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 Deliverance of the Dead through Amitabha-recitation

Where will we go at the end of this life? We can discuss this matter in three aspects: 1. in accord with heavy karma, 2. in accord with our habitual behavior, 3. in accord with our mind. These are known as the Three Tendency Forces at the near end of life.
In accord with heavy karma – this is the heaviest karma that a person has accumulated in this life, whether it is good or evil. Usually, we will be dragged by this heavy karma to our next destiny for the appropriate learning. It tends to fall on the heavier side first, just like a balance. It is the meaning of “in accord with heavy karma.”
In accord with our habitual behavior – In this lifetime, a person has not performed any extraordinary good acts or committed very heavy offenses; but, he is inclined to habitual behavior. In this case, those habit energies will set the stage for his next incarnation.
In accord with our mind – In the absence of heavy good or bad karma, no particular habitual behaviour, however, at the near end of his life, a person thinks of a kind of realm, for instance, listening to the Buddha’s name or reciting it, he will be reborn in the Buddha’s Pure Land and leave the Six Realms of reincarnation. If he thinks of wholesome matters at the near end of his life, he will follow what he thinks and receive the respective wholesome incarnation.( perhaps as a celestial being or human again.)
If he is strongly attached to his family members at the near end of his life, he tends to become a member of that family again. If there is a female family member in labor or a dying relative, he may be reborn as a watch dog or pet cat.
So, the state of mind near the end of life is very important, and can be frightening as well. Within a single thought, we can ascend to heaven or descend to hell. Human body or animal body can be determined in a flash. Understanding the ‘the three tendency forces at the near end of life’, we should make Amitabha recitation a priority, and form a habit of reciting Amitabha’s name in the present lifetime.

Regardless of our rebirth being in accord with heavy karma, in accord with our habitual behavior,in accord with our mind, we do not abandon ‘Namo Amituofo’. As long as we are practitioners of Amitabha recitation in this lifetime, Amitabha Buddha must appear at the near end of our life and receive us. Because of his great kindness and great compassion, he never abandons us.
Due to his great paranormal powers, Amitabha Buddha knows when we die and under what circumstances. So,no matter if we are unable to recite (as with coma, stroke, or sedation) He knows them all. Amitabha Buddha will protect us and bless us.
So, it is our responsibility to recite Amitabha’s name now, in order to make Amitabha-recitation our heavy karma and our habit. If we can recite Amitabha’s name near the end of life, we are, of course, single-minded in Amitabha recitation. Even if we are in a coma due to past karmic offenses, we should be at ease. Our consciousness is still active though our organs are in coma.
Our vision is very clear when Amitabha Buddha comes to receive us. Due to serious illness, if we cannot recite Amitabha’s name near the end of life, we understand that Amitabha Buddha must come to receive us when the time comes. Thus, our mind will be pacified, stable and comfortable. We will not be panic and worry where we go.

Owing to the fact that Amitabha’s name and his light are one entity, our body is illuminated with light when we recite Amitabha’s name. If we recite for hell beings or for some other people, this light will illuminate them. Wherever the light goes, it can eliminate catastrophes, clear karmic obscuration, increase fortune and wisdom; and, in that way, deliver ancestors.
So, if we can sincerely recite Amitabha’s name, we can, through merit-dedication, deliver the dead, create positive and smooth surgical results, or help in overcoming all kinds of calamities with perfect and complete outcomes.

In the Kstigarbha Sutra, when a person has not had any chance to learn Buddhism in his life, and committed many offenses under evil karmic circumstances, he is advised to recite Amitabha’s name near the end of life. If he repents and recites “Namo Amituofo” even one time, he is liberated from the Three Wretched Realms, and will not have any retribution due to his past karma. If that person recites Amitabha’s name with aspiration for rebirth, he can be reborn in the Land of Bliss immediately, without further reincarnation in the Three Domains and Six Realms.
It is not because of his virtues accumulated in this lifetime, nor the result of zealous cultivation; but, it is the functional power of Amitabha’s name. His name is called the great name of “ten thousand virtues.” “Ten thousand” is not a number here; but, expresses the splendor of the teaching. It expresses the perfect, complete, transcendent merit and virtues inherent in Amitabha’s Name.(including the Three Canons and the Twelve Divisions.) Whoever recites this name can attain ten thousand virtues and clear all karmic obstructions.

