Translations

[12] When Approaching Life’s End With Ten Matters, Not Able To Be Mindful Of The Buddha, Thus Exhorting Cultivation In Advance 临终十事不克念佛勉劝预修 Possible Obstacles When Dying And How To Overcome Them 如何克服可能现前的临终障碍

临终十事不克念佛勉劝预修
[12] [When] Approaching [Life’s] End [With] Ten Matters, Not Able [To Be] Mindful [Of The] Buddha, [Thus] Exhorting Cultivation In Advance

[如何克服可能现前的临终障碍]
[Possible Obstacles When Dying (And) How To Overcome (Them)]

凡夫业重,处处贪生,若不预办工夫,临终不克念佛。

[As] ordinary beings [are with evil] karma heavy, [and are] in all aspects greedy [for] life, if not in advance prepared [with] efforts, [when] approaching [life’s] end, [they might] not [be] able [to be] mindful [of the] Buddha.

[Note 1: The fundamental principle of mindfulness of Buddha, is to have the present mind being aligned to be the ‘same’ as the Buddha. With the mouth, if it is difficult to recite the Buddha’s name, with the mind, one is still able to be mindful (with mental recitation). Even if with the mouth reciting, yet without the utmost sincere mind, having mouthing of words without the right motivation, the present mind is without the Buddha. The utmost sincere mind naturally has profound Faith and sincere Aspiration. With such Faith and Aspiration mindful of the Buddha, there will definitely be birth in the Buddha’s Pure Land. For more details, see https://purelanders.com/2022/02/26/verse-on-the-present-mind, https://purelanders.com/2021/06/08/verses-on-wholeheartedness-2 and https://purelanders.com/2022/02/26/verses-on-the-utmost-sincere-mind.]

天台《十疑论》云:「临终念佛名最后心,其心猛利,一念佛名,即生净土。盖垂死时,其心猛健决定,故胜百岁行力也。」

[The] Tiāntái [Tradition’s] ‘Treatise [On] Ten Doubts [About Pure Land]’《净土十疑论》says, ‘[When] approaching [life’s] end [with] mindfulness [of the] Buddha’s name [as the] last thought, [as] this mind [is] powerful, [with] one recitation [of the] Buddha’s name, [there is] immediate birth [in his] Pure Land. Because when dying, [as] this mind [is] bold, powerful [and] definite, [it is] thus superior [to a] hundred years’ practices’ power.’

[Note 2: The last thought before death is not necessarily the last thought before rebirth, as the consciousness can be disconnected to the body, but yet to be reborn for some tome. For more details, see https://purelanders.com/2019/08/16/when-can-rebirth-in-pure-land-be-attained. For the complete treatise, see https://purelanders.com/shiyi.]

或问曰:「临终念佛即得往生,何假预修胜业?」

[A] question asked, ‘[When] approaching [life’s] end [with] mindfulness [of the] Buddha, immediately attaining rebirth, why [is there] need [to], in advance, cultivate [this] superior karma?’

答曰:「人生寿夭,难测短长,或即病困昏迷,或即非时奄逝,既阙生前之善,难逃后世之殃。

In reply, ‘[As] humans [have long] lives [and] premature deaths, [they are] difficult [to] fathom, [to be] short [or] long, perhaps immediately [with] sickness drowsy [or] losing consciousness, or immediately [with] untimely [or] sudden death. Since lacking good [karma] of [the] life before, [it will be] difficult [to] escape [from the] misfortunes of future lives.

[Note 3: Sincere, diligent and regular practice of mindfulness of Buddha in everyday life creates much meritorious virtues, that can lead to healing of sickness and lengthening of life, should karmic conditions permit. However, to attain truly lasting healing and immeasurable life, Pure Land must be reached.]

[Note 4: The drowsy should be offered clear guidance and support-chanting: https://purelanders.com/now. As those unconscious, such as those in comatose or in a vegetative state, might have their consciousnesses present but unable to respond through their bodies, there should be offering of guidance and support-chanting too. Support-chanting will also help to reduce evil karma that sustain the obstacles present. For dementia patients, this should be practised: https://purelanders.com/2018/10/17/dementia.]

须预作于善缘,是恐防于斯咎。十种命终,不克念佛:

[There] must [be] in advance creating of good conditions, [with] this guarding against those mistakes. [With] ten kinds [of conditions at] life’s end, [there might] not [be] ability [to be] mindful [of the] Buddha.

[Note 5: As sincere, diligent and regular practice of mindfulness of Buddha in everyday life creates much meritorious virtues, this decreases the possibilities of having unfortunate dying moments and untimely deaths, and increases the possibilities of having favourable conditions, to more easily and swiftly be mindful of the Buddha well when departing – as this practice would already be a strong habit, as nurtured in everyday life.]

