439: The Auspicious Phowa

Although my father passed away at an advanced age of 87, he had spent his last five years in and out of the hospital. Three years ago, my father started having problems with his kidneys. He was unable to urinate, so his doctors, along with my younger brother, who works in the gastroenterology department of a well-known hospital in Taichung, suggested that my father have an operation to drill an opening in his kidneys so the urine would have an exit (The problem was severe enough that it had already caused edema on his right leg), otherwise, there was a chance of kidney failure and the regret of not acting sooner. Both my mother and I strongly objected to the idea, for it not only would cause much pain for my father, but would also bring about a great deal of inconvenience in life. Therefore, accompanied by my mother, I took my father to the Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company to pray to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his blessing. Although Father didn’t have much confidence in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and unwillingly did prostrations in his wheelchair, the compassionate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche still bestowed his blessings upon my father. Afterwards, the swelling on my father’s right leg went down.  Though his leg never returned to normal, the fact that the swelling of his leg was already reduced was simply amazing to the doctors. How could my father live normally for such a period of time without the having an opening inserted, they all wondered? When Father was admitted to the hospital for another illness, the doctor re-examined him with various tests, although the test results remained the same, why had his swelling been relieved without an opening? I told the doctor that was the result of the powerful blessing bestowed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Nevertheless, they failed to understand what great powers I was talking about.

This June, when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went overseas, I got an opportunity to make an offering on behalf of my father. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told me that my father’s death would take place at the end of the year.

In early September, my father’s condition deteriorated sharply and it seemed that he might not have many days left. Therefore, I took my mother to the Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company to pray to my Vajra Guru for the Phowa on behalf of my father. My guru asked me compassionately, “What did I tell you?” My mind was completely blank and I didn’t know what to say in response. My compassionate guru then said, “Didn’t I tell you that his death would take place at the end of this year?” My compassionate guru continued, “You shall pray more!” Hence, I didn’t get the auspicious Phowa for my father. My father’s condition continued to worsen and he suffered considerably from various medical treatments, including an invasive treatment of injections left no part of his body untouched, and the insertion of artificial blood vessel designed for cancer patients to help reduce pain. I thought to myself that I should go to my venerable Vajra Guru to pray once again for the Phowa on behalf of my father.

On October 4th, the Vajra Guru held the auspicious “Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness of Drikung Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism” in with more than 10,000 people attended. After some persuasion, my mother and my younger brother attended the great puja on behalf of my father. However, my mother was so concerned about my father’s situation that she went back to the hospital to check on him before the puja was finished. After Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche completed the ritual of dharma protector Achi, I also began to return home. On the way back, however, I got a phone call informing me that my father was in critical condition. I turned the car around and drove to his hospital, there I see my father hanging on to his life with a thread. The nurse, however, said my father’s vitals sign of life were still stable and she advised a tracheotomy. Mother categorically rejected this (a year prior, we had already discussed this possibility and come to an agreement that there would be no tracheotomy or emergency treatment—my mother knew how much suffering would be caused by a tracheotomy and emergency treatment.)

That same night at 8:30 pm, I got a phone call and was told that father was in critical condition again. I hurried to the hospital and called Dharma brother Wei for help. After I made clear my father’s situation, she told me to immediately call a certain dharma brother at the Glorious Jewel Jewelry Company. The dharma brother asked me: 1. What was my father’s blood pressure and the pulse. 2. Had he asked to see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche face to face 3. Had I asked for or received Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s promise to conduct the Phowa Dharma? The dharma brother also asked me to leave a message on the answering machine once my father passed away. At that time I had yet to ask Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s for the Phowa Dharma! My heart was full of regret and I blamed myself for the delay that had most probably resulted in my father not being able to receive the Phowa Dharma.

Being selfish, I prayed inwardly that father could hold on till the next morning so I could have another chance to ask the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to conduct the Phowa for him. However, my wish was unfulfilled. My father vital signs rapidly got worse and his blood pressure continued to fall lower and lower, until, on October 5th at 00:39, my father took his last breath. In accordance with the dharma brother’s previous reminder, I left a message on the answering machine imploring Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to conduct transference for my father. I also ventured, once again, to beseech the Phowa Dharma for him.

Father’s body was moved to the morgue and was temporarily placed there for the next eight hours. Next to his body, I recited mantras; however, due to fatigue, I recited only intermittently. At 830am, a dharma brother of the Glorious Jewel Jewelry called me saying that no instruction from guru had yet been received. At that point, signs of livor mortis could be seen on my father’s body and his face had became yellow-green in color. The undertaker was late due to heavy rain and the phone reception was bad where I was, being in the basement of a building.

At 9pm, I received another phone call from a dharma brother of the Glorious Jewel Jewelry Company, saying that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would conduct the Phowa Dharma for my father. I was taken completely surprise and felt gratitude fill my heart. In the meanwhile, I right away started to recite the Mani Mantra besides my father’s body. Thanks to dharma protector’s blessing, I just got the Dharma brother’s phone call when I was in an area with good signal reception. Furthermore, the rain delayed the undertaker who otherwise would have moved my father’s body, thereby making the conduction of the Phowa Dharma impossible.

Around a quarter after 9, a dharma brother from the Jewelry Company called to me to say that the His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had finished conducting the Phowa Dharma. He then asked about the condition of the body. As the Phowa Dharma was being conduced, I noticed that the postmortem lividity so evident recently on my father’s body was gradually disappearing. My father’s face, as well, which had been greenish yellow face also gradually became a more healthy-looking light yellow. Touching the touched his crown of head, I found it warm and his body had become supple. (I knew that because the body sagged when the funeral workers picked up it up.)

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche constantly takes care of all the disciples. Even in matters relating to the funeral rites, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was very thoughtful. Dharma Brother Wei telephoned me and said that guru had asked if there was a funeral company available with favorable charge. A deep thanks to the Guru’s care and consideration, thereby preventing me from worrying about the funeral arrangements!

On the 6th of October, I accompanied my mom to the Jewelry Company to bow before our Most Venerable Guru and to offer my earnest thanks. We then asked about the proper date for my father’s funeral. In the following days, as we were preparing from the funeral, each family member, especially my mom, missed my father and had many fond memories of him, however no one suffered from feelings of pain and sadness. As such, we were able to face the coming days with a tranquil state of mind.

The 19th of October was the date of my father’s funeral. We missed him and were reluctant to let him go, but we knew that he had gone somewhere wonderful – the Pure Land of the Buddha. Thus, we were filled only with gratitude and good memories. After the cremation, all those attending rushed forward to take a look at the auspicious sign of the perfect completion of the Phowa Dharma – a small hole at the crown of my father’s skull. Many pictures were taken as a memento.

As a disciple, I wish to confess that I did not follow my guru’s teaching thoroughly and, thus, did not ask for the Phowa Dharma in time for my father’s death. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, however, during his most recent trip abroad said to me, that the reason my father could die in such piece was due to the fact that whenever Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went abroad, I was there to attend him. This was in itself a kind of offering.

A deep thanks to the Most Venerable Vajra Guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche!

I would like to thank all my dharma brothers for their help and care. I hope that all my dharma brothers will remember to stay close and frequent with our Guru, as well as realize the importance of being by his side. It is not that our Guru needs us, but that we need our Guru. Let us strive hard, together!

In reverence, Disciple Liu Jen-gan
Dec. 2009

Updated on January 26, 2010