We are practitioners of Amitabha-recitation. We recite Amitabha’s name every day. This means we always transcendentally deliver the dead, not necessarily only in July. Due to the power of Amitabha’s merit and virtues, our ancestors are automatically delivered if we recite Amitabha’s name. In addition, our children and grandchildren are protected and karmic conflicts with debtors and enemies will be resolved.
It is because debtors and enemies, who follow us life after life, can hear Amitabha’s name. If they respect and admire our practice of Amitabha-recitation, Buddha’s light will automatically brighten their minds and they will be reborn in the Land of Bliss. So, Amitabha-reciters are not required to transcendentally deliver the dead in separate practices.

In our regular morning and evening service sessions, we keep reciting Namo Amituofo, Namo Amituofo. It is not necessary to recite sutras, or hold dharani and other practices. It doesn’t matter how long our regular session is or if we recite just once. At the end, we recite the Verse of Dedication as follows:
May the resulting merit
Be distributed to all beings without discrimination.
May all of us aspire to attain perfect Enlightenment,
And to be reborn in the Land of Peace and Joy.
It will naturally transcend in the deliverance of our ancestors.

If Amitabha reciters do not recite the Verse of Dedication, can they enjoy the benefits of merit dedication to their ancestors, relatives in past lives, debtors and enemies? Yes!
It is the ordinary functional power of Amitabha-recitation that it can naturally deliver ancestors, protect children and grandchildren, and dissolve conflicts with our enemies and debtors. It is not particularly necessary to dedicate merits to our ancestors, children and grandchildren.

Those, who aspire to rebirth in the Land of Bliss and have no doubts concerning Amitabha’s deliverance, will be 100% reborn under any circumstances. Those aspirants to rebirth in the Land of Bliss who recite Amitabha’s name exclusively, will be automatically embraced and protected by Amitabha. He is their guardian at the near end of their life; so, they are assured of rebirth.
Those who have no faith and aspiration, and no recitation practice in this lifetime, can still be assured of rebirth if they recite Amitabha’s name at the near end of their life. As they near the end of their life, their body will wither. When the body in their next life is formed, it will be enveloped in Amitabha’s Infinite Light.
Moreover, though they may be in a coma or their tongues are numb, their mind consciousness is still clear. If someone helps them by reciting Amitabha’s name to facilitate their acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance, they will be 100% assured of rebirth. Pure Land Buddhism is the easiest to practice; but, most splendid in rewards!

The last thought at the end of our life is very important. How do we deal with those reaching the near end of their lives? Generally speaking, we can bathe them and change them into clean clothes if possible. If it is not possible, it is important not to move them; but, to simply explain Amitabha’s deliverance and assist them in recitation.
There are two main points in the speech. Firstly, let him know there is no peace; but, only suffering in the Saha world. We do this to encourage him to release his attachment to this world. Secondly, describe the splendor of the Land of Bliss, in order to arouse his aspiration for rebirth there.
Then, recite “Namo Amituofo” together. The Buddha will appear at this time. Moreover, due to his aspiration for rebirth in the Land of Bliss, he will be received by Amitabha Buddha.
In conclusion, when dealing with those near death, firstly, do not move them; secondly, speak and advise them to believe; thirdly, recite Amitabha’s name. It is known as the Three Important Tasks at the near end of life.
Furthermore, the dependents and relatives should put aside trivial matters, if possible, and devote more time to reciting Amitabha’s name loudly and sincerely for 8 hours to 24 hours after his last breath.
Amitabha Buddha will emit great, compassionate light to protect and comfort the dead. In so doing he will remove his karmic offenses, nurture his virtuous roots, liberate him from reincarnation within the Six Realms, and receive him in the pure and peaceful Land of Bliss. After that, you can clean his body and change his clothes, or decorate the Buddhist hall, or handle other matters.

Cleaning the body is a tradition to express the filial love of the younger generations to the dead. Before the burial, the body is cleaned to ensure there are no bad smells and dressed properly. Some scent is usually applied to the body giving it a fragrant smell. This is the way to perform one’s filial duty or those who have died.
As far as rebirth is concerned, the cleanness and dirtiness of the body is not directly related. Usually, when the body is sent from the hospital, it is already cleaned by nurses; so, there is generally no need for it to be cleaned again. However, If they want to clean the body as an offering to the departed, they certainly can.
In a nutshell, hold to the principles of respect, filial love and solemnity.

