Preface: The Spiritual Travel Shoes
|Book 163:Crossing the Ocean of Life and Death
Written by Sheng-yen Lu
Copyright: Sheng-yen Lu
Translated and edited by True Buddha Foundation Translation Team (Cheng Yew Chung, Satch)
Preface. The Spiritual Travel Shoes
One night, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (Guan Yin) appeared in the secluded place of my retreat and gave me a pair of shoes to put on. I was naturally curious and asked, `What kind of shoes are these?`
Guan Yin replied, `Spiritual Travel Shoes.`
`What are they used for?`
The Bodhisattva said, `We want you, Living Buddha Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu, to personally experience the state of bardo, which is to go through the conditions of death. Then, we want you to write a book entitled Crossing the Ocean of Life and Death to enlighten the world about the certain realities surrounding the end of life.`
`When there is life, there is death. This is a natural thing. What is there to write about?`
The Bodhisattva said, `It is a matter of utmost urgency.`
`Sentient beings assume that when they are in good health, everything is fine, but they are unaware that middle age, old age, and sickness will soon arrive. Most importantly, we want the world to recognize the reality of death, and know the circumstances and process surrounding death. It matters not if one is a Buddhist, Christian, Catholic, Muslim, or an atheist. You must reveal the truth regarding death in your writings, and what really counts is the truth itself.`
I asked, `Would people believe in what I`ll be writing?`
The Bodhisattva replied, `This is no superstition. Everyone dies, and there is no exception to this fact. Death is a realistic issue which is anything but superstitious. Yet the world does not end with death. Buddhism, Tantrayana, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam all recognize the fact that there is a world beyond death which can be verified, and that the world of spirits does exist. We want you to write about it, and we want you to experience it first hand. When you pen your experiences down, they can deliver sentient beings!`
`Can it really help deliver sentient beings?` I asked.
Guan Yin Bodhisattva replied with a verse:
Read and you will understand
Cultivate and you will be liberated
Believe and you will be delivered
Understand and you will be enlightened
Let me say this honestly to you: After I put on the Spiritual Travel Shoes, I fell ill. I have written the two articles The Water at Leaf Lake Has Turned Cold and Praying to My Three Principal Deities, detailing my feeling that I might die at age fifty-eight, that I was possibly dying. I experienced first hand the terrible suffering of illness, and my illness was very serious.
This is neither a lie, a delusion, nor superstition! These are experiences of unimaginable scale upon wearing the Spiritual Travel Shoes. I had been through the worst extremes of all suffering and pain. I view myself as a psychologically sound person who lives freely in seclusion. I am able to reside in the worlds of the Ten Directions, but after I put on these shoes, I truly experienced what sickness and death were all about.
My four elements (earth, water, fire, and wind) separated - like a mountain crumbling and the earth cracking; like water flooding and drowning me; like a volcano erupting, like a hurricane sweeping through. I literally entered into the Eight Cold and Eight Hot Hells.
I have no intention to frighten anyone. I really fell into the trap of death, where my wish to live or die was not granted. None of my words are exaggerated or sensationalized. As long as we are human, we will die someday. No one is spared from death, not even someone whose body is as strong as steel.
I have suffered much pain, and I wish that sentient beings can be liberated from their pain and attain happiness. Thus, I must write this very important book, which explains how a person can cross the ocean of life and death. This book will certainly deliver us from suffering.
I would like you to consider this:
The body is impermanent and time passes quickly
One must leave all torments of pain
And aspire to cultivate along with the True Buddha
Make good use of this body and be reborn in Sukhavati
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