Support for the Dying: Guidelines for Spiritual Advisers


guidelines for spiritual advisers

  1. Remind the patient of the suffering of this world and the joys of the Pure Land to help strengthen his or her vow to be born into there. The spiritual advisor should also enumerate and praise the patient’s good deeds, merits, and virtues. This will help the patient to be happy and free of doubts, certain that when the time comes to die, he or she will, thanks to his or her good deeds, vow, and practice, be born into the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.

  2. It is important to remind the dying person to cease thinking of wealth and property, as well as attachments to family and friends.

  3. If the patient has written a will so much the better, but if not, it is best to counsel against writing one at this time.The advisor can also advise everyone to refrain from gossip and distracting conversations as they could rekindle the patient’s attachment to this world, which is detrimental to the patient’s desired rebirth.

  4. When relatives and friends come to visit, they should be discouraged from becoming emotional in the patient’s presence. If they wish to help, they can stand to the side and chant “Amituofo” aloud. Explain to the visitors that crying at this time could distract the patient from the desired rebirth in the Pure Land, and result in the patient being subjected to much suffering.

  5. The patient should be counseled to practice generosity and give away personal effects to those who need them. Also, the patient can purchase Buddha images, sutras, and other Buddhist materials, and request that they also be given away. This will help the patient to increase his or her merits and reduce bad karma, thus facilitating a good rebirth.

The good advisor should keep these general guidelines in mind, but be ready to improvise according to the situation.