The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas




Another Chapter of The Caterpillar Turns into a Butterfly:
A True Story of How Cancer Cells Turn into Buddha Cells

A talk given by Jian Zhuo Lee on March 31, 2009,
in the Buddha Hall of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Translated into English by Yidan Wang

My name is Jian Zhuo. I am from Shanghai, and today I am going to share a true story that happened to me two years ago. Once I read a book calledThe Caterpillar Turns into a Butterfly, that said: "How does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly? Who helps the caterpillar to put makeup on? Who teaches it how to fly? How can an ugly and slowly crawling caterpillar transform into a beautiful and flying butterfly? If a caterpillar can transform into a butterfly, cancer cells can turn into happy Buddha cells. Ordinary people also can turn into Buddhas."

Cancer cells can turn into Buddha cells! Unbelievably, this was a true story that happened in my life. In July 2006, the doctor informed us that my grandmother had terminal cancer. He also told us that she would only live until the end of that year. My grandmother was 72 years old, so it was not easy to cure her. I sincerely hope my grandma would believe in Buddhism and recite the Buddha's name, so she would be able to go to the Western Pure Land. In August, we took Grandma to take the refuge at the Venerable Xu Yun's monastery in Yunju Mountain. After that, her illness worsened until she could not walk and also needed to wear an oxygen mask.

A good mentor told us that filiality can move heaven, so my mother started to recite the Earth Store Sutra for my grandmother on the ten fasting days. I also liberated creatures on my grandmother's behalf. My mother and my aunt wanted my grandmother to get better; my aunt quit her job and decided to look after her with her full attention. They got up in the middle of the night to give Grandma some medicinal wine and snacks. Over a year's time, my grandmother's illness did not worsen and she started getting better.

This was the case until June 2007, when Grandma's body became swollen. She was hospitalized in July; this time her condition was serious. Some of the terminal cancer patients at the hospital would wail like cows and sheep when they were in pain, and relied on hourly morphine injections. Some of them begged the doctor to let them die. One day, Grandma suddenly started feeling pain throughout her body and found it difficult to turn. My mother and I immediately started to pray to Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva. After two days, Grandma woke up and told us that she had a dream in which someone gave her some medicine to take and said that after she took the medicine, she would not feel pain anymore. From that day on, my grandmother was never in pain again.

After ten days, the doctor informed us that my grandmother only had two days left. I didn't dare to talk with my family members about the funeral arrangements for Grandma, but now I had to speak up. I asked whether or not we could let Grandma stay in the hospital for a few hours after she passed away. My aunt said, "Of course, we will do as others do; after she stops breathing, we will dress her and send her to the funeral home." In other words, her body will be put in a refrigerator straightaway. Oh, my goodness, since I have known about Grandma's illness last year, I have prayed that she could go to the Western Pure Land, and I also prayed that all my family members would see Grandma's responses, so they would have more faith in Buddhism. If Grandma is sent to the funeral home, she will be in danger.

I started to bow in front of Amitabha Buddha and cried inconsolably; I kept bowing to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. My aunt noticed my sorrow, so she took me to a monastery to talk to a Dharma Master. He told me that actually it was possible to liberate the intermediate skandha body [the body between births]. After I heard what he said, I felt a lot better. I concentrated on my Buddha recitation in order to help my grandma. That evening when I returned to the hospital, I heard that Grandma had gone into a deep coma at noon and was now on machine support to maintain her oxygen intake, pulse, and blood pressure. The doctor said people normally pass away like this and Grandma would never wake up. I told my mother, "No, before she passes away, she will wake up!"

I started to recited the Amitabha Sutra beside my grandmother's bed. After I recited many times, I switched to reciting the Buddha's holy name. When I was reciting, Grandma's cardiogram started to bump up and down; my auntie was so scared that she called the nurse. The nurse told us it was all right. Sometimes disturbances might happen.

I knew deep in my heart that Grandma could hear me, so I continued reciting the sutra and Amitabha Buddha's holy name with increased faith. I held Grandma's hand and told her not to be afraid of any states, how to face the moment of rebirth when it arrives, and to wait for Amitabha Buddha to guide her, so she would have strong faith and let go of everything.