一者善友未必相逢;

[1] First, [with] good friends, not necessarily meeting one another.

[Note 6: Good friends (or good-knowing friends: 善知识) can be crucial in offering timely reminders with guidance and support with support-chanting – especially for those not familiar with Pure Land teachings and practice. Guidance texts can be seen at https://purelanders.com/sign.]

二者或疾苦缠身,神昏性乱;

[2] Second, perhaps [with] sickness [and] suffering plaguing [the] body, unconscious [and with one’s] nature confused.

[Note 7: When with pain and discomfort, there should all the more be utmost wholehearted (i.e. sincere) mindfulness of the Buddha’s name only, so much so, that there is not even a little mindfulness ‘offered’ to the pain and discomfort. Mindful this way, the suffering will dissolve and disappear, and even be replaced by bliss from the Buddha’s blessings. For more details, see https://purelanders.com/2016/01/13/how-to-handle-pain-with-nianfo. For helping the unconscious and confused, see Note 4.]

三者偏风失语,不得称名;

[3] Third, [with] partial stroke losing speech, not able [to] recite [the Buddha’s] name.

[Note 8: For guiding those unable to speak, remind them to not be attached to verbal recitation as a ‘must’, by using the advice in Note 1 to encourage mental mindfulness.]

四者狂乱失心,注想难克;

[4] Fourth, [with] hysteria [and] confusion, losing [the] mind, [with] attentive thoughts difficult [to] attain.

[Note 9: For helping the mentally confused, see Note 4.]

五者或逢水火,不暇志诚;

[5] Fifth, perhaps encountering waters [and] fires, having no time [for practice with] Aspiration sincere.

[Note 10: As sincere, diligent and regular practice of mindfulness of Buddha in everyday life creates much meritorious virtues, this decreases the possibilities of encountering natural and man-made disasters. Even when encountering them, the possibilities of being accidentally and intentionally harmed will be reduced.]

六者辄遇虎狼,惊惶仓卒;

[6] Sixth, [with] sudden meeting tigers [and] wolves, panic-stricken suddenly.

[Note 11: With mindfulness of Buddha, even instinctively ferocious wild beasts will sense the Buddha’s protective power and not harm the one being mindful. Of course, there must be enough presence of mind to be mindful in such emergencies in the first place. Such readiness can be trained with more sincere and habitual mindfulness of the Buddha in everyday life, with the meritorious virtues of which, reduces the possibilities of such encounters too. This protective power also applies for sudden encounters of potentially and definitely threatening ghosts. For details, see https://purelanders.com/2021/01/04/how-are-those-mindful-of-amituofo-protected-from-evil-ghosts-and-ferocious-beasts.]

七者临时恶友,破坏道心;

[7] Seventh, when approaching [life’s end, with] evil friends, destroying [practising the] path’s mind.

[Note 12: Such evil friends have opposite ‘functions’ of the good friends in Note 6, distracting from proper guidance and support-chanting, perhaps even offering convoluted and opposite ‘advice’. Even worldly (but not spiritual) ‘good friends’ without spiteful intentions can function in these ways with their ignorance and delusion.]

八者饱食过多,昏迷致命;

[8] Eighth, full after eating too much, losing consciousness, [that is] fatal.

[Note 13: Overeating and eating too quickly can lead to choking, blacking out, other problems, and even death.]

九者军阵斗战,忽尔身亡;

[9] Ninth, [in] battle formations fighting wars, suddenly thus dying.

[Note 14: This also includes dying in all kinds of physical conflicts.]

十者或坠高岩,伤中身命。

[10] Tenth, perhaps falling [from a] high cliff, injuring body [and endangering] life.

[Note 15: For prevention and mitigation of accidents, see Note 10.]

故知临终难保吉凶,须是预先修习。可谓闲时做下急时用,免得临期手脚忙。」

Thus, knowing [that when] approaching [life’s] end, [as it is] difficult [to] guarantee [that it will be] auspicious [or] inauspicious, [there] must in advance [be] practice. [This] can [be] called [to be], when [in] leisure times doing [practice of that], when [in] urgent times [to be] used, so as to avoid [having] busy hands [and] legs [when] approaching [that] time.’

[Note 16: To ensure there are more auspicious conditions and less inauspicious conditions when approaching life’s end, there should be more sincere, diligent and regular practice of mindfulness of Buddha in everyday life now, thus accumulating more meritorious virtues to actualise the auspicious conditions. With the conditioning of adequate practice, there will also be the ultimate auspicious condition created, of being able to readily practise mindfulness of Buddha well then.]

《庐山莲宗宝鉴》:念佛往生正诀卷第八
Lúshān’s Lotus Tradition’s Treasure Mirror: Eighth Scroll [On] Right Tips [On] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha [For] Rebirth
优昙普度大师编
[By] Great Master Yōután Pǔdù Compiled

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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