The main function of assisted recitation is the reliance on Amitabha’s deliverance. It is because Amitabha Buddha will appear immediately in response to our recitation.
The purposes of assisted recitation are: lead the dying person to recite Amitabha’s name, invite Amitabha to appear and deliver the dying person.
This is for the dying person who cannot recite to be reborn in the Land of Bliss. With his last breath, he will transform to a ‘transitional’ body (if his good karma is not great or his bad karma is not heavy.) A person normally cannot see the Buddha with his mortal eyes; but, with his transitional body, he can see the Buddha easily.

Amitabha-reciters are always within Amitabha’s light, so Amitabha Buddha must appear and receive them at the near end of their lives. It does not matter whether they have assisted recitation or not, or whether the causal conditions are favourable or not. They are assured of rebirth in the Land of Bliss.

During assisted recitation, we need not contemplate Amitabha Buddha emitting light in order to increase its effect. Absolutely not necessary! Amitabha Buddha knows what the dying need much better than we do. It is enough for us just to recite Amitabha’s name, single-mindedly and sincerely.

Some people strongly object to assisted recitation at the end of one’s life. They contend that the dying person has failed to put faith in rebirth throughout his life, not to mention within such a short and critical time. This view is incorrect.
People always advocate for those they know and exclude those they don’t. At this critical moment of ascending or descending, the dying may fall into lower realms if they are not able to grasp the chance.

At the near end of one’s life, if a person comes across someone who tells him about Amitabha’s deliverance and the assisted Amitabha-recitation, his chance to attain rebirth is very high, unless he is attached in his mind, or he does not aware of the suffering of reincarnation, or does not know the benefits of rebirth. If he is heavily attached to some unfulfilled wishes in the world, or entangled with love and hatred, grace and regret, etc., he may not attain rebirth at that moment.

When a sentient being is near his end-of-life, whether he has come across any Buddhist teachings before or not, if he can hear the principle of Amitabha’s deliverance, he has to believe Amitabha’s deliverance. In this respect, he should not attach to the worldly matters, including his family members. Even if he sees any realm like his ancestors to come, do not get close to them. Only when he sees Amitabha appearing, he can step on and sit in the lotus altar.
Tell him about that, and then recite “Namo Amituofo” besides him, and let him recite too. If he aspires to be reborn in the Land of Bliss in his mind, and recites Amitabha’s name, he will certainly attain rebirth at that time.

A dying person who realizes the great love of Amitabha will have an unexpected change in his spiritual mind. First, he will let go his body and the worldly matters, without falling into a panic and fear of death anymore. Moreover, his mind will suddenly become calm and peaceful, filled with forgiveness, love, and grace.
His mind is unlocked and pacified, has no more anxiety and struggle with life and death, and in a state of tranquillity and peace. His face, thus, will brighten up with relieved and normal looks. When he takes his last breath under this state of mind, his spirit will be received by Amitabha Buddha at the same time, and he will attain rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land.

According to the doctrinal teaching of Master Shandao, the main / direct cause of rebirth is to recite ‘Namo Amituofo’ exclusively. If we exclusively recite Namo Amituofo now, and we do not change our mind, we are certain to be reborn in the Land of Bliss. It doesn’t matter whether we have coma or not at the near end of our life. It doesn’t matter whether our body has pain or not at the near end of our life. It doesn’t matter whether we can recite Amitabha’s name or not at the near end of our life. In other words, how we are at the near end of our life is not a concern, but how we are at the present moment is counted.
We exclusively recite ‘Namo Amituofo’ at present, then Amitabha’s light will continue to protect us from now on without forsaking us, forgetting us. By the last hours of death, Amitabha’s light will appear to deliver us. Even we are in coma, Amitabha can deliver us without being interfered / impeded / obstructed.