At dawn, relatives slowly came one by one to the hospital. As I continued to recite Amitahba Buddha's name, people left the room for some unknown reason. My aunt whispered to me and said: “Please stop reciting; they cannot stay in this room anymore." I ignored her and kept going. Auntie came in again and said, "Stop reciting; the nurse said it's too loud." I did not reply. I stood up and went to shut the door, and then went back and held grandma's hand and continued my recitation. A little after 7:00 the next morning, grandma's hand moved. I cried out; this time her eyes opened.

People thought grandma would pass away, so everybody all yelled around grandma's bed: "Amituofo, Amituofo, Amituofo" After that, grandma could move, but couldn't speak, her throat made HULU HULU sound, everybody in the room one by one said something to grandma, they cried and cried. Mum told grandma that she had cancer. We did not tell grandma about her illness until this moment. The strange thing was timid and shy grandma did not have any tears, but instead she was very much awake and said goodbye to everyone.

Around noon, grandma started to feel a bit dizzy, relatives went to have lunch and then have a rest. Mum told me to go home and recharge cellphone battery in case people can find us. I thought maybe grandma was waiting for her favorite grandson to come and see her tomorrow morning.

When I got home I recited Shuragama Mantra and Great Compassion Mantra and transferred all the merits to my grandma. After I finished, I was still worried, I wanted to make a call to the hospital, but that moment, mum called me instead and told me after I went downstairs in the hospital, grandma passed away. I immediately took a taxi to the hospital and the car from funeral home had already parked in front of the hospital.

My mum said: "Before grandma passed away, her brow was red. Because my house was crowded with my many relatives, there was no room for me. So I went to spend a night with my friend. After my grandma passed away, I prayed to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas wholeheartly, so they can send me a message through my dream to tell me where and how my grandma is. But when I woke up the second day, I dreamed about nothing, I thought What happened? Suddenly, Mum called me and said: "Come back as soon as possible."

This morning around six when everybody was preparing breakfast, they heard knocking on the door, my aunt went and opened the door, but when she opened the door, nothing was outside, my auntie was a bit upset that moment, by the time she wanted to shut the door, unexpectedly two butterflies flew in, my house was on third floor, how can two butterflies fly in? The butterflies went through the rooms and flew to the balcony straight away, and then landed on the balcony window. All my relatives were so curious and they opened the window and wanted to let them out, but the butterflies stayed there and did not move.

When I went home, the two butterflies still stayed very still, it seemed that they had been waiting for me, when I saw them I felt very excited and joyful. I said to the two butterflies: Thank you for coming here to inform me, I know my grandma went to the Western Pure Land, Thank you so much! I touched them very gently, they understood what I said to them, they did not get scared to fly around, but instead they flew out from the window I opened for them.

When relatives saw me, they all excited to tell me about these two butterflies. Auntie in law told me: While the butterflies flew in, she faced the way where the butterflies flew in; she saw grandma was sitting on a huge lotus flower and waved her hand to her. I told my mum, and she opened her eyes widely and said: "Really? You know, last night I prayed to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, if there was any good responses or dreams, please show it to my auntie in law. I asked why, mum said: "We believe in Buddhas, all the things we said people would not believe, your auntie in law did not believe in it, so it would be better to let her to see. Incredible and amazing!

That noon, my relatives went to restaurant to have lunch, after finished the lunch and waited for the car, some butterflies flew to my granddad’s shoulder and they flew around him in a circle for a while. The arrival of butterflies made my granddad feel better; otherwise everyone would worry about if granddad would be heartbroken because granddad and grandma spent a very happy whole life together.

I arrived in the Funeral home in the afternoon. My grandma was put in a refrigerator coffin. I lighted some essence and bowed three times in front of the coffin, with an unsure heart I went to my grandma, because I heard after people passed away, their appearance would change, many of them needed to put the make up on.

I took a very close look at my grandma; she went to sleep soundly. Her swollen face had disappeared; her appearance was just like when she was still healthy. Her face color was also a bit red , she had a smile on her face, her lip was as red as when she was still alive and also her body was soft and seemed to have a bit of temperature.

At that moment, no words to express how grateful I was to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, I don't know how to repay back what Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have done to us.

The caterpillar really turned into Butterfly, a butterfly who will forever cultivate in the Western Pure Land. I hope this true story will inspire you and I hope we can all reborn in Amitabha's Pure Land. Amituofo

法界佛教總會Dharma Realm Buddhist Association