Friday, August 31, 2012

Dying Practices for Buddhists

Dying practices for Buddhists.  This is a rather unusual concept for Westerners and maybe some new Buddhists from Asian countries.  Dying practices have been a part of Buddhists life since the beginning.  What I am teaching you now is the standard practice of Chinese Buddhist temples.  It is a part of Pure Land schools around the world.

What is dying?  Dying is the end.  The absolute ending of you as you know yourself in this body shell.  There is no more after this.  No more you.  If you feel scared then it's useful for you to start this practice while you live an active life now.  Dying is the ending of your breath without assistance, leading to the end of your heart beating.  It in actuality is a rather longer than you thought process, made complicated by your own willpower and the body attempt to protect itself by living until it can't.

To the family is very distressing to see you weaken, and struggle for breath (body takes over making you die in stages so your passing is smoother and from your own perspective you don't seem to notice-brain protects you), comfort medications and attentive hospice nurses help 100% make this passage smooth.  However, the end happens, the final breath... a minute later or so the heart actually stops beating.  The shell body is dead, a final removal of body waste is quick and efficient (modern hospices have the dying wear disposable diaper pants).  Your family mourns, your mind is free of the shell body and you begin to peruse your new found freedom safely for 49 days if you care to stick around and visit family and friends.  Still afraid? Hope you keep it in perspective death comes to us all, some in tragic ways, others by illness or natural aging.


Purpose:  Mind Calming to enter Pure Land, training in mind calming with directed willpower to enter the Pure Land also improves removal of attachments to body and moderation of emotions but this is all side effects of a practice of Mindfulness.  Remember all Buddhists seek Enlightenment as a result of Buddhist practice and study.

Do not use this or any Buddhist practice for mental health issues, nor any "cure" for for lifestyle, stress, medical replacement or supplement.  It is never the purpose, the only reason is for seeking Enlightenment.  Everything else is Karma, genetics, your habits, addictions, etc.

Method 1

Reciting the Buddha name practice of 1 time, 3 times, 7, 14, 21, 49, 54, 108 times.  This is simplest method.

Namo Amitabha Buddha (Sanskrit version:  naa-moe  ah mee ta baa  booda)

南無 阿彌陀佛  namo amituofo (Chinese version:  nah moe  ah me toe foh)

I bow to Immortality Buddha      This is the literally the correct version.

Versions in print elsewhere use "Infinite Life or Infinite Light"  Buddha.  This means literally Immortality.
I bow to Infinite Life Buddha              
I bow to Infinite Light Buddha

Some liturgical texts in some places use these.
Homage to Infinite Life Buddha                              

I strongly will never support this as it's a rift from Church of England Christian or protestant versions of liturgies.  It's not accurate.  We are not honoring a King in the Roman Empire.  I will never approve of it.  It's outdated sources that often we see in our emerging Buddhist liturgies.  Cast it out!!

I return and rely to Infinite Life Buddha

This is  a Thomas Cleary version.  I think it is pretty as practice but not good mind training.  We didn't forget the Amitabha Buddha, we are seeking Amitabha Buddha.  Amitabha Buddha did not ask you to rely on him.  All the practices in Pure Land are meant to be self-regulating and self-willed.  Amitabha Buddha can be invited to come to meet you, even you wishing him to come to you but it's first time meeting for us all. This phrase is in the Catholic English Mass "I return and rely"  directly.  Not Buddhist in origin.

NOTICE:  No standards exist in English liturgies, and really the facts are in this great world is that nobody cares except those worldly scholars who are trying to make their mark in this Saha world.  So pick a version you like and have an affinity for.

Method 2

Read the Amitabha Sutra (short or longer version)  as a practice, learn the meaning and the Pure Land teachings.

Then you recite the sutra with out analysis for 1 time, 3 times, 7, 49, 54, 108 times a day.

The mindfulness you can gain is from the corrective thinking and good habit of sending out merit to all sentient beings.  In case you don't know it you benefit yourself greatly, your immediate family, and all your friends.  Even the fact you are exposing your pets to the sutras will make it very likely that in their next life they can become humans who will encounter Buddhism in their lives.

Some of my books will help you get started.
These are large print in English and in Chinese with hanyu pinyin

  morning service  (Surangama mantra in English)
  Evening Service (Amitahba Sutra shorter) * use this for beginning practice
 7 Day Retreat Service, Clean Altar Service


  1. I think the Pure land practice is far from dying out. It isn't really seen much in Western Culture, but many of my friends recite the Buddha's name. And all beings are reciting the Buddhas name. The Buddha's name is infinite and deathless.


    1. No I did not write that. I wrote about dying practices for Buddhists, meaning practices that Buddhists can use when dying. Also I introduced PL practice for people to start while they are living and far off from their natural deaths.


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