Chapter 31: Care for the Dying (2)
|31. Care for the Dying (2)
Written by Sheng-yen Lu
Translated and edited by True Buddha Foundation Translation Team
I truly feel that it is easier to liberate those departed spirits who had listened to the dharma and cultivated the practice while they were alive. It would be more difficult to help those spirits whose lives were devoid of the experience of listening to the dharma and cultivating their practice.
I once came across an incident while journeying on the bardo plane. I saw a bardo spirit who had died from a car accident. His spirit was split into pieces and were unable to re-assemble back together, where the head, body and limbs could return to their original positions.
I was kind enough to perform the `Needle Mudra` of Tantrayana and sewed the spirit`s pieces back into one complete human body like a surgeon stitching a patient back up. Know that it is rather fortunate for the dying to await death at home or at the hospital. It is very unfortunate when people die in a car accident, a plane crash, via a drowning, while mountain climbing, in a fire, of being attacked by animals, and so forth.
I helped the accident victim with the Needle Mudra, and asked him, `Do you know the Buddhadharma?`
`No.` He replied.
`What about the Pure Land?`
`Heard of Amitabha Buddha?`
`Its granny`s stuff.`
`Do you believe in it?`
`I don`t believe it!`
`What do you plan to do now?`
`I just want to find and get even with the driver who had left the scene after hitting and killing me. I will be reborn as his son and demand payment!` he uttered in frustration.
I said, `Let it go! Seek rebirth at the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss!`
`No! I hate him!` He ran away.
It is because of situations like this that I say: those who have had the opportunity, prior to their death, to listen to and practice the Buddhadharma, and to seek the mind of the Tathagata-garbha (the True Buddha, the True Reality), are better poised to be reborn to the Buddha`s Pure Land. When the lights appear before them, they are able to differentiate them. Otherwise, when the individual is seriously confused, like most bardo spirits, he would not even utter a single chant of the Buddha`s name!
Here is another example: an individual had taken refuge, learned the Buddhadharma, cultivated the practice, but was steep in attachment, making it difficult for deliverance.
This bardo spirit knew the saying: `Not to do any evil, to cultivate good, to purify one`s mind: this is the Teaching of the Buddhas.` He did not stop at this: he had taken the empowerment of the Body Mandala Practice, where his two eyes were transformed into the sun and moon, his ears were transformed into the precious banner, his head was transformed into a precious canopy, his teeth were transformed into precious gems, and his lower body was transformed to the elements of earth, water, fire, wind and Mount Sumeru. He was transformed into the principal deity and sat on top of Mount Sumeru.
He had cultivated the Tantric practices. He was compassionate, and had cultivated the Four Immeasurables:
1. Immeasurable Loving-kindness is to give happiness to sentient beings.
2. Immeasurable Compassion is to uproot the suffering of sentient beings.
3. Immeasurable Joy is the great joy in seeing that benevolent deeds are carried out and that people are removed from suffering.
4. Immeasurable Equanimity is to relinquish the first three Immeasurables and be detached from them; being impartial to enemies and loved ones, and having no thoughts of attraction and aversion.
If this practitioner had practiced meditation, he would have been reborn in the Brahma Heaven in the realm of form. Thus, the Four Immeasurables are also known as the Brahmaviharas.
He also knew the Giving and Receiving Method: when inhaling, one takes on the pain and suffering of sentient beings, and when exhaling, one heals the ills and calamities of the world. Dark energy in, white energy out. This is the most compassionate form of the practice of taking over the karma of others. The common way to remove karma is inhaling white energy and exhaling dark energy.
When I was traveling on the path of the bardo and came across this practitioner loitering alone in the netherworld, I said to him, `You should be on your way to the Pure Land!` His reply was `No!`
`Why?` I was astonished.
He said, `I had made a vow with my most beloved wife to be husband and wife again in our next life, and I must seek rebirth as a human in order to be with her again. If I had gone to the Buddha`s Pure Land, where no female is present, how am I suppose to experience a married life?`
I was dumbfounded. He walked alone in the netherworld, waiting and waiting for the time......
Sighing as I left, I felt that the attachment to the desire of becoming husband and wife once again in the next lifetime is itself an obstacle to attaining rebirth in the Pure Land. When it is time to let go, one should let go.
Imagine having to become a couple again in the next lifetime. Sigh! Sigh! Sigh!
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