As in] previous text already said, now again earnestly exhorting, [this] must [be] remembered, must [be] remembered.) Because those within eight hours, if moved [and] touched, [the] deceased persons, although not able [to] speak, [will] also feel pain [and] suffering.
[Note 19: The eight hours with support-chanting is to offer hopefully ample time for the consciousnesses to depart from their bodies to reach Pure Land. Bearing in mind that cleaning involves much touching and moving, the bathing is not with pouring of water, but gentle wiping, like sponge bathing. The touching and moving will be felt by the deceased, if their consciousnesses are still within their bodies, with sensitivity (of pain and discomfort) magnified by nine times. For considerations on whether there is need to clean and change the deceased, see https://purelanders.com/2021/11/29/changing-and-cleaning-the-deceased.]
Eight hours later, [when] changing clothes, if [there are] those [with] hands’ [and] legs’ joints [that have] hardened, not able [to] turn [and] move, [there] should [be] with warm water, rinsed [for] cleaning. Using cloth mixed [with] warm water, wrapped [on the] arms’ elbows [and the] knees’ bends. Not long [later, they] then can [be] moved, like [those of] living persons.
[Note 20: The water should not be too hot, with wiping and wrapping gentle, for if too hot and harsh, this can hurt the deceased, if the consciousnesses are still within their bodies.]
Clothes [for the body in the] coffin should use old ones, not using those new. Those new clothes should [be] given [to] other people, [as this is] able [to] cause those deceased [to] obtain blessings.
[Note 21: Their old clothes and other belongings can be given to those in need too.]
[It is] not suitable [to] use good coffins, also not suitable [to] make big graves. These [and] other extravagant matters, all [do] not benefit [the] deceased persons.
[Note 22: Such wasteful extravagance can even create extended attachment of the deceased, to ‘their’ coffins, graves or urns, thus not being wholehearted in mindfulness of Buddha for seeking birth in Pure Land. This also wastes their good karma, upon unneeded items, with expenditures that can instead, be used for making charitable donations in their names, to create more good karma and meritorious virtues, for facilitating better rebirths, ideally for higher grades of birth in Pure Land.]
[The] Fifth Section: Deliverance [Of The] Deceased [And] Other Matters
Within seven [of] seven days [i.e. 49 days], [if] desiring [to] extend [with] monastic assemblies’ deliverance [of the] deceased, [it should be] with recitation [of the] Buddha[‘s name] as [the] main [Practice]. If [with] reciting [of] sūtras, repentance prayers, [releasing of] flaming mouths [放焰口] [for offering food to hungry ghosts], Water [And] Land [Dharma Assembly (水陆法会) and] other practices, although [these] have inconceivable meritorious virtues, however, nowadays, [they are by many] monastic assemblies seen completely as [reciting of formal but ‘impractical’] texts, [who] perfunctorily [i.e. half-heartedly] complete [the] practice [of recitation, thus] not [being] able [to] accord [with the] Dharma, rarely having true benefits. In ‘Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’, [he] frequently reproached [and] admonished these, saying they only belong [to that of] spectacles [for public appearances, that] only create empty [conventional] etiquette.
[Note 23: The seven weeks is the maximum duration, during which the average deceased person might be in the bardo (中阴) state, when there will be rebirth, if not already reborn. If not reborn beyond this, they become ‘lonely (wandering) spirits and wild ghosts’ (孤魂野鬼), who still can be reborn in Pure Land, if they heed ample guidance and support-chanting. Great Master Yìnguāng also repeatedly taught that there should be focused recitation of the Buddha’s name (after offering guidance), as the key Practice for guiding and supporting the deceased to reach Pure Land. Although many other Buddhist recitations and practices do create much meritorious virtues, leading to better rebirths, it is with clear, focused and repeated guidance and support to reach Pure Land, that there is actual liberation from cyclical rebirth once and for all. Mere dedication of even much meritorious virtues for this purpose cannot effect this – if the deceased was not guided and supported to give rise to the Three Provisions.]
If focusing [on] reciting [the] Buddha[‘s name], then [will] everyone [be] able [to] recite, [with it] as [the] most feasible, [and] able [to] obtain [the] greatest of benefits.
