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Blog » Sweet Dews Of Dharma Talks » 2021 » Destined for the Land of Lotuses on the Other Shore—A Chronicle of Layman Xiansheng Lin’s Passing

Destined for the Land of Lotuses on the Other Shore—A Chronicle of Layman Xiansheng Lin’s Passing2021-11-06


By DM Jin Wei

Translated by Michael Lu

My father, Layman Xiansheng Lin, passed away peacefully while reciting the Buddha’s name at 12:15 A.M. on July 8th, 2021. He was seventy-three years old.

In early 2020, after becoming aware that he had contracted stage 3 lung adenocarcinoma, he called me and said very happily, “Dharma Master Jin Wei, let me tell you a piece of good news! I have won special prize #3! Hahaha…” Hearing his cheerful laughter, I said, “Wow! You can still laugh so heartily even though you have stage 3 cancer.” He replied, “Of course! I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. I can finally be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. How great is that!” Having always aspired to be reborn in the West, he decided to forgo treatment and devote wholehearted mindfulness to the Buddha’s name, with the wish of being reborn in the Pure Land. He said, “The goal of treatment is to live longer. I want to recite the Buddha’s name and be reborn in the West, not live a long life.”

He told me once, “I know why I got this illness. I’ve always wished to know beforehand when it is time to be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. Some people have told me, however, that if I pass away without any illness, an autopsy might be performed on my body after death. Amitabha Buddha, out of compassion, probably gave me this illness, which has not caused too much suffering. That way, I would not have to undergo such medical procedures after death.”

During the first seven months of this year, my father did not experience severe physical pain. Rather, he became skinnier during the last three months of his life, with deteriorating physical strength and mental health as well as a shrinking appetite. Even so, my ill father, at over seventy years old, still attended the entire Amitabha session in late 2020 and the Emperor Liang’s Jeweled Repentance in early 2021 at Dharma Realm Sagely Monastery in Liugui, Kaohsiung. The Dharma Master there had proposed that my father live in Liugui, but my father insisted on driving three to four hours round-trip every day, attending the Dharma assembly from beginning to end. His perseverance is truly admirable.

Two weeks before my father’s passing, his legs began to swell. Knowing that his days were numbered, he became even more focused and vigorous in practicing mindfulness of the Buddha. Despite the swelling in his legs, he could still go out for a walk every day and climb to the Buddha Hall at the third floor of the house, where he would recite the Buddha’s name and cultivate. How truly inconceivable is the Buddhas’ blessing! During his daily walk outside, he would always remember to bring along some sutras, books, recitation machines, and other items to share with neighbors. When someone walked by, be they a stranger or an acquaintance, he would smile warmly, put his palms together, and say “Amitabha.” Regardless of whether others wanted to listen, he would sincerely persuade them to recite the Buddha’s name, persisting until his final days. Therefore, when news of his passing was announced, everyone was incredulous, as they had seen him just a few days ago dragging along his swollen feet and giving away recitation beads. He never gave up a single opportunity to introduce the Buddhadharma and tie wholesome affinities with others; he wished that everyone could return to their original hometown, the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Two days before my father passed away, his legs had swelled to the point that he couldn’t walk anymore. Any physical movement made him breathless, yet he still persisted in wearing his robes and reciting the Buddha’s name in the Buddha Hall. A few hours before he passed, he felt sudden heat and cold throughout his body, was constantly perspiring, and could no longer talk. He still managed to sit facing west on a chair, praying wholeheartedly to Amitabha Buddha to quickly bring him to be reborn in the West. At this time, family members also began reciting on behalf of my father.

Using his last ounce of strength, my father recited the Buddha’s name until five minutes before his passing. Because he could no longer talk, he gestured with his hand to my older brother that he wanted to use the restroom and then lie down. My older brother accompanied him to the restroom, but after using the toilet and preparing to brush his teeth, my father’s legs suddenly gave out. Luckily, my older brother caught him by the armpits from behind and lifted him back to the bed, where after lying down properly, he gradually stopped breathing. Up until the end, my father did not experience too much pain. With a heart free of greed and attachment and a mind unconfused, he peacefully departed.

After we recited for eight hours, Dharma Master Jue Miao (abbot of Pure Flower Vihara), Dharma Master Jian Jin (my father’s younger sister, who had left home), and five other Dharma masters and three laypeople from the vihara came to recite for twelve hours. My father’s body was then placed into a coffin afterwards. His body was soft and supple like cotton, and each of his fingers was still bendable.

Before his passing, my father told family members: “Keep all funeral arrangements simple. Do not post obituary notices, accept flower baskets or gifts of money on my behalf, or host a funeral service. Don’t buy a miniature pagoda to hold my ashes; just scatter them somewhere and erect a plaque at home. Do not try to save my life, send me to the hospital, or feed me painkillers when I’m on my deathbed. After my passing, just put a recitation machine nearby; don’t go to the trouble of getting everyone to come recite. Those who want to recite the Buddha’s name for me can do so in their own homes and make dedications.” Of course, we didn’t dare to casually scatter his ashes about, so we decided to bury them under a tree.

Most people who knew him effusively praised his courageous vigor; in fact, besides his vigor, we can also learn a lot from observing how he conducted himself on a daily basis throughout his life. I would like to use Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s Ten Great Kings of Vows and the three blessings of pure karma to briefly describe my father’s lifelong cultivation as well as his spirit of putting the Buddhadharma into actual practice.

My father became a Buddhist at the age of thirty-nine. He first began cultivating at a Taoist temple, where by coincidence he happened upon the monthly magazine of Taipei’s Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Association, Source of Wisdom. He thus became familiar with DRBA, took refuge under the Venerable Master, and received the Five Precepts in 1992 at Kaohsiung Martial Arts Stadium. In 2007, he and my mother came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in America to receive the Bodhisattva Precepts. Afterwards, he strictly upheld each precept without the slightest negligence and recited the precepts twice a month. He persisted in not eating after noon every day; even during the late stages of his illness, when family members tried convincing him to eat something in the evening, he insisted on not eating after noon all the way until his passing (he took the Three Refuges, received and upheld various precepts, and maintained good deportment).

The first [of Samantabhadra’s Kings of Vows] is “to respect and bow to the Buddhas.” From a purely factual perspective, my father finished bowing—one character at a time—to the three major sutras: The Lotus Sutra, Shurangama Sutra, and Avatamsaka Sutra. He also bowed various repentances. Since 2009, when he began focusing on the Pure Land Dharma-door, he bowed 108 times each to Amitabha Buddha and Guanyin Bodhisattva every day. It’s said that our parents are the living Buddhas within our home; my father spared no efforts in serving his parents until their passing. Furthermore, true filial respect is to nurture our parents’ Buddha nature. My father guided his parents along the journey from becoming Buddhist to eventually receiving the Bodhisattva Precepts. In their later years, my grandparents also recited the Buddha’s name wholeheartedly until their passing (Caring and being filial to one’s parents). At the monastery, my father showed great respect toward the Three Jewels and the monastics (Serving one’s teachers and elders).

Every living being is a future Buddha. In his everyday interactions, my father was always respectful and refrained from harming even ants and other insects. When we feel our bodies itch, we often mindlessly use our hand to brush the area, only then realizing we accidentally killed an ant. To avoid making such mistakes, my father was always very careful. While we were talking, he might suddenly come over, turn around, and say, “Help me check if there’s an ant on my neck.” If there was an ant, he would ask us to bring the ant outside (With a mind of compassion, refraining from harming living beings; cultivating the Ten Wholesome Deeds).

Sometimes while driving on the road, he would suddenly step on the brakes, startling the rest of us awake from our naps. There was an animal on the road that had been run over. He would park the car on the side of the road and take out from his trunk tools he always had at the ready—a shovel, box, and bags, among other things. He would then carry the corpse and bury it somewhere out of the way. During his daily walk, when he saw large, withered branches lying on the road, he would pick them up and move them off the road to prevent inconvenience to vehicles. My father’s sincerity and respect toward all people, things, and circumstances was evident from the way he went about his daily life. With a mind of goodness, he was always thinking on behalf of others.

The second [of Samantabhadra’s Kings of Vows] is “to praise the Tathagatas.” Buddhist friends who have cultivated together with my father will have heard his loud chanting during Dharma assemblies. He not only chanted loudly at the monastery, but even while doing his daily practices at home. His resonant voice, bright and clear, from the third floor Buddha Hall could be heard by us even while we were watching television on the ground floor.

The third [of Samantabhadra’s Kings of Vows] is “to extensively make offerings.” What my father enjoyed most was to make all kinds of offerings. He made offerings through physical effort, making every effort to protect and support monasteries, help others learn the Buddhadharma, and assist them in resolving their life problems. He made offerings through words as well, as he delighted in encouraging people to collectively do good deeds, become vegetarian, and recite the Buddha’s name. As for offerings of wealth, my father lived frugally but was very generous toward others. Quite a few people thought that our family was well-off based on the amount of my father’s donations, but our family was far from wealthy, as my father was a public servant and my mother a housewife. The donations my father made came from being economical with daily necessities, saving one penny at a time. Furthermore, every one of his donations was not just for himself; he would include his parents and the rest of his family, six people in total, on the donor list. As soon as he heard that branch monasteries needed donations—either to construct a new Buddha hall or Buddha statues—he would immediately donate without second thought. When friends or relatives fell ill or passed away, he would write plaques on their behalf or make other kinds of offerings.

Later, he donated his entire retirement fund, worth millions, to the monastery. He did not leave even a penny for his children. Some people criticized him for not thinking on behalf of his family, but he replied, “My children have their own blessings to enjoy. I shouldn’t be a slave to my children.” Although my father did not leave behind any material wealth, he left behind infinite blessings and virtue. There will always come a day when money is used up, but blessings and virtue, infinite in scope, are more beneficial to future generations. That is true compassion.

I remember attending ceremonies at Dharma Realm Sagely Monastery with my father when I was little. After eating lunch, we would participate in the afternoon Dharma assembly, and before going back home, we would always put some money in the donation box. Once, he reached into his pockets, grabbed a fistful of bills, and put them all into the donation box without even counting. Seeing that my father had donated at least one or two thousand NTD, I couldn’t help but think begrudgingly, “Why do we have to donate so much just for a meal at the monastery?” At that time, only one Dharma master was living at the monastery. Before we left, the Dharma master put the fruit that had been offered to the Buddha into several bags and gave them to my father, since he couldn’t finish them all by himself. After accepting the bags of fruit, my father reached into his other pocket, deposited another fistful of bills into the donation box, and then turned around and got into the car. I was a little annoyed at that point, because I knew that our family wasn’t wealthy and that my father was economical in his daily life, so it was upsetting to see my father donate so liberally. I didn’t say a word on the way back. Noticing that something was on my mind, my father told me solemnly, “The reason why our family is poor in this life is because last life, we did not make offerings to the Three Jewels. If we still refuse to give in this life, we will become poorer our next life. You must remember this! You can avoid spending money anywhere else, but you must never be reluctant to make offerings to the Three Jewels, because what we give away will always come back to us one day.”

Once, a friend borrowed tens of thousands of NTD from my father, and then ran off and did not return the money for many years. One day, he suddenly appeared and repaid all the money at once. My father did not become pleased as a result; instead, he donated all the money to the Three Jewels on his friend’s behalf.

Not only was my father charitable with his wealth, he also had no attachments to his physical body. I recall when I was little, I went out for a walk with my father one evening after dinner. As we passed by the community dumpster, we saw someone throwing a large black bag of garbage into it. My father then turned to me and said, “When I die, put my body into a large black garbage bag and throw it into the dumpster. This body is false and useless; there’s no need to cherish it so much.”

The fourth [of Samantabhadra’s Kings of Vows] is “to repent of and reform karmic hindrances.” Upon being made aware, my father would immediately correct any mistake he had made. Since he was little, a karmic hindrance followed him around and never left him. He could not see it, but he was always being disturbed by a loud cracking sound, which sounded like a whip smacking against a table. This sound followed him all the time and wherever he went, especially around Buddha altars. Those around him could hear these sounds as well, which were often startlingly loud. For example, sometimes while we were doing homework and daydreaming, we would be startled alert by the earsplittingly loud cracking noise from the Buddha altar, which seemed to remind us to focus and not have false thoughts. As a result of this karmic hindrance, my father diligently practiced the Dharma-door of repentance throughout his life.

The fifth [of Samantabhadra’s Kings of Vows] is “to rejoice in others’ merit and virtue.” Our family lives in Kaohsiung, so we’ve been attending ceremonies at Dharma Realm Sagely Monastery in Liugui and the DRBA branch in Kaohsiung for decades. After every Dharma assembly, my father would stick around until the very end, helping to clean up and arrange things, before saying goodbye to the Dharma masters and departing. If he heard of Dharma events at other branch monasteries or wholesome events hosted by others, he would rejoice in their merit and virtue and participate enthusiastically. He especially enjoyed attending recitations on behalf of the deceased, because he believed in the law of cause and effect—if he wanted others to help him recite at the end of his life, he needed to recite frequently on behalf of others first. Upon receiving notice, he would immediately put down what he was doing and go to help recite, even if it was late in the night and he was fatigued. Even so, at the end of his life, he did not want to trouble others. He consistently made vows and dedications to be able to know when his time was up, so that he could masterfully pass away in the Buddha hall at home, with a mind of right and clear mindfulness and without needing the help of others’ recitation.

The sixth [of Samantabhadra’s Kings of Vows] is “to request for the turning of the Dharma wheel.” On a deeper level, this means to always keep the Buddhadharma at the front of one’s mind. Since becoming Buddhist, my father was extremely enthusiastic about Guanyin’s Dharma-door of great compassion. Every day, he practiced the Forty-Two Hands and Eyes, recited the Great Compassion Mantra 108 times, recited the Earth Store Sutra and the Shurangama Mantra, bowed, and chanted the Buddha’s name, among other practices. He had so many practices, but he never grew weary of doing them or slacked off in any way (reciting the Great Vehicle teachings). When he was president of the DRBA branch in Kaohsiung, every Tuesday and Thursday he would get home from work, take a shower, and then rush to the branch to attend Dharma assemblies. He would get home after ten, yet he was still determined to finish his daily practices, sometimes going until midnight before taking a nap and then getting up to begin the next day’s practices. Whenever I asked my father, “Why do you have to tire yourself out like this? If you don’t have time, you don’t have to attend the branch’s ceremonies” he would firmly reply, “Monasteries require the protection and support of people. Attending Dharma assemblies is protecting and supporting a monastery. If this person doesn’t have time and that person has a conflict, who is going to protect and support the monastery?”

Whenever he went on a business trip, my father would set up a simple Buddha hall at the hotel and complete his daily practices. If he knew beforehand that it would be inconvenient to bow at his place of lodging, he would complete his bowing practices for the next couple days at home before leaving. He never sought an excuse to not do his bowing practice. In general, he tried his best to fulfill his public and personal responsibilities. No matter how busy or tired he was, he made sure to finish his daily practices, persisting like this for decades. Every time we asked him, “Aren’t you tired? Why don’t you take a rest? Why do you have to work yourself so hard? You set your own daily practices; do you really need to set so many for yourself?” He would reply, “How could I not be tired? But I feel that life is full of suffering. I hope to leave the sea of samsaric suffering after this life and be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss.” Of course, the aforementioned karmic hindrance also spurred my father on from behind. Whenever he felt tired and wanted to skip his daily practice and rest, his karmic hindrance would repeatedly remind him not to be lazy or slack off. After finishing his daily practice, he would listen to lectures on the Buddhadharma or read Buddhist books if he had additional time. He finished reading all of the Chinese books published by DRBA, and he wrote down notes as he was reading. He was often able to reflect upon and apply the Venerable Master’s instructional talks to his life.

These anecdotes portray my father’s lifelong dedication toward protecting and supporting the monastery as well as his own practice of the Buddhadharma. He never wasted a minute of his time doing something that was not meaningful. Despite all this, he did not neglect his duty as a husband or a father. He rarely spent time chatting with us because he recognized the impermanence of life and the importance of the matter of birth and death, consequently utilizing his limited time to apply diligent effort. But whenever we needed him, he would always make time to help us resolve the difficulties we were facing before returning to his own practice.

During family gatherings, my father would accompany friends and relatives and watch television, drink tea, and chat. However, he continued to hold recitation beads in hand and recite the Buddha’s name, never engaging in idle chatter with everyone else. When he heard of others’ troubles or complaints due to problems at work or in life, he would take the opportunity to persuade them to become vegetarian, recite the Buddha’s name, and do good deeds to nurture virtue. Even though few listened to his advice, he never tired of giving it.

The seventh [of Samantabhadra’s Kings of Vows] is “to request the Buddha to remain in the world.” The literal meaning is to request the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and good spiritual teachers to remain long in the world, but the deeper meaning is to always keep one’s inherent Buddha nature in one’s mind. When greed, anger, delusion, and afflictions arise in our mind, it’s as if the Buddha in our inherent nature has entered stillness. When precepts, samadhi, and wisdom arise, it’s as if the Buddha in our inherent nature has appeared in the world again. Our father used to have a terrible temper and would frequently beat us when we were disobedient as children. But after becoming Buddhist, his temper gradually improved and he became much gentler.

The eighth [of Samantabhadra’s Kings of Vows] is “to always learn from the Buddhas.” Great Master Shandao said, “I sincerely hope that every cultivator will wholeheartedly believe in the Buddha’s words and determinedly put them into practice without caring about their lives. If the Buddha instructs one to renounce, one renounces; if the Buddha tells one to practice, one practices; and if the Buddha sends one off to a destination, one departs. This is complying with the Buddha’s intent and wish. Such a person is a true disciple of the Buddha.” My father would spare no effort to put every sentence of the Buddhadharma he heard into practice. The Venerable Master said, “Those who can talk cannot compare to those who can listen; those who can listen cannot compare to those who can practice.” My father was someone who was able to seriously put things into practice.

My father spent a few years volunteering every Wednesday evening from seven to nine at Kaohsiung Medical University. He didn’t just go to volunteer; every time he went, he would bring several bags filled with Buddha statues, sutras, recitation machines, recitation counters, Great Compassion water, and other items. To those with affinities with him, he would share the Buddhadharma and teach them how to recite the Buddha. He would give patients Great Compassion water to drink and encourage them and their relatives to become vegetarian and avoid harming life, explaining to them the law of cause and effect. The Venerable Master said, “A heart of great compassion is the Great Compassion Mantra; the Great Compassion Mantra is just a heart of great compassion. If you have a heart of great compassion, you are reciting the Great Compassion Mantra; if not, then you are not reciting the mantra.” My father was one who truly recited the Great Compassion Mantra, since he was compassionate at heart and always thinking of how to help others. He wanted those who had never heard the Buddhadharma to be able to hear it, and those who had heard the Buddhadharma to practice vigorously (resolving for bodhi, encouraging cultivators to make progress).

In 2001, I sent my father a copy of the Recitation Book for Morning and Evening Ceremonies in the Pure Land School from America. My father was a very vigorous practitioner and did not like finding the easy way out or cutting corners, so he was skeptical at first toward the thin book I sent him. Later, he did not want to disappoint my hopes for him from afar in America, so he followed the recitation book once. Afterwards, he told me that he felt truly filled with Dharma joy, and from then on, he practiced according to the book for the rest of his life. He also immediately printed a thousand copies of the book to distribute to others. This was the way he was: as soon as he found something to be good, he couldn’t wait to share it with everyone.

The ninth [of Samantabhadra’s Kings of Vows] is “to constantly comply with living beings.” To help his friends and relatives become vegetarian, my father would often invite them over for meals. Although he was passionate about convincing others to become Buddhist, he would usually hit dead ends. His friends and relatives would question, “What’s the use of reciting the Buddha’s name? Will Amitabha Buddha benefit you in any way? Will Amitabha Buddha feed you?” My father would then tirelessly share stories of efficacious responses to inspire faith in them. If they had a bad attitude, my father wouldn’t go on in order to comply with them. But to those who wanted to listen, he would happily go into more detail.

The last [of Samantabhadra’s Kings of Vows] is “to dedicate merit and virtue to all.” After completing his daily practices and before going to bed, my father would dedicate the merit and virtue from his practices to living beings so that they could together be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. If he heard that someone was in the hospital or had passed away, he would specifically make dedications for that individual. He would also dedicate to non-Buddhist friends and relatives so that they could resolve for bodhi and diligently learn the Buddhadharma. His dedications were detailed, comprehensive, and unambiguous, and he would spend quite a bit of time making dedications every day.

