In the state of Bardo (the state of existence between two lives or the period between death and rebirth), one has a very keen awareness that makes one particularly receptive to help from one’s family. Since a person in such a state is no longer constrained by a physical body, his mind follows instructions more easily. Great benefits can flow if we can guide him along with virtuous thoughts.
The most favorable time to help the deceased is during the forty-nine days of Bardo, especially the first twenty-one days. In these first three weeks, the deceased has a relatively strong connection with the life he knew before death and is therefore more receptive to the family’s help.
The most effective way of transcendental deliverance for the deceased is to recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha". We pray for our loved ones with "true love" and "sincerity." Just as fire burns and water quenches thirst, Amitabha Buddha appears as soon as he is called. When "Namo Amitabha Buddha" is invoked, Amitabha Buddha’s immense light immediately pervades the "body and mind" of the deceased, who will be completely "purified" and liberated from the confused and painful state he is in. He is then endowed with profound and lasting "peace" and is "received" into the Western Land of Bliss.
When we think of our late loved ones and mention their names, we send our love to them by reciting "Namo Amitabha Buddha" as many times as we wish. The "consciousness" of the departed can perceive our thoughts without any impediment and regardless of what language is used. Therefore, the person instructing the deceased must be sincere and focused instead of just reading the text of the rite from the book. This is of utmost importance. At the same time, the deceased is living in the reality of death and is more able to discern the truth [of Amitabha deliverance] than we are. Transcendental deliverance of the departed is not limited to forty-nine days after death. Even if the person we want to help passed away 100 years ago, it is still useful to perform the rite of “transcendental deliverance" through Amitabha-recitation. It's never too late to help.
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team; edited by Householder Fojin)
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings