246: Endless Grace and Virtue

In the early morning of December 19, 2008, while asleep in Songshan Hospital guest area, a doctor and nurse suddenly woke me up to tell me that my mother’s nasogastric tube had fallen out and had to be reinserted. After quite a bit of work, it was inserted safely into her nose and I quickly fed her 250 c.c. of milk. Little did I know that this would be that last time I would ever feed my mother. Four hours later, as I tried to feed her again, the tube seemed to be blocked and the milk wasn’t able to flow into her stomach. The doctor performed another insertion; nonetheless, even though the tube had been drawn out and re-inserted 5 or 6 times, the insertion was still unsuccessful.

During the process, we had no idea whether the blood that filled the nasogastric tube came from my mother’s stomach, throat, or nose. I do know, however, that it must have been a torturous, painful process for my mother. With the doctor becoming more and more distressed due to his failure to successfully insert the tube, I began to visualize my most venerable Vajra Guru, and on the next attempt the insertion was successful. Because the milk contained medicine, I had no choice but to combine the dosages during my mother’s next feeding time. The blood oxygen levels of my bedridden mother dropped to around 70 percent (95 percent is the level for a healthy person), which sent all the nurses into a panic as they tried to reverse the slide. Yet even in such an emergency, my mother was not sent to the intensive care unit. At around 3 pm, the hospital called and told me that my mother showed no heartbeat nor pulse; they wanted to know if they should adopt resuscitation measures. I remembered how the His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had described the immense suffering of those who were successfully resuscitated, and since a single hateful thought at the end of one’s life will result in the falling into the hell realm, I decided to forgo any resuscitation measures.

When I learned that Mother had died, I immediately phoned the Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company in agitation and prayed that my venerable Guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, could perform the Phowa practice for my mother. Not long after, I was told to go to the Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company to do 1000 full prostrations. As I rushed there by car, I asked several Dharma brothers to bring nectar pills, which would be placed in my mother’s mouth; I also asked them to not disturb her body and to notify my family of her death. Lastly I asked them to visualize our Guru, the His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, bestowing his blessings on my mother’s body.

Entering the Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company, Dharma brother Lai told me that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said that since I hadn’t made any offerings, my mother suffered so dearly near the end of her life. In addition, in the two years that my mother was sick, I had not made it to pray the grant of Phowa practice from my Guru on her behalf. At that moment, an evil thought arose in my mind: I wondered why Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said I’d made no offering. I’d made some in the past, hadn’t I? Even after 200 full prostrations my mind was in a whirl. In the end, it was the great power and virtues of my venerable Guru that enabled me to gradually suppress my confusion and fear and to continue to make prostrations in front of his Dharma photo on the behalf of my mother.

I felt gratitude with every prostration. After all, if not for the care and blessing of my venerable Guru, my poor mother might have been suffered even more during those two years when she was sick. I began to feel regret for my actions and thoughts, which surely caused my Guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, much worry. Finishing 1000 full prostrations, I was told that my venerable Guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, had successfully performed the Phowa ritual for my mother. My family, who was staying beside my mother’s body touched her crown and felt its warmth. Her face felt cold, but her body was flexible. She had a peaceful look on her face as if she was only asleep.

Having performed the ritual, my venerable Guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, phoned from Japan and asked whether there was anything wrong with my mother’s feet, because she had kept complaining about the pain. Additionally, she said she missed her son, and finally said to tell me to stop doubting, otherwise she would have to give me a beating. Indeed, my mother did have right ankle fracture due to severe osteoporosis in early November. As for the question of her son, the person she was asking for was my elder half-brother—someone she was very concerned about when she was alive.

I was in total shock at that moment; I realized that I had been having seriously evil thoughts. Besides the fact that I hadn’t made any offerings, I had not practiced the five precepts, ten virtuous deeds, nor the thirty-seven practices of Bodhisattvas well. Having already taken refuge for four years, I had not practiced in accordance with the teachings and had only been taking advantage of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas all along; thus, I had committed the fourteen root downfalls. However, my compassionate Guru still conducted the ritual for my mother, so as to transfer her consciousness to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Such grace and virtue cannot be repaid—even with this life or all my lives to come.

I recall the time when Mother had her first stroke at the end of May, 2005, after which she was admitted to Far Eastern Memorial Hospital. Fortunately, my venerable Guru bestowed blessings upon her and she was discharged from the hospital within a week. After a month, she had completely recovered and was able to go to the market to buy vegetables or do other various errands. Unfortunately, she had another stroke at the end of September. She spent another week in the hospital, during which she was unable to move, nor take care of herself. Because her nerves regulating her speech had been damaged, she lost the ability to speak. I hired a foreign-born nursing aide to take care of my mother, yet later discovered that my mother was beating the nursing aide. I returned to the Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company to ask my venerable Guru for his help and blessings in this matter. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told me that my mother’s temper was one of the reasons for her stroke; however, after Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings, my mother stopped hitting the nursing aide with her crutches.

In June 2006, my mother was admitted into the intensive care unit for the third time due to a shortness of breath. As her condition wasn’t ideal, I asked the Most Venerable Rinchen Dojee Rinpoche for advice. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told me that in order to save energy, my mother had refused to turn on the air conditioner and, therefore, developed a lung infection. The hospital told us that to save her life, they would need to insert a tracheostomy tube. I agreed and also signed a Do-Not-Resuscitate order. My venerable Guru explained to us that the tracheostomy tube is nothing but a convenient way for doctors to clean up the patient and he bid us to tidy-up our own house and make it clean. In addition, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche also asked us not to give the foreign nursing aide any work without first giving her specific instructions. In concerning himself over such small details, it was clear to us how conscientious and caring Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is in his interactions with sentient beings.

After three months, we asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to conduct the Phowa practice for my mother. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “Your mother’s hands wave uncontrollably. Do you have the right to make decisions for your mother? Don’t you have a male family member?” I replied, “We have an elder brother, but don’t be concerned with him.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then said, “He only cares about money, doesn’t he?” After which, he bid me to pray to the Dharma protector, Achi. Thereafter, my mother got well enough to leave the intensive care unit and was transferred to the general ward. At the end of December, our foreign nursing aide suddenly disappeared, and my mother left the hospital and settled into a nursing home. Eventually, she sought refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on January 28, 2007, and, in a wheelchair, attended puja every Sunday after that. She attended pujas for two years and with the blessings of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, accumulated enough merits to attain rebith in the Pure Land.

At 10 p.m. on December 19, 2008, while we were preparing to move my mother’s body to the freezer at the funeral home, all those present—my sisters, elder brother and funeral home employees—were greatly stunned. Although my mother had been dead for a while, her hands could still be swayed easily and her legs could be bent at the hip. Previously my mother’s body, due to her stroke, had been quite stiff, but now her dead body seemed to be actually more flexible than her living one! Her lips seemed to have life, as if she was breathing, and her body felt warm to our touch. While moving her body to the freezer, her waist was so flexible that it needed someone to support it! My family members gasped at this incredible phenomenon before them; in amazement, their reverence of my venerable Guru’s great powers grew ten-fold.

I also must mention my deep appreciation for the help that I received from several Dharma brothers when I was in the state of great desperation and helplessness. Were it not for my taking refuge under my venerable Guru, such good causes and conditions would never be befallen me. I finally understood why Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has said that one’s Dharma brothers are his or her relatives in the Dharma realm—they are even closer than our family members. When Mother passed away, it was my Dharma brothers who arrived first to accompany her in the last journey in her life. I was deeply moved. I have no idea how I can possibly repay the grace and virtue of my venerable Guru, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and sentient beings.

On December 23, 2008, all my siblings went to the Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company to thank Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for conducting the Phowa ceremony on my mother’s behalf. We also presented him an offering in thanks. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche refused to receive any offerings from my insincere family members, but towards me, he showed great concern—asking whether I had enough money or not. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then merely drew one bill, a symbolic gesture, from my offering to him and returned the rest to me.

