If you overlook the inevitable, chances are you will get a wrong perspective of life.
This material is translated from some highlight of the text 中陰身的自救法 by 張通文居士
Sincerely. namo Amituofo
If you happen to have the opportunity to observe how dying is like on a bigger scale, you will find out death is nothing but suffering. Hollywood movie has us deceived by constantly associate death with great meaning, heroic elements, romantic elements, or just whatever we like to watch. (Not to mention the very influential, beautiful background music they added when you are watching death on a screen.)
As a result, when death actually hits or approaches, we are often than not unprepared. The wise one had warned us about death. In short, there are three aspects that is unpleasant. 1. The suffer of the dying process. 2. The consequence of rebirth in a miserable existence. 3. The consequence of rebirth in a pleasant existence.
This article is intended to provide people an aid when they are approaching death. If you are still young or still have time, I certainly would advice you to study these subject (aside from what I have provided here) more (ideally intensively). After all, if you overlook the inevitable, chances are you will get a wrong perspective of life.
Okay, now let’s get to the point. The following summarizes what happen in normal circumstances when we die (or about to die). By saying “normal circumstances”, it intends to separate itself from cases where superior power is involved in the dying process. And before the end of this post, we will also listed the “how-to” of getting a superior power involved.
Phase I – Collapse of the Earthlike Within
We will experience a strong pressure coming all around pressing onto our body. The pressure will cover every single pore of ours and eventually press onto the guts, bone and joints.
It will be very uncomfortable. Our body will feel heavy, suffocate, and ache everywhere. We will also start quivering or having spasm.
If you see other people entering Phase I of dying, it is recommended not to touch or move them. That will only increase their suffering.
Phase II – Collapse of the Waterlike Within
We will experience coldness invading the body. The chill enters and attack all the way even the inside of our bone. Our guts will feel frozen.
External heat source (e.g. laying beside a fire) gives no relief. Our face will turn grayish pale. We will be breathing rapidly and experience shortness of breath.
Phase III – Collapse of the Firelike Within
At this point, most of our body’s physiological function will be stopped. From nowhere, an uncomfortable burning sensation will start at our guts and spread to all our joints. It feels like burning, steaming, cutting and it is really painful. The intense pain will stiff up the body. Our face will turn reddish at this phase and we will have delirium. The breathing will go wrong and at this point more air comes out than it getting in.
Phase IV – Collapse of the Windlike Within
We will experience something like strong wind blowing against the body. The wind penetrates us and we are falling apart bit by bit like a brittle leaf turning into dust. Perhaps another way to describe it is feeling every single cell in us are separating from each other.
At this point, we are officially dead according to medical science.
But we won’t feel quite dead yet because the pain will still be with us for some while. It is a very important moment of us because our state at this point may change where our next life is going to be.
For example, at this point, if someone decided to touch your body or move your “corpse”, you will feel extremely painful. And the anger that got stirred up in such circumstances may brings you to reincarnate at a place that is hatred and punishing dominant.
So, how can I save myself from the suffering of death then?
I often use the analogy of swimming across a fast river to refer the dying process. I ensure you there is more than one way to get across the river. And it is also reasonable to say the more you prepared, the better chance you have in the situation.
However, as I said, this article is intended to provide people aid when they are near death. If you don`t have much time to prepare or many other validated options to choose from, please be kind to yourself to use the following method. This is “THE” solution when one enters any phase of death that I have listed above. Here I will describe it with the simplest word. I hope you can remember it when you truly needed it.
Step 1. Accept the circumstances (including the pain.) Really, there is no time for you to think otherwise, it is a TRUE emergency.
Step 2. Start chanting “NAMO AMITABHA” with everything you got. All your attention, all your focus, everything.
Step 3. Don’t stop no matter what (e.g. distraction, temptation, fear) shows up.
When you are doing the steps above, Amita Buddha will appear in front of you and it is important that you continue chanting. At this point you shall be pain free. Amita Buddha will bring you to his pure land and you have successfully liberated from the cycle of birth and death.
The earlier you applies this method (e.g. at the very beginning of phase I or even before phase I), the less suffer of the dying process you have to experience. And there are lots of record showing that if you are rescued by Amita Buddha, you will have your chance to say good bye to your family and love one. You will be pain free and full of joy. You can let them know you are going to be fine and there is nothing to worry about. Isn’t that great?
Lastly, while the method is simple, a lot of people have under estimate the distress they are experiencing during death. For example if you have already get yourself into delirium (e.g. Phase 3), it is only by instinct (reinforce by previous regular practice) and chance that you may able to do a simple thing like chanting Amita Buddha’s name. So, be very mindful where you spend your attention before death.
On our next post, we are going back one step to describe different signs one may experience depends on where one may rebirth to in his/her next life. Stay tuned!!