Support-Chanting Conflict Management Q&A
Question: With stress and emotions running high when handling a family member’s passing, how can we ensure there is harmony in the following situations?
Situation : Having potentially disruptive visits by many relatives during the dying stage.
Answer: Explain the following ‘Agreement’ to them, or display it on the main door, asking them to read and agree to it, before entering the house or room of the dying.
Agreement Before Entry
‘Now that _____ [name of dying person] is dying, we must do our best to guide him/her towards the best rebirth possible – in Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土), where there is no more suffering, where there is only bliss. The way to do this is by taking hourly shifts to Niànfó (念佛) sincerely without interruption in his/her presence, to encourage him/her to do the same. We must not disturb him/her by speaking, crying, holding the hand or even touching as these can cause great pain and distress. If you must cry, please do it where it cannot be heard or seen. Let us Niànfó sincerely now. Āmítuófó, Āmítuófó, Āmítuófó…’
(The Chinese version is available at https://purelanders.com/sign. This text is also in the Pure Land Passport book’s English and Chinese versions: https://purelanders.com/now.)
There must be supervising of visitors’ words and actions, to ensure there is no communicating of the needless, distracting and harmful. There should not be touching, moving and crying. Remind that every single recitation of the Buddha’s name is the best help for the dying person, with it offering great blessings.
If there are definitely troublesome relatives, who might be disruptive despite the above, they should be informed only of the wake or after; not too soon, when dying or right after departure, before adequate support-chanting. There should be advanced family consensus on this, led especially by the dying. See below for more on recording of this agreement.
Situation : Having differences in support-chanting methods, such as on the choice, pace and tune of chanting.
Answer: There should clear explanation with conviction to offer confidence, on why only Āmítuófó’s name should be used. In summary, here are ten reasons for using it: https://purelanders.com/2023/02/15/6-top-ten-reasons-for-using-amituofos-name-when-support-chanting. To save time explaining, the link can be sent to those lacking understanding, with explanation in person if needed.
As for the pace and tune, this track should be used: https://purelanders.com/mp3. If it is too slow instead, it will be difficult to chant without distractions coming in between, and if it is too fast, it will be difficult to chant without exhaustion soon. This recommended tune is the simplest, with only four slight variations for pacing. If it is too complex, it will be difficult to keep in pace.
If others’ suggested support-chanting methods differ from the above, explain the rationale as mentioned. If there are those not agreeable, be prepared to take over the support-chanting, ideally with some family support-chanters for taking shifts, to be sustainable.
Situation : Having differences in what chanted at the wake, such as the Earth Treasury Sūtra《地藏经》, Tibetan and Pāli chanting.
Answer: What should be chanted for facilitating reaching of Pure Land can be seen at https://purelanders.com/wake. The rationale for this (BGRAAM) sequence is also stated in the link. To save time explaining, the link can be sent to those lacking understanding, with explanation in person if needed. In this sequence, the main chants are the Amitābha Sūtra《阿弥陀经》, which concisely introduces and reminds of Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, on why it should be reached) and Āmítuófó’s name.
Other forms of chanting might not be as direct and effective for guiding to Pure Land. If there are those who still insist on offering other forms of chanting, they can be allowed if they are Buddhist in nature, and do not go against the goal of reaching Pure Land. While they might not lead to Pure Land directly, they do create meritorious virtues for the deceased. However, there should be plenty of BGRAAM practised repeatedly, preferably more, to ensure the key message of going to Pure Land is not lost within much mixed chanting.
Note that the Earth Treasury Sūtra actually promotes mindfulness of Buddha despite its lengthiness and many subjects, but it does not speak of mindfulness of Āmítuófó directly: https://purelanders.com/dizangjing. Having other long chanting done takes time from more chanting of Āmítuófó’s name. Some forms of Tibetan chanting are aligned to reaching Pure Land too, but there is usually no chanting of Āmítuófó’s name. Pāli chanting does not have the goal of reaching Pure Land. Thus, it is best to encourage concerned relatives to join in the practice of BGRAAM, so as to focus on guiding to Pure Land directly. To help them understand, this article can be shared.
Situation : Having many relatives saying how other miscellaneous matters should be done differently (before and during the wake).
Answer: To prevent such clashes, share the necessary practices at https://purelanders.com/now with family members in advance, especially those whose passing you are likely to be involved in. If they are agreeable with that shared, they should express this by signing the book version’s first page, or the card attached within: https://purelanders.com/card. Their signatures can be shown to confirm and assert the wishes of the dying or deceased later if needed, thus avoiding conflicts on what to do.
As further proof of agreement, a video can be made expressing consent, for showing later. Ideally, the accompanying ‘Destination Pureland: How To Have The Best Rebirth’ course should be attended too, to learn about the guidelines in detail.
Other Situations : Are there other matters that must not be compromised?
Answer: ‘The Three Great Essentials When Approaching Death’《临终三大要》, which form the framework of the guidelines for before, during and after dying should be adhered to, totally, if not as much as possible: https://purelanders.com/now. Many of them can be prepared for in advance. Preparation and familiarisation should start now.
Finally, to offer general confidence to those lacking appreciation of the efficacy of Pure Land support-chanting, these ancient and contemporary testimonies can be shared: https://purelanders.com/testimonies – ideally now, before anyone enters the dying phase. In fact, this whole article can be shared.
With Recitation Of Āmítuófó’s Sacred Name Doing Buddhist Practices For The Deceased Are Meritorious Virtues The Greatest
Guidance Texts Before Support-Chanting
The Three Great Essentials When Approaching Death
 Top Ten Reasons For Using Āmítuófó’s Name When Support-Chanting
Āmítuófó And Āmítuójīng
Chanting When Dying, After Death, During And After Wakes
Kṣitigarbha Sūtra’s Teachings On Mindfulness Of Buddha
The Pure Land Pass Card
Ancient And Modern Pure Land Practice Testimonies
Differences Between Support-Chanting According With The Dharma And With Three Periods’ Continuous Recitation
Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!