Our responsibility is to recite Amitabha’s name at present time. By the near-end of our life, when Amitabha Buddha comes to receive us, if we can recite Amitabha’s name, just do it; if we cannot, it doesn’t matter.
Say, in case of coma, our sensual organs are failing, but our consciousness is not. So, when Amitabha Buddha comes to receive us, we know it in clarity. The body pain may hold us back from reciting Amitabha’s name; but we know in our mind that Amitabha Buddha will come to receive us, and we just need to wait for him peacefully. This just like an infant knowing, without any mistake, that his mom will come to feed him, or to change his diaper in the right time.
Besides, we shall not have any doubt such as asking: Shall I be reborn if affliction and miscellaneous thought entangle my recitation of Amitabha’s name? For sure, we can still be reborn in the Land of Bliss [under such circumstance].

Rebirth by Amitabha-recitation is not determined by number of recitation. It doesn’t matter how many times you recite, how heavy your karmic offenses is, how proficient your capacity is, how much you can clear your miscellaneous thoughts, or how pure your mind is. Rebirth relies entirely on the strength of Amitabha Buddha’s power (the vow power), entirely on the light—the divine power of merits and virtues generated by his great name, with which every recitation we utter turns into the primary cause of rebirth, and provides all the essential merits and virtues necessary for rebirth.
Thus, regardless of our aptitude, virtue, and proficiency, once we exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, the Buddha and the sages will turn up unsolicited, to receive us for rebirth at the point of death.

Amitabha-reciters should have absolute faith in the words that the Buddha says. Amitabha Buddha tells us: You recite my name, and I deliver you. Your responsibility is to recite, and delivering you to the Land of Bliss is my responsibility.
Just recite the name; don’t worry about such questions: Will Amitabha Buddha come to receive me, if I am in coma at the hour of death and not able to recite the name? Will Amitabha Buddha come to receive me, if I am suffering from great pain that I cannot recite the name and my mind is overwhelmed with the feelings of pain? Will Amitabha Buddha come to receive me, and could I be reborn, if I am caught in a disaster of aviation, a car accident, in flooding, in fire, or in earthquake, and die suddenly, not knowing to recite the Buddha’s name in such critical moments?
We must absolutely believe that Amitabha Buddha will receive us under any circumstance at the end of our life, so that we can be reborn in the Land of Bliss, just same as in ordinary situations.

Some people may worry: what happens if I cannot recite Amitabha’s name at the last moment of life because of pain in illness?
Don’t worry. Amitabha Buddha knows your situation. Amitabah Buddha has great paranormal powers, also great vow power. With his great compassion, great wisdom, Amitabha Buddha knows what karmic offenses you have, what happens at the near end of your life, whether you can recite or not, clear in mind of in coma. Amitabha Buddha knows all these.
Thus, he will not leave us alone and not deliver us. He must receive us when time comes.

As long as we aspire to be the Land of Bliss and are single-minded in reciting Amitabha Buddha, Amitabha Buddha will come to receive us when the time comes. From now on till the near end of our life, Amitabha Buddha never leaves us alone, forget us and despise us, even one minute or one second. It doesn’t matter we are clear or in coma at the near end of our life, Amitabha Buddha will come, as usual, to receive us.
Coma means organs in coma, so it seems, from the perspective of an outsider, that a person cannot recite Amitabha’s name, his eyes cannot see and his ears cannot hear, and his limbs cannot move. However, his mind is actually clear.

The name ‘Namo Amituofo’ consists of the meaning of all kinds of light. When Shakyamuni Buddha explains the name of Amitabha, he says, “The Buddha's light shines boundlessly and without hindrance over all the worlds of the ten directions. It is for this reason that he is called 'Amida' (Amitabha).” What is the function of Amitabha’s light? It can naturally embrace, protect and deliver those who recite his name.

Amitabha Buddha embraces sentient beings with his light without being impeded. It means, it is not impeded by the karma, greed and hatred, false and miscellaneous thoughts of the Amitabha-reciters. So, any Amitabha-reciter, no matter he is good or evil, sagely or ordinary beings, his mind is pure or not, will not be blocked by his karmic creditors, or prevented from Amitabha’s deliverance.

