After giving up on Zen and before I got sick, I decided to go back and read Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Finding Our True Home. As time goes on, I appreciate this book more and more. Today, I wanted to share this passage (I added [ ] for clarification):
At our last hour we are in a great deal of pain and we may not have the strength of remember to recollect the Buddha [念仏]. The important thing is to practice today. We should recollect the Buddha today, even if it is only once or twice. Though people say it’s all superstition, we continue to recollect the Buddha, because we know that by recollecting in this way we are sowing wholesome seeds in our consciousness. If everyday we recollect the Buddha once or ten times, then when the hour of our death comes it is certain that we shall not be afraid; the address and telephone number are stored in our memory and whenever we need them we can call them to mind.
Sister Thuan Nghiem, a nun here at Plum Village, has told us how, when she was growing up in Germany, her sisters made her learn to recite her address from memory. That way, if she lost her way, she would be able to tell someone her address and they could bring her home. That is the advantage of knowing your address. If we have a home but we do not know the address, how can we ever find our way there? We should memorize the name of our home and its address so that when we have nowhere to turn to and we feel we’re being swept away by the winds and the waves, we remember the name and address of our home and we can find our way back. (pg. 102-103)
Good advice, I think.