Extending Life through Great Vows

Yutang Lin

Bordering death, desperate to extend life,
How could heavy karma be compensated for?
Vowing to work toward Bodhi for all beings,
Thereby shining Dharma lamp for a future bright.


A Buddhist friend is suffering from cancer. Even though through Buddha's blessings he has safely gone through chemotherapy several times, the cancer cells reappeared. At this juncture of life and death, if one prays only for the extension of personal life, how could it be ensured that the karmic debt would be compensated for in time? Therefore, I urged him to make a great vow toward the Bodhi path, asking Buddha for more time so as to be able to go further into practices, and to help others engage in Buddhist practices as much as one could. Praying for extension of life in this way renders it no longer a personal matter, but a matter related to the continuation of the Dharma lamp in the Dharmadhatu. Consequently, it would become easier to get help from all sources and thereby extend the duration of this life.

In fact, everyone is constantly walking the fine line between life and death, yet few have awakened to this reality. In order to extend life span, there is no better way than to develop great Bodhi vows and then to devote the rest of life accordingly to Dharma practices and propagation.

Written in Chinese on August 17, 2000
Translated on August 18, 2000
El Cerrito, California

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