My father had predicted his passing twice before—he had dreamt of Amitabha Buddha, who told him the date and time of his passing—but both times he was unsuccessful. He had sincerely prayed to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to inform him as to why he could not attain rebirth; later, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas revealed to him in a dream that “the wildfires have not been extinguished, causing you to be stuck in this life.” He believed that this was because he had killed many living beings while tending to his garden in recent years, so he decided to stop gardening. One Dharma master who specialized in the Pure Land Dharma-door told him that, the reason he had not been able to be reborn was that he had not truly let go of everything at that time. Upon reflection, my father admitted that he had not truly let go of everything back then. The Dharma master gave further instruction, telling him that the focus of the Pure Land Dharma-door is on faith and vows. My father had done a lot of practice throughout his life, so he should now apply serious effort towards faith and vows.

My father mentioned his two unsuccessful rebirth attempts several times when sharing insights in the Dharma during assemblies at the Kaohsiung branch. At the time, the Dharma master from Liugui’s Dharma Realm Sagely Monastery compassionately advised him, “You have not been able to be reborn because your merit and virtue aren’t sufficient and your karmic hindrances haven’t been removed.” Now that he has perfected his merit and virtue and attained rebirth in the Western Pure Land, thereby completing his ideal life trajectory, we would like to use hearts of deep joy and gratitude to send our father off to the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Throughout his life, my father did not care about fame and fortune, was resolute in his resolve for cultivating the Path, and steadfastly adhered to goodness. He set extremely strict expectations for himself, practiced with courageous vigor, and tirelessly toiled irrespective of blood and sweat, all for his aspiration of being reborn in the Western Pure Land. At home, he was kind-hearted and fulfilled his responsibilities; outside, he delighted in doing charitable deeds. He protected the right Dharma, quietly helped and influenced people who had affinities with him, and enabled others to leave their suffering without worrying about his own care and comfort. Deeds for Buddhism and the Three Jewels as well as altruistic deeds were part of his self-assigned duties, and he never took credit for what he did. Although he did not have the causes and conditions to leave the home-life in this life, I must admit that I cannot match his extraordinary willpower and vigor.

Reminiscing about my father’s lifelong cultivation and everyday attitude, many people have said that he was long destined for the opposite shore’s land of lotuses: although he was physically in the Saha World, his heart was already in the Western Pure Land. He always made philanthropy benefiting others his top priority and is worthy of being called a selfless person. The greatest beneficiaries from his actions were none other than his family, who lived with him day and night. Under my father’s gradual and imperceptible influence, I left the home-life at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in 2002. As I recall Bodhisattvas journeying in the human realm, to me my father was a Bodhisattva from the Land of Ultimate Bliss who returned on the basis of his vows. Now that he has done all that was needed to be done, he has returned to his hometown—the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

For my father to have accomplished what he had in this life, besides his own good roots and blessings from past lives, he also had a quiet supporter behind the scenes—my mother. My mother accompanied my father for over forty years, taking care of familial affairs, fulfilling her responsibilities, and supporting my father’s decisions. She let my father practice vigorously and help out Buddhism and the Three Jewels without any fears or worries.

A well-lived life doesn’t have to be a life of dramatic grandeur; my father was the stereotype of an ordinary person, as he never held any position of power or authority. However, he was able to put the teachings of the Buddha and other good spiritual teachers into practice, honestly and wholeheartedly recite Amitabha’s name with true faith and sincere vows, and do the Buddha’s work in the world in accordance with conditions. His teaching by example through his words and actions is worthy of emulation, and at the end of his life, he was reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, where he will realize ultimate liberation. Isn’t such a life also one splendidly lived?

Lastly, I would like to use a verse in warning to the world by Great Master Chewu as a means of exhortation for us all:

To be a person at ease in the Land of Lotuses,

How can one afford to dabble in Saha World affairs?

Sending one’s spirit off to the Land of Peace,

What remains here is one’s body, like a reflection in a mirror.

Isn’t this just a portrayal of my father’s life?

