This is part of a short book I am writing on the experiences I have had during this Thrice Yearning Ceremony.
A Temple in China
When I first came to know of the Pure Land practice of Thrice Yearning and Chanting, I felt a profound understanding of its function. Right away a peace and reassurance swept over me, and I was able to see with the mind’s eye the interdependence and compassion of every realm of every living being of the ten directions.
Though seeing the practice in a ceremonious fashion appeared to be just thousands of cultivators chanting the Buddha’s Name and reciting Sutras, the efficacious mannerisms they portrayed, the selfless behavior and application of their life force truly was magnificent.
After the first time I saw such a practice, I was reassured of what I had experienced in various states of observing and interacting in the various realms of living beings. During my time in a Pure Land Buddhist Educational Center/Monastery, I witnessed and partook in a Crossing Over ceremony for those who were about to pass on.
All cultivators, left home and at home, would take 2 hour shifts of chanting the Buddha’s Name while in the same room, called the Rebirth in the Pure Land Hall, along side the person preparing to pass on. The almost-passing would be lying down at the side of the room, immersed in the dim-lit ambiance of candles, incense, chanting and a thick and heavy penetrating comfort that wasn’t heavy like dense and stressful, but heavy that you felt it penetrate your skin and bones, and light enough to make anyone feel welcome and loved.
The chanting would go on until the person fully passed on, and would continue for an hour or so afterwards. Then the body was checked for signs of being reborn in the pure Land, such as heat at the head, chest or feet, or even cold temperatures to find out if they went on to another realm altogether due to their karmic afflictions.
Fortunately, those who passed on did indeed go to the Pure Land. How were we sure? Well, the body wasn’t stiff at all, and even after a day or two, certain areas were very, very warm: top of the head, chest and waist areas. Sometimes the entire body was warm, and the room where the body laid was filled with a very noticeable fragrance of flowers.
When the body was cremated, it left crystallized fragments called Sharira (She Li Zi in Mandarin Chinese). These are further signs of being reborn in a Pure Land.
Besides the hands on certification to the passing’s rebirth, I personally had witnessed something very profound. Due to my years of cultivation and practice, I was able to attain eyes to see, and so on this day, what was spoken of in ‘The Buddha Speaks the Amitabha Sutra’, I actually saw with my own eyes wide open.
During the chanting, perhaps several hours into it, my group was up for chanting, and so switched with the previous one. Suddenly, during the chanting, I felt a strong vibration penetrate the atmosphere, and my attention intuitively moved towards the foot of the bed of the passing one. At that time, I saw a rip in the space at the foot of the bed, and a great light poured into the room, not blinding, but comforting.
Then the rip opened wider into what looked like a large rounded door-way. It was not fixed in position, so it grew wider and wider to what I thought was about 5ft wide and 6ft tall, but then again, it didn’t matter. In the space of this door-way, I literally saw three large figures appear. They were very easy to make out, and no they didn’t look like the statues and certainly didn’t appear as some of the images depicted them to be like.
I literally saw Amitabha Buddha, Avalokiteshvara (Guan Yin) Bodhisattva and Great Strength Bodhisattva walk right to the front of the door-way-like portal. Smiling, and comforting, they welcomed the passed-on-one to come with them. Without wasting any time, the passed on leapt right out of the body, changed its karmic appearance from woman to man, and grabbed the extended hand of Amitabha Buddha.
There were no words spoken, but the communication between the four was so profoundly loud, that is literally vibrated my heart, forehead, crown and spine. I averted my eyes to the space behind the Pure Lands Triple Jewel, and saw an ocean of Bodhisattvas in the background. The land was beautiful indeed.
Suddenly, the passed-on-one walked with the three sages and the door-way faded into nothingness. The atmosphere in the room was full of a light fragrance of flowers, strong enough to realize it normally, but light enough to not break your concentration. The heaviness in the room became a comforting breeze, and not only warmed us all, but also helped to ease the pain in our backs and legs from sitting upright and some even cross-legged in Lotus Position.
A few days later we had another ready-to-pass-on. This time it took a day or two, but a similar situation occurred. Not every experience is the same, and not every time will it be so bluntly visible to the cultivator. I witnessed in the mind of the passing-on-one, the struggle of their emotions and attachments. I witnessed their negative afflictions causing crazy strife within them; pain and heartache, etc.
Yet, after a day or so of chanting, and applying our minds with the passing-on-one, they too were whisked away to the Pure Land. This time, they were received in their mind, meaning the scene didn’t appear as the same one from the above described experience. It was through the person’s mind which they were pulled right into the Pure Land, and affixed, reborn, literally into a lotus blossom within their mind.
When the body was checked, the abdomen was warm, indicated a birth in the middle grades of the Pure Land. Of course, this will need more commentary, but please, don’t try to think too much and come to your own conclusions. Some things a person will just not understand, no matter how much they think they know.
Edited by 林愛偉, 29 May 2013 - 05:09 PM.