Praying to My Three Personal Deities
- From TBN, issues 399 and 469
- By Living Buddha Lian Sheng, Sheng-Yen Lu
- Translated and Edited by True Buddha Foundation Translation
While living in retreat
at Leaf Lake, I have indeed encountered the biggest problem [of
my life]; an unexplainable occurrence of karma illness has descended
In my life at Leaf Lake, of course I have tasted sweetness, sourness,
bitterness, and spiciness, but the suffering brought on by this
illness is too much. I have to honestly write about this.
In my life, I have experienced all kinds of suffering, and yet my
practice of the perfection of patience has been almost crippled
by the pain of this illness. If someone were to ask me what the
most painful thing in this Samsara world would be, my reply would
definitely be summed up in two words—“illness pain!”
My experience with illness is no different from that of ordinary
people suffering from illness. Moreover, sometimes I feel my suffering
is much more serious than that of others. My symptoms include:
I cannot sleep, [sometimes I] feel cold and [sometimes I] feel hot.
I have no strength in my four limbs, my legs feel soft, and my whole
body shivers uncontrollably.
I have lost my appetite, I vomit sometimes, and I don’t like
I experience [heart] palpitations and agitation.
I feel dizzy and my head feels heavy.
My vision is blurry and I cannot walk steadily.
I experience high fever, my blood pressure increases, and I feel
My reclusive life of retreat has come to a standstill, as I cannot
do anything. When I wish to cultivate, my mind is a blank and any
attempt at visualization is overwhelmed by the pain of my illness.
A strong [bout of] coughing will drive the blood to my brain, almost
resulting in a cerebral hemorrhage.
Good heavens! Retreat is not such an ideal thing after all. I am
panic-stricken. If this pain does not ever go away, it will mean
that I will be experiencing the Eight Cold and Eight Hot Hells.
[At times,] I have to suddenly wrap myself tightly in my quilt,
and at times I have to suddenly strip myself naked. My head finds
comfort only with my pillow and with ice.
I have discovered:
The smell of ammonia in the washroom stinks to the high heavens.
What seemed bearable during normal times is especially unbearable
during [this] illness. The smell makes me want to vomit.
At this moment, I feel that life has no meaning, that life is very
tiring, that life is very fragile, that life is very pathetic.
My three Personal Deities advise me:
"Contemplate on the impurity of the body.
Contemplate on the suffering of the [six] senses.
Contemplate on the impermanence of mind.
Contemplate on the dharma of 'no-self.'"
I cry, but I am crying not for myself, but for the disciples who
are suffering with illness. This karmic illness is horrible and
in my mind flash the images of the Intensive Care Unit and the Extended
Care Unit. Karmic illness is indeed terrifying. In the Operating
Room [I see] blood gushing like a fountain, splattering all over
the place, just like at a murder crime scene, and [I hear] the "zzz-zzz,
grrr-grrr" of the drill as a head is being opened [for surgery.]
[My life] is very, very miserable.
[My life] is very, very tiring.
[My life] is very, very empty.
[My life] is very, very helpless.
At the end, I did indeed say to my three Personal Deities:
"I have no expectations at all from this Samsara world. I have
gained nothing and I do not wish for anything. [In my cultivation,]
I can endure any hardship or insult, but I just wish this illness
suffering could be decreased even a little bit, because this suffering
is too much and I can't take it any more!"
"I wish that I may very soon escape the suffering of Samsara,
I wish that I can soon be far away from the suffering of illness,
I wish that I will not [have to suffer the] "tossing and turning"
on a hospital bed, I wish that I never have to go to the hospital,
I wish that I do not have to take....
I am now fifty-eight.
[For the sentient beings who] wished to be delivered, I have already
Anything I wished to cultivate, I have already cultivated.
I have only one wish.
[That] when my life ends, it will be without illness."
I did indeed pray to my three Personal Deities, [that] 58 years
old is just fine. My only wish is no illness suffering; the suffering
of illness is my greatest fear. (During my illness, I saw Amitabha
Buddha emitting light upon me twice.)