An Old Lady in Taiwan Passes Away, Standing Up
In 1968, an old lady in Jiangjun County of Tainan, Taiwan, passed away standing upright.
This old woman had recited the name of Amitabha Buddha for three years only. The karmic connection was through her daughter-in-law, who was an Amitabha-reciter. The old lady was very compassionate, a good person who had worshipped an array of deities. Her daughter-in-law persuaded her not to worship at random, but to set up a shrine at home to make reverences to Amitabha Buddha exclusively. She explained to her mother-in-law the admirable attributes of the Western Land of Bliss.
The old lady had virtuous roots. She listened carefully and took the advice. Thereafter, she recited Amitabha’s name exclusively at home and wished to be reborn in the Pure Land.
For three years she recited. On the day of her death, her filial son and daughter-in-law were with her at dinnertime. “You finish eating first,” she told them. “Don’t wait for me, as I am going to take a bath.” Without another word, she went to have her bath.
The couple waited a long while; the old woman did not reappear. They went to take a look and found that she had indeed bathed. Then they saw her, dressed in a Buddhist gown, standing before the Buddha image in their home shrine. She didn’t respond when they called out. They went up for a closer look: She had passed away – standing up. She did not inform her family, fearing they might intervene. How easy was her manner of passing.
Many people in southern Taiwan still remember this story well. In 1969 I was at Foguangshan Monastery, which had been opened not long before by Master Hsing Yun. He had asked me to be an instructor there. It was then that I heard the account from a worker at Foguangshan. He lived in Jiangjun County and had been a neighbor of the old lady. He told me the story and urged us to recite Amitabha Buddha’s name. “It is true that Amitabha-recitation leads to rebirth in the Pure Land,” he said. He saw with his own eyes the example of the old woman, a neighbor he had known well. She died standing up, without any sickness.
(recounted by Master Chin Kung)
Having exclusively worshipped, recited and aspired to rebirth,
She passed away standing, witnessed by others.
Near and far, neighbors commended her,
Saying rebirth through Amitabha-recitation is the truth.
– English translation by Householder Jingpu
- Recitation of Amitabha’s name, relying on his Fundamental Vow (the 18th)
- Rebirth of ordinary beings in the Pure Land’s Realm of Rewards
- Rebirth assured in the present lifetime
- Non-retrogression achieved in this lifetime
The 18th Vow of Amitabha Buddha
If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, wish to be reborn in my land and recite my name, even ten times, should fail to be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment. Excepted are those who commit the five gravest transgressions or slander the correct Dharma.
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