It is our responsibility to recite Amitabha’s name in the present lifetime, and Amitabha Buddha is responsible for receiving and taking us to rebirth. So, those who recite Amitabha’s name throughout their lifetime will see the Buddha appears before them without fail when they approach the end of their life. We don’t need to worry about or overthink the circumstances under which we die. It is because by nature Amitabha Buddha will come and receive us.
Because of his great compassion and great wisdom, Amitabha Buddha knows what karma we have, what happens at the near end of our life. So, when the time comes, he will be responsible to receive us to the Land of Bliss.

At the last moment of an Amitabha-reciter’s life, Amitabha will certainly come and receive him, without being blocked by the enemies. The only worry is that the dying person has attachment; if attached to nothing, he will easily be reborn without any impedance, like to walk out through the door. When he looks back, he feels sublimed.
Attachment refers to loving or hating a person, and nothing else. If the dying person is disturbed by hatred, he will still be reborn once hatred is gone. However, he may hesitate to go if his sons and grandsons cry. People’s mind is difficult to predict. Above all, an Amitabha-reciter will be certainly received by Amitabha at the last moment of his life. Whether or not he will be reborn depend mostly on the presence or absence of his aspiration for rebirth.

With the appearance of Amitabha Buddha at the point of death, all debtors and enemies, demons and ghosts dare not to get close and disturb you. Amitabha’s appearance will pacify your mind and avert panic. Whoever recites Amitabha’s name for aspiration to rebirth, Amitabha Buddha will not miss the time, delay, or forget. He will appear immediately before the end of your life and receive you.

If a person [exclusively] recites Amitabha’s name in his present life, and has the mind of aspiration to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, he will see Amitabha appearing at the time close to death; the Buddha will directly receive him for rebirth in the Land of Bliss, without going through the trial by Yama King [of the underworld].
For persons of great virtues, they will be reborn directly in the celestial realm, also without going through the trial by Yama King. A terribly evil person, however, will fall all the way down to hell. For those who are not reborn in the Land of Bliss, or not a great virtuous person, a transitional body will be formed. In the next 49 days, they will be anxious, waiting for the trial that will determine their destination in the next life.
So, during the 49 days before reincarnation, they ardently long for their relatives and dependents in the “yang” (or sunny, mundane) world to contribute and dedicate meritorious virtues to them, so that they will be saved and relieved from sufferings.

Amitabha-reciters who believe in and accept Amitabha’s deliverance in the course of the present life, or just at the last moment before death, will be reborn in the Land of Bliss immediately without going through a “transitional state” [between two lives on earth, or bardo in Tibetan].
If they do go through the “transitional state”, that means they have not been reborn yet. The reason why they are not reborn is either that they did not believed in and accepted Amitabha’s deliverance before the end of their life, or that they did not exclusively recite Amitabha’s name without interruption; otherwise, they don’t need to go through the “transitional state”.
If they have to go through the “transitional state”, does it mean that Amitabha Buddha refuses to deliver them? No, it doesn’t. Amitabha Buddha delivers sentient beings in the ten directions, including those in the “transitional state”.
Then, how can the transitional-state being have the causal conditions to be delivered by Amitabha Buddha? In that case, it depends on those who are alive to tell him the teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance, and to recite Amitabha’s name besides him, so that he can hear. In this way, he can still be reborn in the Land of Bliss.

“If one commits many karmic offenses, one should fall into hell. However, soon as one hears of Amitabha’s name, the flaming fire will be cooled down immediately.” It means, if a person has performed many evil deeds in his last life, he will, of course, fall into hell.
However, if someone recite ‘Namo Amituofo’ for him, or he can hear of ‘Namo Amituofo’ while he is in hell, the flaming fire in hell, or even knife mountain, sword trees, pot with boiling oil will immediately vanish, and that person will be relieved from sufferings in hell at once.

A family member that has just passed away, in every thought, wishes his surviving kin to contribute merits and virtues to him, so that he can get away from the darkness, fear and sufferings he is experiencing. Therefore, we have to offer them with vegetarian food, and do not kill living beings in seven sevens or 49 days. It is much better if the surviving kin can also stop eating meat and recite Amitabha’s name within these 49 days.

People who are still alive dedicate merits and virtues to those who is dying. How much can the latter be benefitted? It is one-seventh. The remainder is attained by the former. So, to practice and accumulate merits and virtues in cultivation, we should do it when are still alive.

Although we may learn the way to attain rebirth in the Land of Bliss through Amitabha-recitation only at the time near to the end of our life, Amitabha will respond immediately and come before us as long as we recite his name continuously. Every single recitation is eradicating our karmic offenses that lead to reincarnations within the cycle of birth-and-death, because it has the function of eradicating karmic offenses of birth-and-death.

No matter who recite Amitabha’s name in what time, at which place, and under what circumstances, Amitabha will response immediately upon hearing the voice and appear to relieve him or her from the sufferings. If one recites the name at the time near to the end of their life, it is the high time for Amitabha to welcome and receive them for rebirth in the Land of Bliss.

For an Amitabha-reciter who exclusively recites Amitabha’s name and aspire to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land, certainly he will see Amitabha Buddha and an assembly of sagely beings appear before him at the near end of his life, which is close to his last breath.

Two indicators are generally used for verification of whether a person has been reborn:
  • If a person, while he is alive, aspires to be reborn in the Land of Bliss and exclusively recites Namo Amituofo with a genuine and indubitable mind, his rebirth is ascertained no matter how he dies. It is due to the correspondence between cause and effect.
  • In another situation, we do not know whether the person recites Amitabha’s name in his present life, or whether he really wants to be reborn in the Land of Bliss. However, prior to his death, someone inspires him with this teaching, and assists him in Amitabha-recitation. He can visualize the presence of lotus flowers and Amitabha Buddha. Relatives or people around him also visualize his ride on the lotus flower. These phenomena verify his rebirth in the Land of Bliss.
After assisted recitation, the dying person’s appearance may become warm and mild, his face may even look splendid and flawless, his body may become pliable, and a scent may also be smelt out. However, even with the existence of all these features, it is not 100% ascertained that the person has been reborn. For confirmation of his rebirth, it is critical to see whether Amitabha Buddha is present and whether the person follows after him.
If a dying person, after assisted recitation, cannot be reborn immediately at the end of this lifetime, he is still guaranteed not falling into the Three Wretched Realms. Besides, after several lifetimes, he will be eventually reborn in the Land of Bliss.

If you find a dead dog or cat, bury it, take refuge for it, speak of the teachings to it, recite Amitabha’s name for it, hoping it can be reborn in the Land of Bliss with this causal condition. This is also the blessed retribution of the animals.

If you cannot avoid keeping small pets, you can play the soundtrack of Amitabha-recitation, tell them the teaching of taking refuge and the Buddhist teachings. If the conditions ripen, you can also invite them to recite Amitabha’s name with you. If these animals run into other people, they will not have the karmic condition to be liberated. They now have the karmic condition to be liberated because of their encounter with you.

The retributive blessing and splendid benefits of Amitabha-recitation, according to the scriptures, are not surmised by people of the Two Vehicles; but Buddha alone understands. That is to say, even an arhat or bodhisattva cannot fully understand the splendid benefits of rebirth through Amitabha-recitation. This kind of benefits can only be understood among buddhas because they alone possess that level of wisdom. Even the people of the Two Vehicle do not understand, how can we ordinary beings understand? That is why Master Yinguang said it was inconceivable.
We should disseminate and expediently teach other people this [Pure Land] school of inconceivable merits, especially those at the point of death. We tell them the teaching, and assist them in Amitabha-recitation, so as to help them attaining rebirth in the Land of Bliss. It this way, effective result is achieved with minimal effort, and high success rate is scored by an easy method. Although we may feel toilsome for a few hours during assisted-recitation, the value is indescribable if the dying person can be reborn in the Land of Bliss.

Preaching to a person at the end-of-life or to a “bardo” (being in-between two lives) according to the Pure Land teaching is sufficient. The Sutra of Delivering the Dead is a scripture in Tantric Buddhism. We Pure Land practitioners will follow the Pure Land teaching rather than the Tantric.

The present or absent of auspicious relics (sarira) [after cremation] is not the benchmark for assured rebirth. The visible sign [of rebirth] varies from person to person.

We should help our ancestors to surpass (the Three Wretched Realms) and obtain deliverance by Amitabha-recitation. Whether it’s already 49 days doesn’t count. Do try our best to make ourselves available every day within the 49-days period for Amitabha-recitation that takes our ancestors across.
After the 49 days, if we still don’t know where our ancestors have gone—may be fallen into the Three Wretched Realms, we should continue to recite Amitabha’s name for him at this time. Amitabha Buddha will emit a brilliant light to the Three Wretched Realms, and pull him out.

A person at the time close to death usually sees in advance the place he is heading to. We cannot see that because we are not close to death yet. For now the ‘chi of yang’ (or positive energy) is still vigorous, and the magnetic field is different. At the near end of our life when the chi of yang declines while the ‘chi of yin’ (or negative energy) escalates, we can see that too.
So, a person who aspires to be reborn in the Land of Bliss and exclusively recites Amitabha’s name in his present lifetime will see the landscape of the Land of Bliss during the near end of his life. A person who commits all kinds of evil offenses will see the landscape of hell before his last breath. He may even have painful feelings, look like suffering from penalties in hell.
A Sutra says, “At the near end of one’s life, all good and evil karma for the entire life appear at one time.” When our life is close to death, all various acts, good and evil karma accumulated in decades, are suddenly shown up within a few minutes, like a film in fast motion, so that all our good and evil karma for the entire life would be reviewed.

It seems to be normal, nothing special that we recite Amitabha’s name while we are alive. We cannot see our body emitting any light, nor Amitabha Buddha standing in the sky. Provided that we cultivate through our own power for the whole life, the merits and virtues accumulated through various wholesome practices are not comparable to that through the practice of recitation of a single name. It is because this single name possesses ten-thousand virtues that have been accomplished and contained within it.
We can dedicate these merits and virtues to our ancestors. Though they did not have any karmic connection with Amitabha Buddha, not take refuge to the Three Jewels, not be vegetarians, or not recite Amitabha’s name for aspiration to rebirth in their previous lives, however, Amiatbha Buddha can emit light to protect and fortify them when we dedicate [merits and virtues of Amitabha’s name] to them. Once the karmic conditions are ripened, they can also be reborn in the Land of Bliss.

If a person does not have aspiration to be reborn in the Land of Bliss in the present life, but still recites Amitabha’s name all the times, Amitabha embraces him too without forsaking. Amitabha will appear before him at the time close to his death. He will see the huge body of Amitabha Buddha with splendid light, thus relieve him from sufferings, worries and fear, and the mind of aspiration will suddenly arise upon seeing the Buddha and the Land of Bliss. At that time, he can be reborn in the Land of Bliss as well.

After death, if a person is reborn in the Land of Bliss, his body will be generally soft; if he ascends to heaven, his body may also be soft; and if he becomes a deity in the “yin” realm (or underworld), his body may be soft too. If he performs virtuous conducts for his whole life, and reincarnates to become human again to enjoy the human fortunes, his body may also be soft. Hence, softness is not necessarily the only benchmark for verification of rebirth [in the Land of Bliss].
There are two benchmarks for rebirth. Firstly, in his present life he has determined to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, and exclusively recites “Namo Amituofo”. If he can do that, he is certainly reborn no matter his body is soft or not after a number of hours of his death.
Secondly, we don’t know whether he has determined to be reborn in his present life, or whether he exclusively recites Amitabha’s name. However, if someone comes to tell him about this teaching, and assists him to recite at the time near the end of his life; if someone among these people sees Amitabha comes to receive him with the lotus altar; and if someone in his dream sees him being reborn in the Land of Bliss, then we can positively affirm that he has been reborn.
If someone smells a special scent or sees the light of Buddha, it is quite likely that he has attained rebirth because these signs indicate the arrival of the Buddha and sages of the Land of Bliss.
At that time, if he is willing to be reborn, he will immediately notice that he is seated on the lotus flower, ready to be reborn; if he is attached to two kinds of attachment—love or hatred, he will not be reborn.
If he wants to stay with his grandchild, thinking that the kid is too young and should not be left aside..., saying, “Amitabha Buddha, I am sorry, I don’t want to be reborn now”.
So, he will not be reborn. This is attachment to love. There are many cases of attachment to love, such as loving their family, wealth…etc. What about those attached to hatred? “My husband, my wife…I hate him/her. I won’t let him/her go. It is not that easy and simple. I will chase after him/her for repaying debts life after life. Amitabha Buddha, please forgive me. I cannot go with you for now.”
In these cases, rebirth will not happen. In brief, love and hatred are the two kinds of attachment.

