Journey to the Pure Land: A Mother’s Devotion to Amitabha-recitation
By Householder Guoyao
My mother, Lin Shen Ai, was born on January 22, 1934. She lost her parents at a young age and was raised by her elder brother. She married my simple but honest father under an arranged marriage, and gave birth to three sons and a daughter. My father (Elder Lin Yu) had depression and mental illness in his 30s, having suffered from prolonged bullying by his boss. The heavy burden of making ends meet for the whole family fell solely on my frail mother.
During the day, my mother would ride a tricycle to deliver cement and plywood to construction sites in nearby towns, and at night, she would help wash dishes at a noodle stall to supplement our modest income. She toiled for decades, rain or shine. She raised her children and provided them with education, under the most trying circumstances. She did it all without uttering a word of complaint. The village chief, witnessing my mother’s hardships, wanted to help her with financial assistance, but she politely declined after discussing it with me.
In order to contribute to the family's expenses and take care of my younger siblings, I gave up the opportunity to attend college and enrolled in a military school in 1975.
Sometime in 1995, my mother became a Buddhist by taking refuge in the Three Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha) at the Miaofa Temple near where we lived in Xinying. Since then, she had been reciting the Buddha's name and actively participated in temple activities, venerating the Buddha and listening to Dharma teachings. Although she was illiterate, she recited "Namo Amituofo" single-mindedly and conscientiously. Whenever she had a moment, she would recite “Namo Amituofo”, fingers counting the mala. In short, she was a devout and faithful disciple of the Three Jewels.
My mother succumbed to liver cancer and passed away one morning in September 2023. Fortunately, the compassionate Master Jingyu from the Xinying Pure Land Association arrived at my mother’s death bed in time and led a group of fellow practitioners to recite the Buddha's name for her. The Master also gave my mother teachings on the Pure Land Dharma path. The uninterrupted recitation lasted for twelve hours, creating a solemn and touching atmosphere.
In the afternoon on the same day, my eldest daughter-in-law had a dream while resting. She saw my mother being followed by an assembly of beings, numbered around a hundred, slowly ascending to a bright and radiant space. On both sides of the firmament, there were hundreds of men and women, all virtuous looking, with smiling faces, and applauded. They welcomed my mother and the group and directed them towards a gateway, where a messenger awaited.
The messenger asked, "Who brought you here?"
My mother replied, "Amituofo and the assembly of Bodhisattvas guided me here."
The messenger said, "Good, please come in."
At six o'clock that evening, my second brother's daughter came to assist with the recitation. She said, "As soon as I entered the door, I saw Grandma coming out with a smile on her face. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, so I rubbed my eyes and looked again. Sure enough, I saw Grandma going up to the sky!"
At seven o'clock, my mother was lying in repose just before the coffin was closed, the Master once again arrived to lead the congregation in reciting the Buddha's name and offering teaching. My mother's face carried a smile, her complexion was rosy, and she appeared peaceful and dignified. Everyone felt great joy upon seeing that.
The next morning, at six o'clock, my mom’s foreign caregiver, with a smile on her face, used a mobile phone translator to tell me, "Last night, I dreamed of Grandma. She was wearing a majestic red lotus dress, and she took me to the place where she now lives. It has a lovely and tranquil pavilion. Its ground is covered with gold and crystal. She held my hand and pointed to the distance, saying, 'Look! The birds are so beautiful, and so plentiful.'"
I explained to her, "That place is the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. The birds you saw were white cranes, peacocks, Kalaviṅka and the two-headed birds of shared destiny. They are manifestations created by the supernatural powers of Amitabha Buddha in that land to preach the Dharma with their fine voices."
I am grateful to my mother for providing us with a remarkable education about life, enabling us to understand that, apart from Planet Earth, the Land of Ultimate Bliss also exists in the universe. If we do not recite Amitabha’s name and gain rebirth in the Land of Bliss, we would be forever transmigrating in the endless cycle of birth and death according to our individual karma. The various auspicious phenomena are proof that Amituofo’s compassionate deliverance by his great vows is real.
【Humbly closing his palms, Guoyao reflects on these thoughts. October 1, 2023】
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)
- Recitation of Amitabha’s name, relying on his Fundamental Vow (the 18th)
- Rebirth of ordinary beings in the Pure Land’s Realm of Rewards
- Rebirth assured in the present lifetime
- Non-retrogression achieved in this lifetime
The 18th Vow of Amitabha Buddha
If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, wish to be reborn in my land and recite my name, even ten times, should fail to be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment. Excepted are those who commit the five gravest transgressions or slander the correct Dharma.
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