Afterword 1:

During my father’s passing, I was bowing the Emperor Liang’s Jeweled Repentance at our branch monastery, Avatamsaka Vihara, in Maryland. The time difference was twelve hours, so midnight in Taiwan was noontime on the East Coast of the U.S. After concluding the meal that day around noon, I started a video call right away with family members in Taiwan to see my father take his last breath. I then set up a plaque for him immediately afterwards, which happened to coincide with the bowing of the Great Compassion Repentance. While bowing the repentance, the Bodhisattvas and other sages of the Ocean-like Lotus Assembly suddenly appeared before me (just like the picture below). The background was black and the Bodhisattvas were transparent; there were around four or five Bodhisattvas, all with hands extended in invitation.


That evening after Evening Recitation, I asked the head nun of the monastery if we could recite the Buddha’s name in the Buddha Hall from 7:40 to 9 and dedicate the merit to my father. Sometime after 8 while reciting, three images suddenly appeared before me:

First, I saw a pool filled with many identical white lotuses. The background was black, as if it were nighttime (my father passed away late in the night).

Next, Amitabha Buddha appeared before me. The background was still black, and Amitabha Buddha was transparent, just like the Bodhisattvas and other sages of the Ocean-like Lotus Assembly whom I saw while bowing the Great Compassion Repentance. Usually when we see images of Amitabha Buddha coming to bring someone to his land, he is bent over slightly, perhaps around fifteen degrees. But in this instance, Amitabha Buddha was bent over nearly ninety degrees with arms extended outward, as if he were going to crouch down to pull someone up.

Immediately thereafter, a large white lotus appeared. This lotus was different from the ones we usually see, which are flat and long with around two to three layers of petals. The lotus I saw was quite tall, with around seven or eight layers of petals. Its width was the same as the height, and it remained in front of me for a while. However, I didn’t see anybody on the lotus, so I visualized that my father was sitting on it and waved in farewell.

The night before my father’s funeral service, I fell asleep while reciting the Buddha’s name. Every night before I go to bed, I practice Great Master Shan Dao’s “Contemplative Practice Before Sleeping.” That night, right before falling asleep, I saw the Venerable Master twice. Then, I suddenly felt a strong light shining at me, from which gradually appeared a celestial being similar to the one in the picture below. This celestial being sat on a lotus, had his palms joined together, and smiled so brilliantly that light emitted from his mouth. After remaining in front of me for a couple minutes, he gradually faded into the light and disappeared. My instincts told me that the celestial being was my father. I did not pay attention to the celestial being’s clothes because he seemed to be merged with the light, so I couldn’t see very clearly. However, his smile left a deep impression on me; the brilliance of his open-mouth smile could not have been due to any worldly happiness.


I did not witness these states with my eyes, nor did I see them in a dream. Rather, these states abruptly appeared while I was concentrating on the Buddha’s name with my eyes closed. I perceived each state clearly and with full consciousness, so I could not have been dreaming.

My mother and older brother were also very happy, and everyone felt that my father’s passing was quite special. My brother stayed beside my father’s casket for a week; not only did he feel no fear, he also talked to my father on occasion, asking my father to tell him that he had been reborn in the Western Pure Land. The night before my father’s funeral service, he practiced the “Contemplative Practice Before Sleeping” for the first time and, in his dream, saw the half-transparent Three Sages of the West in the distant skies. Although it was just for a brief moment, it was the first time that he dreamed of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

These various signs gave us faith that our father had been reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Afterword 2:

After the Emperor Liang’s Jeweled Repentance was completed, I went back to Gold Sage Monastery in California from Avatamsaka Vihara in Maryland. On the first day of quarantine, I felt weak after lunch and went to rest, but I was woken up by my father. I dreamed that he was in a Chan hall, arranging cushions and blankets neatly for people to sit. He then called to me and told me sternly, “Stop sleeping. Get up and meditate; you must apply effort diligently! I hope that you can end the cycle of death and rebirth in this life.”

Recently, while shuffling through the letters my late father sent to me, I noticed that in every letter, he would remind me to cultivate diligently and not slack off. He told me, “You must attain liberation in this life; otherwise, you will have let this human life go by in vain.”

May those who read or hear about this resolve for bodhi and together be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss after this life!

Namo Amitabha!