Life is suffering. Death is not the end of everything because there is another life. We just move from one realm of sufferings to another, from one kind of ignorance of this life to another kind of ignorance without end. We suffer forever from the cycle of painful reincarnation (samsara).
Hence, we don’t need to wait for our last day of death, in which people come to assist us in the deliverance by Amitabha-recitation. We can help ourselves to get prepared right now. Our rebirth in the Land of Bliss is prepared by Amitabha Buddha in advance. He proactively offers rebirth to us, and asks us to accept [the offer]. So, we can make preparation beforehand.
We don’t need to burn the golden and silver paper money [according to the folklore]. It is not necessary because recitation of Amitabha’s name suffices for all.

Dharani blanket has scriptural mantras printed on it, which have the functions of clearing karmic obstructions, enriching blessings and wisdom, and even enabling us to leave the Three Wretched Realms and the Six Paths.
How to use: For mound burial, put the blanket on the body, lay them in a coffin, and then bury the coffin in the ground. For cremation, place the blanket on the coffin before burning. When the cremation is completed and the ashes put in the urn, put the properly folded blanket over the ashes before the urn is sealed.
For those who study the Pure Land School of teaching, relying on the dharani blanket is not appropriate. In case one of our kin dies, and he doesn’t know where he will be, giving him a dharani blanket as a safeguard is acceptable.
Having said that, it is better to give the deceased the true dharani blanket, i.e., telling him the Pure Land teachings and reciting the six-character name for him and his listening. With the aid of Amitabha’s merits and virtues, he can leave the cycle of reincarnations within the Six Realms and attain rebirth in the Land of Bliss.

Nowadays, many people advocate “tree burial”, “scattering burial”, and “sea burial” [after cremation]. Among these, scattering [on land] is the most convenient one, and tree burial comes next. So, the best way is scattering, as it does not occupy any land.
A dead person reincarnates in accordance with the karmic forces. If he is reborn in the Land of Bliss, the cremated remains are no longer his belongings, and the final disposition method does not affect him at all. Moreover, we don’t want our ancestors being attached to the ashes in the urn.
Hence, the best way is to take him across [expiate his sinful karmas] by the Buddhist dharma. Solely by Amitabha-recitation, he will not attach to the cremated remains. At that time, his cremated remains can be crushed into powder (ashes), and scattered in the woods, in order to make karmic connections with other sentient beings, and expiate the guilt of meat-eating and offence to other sentient beings in this life.

People are doing bad more than doing good in their life, so most of them will fall into the wretched realm to suffer, and only a few can be reborn in the wholesome realms to enjoy happiness. However, they are still within the cycle of reincarnation within the Six Realms. One is born in heaven from hells, and then from hell to heaven, as said in the Sutra of Mindfulness in Right Dharma.
And, the Nirvana Sutra says, “Although one gains the body of Braham Heaven, or even the highest kind of heaven, one will fall into the Three Wretched Realms at the end of one’s life.” Thus, those who are uncertain in rebirth in the Pure Land should, at least, manage the last moment at the near end-of-life. We should talk about the teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance, assist him to recite Amitabha’s name, so that his spirit can be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land where he can liberate from suffering of reincarnation forever, and enjoy the realization of nirvana.

For a person who aspires to be reborn there and exclusively recites Amitabha’s name, rebirth in the Land of Bliss is natural. It is because such a cause leads to such an effect. However, for persons who do not always recite Amitabha’s name, he must be very cautious and pay full attention to the matter of end-of-life. There is a saying, “One thought at the time approaching to the end-of-life is more important than cultivation over a hundred years”.
So, facing the end of our life, don’t fall into a panic or attach (to this Land of Saha); do invoke Amitabha Buddha. After your rebirth in the Land of Bliss, you can come back and deliver your family members. Once they’re reborn in the Pure Land, you will be joyful to have a reunion with them forever.
Either reciting Amitabha’s name until the end of life, or reciting Amitabha’s name at the end of life, we will be received by Amitabha Buddha and a multitude of sagely beings, without being invited. It cannot be hindered by any kind of karmic obstructions.
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Master Huijing

Master Huijing

Master Jingzong

Master Jingzong

Guiding Principles

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