[Note 24: It is not uncommon that at funerals, there will be family members and friends unsure and/or lazy, who prefer not to join in recitation practices, preferring to just ‘hang around’ instead. With reciting of the Buddha’s four-worded name being easy, they can be easily encouraged to join in, by telling them this – ‘All you have to do, is to follow us, to recite the Buddha’s name, as sincerely as they can, and to also listen to it, as sincerely as you can – so as to do your final part, to guide _____ (name of the deceased) to join in, to connect to the Buddha, for the best rebirth possible. If you do so sincerely, you will create great blessings for _____, and for yourself too.’]
If when inviting monastic assemblies [to] recite [the] Buddha[‘s name, those in the] clan [or household] also should follow [to] recite. However, women should [practise] in [their] personal rooms or inside cloth screens, [to] avoid giving rise [to] criticism.
[Note 25: Apparently, during the era the above was written, many funerals were held at home, with some criticising women joining in funeral recitation practices, with such sexist criticism possibly disrupting the practices. Thankfully, such a misguided view is no longer prevalent today. All women and men who understand these Dharma principles should confidently participate in funeral proceedings together, and even take charge, when possible, so as to best aid the deceased.]
All recitations [of the] Buddha[‘s name and] all other meritorious virtues, should all [be] dedicated universally [to the] Dharma realm’s sentient beings. Thus [will] these meritorious virtues then [be] able [to become] vast [and] great. Then [will] those benefits that [the] deceased obtain also [be] even more, because of [this] reason, [with] increase [and] growth.
[Note 26: Counterintuitively, exactly since there is great concern for the deceased, there should be equanimous concern for all sentient beings (who also include the deceased), thus dedicating meritorious virtues to all. This practice of great compassion and generosity creates more meritorious virtues – for both the deceased and all other beings. Thus, dedication of meritorious virtues should always be to all beings in general first, before dedication to specific beings. Technically, there is no need to additionally dedicate to specific beings, as they were already included with all beings. However, if there is preference for more explicit expression of dedication to specific beings, which is understandable for those unable to directly see all beings as interconnected, this can still be done.]
When opening [with] funerals, [there] should [be] eating [of] veg[etari]an [food, and there] absolutely must not [be] eating [of] meat, [as] causing killing [and] harming [of] lives, [will have] great disadvantages for [the] deceased persons.
[Note 27: Any food eaten by the family members and guests, and offered to the deceased, as made available at funerals, will be in the name of the deceased. With veg(etari)an food, there will be meritorious virtues created in the name of the deceased. With meat, there will be evil karma created in the name of the deceased. This is so as all of the funeral proceedings are made in the name of the deceased, because of their deaths.]
Funeral processions’ ceremonies [and] formats, must not [be] extravagant. Do not plan [to make the] survivors look good, [as there] should [be], for [the] deceased, cherishing [of their] blessings.
[Note 28: Splurging on funerals to personally look good, and at the physical and spiritual expenses of the deceased creates much evil karma instead.]
After seven [of] seven days, [there] also should [be] constant practice [of] seeking deliverance, with [this] fulfilling filial thoughts. [There] must not [be] saying [that the deceased have] already attained liberation, thereupon not upholding practices.
[Note 29: Even if there is fair or absolute certainty that the deceased have already reached Pure Land, deliverance practices can also guide and support others, such as those in the bardo state and wandering spirits, to reach Pure Land.]
[The] Sixth Section: Encouragement [And] Request [To] Give Rise [To] Societies [With] Support-Chanting [For Those] Approaching [Life’s] End
This matter [above] is [the] most important [and] essential. [There] should [be], in cities [and the] countryside everywhere, [with] utmost many [of them] established.
[Note 30: ‘Extremely’ many support-chanting societies practising the Dharma according to these principles are needed everywhere as there are extremely many people departing every day and all the time – without anyone or society offering proper guidance and support-chanting. If we all master these principles, and are able to share them with others around us, who in turn share them with more, we will be effectively creating such societies too, even if informally.]
[As the] ‘Bridge [With] Admonitions [For The] End’ within has detailed rules [and] regulations [for the constitution of such societies, there] should [be] reading [and] reviewing [of] it.
