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 Every Recitation is at the Moment of Death; Each is Embraced by the Buddha; Each Assures Rebirth


       How do we comprehend the “moment of death”?  Our life is only one breath away from death, for exhaling at the present moment doesn’t guarantee we will inhale again. The “moment of death” can happen after any breath. Thus, every recitation links to the last breath of life; each recitation is at the moment of death.

       In general, we expect the “moment of death” to be a certain time far in the future. But who is to decide when that point in time will be? Frankly, any present moment can be the “moment of death”: Suppose you were on the way to a business meeting, and you got into a car accident, and that became your “moment of death.”  You might have plans for 10 or 20 years into the future, but things might not go as planned. Therefore, any present moment can be the “moment of death.” Every one of our recitations is at the moment of death.

       The light of Amitabha Buddha permeates in every direction. Why does it embrace only Buddha-reciters and never forsake them? That’s because the Buddha sees vividly that every one of our recitations could be at the last moment of life. What if the Buddha said, I would come to fetch you when you are in need or encountering vicissitude? It would be too late. 

       The Buddha-light embraces and never forsakes reciters because beings are facing death at all times. As Master Shandao says, “sentient beings are prone to jump into the fire pit of the three evil realms;” we may fall in at any moment. No matter what, Amitabha Buddha will never let go of reciters, so how can we fall? The Buddha tells us, “Every one of your recitations is at the moment of death; each of my thoughts is to deliver you; each recitation ensures your rebirth to my land.”

       Here is a quote from Master Shandao, “Every recitation with a committed mind achieves rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.” “A committed mind is a sincere mind, a profound mind, and a mind of merit-dedication towards rebirth. One, who gives rise to these three kinds of mind, his rebirth is assured. After that, every recitation ensures rebirth now, not in the distant future. Otherwise, it would be an incorrect view of impermanence, a weak perspective of life.

       Shakyamuni Buddha once asked his disciples: “Will each of you tell me your understanding of life and impermanence?”

       Some disciples answered: “Life is within seven days.”

       The Buddha replied: “No. you do not understand,” meaning the disciple was not yet enlightened, and did not understand the reality of life.”

       Some disciples said: “Life is impermanent; it is within a day and night since I do not know if I will live tomorrow.” Their answer seemed to show a better understanding of life.

       However, the Buddha replied: “Son, you do not know the Way either.”

       However, the Buddha replied: “No, you do not understand,” meaning you do not know the truth either.

       Another disciple answered: “Life is a short while.” It was getting close, but still not quite there yet.

       And the Buddha again replied: “No, you do not understand. Because “a short while” still is a measure of given time, usually a quarter of an hour.

       Finally, a disciple answered: “Life is impermanent; it is between inhalation and exhalation.”

     The Buddha nodded in assent: “Yes, you understood,” meaning this disciple understood the impermanent nature of life. We breathe every day, and every breath is at the moment of death.

(Translated and edited by
the Pure Land School Translation Team)

Master Huijing

Master Huijing

Master Jingzong

Master Jingzong

Guiding Principles

Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings