如何引导学佛者为临终做准备呢?

临终安宁关怀 (下)

如何引导学佛者为临终做准备呢?有三种模式:

第一、 下士往生法——以皈依为主
临终者此时意识恍惚,询问并引导他念相应的佛号、四皈依、密集嘛、甚至喜欢的赞颂都可以,并且摆放佛菩萨、师长的法照在其眼前,因为师长是三宝的总聚体,此刻能够忆念三宝,往生善趣机会大。

第二、 中士往生法——以出离心、解脱为主
引导亡者生起厌离娑婆、欣求极乐的心,让他深见五蕴身的过患。法师举了博朵瓦祖师劝勉罹患痲疯病弟子的一段话:“于六趣中,随生何趣,其后发生病痛死等众苦恼者,是病者病,是死者死… …”来说明烦恼受生的五蕴是毒身,要厌离不宜久住。

第三、 上士往生法——以五力为主

  1. 白法种子力——也就是帮临终者做“上供下施”以累积福报,并且要让他知道而随喜自己的善行,因为造业的根本在思心所。
  2. 对治力——引导他作临终忏悔,实践广论中所记载四力忏悔,让临终者了无遗憾。
  3. 牵引力——忆念上师、三宝的悲愿,念念矢志不离,得佛接引。
  4. 发愿力——临终除了皈依,最大的愿力就是发菩提心,特别是自他换的修法。法师以自己的亲身开刀的经历,证明此修法真实不虚——就是以苦为道的真谛,在临终时大苦逼迫,可以发愿希望所有有情的痛苦都在我身上成熟;所有的善根受用都全部施予有情,如此让临终者心情平稳,有助于往生善趣。
  5. 串习力——病人一般是平躺,病榻中学习像佛涅槃一样,右胁而卧,右手无名指放在右鼻孔,观想把自己明天的苦给今天,把自己今天的安乐给明天、后天……如此开始练习,可以减轻病苦;多门思维我爱执的过患、舍心的胜利、自他平等等法类,或将加持物放在病者的身上,都会有加持力。

倘若临终者已经死亡,进入“中有”阶段,又该如何引导:”

首先“靠他力”因势利导亡者死期已到、勿贪着,让他把心放下,好好发愿往生净土;再者,勉励他“提心力”,此时提策他生起猛利的善心;接着告诉他四大分解本来就是需要面对的痛苦,千万不要因为身苦而追悔以前所造的善业;继续让他生起皈依三宝的心,因为师长、佛菩萨会一直陪伴着我们穿越死有、中有、生有、本有;四大分解时会出现渴、饿或是冷,当临终者觉得冷时,他可能会想要去一个比较热的地方,那时候临终者要转想:冷的时候要想到净土去,净土那个地方的火晶非常暖和,观想去那边烤暖;饿的时候就希望到净土,那儿有美味的天厨妙供等等;如果饿了就到净土去、渴了就到净土去、冷的时候到净土去、热的时候到净土去;甚至对可爱非可爱的幻象,要引导他这全部都是幻化不真实的,或者全部转想成佛菩萨、上师的示现;当我爱执现起想要再换一个身时,引导他换一个净土的清净庄严身。如得法师条理分明,将中阴引导的关键和盘托出,我等受益匪浅。

法师最后还叮咛家人要在亡者49天内好好地为亡者造善,还指出民间做七的习俗,最好每个七可以提前一两天做,有利于亡者投身善趣。

法师开示引导临终者的方法巨细靡遗,为我们解开死亡的神秘面纱,让我们明白而有信心地陪伴自他走完最后的这段旅程——平静地面对死亡,引导自他趣向美好的下一生。

身为广论学员的你我,下脚处就是好好地学广论,对境时清净自己的身口意业,策励自己身为一位修行人要修到的境界——上等死而欢喜、中等死而无畏、下等死而无憾,如此一来就能如老师所教导的临终时能够飞黄腾达,而非以爪抓胸呀!当然,我们最好能以月王子、玄奘大师等上等修行人为榜样,“将此身心奉尘剎,是则名为报佛恩。”那么临终时是绝对可以无惧与辉煌的!


How to guide Buddhists to prepare for death?

End-of-Life Caregiving (Part Two)

How to guide Buddhists to prepare for death? There are 3 ways to it:

Firstly, ways of passing on by persons of small capacity (i.e persons who seek for better future lives) – Focus on taking refuge

The person who is facing death will be very distracted at that particular time. Ask and guide him on reciting any Buddha’s name to whom he can relate to, or the Four Refuge, Migtsema prayer, or even his favorite Insightful Praise. In addition, place the photo of the Buddha, Bodhisattvas or his teacher right before him. This is because teachers are the representation of the Three Jewels. To be able to remember the Three Jewels at this last moment, the chances of him getting reborn in the happy realms will be high.

Secondly, ways of passing on by persons of the medium capacity (I.e persons who seek to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death) – Focus on disenchantment and getting out of the cyclic existence

To guide the dying person to feel a strong need to get out of this samsara world and desire for nirvana, help him to truly understand the faults of the five aggregates [see Note 1 for definition].

Venerable quoted a phrase from Master Bo-do-wa when he was advising a disciple with leprosy, “As soon as we are born as any one of the six types of beings, we are faced with the sufferings of sickness, death, and so forth. When the cause of sickness is present, we are sick; when the cause of death is present, we die…” This phrase highlights that the five aggregates, which are formed as a result of afflictions, is a poisoned body. Hence, this body is not a place to stay for long; we should develop a strong desire to leave.

Thirdly, ways of passing on by persons of the great capacity (I.e persons who seek to become Buddha in order to benefit all living beings) – Focus on the Five Strengths

  • Strength of Virtuous Seeds – This is to assist the person facing death to accumulate merits through acts of offerings and generosity. At the same time, let him know so that he can rejoice in his own virtuous deeds. This is because, the root of creating karma is in the mind.

