“I can’t take this pain anymore…”, cried my third sister who was painfully lying on the bed. She had a frightening and hopeless look. She kept begging the family members to turn her body over. Every now and then, she would ask for oral or injection painkillers to stop her pain. I can’t forget her miserable facial expression. It has been haunting me ever since.
August 1, 2018, was one year after my third sister’s passing. According to our hometown’s custom, this day should be observed by having all family members gather and pay tribute to the deceased at the grave so to honor the memory of him or her. However, I did not attend. I still can’t let go after her death. And even more so, I do not want to recall the time during her illness and the hard time that our whole family had been put through. I have meant to write down the happenings of my third sister so as to alert and warn others. However, I was unable to do that even after a few tries. I can still feel the pain of my heart being torn apart until now.
My third sister was a typical village woman who was shy of sixty years old. She used to be very healthy and hardly caught a cold. She was very capable around the home. Life was good, and she always boasted, “My only son is now married, and the little grandson has started elementary school. My more than 10 acres of American ginseng plantation is expected to be ready for harvest in 2 years’ time. That will at least yield a few hundreds of thousands of profits. I will have the opportunity to peacefully enjoy life at my old age.”
Unfortunately, no one can always get what he wants. In the year of 2016, just right after she finished the fall harvest, all of sudden my third sister felt pain around her waist. Usually, farmers are not that delicate. She thought she would get better after applying a few Chinese herbal plasters and resting for a few days. Unfortunately, the pain got worse. Only after she couldn’t take it anymore, she then went to the city hospital for examination. She was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer with advanced bone metastases. It was too late to be treated by surgery. Even chemotherapy and radiotherapy would not help. Instead, doing so will increase the suffering of the patient. There is nothing else that medical science can do.
In less than a month after the diagnosis, my third sister was paralyzed from her waist down. She would feel being bitten by thousands and millions of ants, and that caused her in extreme pain all the time. The doctor had clearly informed us that the main symptoms of lung cancer with bone metastases are the extreme pain which even painkillers can only minimally relieve the pain in the bone.”
Indeed, the high amount of oral painkillers and pethidine injections were not able to stop the excruciating pain that came deep from the bone marrow. Every now and then she was always crying and begging, asking for help to turn her body from side to side or asking for oral painkillers and injections to stop the pain. All of us all got worn out from taking care of her. There were four of us that took turns taking care of her throughout the day and night, trying our best to let her feel that we loved and cared about her during her last stage of life. “I can’t take the pain anymore, “she often shakily raised her scrawny hands, stared with her bulging eyes and clenched her teeth while trembling all over and crying her heart out. Even though we were trying our best to take care of her, she lost hope of surviving due to the unbearable pain.
Her condition got worse each day. The moment when she was informed about her illness, her feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and unwilling to let go rendered us helpless and not knowing what to do. She neither could ask to live nor die. When I saw her helpless and imploring glance, I felt terrible as if I was mounted and grilled by fire or being tossed in an oil pot to be deep-fried. I even hated myself for being useless and unable to help her.
She couldn’t accept the fact that she was dying soon, and the affliction she had to face while waiting for her death horrified her. Her personality totally changed. She would often take my hand to rub her face and stare at me sentimentally. But all I could do was to witness with my own eyes how she suffered and being tortured by cancer. Even though my heart was bleeding, I still can’t do anything. It was like a picture of a living hell. My dear sister, what can I do to help you?
We as Buddhist disciples believe in the law of cause and effect, and I understand that whatever happened to my sister was due to her karma. The only thing we should do was to chant and pray to beseech for help and blessings from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I prayed so that I could take over her bad karma and transfer all my merits to her even though it would mean just a tiny bit. I tried respectfully to play the prerecorded Dharma from Namo Dorje Chang Buddha III at her bedside, hoping that the power of Buddha can reduce her suffering and help her to understand the principles of the Buddha Dharma. I hoped she would thoroughly repent her sin and wholeheartedly chant the holy name of Bodhisattva Guan Yin so that she could leave behind suffering and attain happiness.
Since my third sister’s family does not believe in Buddhism. They only put on a perfunctory act towards me and whenever I was not with her, my brother-in-law would turn off the player which repeatedly played the chanting of the holy name of Bodhisattva Guan Yin. Facing this kind of ignorant family, I began to understand what it meant by “The Buddha does not save those who lack a karmic connection with the Dharma.” It’s not a matter of “doesn’t want to save”; instead, it’s because “cannot be saved”. Even Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can’t save her. I could only witness the cancer cells slowly corrode my sister’s haggard and thin body. As the vital sign of my third sister slowly declined, I have truly understood what it meant by “Death is better than living” and “Days feel like years”!
Within a short period of six months’ time, my once active and healthy sister’s life was brutally taken away by cancer. I saw how her body was being tortured until she looked like a thousand-year-old withered corpse that was just extracted from the ground. It was awfully stiff. Her half-closed eyes, bare teeth and painfully frightening look on her face showed that she died unwillingly in extreme agony.
Her death has completely awakened me like a warning. When I think about myself and the rest of all other ignorant living beings, I feel we are all the same. We live in a seemingly colorful, beautiful world. It looks like we are living a happy and busy life. We often say that Buddhist practice and liberation can come after retirement or after our children have grown up. But we never realize that life is impermanent. There is no way one can decide on his or her own birth and death. You may die today or tomorrow. How much longer can you stay alive? The impermanence that can happen in a nanosecond can make a living person suddenly depart the world. Regardless of you being a layman, a wealthy businessman, or a king, the ending is the same – everyone will die and leave this world empty-handed. No matter how unwilling you are to let go of your treasures in the world, you still can’t bring them along, not even a tiny bit. At last, we will turn into a wisp of air and white ashes. This is an undeniable fact. No one can change it. Only the incredible and true Buddha Dharma can help us to reach liberation and leave the cycles of reincarnations in the six realms.
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III teaches us if we want to leave the cycles of reincarnations and attain liberation, we must understand the sufferings connected with reincarnations. Not only do we suffer in the impermanence but also the living beings in the six realms whom we regard as our mothers. If one has no perspective of impermanence, he or she will not be able to attain a deep level of correct cultivation even though he or she has already become a Buddhist.
At the Dharma-Ending Age of the five evil turbidities, evil dharma and evil masters prevail. Living beings are helpless in attaining liberation. Now the compassionate primordial Buddha, is in this world and along He brought the precious Dharma that can help us attain liberation in this life. We must not miss this auspicious opportunity that is difficult to encounter in millions of eons. We must follow the teaching of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and correspond with all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with our three karmas, action, speech, and thought. We should diligently cultivate, vow that we will leave the cycles of reincarnation, attain liberation in this life and save all living beings in suffering in the six realms whom we regard as fathers and mothers.
Homage to H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III!!!