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How To Spiritually Deliver And Be Delivered 如何超度与得度

close up of a dad and his little baby sleeping together
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为人子女,
应该注重于父母亲的神识
得到安居之所
【阿弥陀佛之净土】。

— 净土宗十三祖印光大师
《临终三大要》

As children, we should emphasise on the attainment of settlement for our parents’ consciousnesses [in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land].

— Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(The Three Great Essentials When Approaching Death)

As part of Buddhist practice, when someone passes away, there is usually speak of facilitating spiritual ‘transcendental deliverance’ (超度) of the deceased. Monastics might be invited to conduct funeral chanting then. Those who misunderstand might imagine or hope this can ‘deliver’ the departed, to have a good rebirth, as a human or heavenly being (天人). However, the true goal far surpasses the above.

Since it is supposed to be transcendental, the guidance (开示) and support-chanting (助念) offered to save and deliver (救度) is meant to lead to transcendence (超越) of the cycle of birth and death (生死轮回), to have liberation and departure (脱离) from all suffering and difficulties (苦难). This might seem like a tall order as it almost equates to the state of enlightenment itself?

However, transcendental deliverance can indeed be achieved, by guiding and motivating the deceased to attain rebirth (往生) in Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土). Since there is Ultimate (spiritual) Bliss (极乐) (and physical happiness) there, while it ensures there will be non-retrogressible (不退转) progress to Buddhahood (佛果), being born there is already ‘as good as’ having liberation (解脱).

In this sense, facilitating transcendental deliverance is ‘easier’ than it seems, but this is provided that the departing or departed is receptive to the appropriate guidance and support-chanting offered. As the Right Views (正见) of the Pure Land Dharma Door (净土法门) or Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha (念佛法门) need to be learnt (and shared) well to be practised well, this can be ‘harder’ than it seems.

This transcendental deliverance of loved ones, such as our indebted mothers and fathers should not be ‘outsourced’ arbitrarily to strangers who might lack the right skills. True filial piety should be expressed through personal facilitation. These skills can be mastered via detailed learning of teachings, such as The Three Great Essentials When Approaching Death《临终三大要》in proper courses.

As we learn how to offer guidance and support-chanting to urge others to give rise of the Three Provisions (三资粮) of deep Faith (深信), sincere Aspiration (切愿) and true Practice (实行) to reach Pure Land, we too should guide ourselves to give rise to the same provisions now, and practise mindfulness of Buddha in everyday life. After all, to teach others well, we should personally practise well too.

When it is our time to depart from this life, we simply have to, with utmost sincerity (至信), with Faith and Aspiration uphold the Buddha’s name (信愿持名). Once there is connection with Āmítuófó, he will be able to receive and guide (接引) us to his Pure Land. Then surely reaching his Pure Land, we will have transcendental deliverance too. For one and all who practise accordingly, this is not wishful thinking at all!

Note though, that as Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) taught in the Amitābha Sūtra《阿弥陀经》, the Pure Land Dharma Door is ‘that all in the world have difficulty believing in’ (一切世间难信之法). This is partly because they are as if ‘too good to be true’ in terms of its splendid results, and in terms of the cultivation method being relatively easy to practise (易行). Thus, to master the Pure Land teachings, there should be diligent learning and practice (修学) through qualified teachers.

彼【净】土往生,
其成佛也易。
易故一生可致,
【此秽土】难故累劫未成。

— 净土宗十一祖省庵大师
《劝发菩提心文》

In that [Pure] Land reborn, that accomplishing of Buddhahood is also easy. It is easy there, thus in one lifetime, it can be attained, and difficult here [in this defiled land], thus despite continuous kalpas, it is yet to be accomplished.

— Pure Land Tradition’s 11th Patriarch Great Master Xǐng’ān
(Essay On Exhortation To Give Rise To The Bodhi Mind)

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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