  • Strength of Remedies – To guide him in doing repentance nearing death. To carry out repentance based on the four powers as stated in the Lamrim, so that the person facing death will not have any regrets.

  • Strength of Guidance – Guide him to remember the compassionate aspirations of his teacher and the Three Jewels, continually vow never to leave them and finally be received by Buddha.

  • Strength of Aspiration – Other than taking refuge before death, the greatest aspiration is to generate the spirit of enlightenment, especially with the method of “Exchanging Self and Other”.

Venerable cited a personal experience of a surgery during which he put to test the validity of this method, which is based on the truth of suffering as a pathway. During the time of dying, when great suffering occurs, one can make an aspiration to shoulder the sufferings of all sentient beings, as well as give away all of one’s virtuous roots and personal benefits to sentient beings. This allows the person facing death to feel calm and aids his rebirth in the happy realms.

  • Strength of Habits – Those who are ill are usually lying down on their back. While one is sick in bed, learn to practice like the Buddha who is entering Nirvana; lie down on the right side of the body, with the right ring finger pressing down on the right nostril. Visualize transferring the pain of tomorrow to today, and transferring the comfort of today to tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow. Such a practice can reduce the sufferings arising from the illness. In addition, contemplate the faults of attachment to self from different perspectives, the benefits of generosity, and the teachings on impartiality towards living beings, or other related teachings. Furthermore, we can place blessed items on the sick person’s body; all these will let him receive blessings.

If the person has already passed on and entered the Bardo (intermediate state), how then should we guide him?

Firstly, he needs to “rely on the strength of others”; people guiding him should do so according to the situation during the person’s death. Let him know that he has reached the time of death, and that he should not have any more attachment (greed). Let go, and make aspirations to be reborn in the Pure Land.

Secondly, encourage him to be “motivated”, remind him to give rise to intense virtuous thoughts.

Next, let him know that it is unavoidable for him to face the sufferings of the disintegration of the four bodily elements [see Note 2 for definition]; absolutely do not regret the virtuous acts he has done because of the pain that he is going through at that time. Continue to help him take refuge in the Three Jewels, as our Teacher, Bodhisattvas and Buddha will continue to accompany us through the death state (marana-bhava死有), intermediate state (antara-bhava中有), birth state (upapatti-bhara生有) and state of the prior time (purva-kala-bhava本有) [see Note 3 for definition of the four states].

During the disintegration of the four bodily elements, there will be signs of thirst, hunger or cold. At the point of death, if the person feels cold, he might be inclined to go to a place that is warm. At this juncture, he must change his thoughts and steer them towards going to Pure Land, as the fire crystal at the Pure Land is very warm and soothing; he should visualise going there to get some warmth. If he is hungry, he should think of going to Pure Land, as there are sumptuous meals made by the heavenly cooks; if thirsty, go to Pure Land too; when feeling cold, go to Pure Land; when feeling hot, go to Pure Land. Even when he is facing desirable or undesirable illusionary images, you need to guide him that all these are just illusions and non-existent. Or, he can see them as manifestations of Buddha, Bodhisattvas or his teacher. When his attachment to the self arises and he wants to change to a new body, guide him to change into a pure and majestic body in the Pure Land.

Venerable Ru De systematically and clearly explained the crucial points for guiding one during the Bardo state and the audience have benefited deeply from it.

Lastly, Venerable kindly exhorted everyone to conduct virtuous acts on behalf of their deceased family members, during the first 49 days of the deceased’s passing. He even pointed out the common practice of performing rituals every 7 days (until 49 days) for the deceased. He said that it is best to perform the ritual one or two days before each 7-day period, as this will aid in the deceased’s rebirth in the happy realms.

Venerable’s lecture on guidance for the deceased and people approaching death is both meticulous and filled with vital points. His explanation has lifted the mysterious veil of death and allowed us to understand with faith on how to walk down the final path ourselves, as well as accompany others to do so – facing death with tranquility and guiding others and ourselves towards a beautiful next life.

As Lamrim students, our starting point would be to earnestly learn the Lamrim. When confronted with situations, purify the karma being created by our body, speech and mind. Motivate ourselves to reach the state that a true practitioner should – death with joy at the highest level, death without fear at the median level, and death without regrets at the low level. With these, we will then have achieved what our Teacher has taught – soar to great heights during death instead of sinking our fingernails into our chest! Of course it will be best if we can learn from the examples set by the Bodhisattva Prince Sutasoma, Venerable Xuan Zang and other great practitioners – Repay Buddha’s great kindness by offering everything we have to all sentient beings, and offering to the propagation of Buddha’s teachings, which can free all sentient beings from suffering. With this, we will definitely be able to face death without fear and be glorious upon death!

Note:

1) The four states are:

i) Death state (marana-bhava死有) – the last moment of death

ii) Intermediate state (antara-bhava中有) – period from death until taking birth

iii) Birth state (upapatti-bhara生有) – the first moment of taking birth

iv) State of the prior time (purva-kala-bhava本有) – period from the second moment of life up to the last moment of death

2) Four bodily elements (四大)refer to the following:

i) Earth elements of the body,which have the basic quality of hardness, such as organs, tissues, and bones

ii) Water elements are the bodily fluids such as blood, urine

iii) Fire element has the nature of heat such as the body’s temperature

iv) Wind elements have the function of giving motion to all living things; motion produces and maintains life. An example will be one’s breathing.

3) Five aggregates refer to physical body (色); feeling (受); perception (想); impulse (行)which includes a person’s intentions; consciousness (识).