[When] Approaching [Life’s] End [With] Ten Matters, Not Able [To Be] Mindful [Of The] Buddha, [Thus] Exhorting Cultivation In Advance
[Possible Obstacles When Dying (And) How To Overcome (Them)]
[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.]
[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.]
[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?’
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.]
[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.]
 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.]
 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.]
 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.]
 Fourth, [with] hysteria [and] confusion, losing [the] mind, [with] attentive thoughts difficult [to] attain.
[Note 9: For helping the mentally confused, see Note 4.]
 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.]
 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.]
 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.]
 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.]
 Ninth, [in] battle formations fighting wars, suddenly thus dying.
[Note 14: This also includes dying in all kinds of physical conflicts.]
 Tenth, perhaps falling [from a] high cliff, injuring body [and endangering] life.
[Note 15: For prevention and mitigation of accidents, see Note 10.]
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.]
Lúshān’s Lotus Tradition’s Treasure Mirror: Eighth Scroll [On] Right Tips [On] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha [For] Rebirth
[By] Great Master Yōután Pǔdù Compiled
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an