On Death & Dying 臨終法要


Namo Amitabha Buddha! Namo Amitabha Buddha! Namo Amitabha Buddha!

南無阿彌陀佛  南無阿彌陀佛  南無阿彌陀佛

Namo Amitabha Buddha! Namo Amitabha Buddha! Namo Amitabha Buddha!

南無阿彌陀佛  南無阿彌陀佛  南無阿彌陀佛

For help with recitation, please contact:
bulletA DRBA branch near you (DRBA Branches, 法界佛教總會分支道場, Tổng Hội Phật Giáo Pháp Giới Các Cơ Sở Đạo Tràng và Chi Nhánh Danh Sách Địa Chỉ), or
bulletA local branch of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, or
bullet Global Chanting Assistance Network (with contact phone numbers in New York, Denver, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Toronto, Malaysia, and Hong Kong).

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請注意:内含死亡圖像,不適合兒童觀看。YouTube: 承天禪寺助念教學。人生最大的一件事 Please Note: Contains graphic images of death; not suitable for children. This YouTube video instructs on preparing for death and rebirth.  In Mandarin Chinese. 

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- 全球助念網製作,如何助念網頁:如何開導臨終者發願往生極樂世界、開導使用的詞句、注意事項等。内容完整

- 全球助念網製作,手機、平板電腦適用,免費安卓版 Android App 助念機 ,另有免費蘋果Apple 版 “助念機”,目前只限國語,日後或開發台語版:



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全球助念網製作,全球助念室: http://room.e-lotus.org,可容納超過千人以上一同線上助念,目前啟用“聯合助念室1”,每天於臺灣時間 17:00~21:00,師兄們會在線上帶領,為受過助念團助念的中陰身亡者念佛。需註冊,方能進入助念室。

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Audio: Chan 普門品有聲書
Audio: Shurangama Sutra 楞嚴經有聲書
Audio: The Sutra in 42 Sections 四十二章經有聲書
Audiobooks 有聲書
Daily Recitations早晚課
On Death & Dying 臨終法要


Amitabha Buddha Recitation持名念佛
Cherishing Life護生放生
On Death & Dying 臨終法要
Shurangama Mantra學會楞嚴咒
The Five Schools五宗並進
The Precepts戒律


Ven. Hsu Yun虛雲老和尚
Ven. Hsuan Hua宣公上人


Veggie Recipes淨素食譜



by Great Master Hong Yi



by Great Master Yin Guang


臨終法要: 人生之最後 弘一大師著述 

臨終三大要 印光大師開示





by Great Master Hong Yi of Zun Sheng Institute of

the Great Kai Yuan Monastery at Jin Shui


臨終法要: 人生之最後








In the 12th month of the year Ren Shen (1932), the Buddha Recitation Association of Miao Shi Monastery in Amoy asked me to give a talk, the transcription of which formed the basis for this article.

At that time, Vinaya Master Liao Shi was ill in bed. He was miserable day and night. When he saw this article, he suddenly felt a mixture of joy and sorrow. He ignored his body and mind, forgot about his medicines, and vigorously recited the Buddha's name. Even though he was sick, he still got out of bed and bowed the Great Compassion Repentance. He sang praises and recited Sutras loudly and knelt for hours. His perseverance and vigor surpassed that of ordinary people.

Those who saw him or heard about it were surprised and pleased. They commented on what a great inspiration this article provides.

So I thought that although this article is only a few pages long, still it is the excerpts of the inspired words of the past and present, plus some of my own experiences. Those who are happy with simplified materials might prefer this. That is why I compiled this material so that it can be printed for distribution.

- Hong Yi, Yan Yin










Section 1: Introduction

To quote the classic poem:

"As I watch other people die,

My heart burns like fire.

It's not burning for them,

It's 'cause I see my own turn coming soon."

How could we forget even for an instant the very last moment of our life which is the most important part? So I'm going to discuss it in the following six sections:


































Section 2: During A Critical Illness

When you are critically ill, you should put down all family matters and any concerns for your own body. Single-mindedly recite the Buddha's name. With all your heart, yearn to be reborn in the West. If you can do this, when your time is up, you will be certainly be reborn there.

