Are You Prepared?
Are you prepared for everything, especially death?
How do you know that you are ready?
If suddenly you were to fall seriously ill today and the doctor’s prognosis is that you will soon die, or if suddenly you are critically ill and on your deathbed, would you feel frightened and unprepared?
Or when you hear the news that you are about to die, could you still calmly recite the words "Namo Amitabha Buddha", waiting and looking forward to a greeting from our compassionate and loving father, the Buddha?
Birth and death are inescapable. If you are born into this world, you must face death. Therefore, no matter how hard you try to evade it and how long you are delaying it, you must face it. Trying to wait till the last moment before you face it will inevitably cause more fear and pain.
Knowing that death will come does not mean that we must give up our lives now, but means we recognize and accept it early, and can even transcend it by reciting "Namo Amitabha Buddha". This way, when we have to leave the world one day we won't panic, but will be at ease. Therefore, reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha well in advance will help us face death peacefully and avoid fear early on in our lives.
Some people think that death is still far away: it may be in fifty or ten years time. But the world is capricious and life is impermanent. Read the news and ask yourself, ‘How many people left the world this month? How many people died today? Did all those people live to be 100 years old?’ No! Some were in their fifties - they died of some heart diseases; some were young in their thirties - they may have died from some accidents; some were even stillborn before they breathed. So, is death far away? Who is to know which comes first: "accident" or "tomorrow"?
Shakymuni Buddha said that all things in the world are like dreams, mirages, and bubbles, which can't be caught. If you catch one moment, you can't catch a lifetime; if we can catch one lifetime, we can't catch another lifetime. Therefore, it is better to think like a traveler -- we come to this world just for sightseeing. Only Amitabha's Land of Bliss is our eternal home. Thus, we are at ease and calm whenever death arrives, whether it is in a hundred years, this year, or today.
The Patriarch Master Shandao said: Recite the name of Amitabha for as long as we live: up to a lifetime, down to seven or one day, or even just ten recitations, three or simply one time. At the end of our lives, the Buddha and the sacred assembly will come to greet us, and we will be reborn [in the Land of Ultimate Bliss].
Namo Amitabha Buddha
(Translated by The Pure Land School Translation Team; edited by Householder Fojin)
- 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