I am full of evil karma and, today, hope to express my repentance. I remember how my mother used to kill chickens she raised for our meals, and I would stand by her side—watching. When I got married, I had a wedding banquet at which hundreds of guests were served dishes of meat. Later, I ran a small restaurant and a meal-box production factory, which used to produce over a thousand meal boxes per day. With such a heavy karma of killing on my hands, I still didn’t abide by the precepts, even after seeking refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. And my husband, who writes legal document, agreed to handle second lien loans so as to make a profit from the interest. I’ve committed so many major crimes, that I was sure to fall into the hell realm and stay there for all eternity.

Fortunately, I was saved by the His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who never gives up on sentient beings, but repeatedly comes to their aid and rescue. Three of my relatives have passed away in the past four years. First, it was my mother-in-law who, having been blessed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche the night before, drew her last breath peacefully on June 30, 2004, and was later liberated in a Chod puja. On September 28, 2006, my sister-in-law, Zheng An-ru, who was also a disciple, received the Phowa as performed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and has attained rebirth in the Western Pure Land. This time, it was my mother whose consciousness had been transferred to the Western Pure Land.

I, myself, have also been living thanks to the grace of my Venerable Guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. He has helped me with all kinds of troubles and sufferings—my poor health, frustrating relationships, and financial problems. Without my Guru, all my hardships would have been even worse—I would have nowhere to go, and no one to turn to.

I sincerely pray for my Guru’s blessing so that I, too, may enter the Pure Land when this life is over and attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings; thereby, stop my wandering in the six realms of reincarnation, and repay the kindness of my Guru, the Buddhas, my parents, and all sentient beings.

The owner of the funeral home at which Mother’s funeral practices were conducted, had immense respect for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. He told us that out of thousands of bodies he had dealt with in the past twenty years, he had never seen one whose skull had a hole in it—not to mention that it was a clean cut hole, without any surrounding cracks or chips. According to the owner, only the His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s practice of Phowa is real.

The owner urged my eldest brother to conduct a sea burial of my mother in line with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s instructions, as other Dharma brothers had previously done. He believed that it was a simple, realistic, and graceful alternative to burying my mother on land. From his comments, it was obvious how much the owner respected Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. After all, a traditional land burial and/or the storage of the remains of the deceased in a memorial pagoda were all part of his normal job and therefore were good chances for him to make money. But here he was arguing for something that would not make him a cent! He illustrated his point with an example: In 2000, when Typhoon Nari struck, the basement of a temple, which was being used for the storage of urns of the deceased, flooded. Family members of the deceased only found out about the flooding much later; when they complained, they were merely told, “Those urns were nothing but a remembrance, anyway.” The owner of the funeral home sighed and said, “When one is dead, his cremated remains are valueless. Their worth is even less than that of charcoal. Charcoal can be burned and recycled as fertilizer, whereas human ashes, like dust, are of no use. If they are nothing more than a remembrance, why should people pay NT$200,000-300,000 for its storage in the first place?” The owner then went on to praise Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s extraordinary powers and wise actions.

My mother took heavy medication for two years; her doses were perhaps the highest among all the patients in her nursing home. On the day of her cremation, people rushed for a look at her remains, in which pink, among other colors, could be seen. This itself was extremely unusual as the ashes of a deceased are, nine times out of ten, only gray or black. And it proved exactly what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said: One who has received the Phowa will have a hole in his or her skull, which serves as a sarira after cremation, and colorful sarira flowers will be seen among the remains. Photos have been taken as proof.

My venerable Vajra Guru’s great aspiration to save and liberate all the sentient beings is a manifestation of the Buddha. Without Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I would still be creating karma, not to mention I’d seek refuge or begin studying Buddhism. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is a model in behavior and speech, thus teaching and admonishing the disciples in both his words and actions. The sufferings of the sentient beings are exchanged with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s own life and merits. Undoubtedly, my venerable Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is equivalent to a Buddha in this world. I pray that all the sentient beings may leave their suffering behind, acquire happiness, be freed from the cycle of birth and death, and attain Buddhahood. For their endless kindness, I am grateful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, all the Gurus in the history of the Lineage, and His Holiness.

Written reverently by Sun Jixiang, a disciple

Updated on November 25, 2009