But if your time is not up, although you seek rebirth, your sickness will be cured quicker. Because your mind is so sincere, you can eradicate the evil karma from many lives past.

Suppose you fail to put everything down and have not concentrated on reciting the Buddha's name. Then when your time is up, you certainly won't be reborn in the Western Land. Since you only concentrated on trying to recover from your illness, and you didn't seek rebirth in the West, there is no cause for you to be reborn there.

If your time is not up, yet you have wholeheartedly wished to recover from your illness, to the point that you have become deeply worried and frightened; then not only will you not recover quickly, you will also add further misery to your illness.

If your illness is not critical, you can take medicine, but you should still vigorously recite the Buddha's name. You shouldn't think of recovering through taking medicine. If your illness becomes critical, you may stop taking medicine.

When I was sick and lying in a stone hut, some people advised me to see a doctor and take medication. I thanked them with a verse:

Amitabha Buddha is

The Unsurpassed King of Medicine.

To renounce him and not seek from him,

Is to be a fool!

One recitation of "Amitabha"

Is an agada*;

To ignore it and not take it,

Is to make a big mistake.

*agada: medicine, counter-poison

Although I am sick, why would I forsake the Dharma-door of the Pure Land, which I ordinarily believe in and explain to others, and instead, ask for other medicine? Wouldn't that be a huge foolish mistake?

When the sickness becomes fatal and you are in intense pain and suffering, you should never be panic. The illness and suffering may be your karmic obstacles from past lives. Or, it could be the future suffering of the Three Evil Paths which you are now encountering in this life in a lighter form. In this way the debts get paid off quickly.

You should also give away all your clothing and personal belongings when you are critically ill. It's best if you can offer Sutras and images, such as is mentioned in the "Chapter of the Praise of the Thus Come One" in the Earth Treasury Bodhisattva Sutra .

If a person's consciousness is still clear when he is fatally ill, someone should invite good and wise advisors to speak the Dharma to him. Use your best effort to soothe and pacify the dying person. Enumerate all the good deeds that he has done throughout his entire life. Detail and praise each one of them. Make the dying person happy so he will have no doubts and worries. Give him confidence that through the strength of his good deeds, he surely will be reborn in the Western Land.




























Section 3 : At The Time Of Death

At the moment of death, never ask the dying person for his will or indulge in small talk and unnecessary conversations. These could trigger the dying person's passions of loving to stay in this world, and thus hinder his rebirth in the Pure Land. Those who wish to leave a will should write it up while they are still healthy and give it to someone for safekeeping.

If the dying person asks to be washed and to have his/her clothing changed, then you can try to comply with his/her wishes and do it. If he doesn't want to, or is unable to talk, don't force the issue. If you have to forcefully move a dying person to bathe and change his clothes, you will only increase his pain which, usually at the time of death is already intense.

In the world there have been many, many cases of people who had made vows to be reborn in the West, yet because of the family members' disturbance by moving them at the time of death, their proper mindfulness got broken, so they failed to be reborn in the West.

There are also cases where the dying person would have been reborn in a good path, but someone accidentally touched him; whereupon the dying person became angry and fell into an evil path instead. A similar story is recorded in the Sutra where King Agnidatta died and was degraded to a snake's body. Isn't that frightening?!

At the time of death, follow the dying person's wishes as to whether they want to sit or lie down. Don't force them. If the dying person feels that his strength is failing, he can certainly be allowed to lie in bed. Do not force him to sit up just for appearance's sake.

If the dying person lies down, he should lie facing the West on his right side . If the dying person is in pain, they can lie on their back or on their left side, facing East. Everything should be done naturally, and not with force.

When everyone has gathered to recite the Buddha's name, an image of Amitabha Buddha welcoming beings should be placed in the person's room so he can see it.

It doesn't matter how many people there are to recite. If there are many, they can recite in shifts so the recitation never stops. You should find out from the dying person beforehand how he/she usually recited the Buddha's name; with six or four syllables, fast or slow. If you follow the tune that the dying person usually uses, he will at this time be more easily able to follow along in his mind.

Nowadays, I see that those who help recite at the time of death follow their own whims as to what music to use without asking the dying person. How can we expect him to follow along since what we do is different from his usual habits or taste? I hope that from now on those who assist in reciting will pay attention to this point.

Further, those who help with the recitation sometimes use a hand bell and small wooden fish. From my experience, I have seen that those who are nervous and hysterical find the sound of the hand bell and small wooden fish frightening when they are ill, because the high pitch stimulates their nerves, making their minds unsettled. In my opinion, it is best to use only your voice to help the recitation; forget about the hand bell or the small wooden fish.

Or you can use the big bell, the big gong, and the big wooden fish, since their tones are more sonorous. Those who hear these instruments become more respectful and solemn. That is much better than the small hand bell or the small wooden fish. Everyone's liking is different.

You should really ask the dying person in detail beforehand what he would prefer and then go ahead and follow that. However, if it turns out to be inappropriate, it can be changed anytime. Don't be obstinate.




















Section 4: The Day After The Death

Once the person has died, the most important thing is not to hastily move the body. Even if it has been soiled with excrement, you shouldn't wash it right away. You must wait for at least eight hours before washing the body or changing the clothes. Although this is very important, often people do not pay attention to it. Please advise others to observe these instructions cautiously.


Before and after death, the family members should not cry. What is the point of crying? The dead person truly benefits if everyone puts his effort into reciting the Buddha's name. If there are people who really need to cry, they should wait until at least eight hours after the death.

Don't become attached to the idea about the warmth at the crown of the head though it may be evident. If the person usually had true faith and vows and, at the time of death, was properly mindful and clear, then his rebirth in the Pure Land can be verified with certainty.

After the person has died and after the Buddha's name has been recited, immediately lock the door to the room to avoid someone coming and unintentionally touching the body.

You may wash the body and change the clothes no sooner than eight hours after death. Though it has been mentioned before, I want to reaffirm that. Please remember it. If you move the body within this eight hour period then, although the dead person cannot speak, he can still feel pain and suffering.

After eight hours, it is permissible to change the clothing. If rigor mortis has set in and the joints are not limber, you may sponge down the body with warm water. Wrap a warm cloth around the elbows and knees to loosen them up. Soon you will be able to move the limbs as though the person were still alive.

Dress the body in old clothes; don't use new ones. Give away the new ones to others, so that the dead person may receive some blessings.

Don't use an expensive coffin and don't bother with an outrageous tomb. None of these extravagant expenses are of any benefit to the deceased.






















Section 5: Ceremonies For The Deceased

When the Sangha is invited to perform transcendent ceremonies for the deceased within 49 days after death, keep recitation of the Buddha's name as the principal business.

Although reciting sutras, bowing repentance, performing the "Flaming Mouth Ceremony" , and the "Water and Land Assembly" , etc. carry inconceivable merit and virtue, yet because most of today's Sangha regard these as formalities, the ceremonies they perform are done in a very perfunctory manner. There is no actual benefit when ceremonies are not performed in accord withDharma.

In the Collected Writings of Dharma Master Yin Guang, several times he comments on this point, saying that if the performance of ceremonies is just to make an impressive show, it's a trick without value.

If you emphasize the recitation of the Buddha's name, then everyone can participate, and it is something concrete with lot of benefits for all.

If you invite the Sangha to recite the Buddha's name, then the whole family should join in the recitation, too. The women should sit behind a screen or in a separate room to avoid criticism and rumors.

All the merit and virtue from the recitation of the Buddha's name should be transferred to all living beings throughout the Dharma Realm. This will enable the merit and virtue to be extensive. The transference will also increase the benefit to the deceased.

If you hold memorial services for the deceased, the meals should be vegetarian and everyone should abstain from eating meat, since the killing involved in meat is totally non-beneficial to the deceased.

Don't be ostentatious in the funeral ceremonials, making it look good for the living. It should be done in such a way as topreserve the blessings of the deceased.

After the 49 days are over, you should still often perform ceremonies as an act of filial remembrance. Great Master Lian Chi said that throughout the year we should frequently pray for blessings on behalf of the dead. It is not the case that since they are already liberated, we don't have to do anything for them any longer.






Section 6: Advice Others to Organize Associations To Help Recite At The Time of Death

This is a very important matter. As many of these associations as possible should be set up in towns and villages everywhere. For detailed regulations, one may read about them in the "Guiding Instructions for the Management of Death."




殘年將盡,不久即是 臘月三十日 ,為一年最後。若未將錢財預備穩妥,則債主紛來,如何抵擋。


吾人臨命終時,乃是一生之 臘月三十日 ,為人生最後。若未將往生資糧預備穩妥,必致手忙腳亂呼爺叫娘,多生惡業一齊現前,如何擺脫。臨終雖恃他人助念,諸事如法。但自己亦須平日修持,乃可臨終自在。奉勸諸仁者,總要及早預備才好。


Section 7: Conclusion

The year is close to an end, soon it will be the 30th of the twelve month, which is the last day of the year. If you have not managed your finances well, debt collectors may come knocking at your door. How are you going to shut them out? When our life is close to an end, it is like the thirtieth day of the twelve lunar month, the last day of our lifetime. If we haven't prepared our provisions well for the Pure Land, we will be totally disoriented and crying to our parents for help. When the evil karma from many lives past appears all at once, how are we going to get out of it?

Although at the point of death, we may rely on others to help recite and carry out everything the right way, yet daily cultivation, practiced during ordinary days, will allow us to be in control at the time of death. I exhort all of you, Virtuous Ones, it is better to be prepared in advance!

Revision made in the tenth month of draft material (A) from a talk in the ninth month of the year Ren Shen














by Great Master Yin Guang (1930)









Death is the greatest tragedy in the world and yet no one on earth can avoid it. Thus if you wish to help both yourself and others, you need to plan and prepare for it in advance. "Death" is nothing more than a fake name. At death, as the retribution from past lives which brings about this one life-term ends, one's consciousness leaves this body and takes on another body. Those who do not know Buddha-dharma have no way to deal with this problem, and must simply endure the process and be reborn according to their karma.


Since we heard about the Thus Come One's (tathagata) Pure Land practice that can save all living beings, we should recite Amitabha Buddha's name with faith and determination, so as to make appropriate provisions for our rebirth in the Pure Land. Then, when the time comes, we will be able to avoid the illusory suffering of the revolving cycle of birth and death and can realize the true bliss of eternal Nirvana.


When your father, mother, brothers, sisters, or other family members contract a serious illness and cannot be cured, you should be filial and compassionate and exhort them to recite Amitabha Buddha's name to seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land. Moreover, you may help them recite with a Recitation Assistance Group. When the sick person dies in this situation, he or she can be reborn in the Pure Land. How can we ever give a name to this kind of benefit!













Now I will state three essentials as guidelines for a person near death to gain rebirth in the Pure Land. Although my writing lacks literally elegance, the principles are originated from the Buddha's sutras. Having met these causes and conditions, let's all put them into practice!

The Three Essentials are:

First: Tactfully comfort the critically-ill person and lead him/her to right belief.

Second: Recite the Buddha's name in shifts to help the dying one keep pure mindfulness.

Third: Refrain from crying and from moving the body of the dying one, so as not to ruin any chance for rebirth in the Pure Land.

If you can follow these three points, then you can definitely get rid of past karma, increase pure causes, be welcomed by Amitabha Buddha, and be reborn in the West .


Once you have attained rebirth there, you will transcend the ordinary and enter the state of sage and end the cycle of birth and death with gradual progress in cultivation. Eventually you will accomplish the fruition of Buddhahood.


All these benefits come from the effort of your family who assists you in reciting the Buddha's name. If you can practice, then you are being truly filial to your parents; you are being truly friendly to your brothers and sisters; you are truly kind to your sons and daughters; and you are truly loyal and helpful to your friends or other people.


By doing that, you are nurturing your own causes towards purity, and aiding other people to develop faith. Gradually, with everybody practicing in this way, it will soon become the accepted custom.


Now I will discuss each essential in detail, so that you don't have to worry about what to do at that moment.






















The First Essential:  Tactfully comfort the critically-ill person and lead him/her to right belief

You should exhort the dying person to renounce everything and recite the Buddha's name. If the dying person has something to say, tell him to do it quickly.

Once everything is assigned, he/she must not think about those things any more. He/she should simply contemplate: I am now following the Buddha and am going to be reborn in the Buddha's Land.

All the states in this mundane world, such as worldly riches, pleasure and one's family are obstacles and bring calamity and harm. For that reason, we should not entertain even one thought that clings to these attachments.

One should understand that the mind of one's true nature does not die. What we call death is the renouncing of this body and taking on a different kind of body. If you do not recite the Buddha's name, then you will be reborn in a good or an evil destiny according to the strength of your good or evil karma.

(Good destinies are the realms of humans and heavens. Evil destinies are realms of animals, hungry ghosts, and hells. Asuras are found in all destinies, both good and evil, because they mix up in the practice of good and evil deeds, so it reflects on the effects of their causes.)

If at the time of death you single-mindedly recite Namo A Mi Tuo Fo (Namo Amitabha Buddha), then that recitation of the Buddha's name done with deepest sincerity will certainly move Amitabha Buddha, to show his great kindness and compassion. He will personally come and take you to rebirth (in his land).

Do not have doubts like this, "I'm an ordinary person who must bear the consequences of the power of karma. How can my brief recitation of the Buddha's name transcend birth and death and help me gain rebirth in the West?" You should know that the Buddha has great kindness and compassion. Suppose a serious offender committed the Ten Evils Deeds and Five Rebellious Acts, but when he is close to death and the hells have already appeared before him, a Good and Wise Advisor teaches him to recite the Buddha's name. He may recite 'ten times' , or even only once, he will be welcomed by the Buddha and gain rebirth in the West.

If such a person can gain rebirth by reciting even a few phrases, then why should you have doubts about rebirth because of your own karma being heavy, or the fact that you have recited the Buddha's name only a few times?

You should know that we are all endowed with the true nature which is no different from the Buddhas'. It is only because of heavy delusion and karma that we are unable to make use of it. Now that we have taken refuge with the Buddha, we are like sons going to our father and returning to our native village. How could we not have a share in this matter?

Moreover, in the past, Amitabha Buddha made this vow, "There may be living beings who hear my name, devotedly believe and rejoice in it. If they were to recite it even ten times and yet were not to gain rebirth, then I will not attain Proper Enlightenment."

Thus the Buddha will not fail to compassionately welcome any living being who, at the time of death, sincerely recites the Buddha's name and seeks to be reborn in the Western Land. Do not doubt it at all. Doubts will hinder you and the harm will not be slight.

Moreover, the happiest thing that can happen is to leave this world of suffering and to be born in that World of Bliss. You should be happy. You really should not fear death. Fear of death does not help you escape it. It just ruins your chances of being reborn in the West. If your mind denies the Buddha, then even though he is compassionate, he will have no way to help those who do not follow the Buddhist teachings.

Amitabha Buddha's great name, endowed with myriad virtues, is like a huge smelting furnace. The many karmic offenses that we, living beings, commit are like snow flakes falling through the air. When ordinary beings laden with karma recite the Buddha's name, their karma melts away without a trace, just like snow flakes near a furnace disappear.

Moreover, since the power of karma is melted away, all the good roots naturally flourish. Why doubt that you cannot be reborn there or that the Buddha will not come to welcome you?

Instruct dying ones, teach and comfort them with skillful, tactful exhortations such as these, so that they will bring forth their proper belief. These are instructions for the sick person.

Your duty of filial piety and sincerity will also be fulfilled in this way. Don't follow customary practices and seek medicine from the spirits. When a person's life is about to end, how can the medicines of ghosts and spirits help keep him from dying? If you put your hopes in such fruitless things, then the sincerity of your recitation of the Buddha's name will lose its focus, and you will get no response from your efforts.

When the time of death of parents approaches, many people often will pay any amount in exorbitant fees for medical specialists. This is called "buying filial piety." They seek the reputation of being filial to parents. They are unaware that the ghosts and spirits on earth and in heaven can detect their actual intentions.

Thus people who make ostentatious funeral arrangements for their deceased parents may in fact bring on either natural disasters or personal misfortunes. Sons and daughters should be concerned about the destiny of their parents' souls. Those who seek praise from the world will not draw as much as a smile from the wise. Seeking desperately to be known as a devoted child is actually making the grave mistake of being unfilial.





















The Second Essential:  Recite the Buddha's name in shifts to help the dying one sustain pure mindfulness.

We have already exhorted the patient to bring forth the proper belief, but the dying person's mind may be too weak to maintain concentration. Not to mention someone who ordinarily does not recite the Buddha's name having trouble reciting continuously, even those who constantly take recitation of the Buddha's name as their daily business will need the strength of others' assistance to make things successful.

Therefore, family members should exercise filiality and compassion by reciting the Buddha's name at the side of the dying one.

Prior to the event of death, divide the recitation groups into shifts. Make three shifts, and assign certain people to each shift. The first shift recite aloud while the second and the third shifts recite silently. After one hour, the second shift takes over, then the first and the third shifts recite silently.

If someone has things to take care, he can go during the periods of silent recitation. When your shift is on duty, you must not leave. When the second shift is over, the third shift picks up the recitation. Thus alternating, from the first shift to the last, everyone recites aloud for one hour, and then silently for two hours. So everyone can continue day and night and still not feel tired.

You know that if you can aid a person to obtain rebirth in the West with pure mindfulness, you yourself will also receive the reward of being aided in the future. Do not say that this is done only when fulfilling one's filial duty to one's parents, for if you help others in this way, you are nurturing your own field of blessings. You are increasing your own good roots as well. This not only benefits others, in fact, it also helps you along.

Helping someone to be reborn in the Pure Land ultimately helps one living being to accomplish Buddhahood. Imagine how inexpressibly great this merit and virtue is!

As the three shifts alternate, the Buddha's name is being recited without stopping. If the dying person has enough strength, he can join in the recitation with a soft voice. If he cannot recite, then he should listen attentively and single-mindedly. In that way, he will gain a response from the Buddha.

Do not make the pitch too high when reciting the Buddha's name. If it is too high, it will hurt people's breathing, and make it difficult to recite for long.

On the other hand, if the pitch is too low, then the dying person will not hear it clearly.

Make it neither too fast nor too slow. If it is too fast, the dying person will be unable to follow along, and it will be hard for him to hear it clearly. If it is too slow, the sound will be broken and it will be hard for the recitation to work.

It must be neither too high nor too low, neither too fast, nor too slow. Recite every word distinctly and every phrase clearly, so that the dying person can hear every word and every sentence and take it through the ears into his consciousness. Then it is easy to be effective.

The hand-bell is the only Dharma-instrument to use when reciting the Buddha's name. Do not play other instruments. The sound of the hand bell is sharp, and when people hear it, their mind-ground becomes pure. The sound of the wooden fish is heavy, and unsuitable to accompany the recitation at the time of death.

It is more appropriate to recite the four syllables of the Buddha's name. First, start by reciting the six syllables, Namo A Mi Tuo Fo several times, and then switch to reciting the four syllables, A Mi Two Fo (Amitabha Buddha), omitting "Namo". The fewer the words, the easier the recitation will be. The dying person can either join in the recitation or listen while gathering it into his or her mind. In either case, everybody saves energy.

Family members should recite like this, and if other good friends are invited, they should also recite in this way. No matter how many or how few people there are, everybody should recite in this way. They must not all recite for a while, and then slack off and then recite again. That will interrupt the dying person's mindfulness of the Buddha.

People should eat in shifts, so that the recitation of the Buddha's name is continuous.

When the dying person is just about to take his last breath, it is appropriate for everyone in the three shifts to join together and recite aloud. After the breathing stops, everyone can again divide into shifts, recite for three more hours and then stop, so as to make funeral arrangements.

While the Buddha name is being recited, tell the relatives and friends not to approach the dying person to offer their regards, or to chat with him, or to speak words to comfort him. If they really want to express their feelings of fondness for the dying one, they should follow along and recite the Buddha's name for a certain time. That is genuinely offering true affections to the dying person, and it will truly help him/her.

If they use the layman's customary sentiments, they are like pushing a person into the deep waters. Their emotions may be touching, but such actions cause irrevocable harm. The person in charge of the household should understand this principle and make it clear to everyone beforehand, so that they will not be embarrassed. Thus they will not cause harm to the dying person by distracting him, making him unable to gain rebirth in the West.























The Third Essential: Refrain from crying and from disturbing the body of the dying one so as not to ruin any chances of rebirth in the Pure Land.

It is decided at the time near death whether a dying person will become a common person or a sage, a human or a ghost. It is the most critical time: the moment when his destiny hangs by a thread.

The only thing you should do is to recite the Buddha's name in order to guide that person's consciousness. Do not bathe the person, change his clothes, or move the bed where he is lying. Leave him in whatever position he is in, sitting or lying down. Do not move him, or display grief or weep in his presence.

At that time, he is not in control of his body. If you move him, his hands andhis feet or his body would experience excruciating pain. The pain will vex his mind, and mindfulness of the Buddha will cease. If the dying person dies with hatred in heart, he may fall into the realm of poisonous creatures upon rebirth. How frightening!

If the dying person sees others grieving and weeping over him, he could become emotional, and his mindfulness of the Buddha would cease. With emotion and feelings of love on his mind, the dying person might not be able to get liberated life after life.

The most beneficial thing to do at this moment is to recite Buddha's name single-mindedly. The most harmful thing to do is to move his body without reason or to weep. Then the person would not have one chance in a million of gaining rebirth in the West because of the hatred or passion that arose in his/her mind due to your moving him/her or crying over him/her.

Furthermore, when a person dies, if the warmth leaves the lower part of his body first and the upper part of his body last, then that is a sign of higher rebirth.

If the warmth leaves the head first and the toe last, then that is a sign of rebirth in the lower regions.

(It is said that if the final warm spot is on the top of the head, the dead person will be reborn as a Sage; on the eyes indicates rebirth in the heavens; on the heart, indicates rebirth as a human; on the belly, indicates rebirth as a hungry ghost; on the knees indicates falling into the path of animals; on the feet indicates falling into the hells).

But if everyone sincerely recites to aid the dying person, he can straight away be reborn in the West.

Therefore, do not keep trying to find the warm spot before the dying person's consciousness has left, for that will only cause him/her to become angry, vexed or hurt and thus prevent him/her from gaining rebirth in the West. The offenses incurred by doing such a thing would be infinite.

So I hope all relatives and friends will sincerely recite the Buddha's name and not search for the warm spot or the place on the body ends up cold last. To pay close attention to this point with regard to one's own parents is to be truly filial.

If you follow worldly sentiments, then you are deliberately pushing your parent into the sea of suffering. Such behavior earns you praise for being "filial" only from people lacking in knowledge and understanding.

Such "filial piety" is not at all different from the love displayed by rakshasa women. The Sutras tell us that while a rakshasa woman devouring a person, she will say, "I love you, that's why I have to eat you."

Ignorant people who practice filial piety in the above way destroy their parent's chances of attaining bliss and destine them to suffering instead. Isn't that the same as the rakshasa woman's love towards a human being?

I don't want to sound inhumane by saying these things. I only want people to do what is practical, so that the deceased will be reborn in the West and the living will receive blessings. Hoping that the utmost sincerity of the filial children and worthy grandchildren will not be in vain, I may be too unintentionally over exuberant in my speech. People who truly love their parents will surely understand my intent.

The matter about the warm spot on the top of the head or on the eyes or other places to verify rebirth for sages and heavenly beings, etc. is to ascertain that once the breathing has stopped, if the whole body is cold but the top of the head is warm, then the dead has certainly transcended the ordinary and become a Sage, ending birth and death.

As for birth in the Heavens based on the eyes, this means that if his eyes and forehead are still warm, then he will be reborn in the heavens. If the warm spot is on the heart, then he will be in the human destiny. If only the belly is warm, then he will be born as a hungry ghost. If only his knees are warm, then he will be reborn as an animal. If only the bottom of his feet are warm, then he is in the hells.

This is a manifestation of good and evil karma that people create during their lives. It is not something that one can fabricate or force.

However, sincere mindfulness of the Buddha at the time of deat--aided by the recitation of his relatives and friends--will certainly deliver the dying person to the West, carrying his karma along with him. He can transcend the mundane world and enter the realm of Sages.

Do not experiment to prove this or you will make mistakes! This is my advice and my wish!






Copyright © 2001  Long Beach Sagely Monastery.  All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/12/11.