The Story of a Singapore Policeman
My Dharma name is Jing-le. I am 63 years old and a retired policeman living in Singapore.
I started learning the Dharma and reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha when I was 40. Before that, I knew nothing about Buddhism. Given my past disposition and lifestyle, no one would believe I am now actually studying the Dharma.
At the age of 40, I was diagnosed with a parotid tumor. The news came as the shock of my life. I always took for granted that a healthy body would last. Never did I imagine that one day I would suffer from this disease.
Luckily, the tumor was benign. But some complications developed after the surgery to remove it. Tiny watery cysts formed in the sclera (white of the eye) of my left eye, which caused me severe pain. Though I followed the doctor’s instruction to apply eye drops and take pain killers, the aching persisted and I was in agony. I was extremely worried that I would go blind. At the same time, because some facial nerves were disrupted during the operation, my left cheek became numb. My face was contorted beyond recognition. It looked awful. This affliction, coupled with the unbearable pain in the eye, made me realize one thing: life truly is full of suffering. As a result, I was eager to seek help from Amitabha Buddha.
It may be that my karmic connection with Amitabha had ripened. Just at that time, I came across an elderly Dharma master. He said to me, after learning of my ordeal, “Just recite Namo Amitabha Buddha. Amitabha Buddha will certainly come and help you, and you will be fine.”
I didn’t know anything about the Dharma then. However, the old master was adamant and the pain in my eye was killing me. In desperation I could do little but rely on recitation of “Namo Amitabha Buddha.” I spent more than 40 days of my two-month sick leave reciting continually.
On the evening of the 45th day, I had a dream in which I returned to the rubber plantation in my hometown. Entering the plantation, I saw an old lady accompanied by two tall, strong men. She saw me and said, “There is spider silk in your eye.” No sooner had she said that than she used her fingers to poke my eye and pull out some very long spider thread. Startled, I woke up.
I quietly rejoiced: It must have been a kind of resonance from Amitabha-recitation. I even wondered whether the three persons in my dream were the Three Sacred Beings of the Land Of Bliss. My confidence greatly enhanced, I carried on reciting.
In the next five days, my eye problem was healed without medication. This, I believe, was due to the merit of the 500,000 recitations I made. The facial contortion was also gone after 50 days. My eyes have since been normal.
I never stopped reciting Namo Amitabha Buddha. Unlike many of my friends, I didn’t hop between Dharma schools to try and get on top of various practices. I just stuck with Amitabha-recitation alone, without even going to any Dharma centers. The experience with my eye ailment made me believe strongly that there is only one thing we need to do: recite Namo Amitabha Buddha.
It was not until a year ago or so that I came across Master Shandao’s Pure Land lineage. I came to realize that we just need to recite the name of Amitabha Buddha, and our rebirth in the Pure Land and our attainment of Buddhahood are assured. In this life, we become certain of extricating ourselves from rebirth in the Six Realms. We can achieve this entirely because of the power of Amitabha Buddha. I related to Shandao’s thought at once and I knew that I had made the right decision.
Amitabha-recitation is easy, unique, splendid. It best suits people of modern society, particularly Singaporeans who are too busy to take a rest, let alone practice. We need only a teaching such as Shandao’s which has no rituals, and which can be practiced anytime and anywhere. All we need do is to recite single-mindedly.
Now that I have had the good fortune of coming across this practice, I really have no more wants in this life. What remains for me to do is to “have faith and encourage others to have faith” in it, as Master Shandao exhorted us.
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
[Remarks by Master Jingben:]
The first time I met Jing-le I saw remarkable optimism in him, just as his name implies (“le” means happiness). He laughs heartily every day. Benefitting from the merit of Amitabha-recitation and lacking exposure to other schools, Dharma centers and Buddhist literature, Jing-le is relatively simple and pure. He never worries if he has a deluded mind, or whether he could actually achieve rebirth. Nor is he concerned about how much merit there is in his recitations. When he has time, he devotes it entirely to reciting.
Although we didn’t spend much time together, I know he has great faith in Namo Amitabha Buddha. Let me share two more related accounts of Amitabha-recitation:
Once, a relative of Jing-le’s had an amputation because of a medical condition. Though the wound appeared healed to bystanders, the amputee had developed a phantom limb pain after surgery and still felt intense soreness. Jing-le suggested, and his relative agreed at once, that they should recite “Namo Amitabha Buddha” together. After about five minutes, the pain disappeared. It was truly amazing.
Another time, a friend of Jing-le’s had gone into a coma for more than a month after being treated for meningitis. When he came round, he lost his ability to speak. His wife worried that he would become mute for the rest of his life. Jing-le went to see this friend and after understanding his condition, he asked him to recite Namo Amitabha Buddha right away. Jing-le started reciting and, to everyone’s surprise, his friend repeated the words after him seven times. Jing-le was confident and said to his wife, “Don’t worry. If your husband can recite Namo Amitabha Buddha, I promise you he will be able to talk again.” And Jing-le was right. His friend, despite suffering memory loss, can now speak normally.
Many people, despite having read many sutras, aren’t able to develop the deep faith in “Namo Amitabha Buddha” that Jing-le has. This is probably what Master Shandao described as “developing faith through practice.” Often, the confidence cultivated through recitation is much stronger than that derived from reading texts.
- Narrated by Householder Jing-le, recorded by Dharma Master Jingben
English translation by Foli, edited by Linghui
- 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