[Note 31: The ‘Bridge With Admonitions For The End’, (that was first published in 1930 C.E.), can be studied at http://www.donglin.org/wenku/%E5%8F%A4%E7%B1%8D/%E9%A5%AC%E7%BB%88%E6%B4%A5%E6%A2%81%EF%BC%88%E6%B0%91%E5%9B%BD%E7%89%88%EF%BC%89.pdf. Based on Great Master Yìnguāng’s ‘Three Great Essentials When Approaching Life’s End’《临终三大要》, (that was first even earlier published in 1930 C.E.), and including it: https://purelanders.com/now, it was compiled by layperson Lǐ Yuánjìng (李圆净居士) as an expanded guide for support-chanting (societies), and as appraised by Great Master Yìnguāng. If this text is deemed not so easy to study due to its length and being in classical Chinese, the Three Great Essentials at least, should be familiarised with, as it is not long and has been translated into simplified Chinese and English already, with further notes too, bearing in mind that they truly contain the distilled essentials to know, as written by the Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch (净土宗十三祖), in his 70th year, merely ten years before he departed for Pure Land. In the text itself, the Great Master did not mention that there are other essential texts to study for guiding and supporting of the dying and deceased, although further study is surely beneficial – if they do not go against the essentials taught, and only support them. This teaching, ‘For The Last Day Of This Human Life’《人生之最后》is also considered as Great Master Hóngyī’s summary of the ‘Bridge With Admonitions For The End’, with mostly similarities with, and some minor differences from the ‘Three Great Essentials When Approaching Life’s End’. Great Master Hóngyī was also Great Master Yìnguāng’s only ‘official’ monastic disciple.]
[The] Seventh Section: Concluding Remarks
[With the] remaining [of the] year going [to] end, not long then is [the] twelfth lunar month’s thirtieth day, as one year’s last [day]. If yet [to be] with money prepared safely, then [with] creditors one after another coming, how [can they be] paid [and] warded off?
[Note 32: The creditors here represent karmic debtors and/or simply karmic debts from past accumulated evil karma.]
When we approach [life’s] end, [it] then is one life’s twelfth lunar month’s thirtieth day, as [this] human life’s last [day]. If yet [to be] with rebirth’s provisions prepared safely, [this will] certainly lead [to] busy hands [and] confused legs [i.e. flustered chaos], [with] crying out [for one’s] father [and] calling [for one’s] mother. [With] many lives’ evil karma at [the] same time manifesting [in the] present, how [can they be] broken away from?
[Note 33: The Three Provisions for rebirth in Pure Land can be seen at https://purelanders.com/2018/02/08/the-three-provisions. The first piece of ‘good’ news is that even though one, several or many past and present lives’ sets of evil karma might ripen at the same time, not all of past and present lives’ evil karma can do so. This is so as there are specific supporting conditions needed for each set of karma to ripen, while it is impossible to have all conditions present for all sets of evil karma to ripen at the same time, as an astronomical number of conditions will be needed. The second piece of good news is that with utmost sincere mindfulness of Buddha, all evil karma that is ripening can be warded off with connection to the Buddha’s blessings.]
[When] approaching [life’s] end, relying on other people [to have] support-chanting, all practices [must] accord [with the] Dharma. However, oneself also must [in] ordinary days [have] Practice. Then can [there be] approaching [of life’s] end [with] ease.
[Note 34: If guidance and supporting-chanting offered does not accord with the Dharma, it might even be better to receive them at all, doing our best with sincere personal Practice instead. This is so as that which does not accord with the Dharma might not only not lead to Pure Land, it might lead to a lower path. In this sense, we should always be our own primary support-chanter, while only seeing others as possible bonus support-chanters, if available for support.]
May [I] encourage all benevolent ones, [who] eventually must [depart], as soon as possible, [be] prepared, [with this] only then, [as] excellent.
[Note 35: As death is definitely arriving, and as it can arrive at any moment, all should be prepared with the know-how for handling it now, for ensuring that one and all (others we can help) will be able to reach Pure Land.]
Suggestions for improvement are welcomed. More translations are available at amituofo.com, purelanders.com and TheDailyEnlightenment.com.
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
What Attitude To Have When Severely Sick?
重病时所求 Aspirations When Severely Sick
重病偈 Verses For The Severely Sick
永愈偈 Verses For Lasting Healing
The Three Great Essentials When Approaching Life’s End
Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!