The first 49 days after death – the Earthstore Sutra

Transferring the Goodness that you do to people who have just passed on

“When men or women laden with offenses who failed to plant good causes die:

  • Even they can receive 1/7 of any merit dedicated to them by relatives who do good deeds on their behalf.
  • The other 6/7 of the merit will return to the living relatives who did the good deeds.

It follows that good men and women of the present and future who cultivate while they are strong and healthy will receive all of the benefit derived.

The Moment of Death and 49 days Afterwards

“The arrival of the Great Ghost of Impermanence is so unexpected that the deceased ones’ consciousnesses first roams in darkness and obscurity, unaware of offenses and blessings. For 49 days the deceased are as if deluded or deaf, or as if in courts where their karmic retributions are being decided.

Once judgment is fixed, they are reborn according to their karma. In the time before rebirths are determined, the deceased suffer from thousands upon thousands of anxieties. How much more is that the case for those who are to fall into the bad destinies.

Throughout 49 days, those whose lives have ended and who have not yet been reborn will be hoping every moment that their immediate relatives will earn blessings powerful enough to rescue them.

At the end of that time, the deceased will undergo retribution according to their karma. If someone is an offender, he may pass through hundreds of thousands of years without even a day’s liberation. If someone’s offenses deserve Fivefold Relentless Retribution, he will fall into the great hells and undergo incessant suffering throughout hundreds of millions of eons.

The Sutra of the Past Vows of Earthstore Bodhisattva 

Stories of Mysterious Buzzers in Nursing Homes

Some very interesting conversations sparked this post.  I was talking to a lady who worked in a nursing home.  In nursing homes, people die regularly, so I’m always interested in hearing cool stories!  So I asked her, “Do you have any ghost stories?”  She says yes!

She says that whenever a patient dies, the buzzer of the bed that that patient keeps going off for 2-3 weeks for no reason, then stop.  And the nurses go there to see what’s happening but all they find is an empty bed.

And this happens at different beds at this nursing home, whenever a patient dies – the first 2-3 weeks, the buzzer keeps going off for no reason.

Now it could be an electrical fault.  But if it happens this consistently and it’s always the bed of someone who dies where the buzzer beeps – maybe there is something more going on.

Then I thought, “Well, the Buddha did explain that the spirit hangs around for approximately 49 days after death”.  So maybe the spirit still thinks it’s alive and are still calling for the nurses to tend to them.

So I thought, maybe, maybe not.

So today, I was chatting to a girl who worked briefly at a different nursing home.  So I asked her, “Hey, did you ever get the buzzer beeping of someone who just died?”  She goes, “Yes!”

And then I thought, “So it’s true!”

She said, “There was a lady who lived there at the nursing home for 7 years but after she died, our pagers would keep beeping for 2-3 weeks.  We would go to her bed to find nothing – all the electronics there were off – but our pagers were still beeping!”

“There was another lady who only lived there for 2 days and then she died – and the same thing happened but our pagers only kept beeping for 2-3 days after she passed”.

I asked her, “What’s night shift like?”

“Scary!” she replied.  “There were 3 of us on at a time.  And you would hear sounds!  And we all hear the same thing – so we’d have to go and investigate.  All 3 of us would go together (for support!) to check it out – but there would be nobody there.  And you’d hear full on conversations too!”

So any of you who are nurses or have worked in nursing homes or hospitals – maybe you can share your own stories below!  You can even ask your friends who have worked in nursing homes and hospitals whether they have any stories!

Now this 49 day thing is across ALL Buddhist schools – Theravadan, Mahayana and Tibetan.

Now the Buddha explained 49 days.  So why are their buzzers beeping for only 2-3 weeks?  One theory is:

  • The first half of the 49 days (remember 21 days is 3 weeks) the 8th consciousness/spirit is still more related to this life and
  • The 2nd half of the 49 days, they are closer to their next rebirth

Don’t know whether this theory is true – but it’s possible.

Further, 49 is a general time frame – some might be reborn faster, some slower.  For example:

  • The less attached they are to the place, perhaps they can move on more easily.
  • The more attached to the place – maybe they’ll hang around for longer

And further, we know that in the Amitabha Sutras regarding rebirth in Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land:

  • Some people may be reborn instantaneously
  • Other people might take aeons upon aeons to be reborn

There are some interesting Pure Land stories too!  But I’ll leave that for another post.

In general, if someone dies, you want to do good works on their behalf and then mentally transfer that goodness to them.  This gives them extra good karma to ensure a better rebirth (and helps them avoid being dragged down by their bad karma to be reborn in the animal realms, the hungry ghost realms and the hell realms).

Amitofo!

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