My Testimony on Life and Death

By Shin-Chu Huang

English Translation by Rende


Two and half years ago, I was so seriously ill that each day I did not know whether I would live till the next day. The signs of death manifested one after another. At that moment, I realized the truth of the phrase "life is impermanent" that I had used so casually in daily conversation. Not until I faced the dreadful suffering of impending death, did I realize what a profound and unforgettable meaning that phrase had.

In the spring of 1995,1 flew to Seattle from Taiwan for a vacation for several months. Who would have guessed that I would almost die in a foreign country! For several months, my vital spirit deteriorated day by day, my energy decreased, and my weight fell from 50 to 30 kgs. My body looked like a skeleton covered with terribly wrinkled skin. When I lay down, the loose skin draped down over the bones. Without fat and muscle, the bones became unbearably hard against the skin. I had to change my position every few minutes. Lying was painful, and so was sitting, even if there were two or three soft pillows under me. The ordinary business of eating and sleeping both became difficult for me. I had trouble swallowing. I would force some food down, but nothing would stay long in my stomach; often the food came right back up to my throat again. Later, even a glass of liquid would take hours to digest. I was also constipated. Soon, heart palpitations became wild. It felt like an earthquake had hit! Unusual symptoms in the stomach, kidney and liver occurred continuously, and the sporadic deep pain in my liver happened at shorter and shorter intervals.

Finally my energy was totally depleted. The restroom, just a few steps away, was as remote as the heavens to me. I had to roll my body over and creep along. When I finally got in there, I would pant and rest on the sink for half an hour to get enough energy to roll and creep back. My appearance changed rapidly day by day. My hair turned gray and I looked older and ugly. I was not myself anymore. ITiese swift daily changes made me avoid looking at myself in the mirror finally. In several months I had aged fifty years; my countenance was grayish-black, blue sinews stuck out around my forehead. My vital energy flowed out through my pupils. When I first became ill, it never occurred to me that I might die. Seeing these physical signs, I knew my day of doom was coming. I had thousands of reasons why I could not leave the world, but my death was not for me to control!

Blessings or misfortunes often descend upon us in amazing and simultaneous ways. Missing a single condition, things would not come into being, and sometimes the conditions gather together all at the right time. The turning point for me came in the form of some advice from a Dharma friend of my friend: "How can she have only one sickness? How can it be that easy to save herself by her own strength?" My friend asked for further advice on how to help me recover. The reply was: "She must rely on the strength of the Triple Jewel and bow the Medicine Master Repentance for seven days." Moreover, a veryprecious medicine was bestowed upon me. I couldn't be more grateful for all of that.

Before I came to the United States, I had admired the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua so much and hoped that I could visit him at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The conditions never did come together for me. Now because of the Medicine Master Repentance ceremony, I found myself at Gold Summit Monastery, a branch of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The Gold Summit Monastery schedule is fixed each month and it was not easy to find a vacant period of seven days, especially since the case was urgent. Amazingly, I got it! My husband's leave of absence and the schedule for bowing the repentance were originally different. Somehow, we were able to arrange everything for the same week. My daughters, who were both going to school, coincidentallyhad breaks and spring vacations. Even though my family members were not Buddhist, they were willing to learn and bowed sincerely for my sake. Who would have guessed that from then on, my father, husband, and little daughter would become vegetarians, which they still are now!

In great suffering, the clarity of our wisdom may be activated to the ultimate point. In my toils of the body and mind, the law of cause and effect became extremely clear to me. "Is not what I receive today exactly what I have done to others in the past? The seeds I planted must have been very mean; the thoughts and deeds must have been terribly cruel and merciless, and now I abundantly bear those fruits!" I was so extremely ashamed that I apologized and repented to my enemies in the past lives. I was not asking to be forgiven; I don't deserve it. What I harbored was endless shame and remorse and sorrow: Furthermore, I sincerely made a vow that I alone would suffer on behalf of those who had the same illness as I did. I wished that my dreadful pain might free them from suffering and that their karmic obstacles might be eradicated too!

Therefore while my family was bowing at the monastery, I forced myself to move down the stairway with my hips and two legs one at a time to bow in my living room. I received the Eightfold Lay Precepts and took the precious medicine the Dharma friend gave me. The pain in my liver stopped on the second day of the bowing. After the seven-day session was completed at both places, I knew that I had left death already.

From that time on, I have seen the successful result of natural food healing. For more than two years now, slowly and steadily I have made progress. From being so weak that I could not stand for even for one minute, I can now easily spend two hours climbing a mountain. I have gained back more than ten kilograms. I am still in recovery, yet to my surprise the old sickness is gone.

People usually call sickness a demon and regard it as an enemy, while I treat it as a great teacher or benefactor who has taught me a most valuable lesson. Without this great teaching patron, I would have not understood the law of cause and effect in the universe so deeply, I would not be alerted to how life depends on our every breath; I would not have pushed myself to read so much information about health, which I can use in the future to benefit myself and others. Most of alló the plan for my whole life has been totally changed. I realize that by relying on the Triple Jewel and through the help of many superior ones, I have been able to live again. I only hope I can dedicate the rest of my life to benefiting others and the world. I am determined to publish books based on my experiences and knowledge in order to help sick people heal by adjusting their bodies and minds and to inspire the healthy to rectify their minds and follow natural ways of living so that they will not suffer illness. If, furthermore, we may develop limitless kindness and compassion to care for others, all living creatures and our natural environment, then everyone will surely reach a state of complete harmony in the body and mind. It is my sincere wish to make benefiting others my life career so that I will not pass the rest of my life in vain!

Vajra Boddhi Sea # 390, Nov. 2002. p.40-42