In Taiwan, ritual worship of deities is commonly practiced, particularly on the lunar first and fifteenth, during Chinese New Year and other holidays, on the anniversaries of ancestors’ deaths, on the deities’ birthdays, and at weddings, funerals, and other celebrations. I agree with the saying, “The Master [Confucius] does not talk about extraordinary things, feats of strength, disorder, and spiritual beings.” However, in order to “do as the Romans do when in Rome,” I went along with ritual worship to comply with my mother’s instructions and my in-laws’ household rules.
In 1997, my father was hospitalized for final stage lung cancer. Three days before he passed away, my elder sister returned from the United States bringing with her a Buddha recitation tape, which played the sacred name of Amitabha Buddha. She placed it next to Father’s pillow. The day before Father’s passing away, I picked up my mother and went to the hospital to see him. Listening to the continuous chanting of Amitabha Buddha’s name, our ailing father was serene and peaceful, and one could not tell that he was about to leave this world. On a sudden whim, I decided to stay and keep him company.
That night, my elder sister saw that I had nothing to do, so she suggested that we chant the
Amitabha Sutra and transfer the merit to Father. At that time, I knew nothing about the Buddhadharma. I didn’t even know what the
Amitabha Sutra was, so I simply followed her. After chanting the sutra three times, we transferred the merit by saying: “If our affinity with Father has not run out, then we humbly request Amitabha Buddha to bless him to a speedy recovery; if it has run out, then we also humbly request Amitabha Buddha to bless him so he will not suffer too much.”
After transferring the merit, my elder sister continued to chant the sutra herself. She chanted for a very long time, so Mother called out to her, “Do you want to take a rest?” At the very instant when my elder sister turned her head, Father passed away! We kept on chanting the Buddha’s name, and requested the hospital to wait eight hours before sending him to the mortuary.
When Father passed away, his mouth was wide open. The hospital staff suggested tying it shut with gauze bandages, but we did not agree. In the early morning, two Buddhist friends from the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society came to chant with us.
After chanting the Buddha’s name for eight hours, we went to help change Father’s clothing. Upon lifting the blanket, we saw that Father’s mouth was already closed and was smiling. Since then, I have become curious about Buddhism, and that year (1997) I took refuge with the Sangha under the Venerable Master and received the Dharma name Chin Chi.
I am grateful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, for they used my father’s passing away to lead me to Buddhism. I hope that later on I can learn even more Buddhadharma and help others around me to know the benefits of Buddhism, so that I gratify my father’s spirit in heaven. Again, I must thank the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for giving me this chance to learn. Amitabha!