163 - Crossing the Ocean of Life and Death

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The Spiritual Travel Shoes


The body is impermanent and time passes quickly, All suffering will be unfettered,

Aspireto cultivate in accordance with the True Buddha,

Fully utilize this body and be reborn in Sukhavati.

Sheng-Yen Lu


       One night, Guanyin Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva) appeared at my secluded place of retreat and gave me a pair of shoes to put on. I was curious and asked, “What kind of shoes are these?”

Guanyin replied, “Spiritual Travel Shoes.”

“What are they used for?”

The Bodhisattva said, “We want you, Living Buddha Lian-sheng, Sheng-Yen Lu, to personally experience the state of bardo by going through the experience of death. Then, we want you to write a book entitled Crossing the Ocean of Life and Death to enlighten the world about the realities regarding the end of life.”

“When there is birth, there is death. This is natural. What is there to write about?”

The Bodhisattva said, “It is a matter of utmost urgency.”


“Sentient beings assume that when they are in good health, everything is fine but they are unaware that middle age, old age, and sickness will soon arrive. Most importantly, we want the world to recognize the reality of death and know the conditions and processes surrounding death. It does not matter whether one is a Buddhist, Christian, Catholic, Muslim, or atheist. You must reveal the truth about death in your writings because the truth itself is what really counts.”

I asked, “Will people believe what I write?”

The Bodhisattva replied, “These are not superstitions. Everyone dies, and there is no exception to this fact. Death is a realistic issue that is anything but superstitious. Yet, the world does not end with death. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and other esoteric teachings all recognize the fact that there is a world beyond death which can be verified, and that the world of spirits does indeed exist. We want you to write about it, and we want you to experience it first-hand. By recording your experiences, you will be able to help deliver sentient beings!”

“Can it really help to deliver sentient beings?” I asked.

Guanyin Bodhisattva replied with a verse:


Read and you will understand,

Cultivate and you will be liberated,

Believe and you will be delivered,

Comprehend and you will be enlightened.


Let me say this honestly to everyone. After I put on the Spiritual Travel Shoes, I became ill. I have written two articles, “The Water at Leaf Lake Has Turned Cold” and “Praying to My Three Personal Deities,” where I revealed my thoughts that I might die at age fifty-eight and suggested that my death was imminent. I experienced first-hand the terrible suffering of illness. My illness was very serious.

This is not a lie, delusion, or superstition!

Uponwearing the Spiritual Travel Shoes, the experiences I had were on anunimaginable scale. At that time, I had already experienced the worst extremes of all suffering and pain. I view myself as a psychologically sound person who lives freely in seclusion. I am able to reside in the worlds of the ten directions. However, after I put these shoes on I truly experienced what sickness and death were all about.

The four elements [earth, water, fire and wind] within my body underwent a separation, as if a mountain was crumbling and the earth was rupturing. The separation of the elements was like the flooding of water which was drowning me, like a volcano erupting, or like a hurricane sweeping through. I found myself literally entering the Eight Cold and Eight Hot Hells.

I do not have any intention to frighten anyone. I really fell into the trap of death, where my wish to live or die could not be granted. None of my words here are exaggerated or sensationalized. As long as we are human, we will die someday. No one is spared from death, not even someone whose body is as strong as steel.

I have suffered too much pain, and I wish that sentient beings can be liberated from their pain and attain happiness. Thus, it is of utmost importance that I write this critical book which explains how a person can cross the ocean of life and death. This book will certainly deliver us from suffering.

I would like you to ponder this:


The body is impermanent and time passes quickly,

All suffering will be unfettered,

Aspire to cultivate in accordance with the True Buddha,

Fully utilize this body and be reborn in Sukhavati.

Contact Address:   Sheng-Yen Lu

                                      17102 NE 40th Ct.

                                      Redmond, WA 98052


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