This essay sample on Buddhist Funeral Readings provides all necessary basic information on this matter, including the most common “for and against” arguments. Below are the introduction, body and conclusion parts of this essay.
Funerals vary from culture to culture; some are simple and quite, whilst others are loud including party’s, celebrating life and death. However for Buddhist a funeral is usually a simple and private affair. There are many different types of Buddhist communities, and each one holds a different type of funeral, from a cremation, to a ‘sky burial’.
Some of the main Buddhist communities are the Theravada Buddhists, the Tibetan Buddhists and the Mahayana Buddhists, each of them holding a different style of ceremony.
The Theravada Buddhists who mainly live in Thailand, encourage a dying person to read or chant passages from the Suttas, they do this to try and improve their Karma as they are very close to the time of their re-birth. After the death, the relatives, pour water over a hand of their dead family member, the body is then placed in a coffin.
However he or she is not then just shut away in the dark, the body is surrounded by lights and incense, and sometimes passages from the Abhidhamma will be read over the body, by Bhikkus’s.
Traditionally the bodies are cremated, as was the Buddha. In Theravada Buddhist communities the cremation usually takes place about three days after the death, until his point the body lays in the home, visited by friends and family, and then at night some one would watch over the body.
On the day of the funeral, the body is carried by the community elders, and Bhikkus, at the place of cremation the Bhikkus chant passages from the Suttas as the coffin is being placed upon a pyre, the mourners then light a fire under it, they usually then throw incense into the flame.
The Tibetan Buddhists traditionally read the Bardo Thodol to the dying to prepare them for the passage into their next life. Monks carry on saying the Bardo Thodol for 49 days after the death to help the Anatta on its way. In the Tibetan Buddhists views they traditionally cremate the body of the dead like the Theravada Buddhists, however as the Tibetan Buddhists are based in countries with usually scarce amounts of fuel, and wood so the body is given a ‘Sky Burial’.
Three days after the death, the body is washed and put into the foetal position so that it leaves the world as it arrived; it is then wrapped in a white cloth, the white representing purity. It is the taken to a top of a hill, an area walled off which is usually near a monastery. As the body is taken the monks would chant, and the body would be disposed off at dawn. For a ‘sky burial’ the body is then unwrapped and a body-breaker craves the body into pieces, then it is mixed with flour, this will act as food for the Vultures.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that the body is then taken to Bardo. Bardo is believed to be ‘A human soul between the stages of after-death and rebirth. ‘ (1) The Mahayana Buddhists are mainly based in China, the day of the death is very important to them, they believe that as soon as the body is taken the personality goes into a trance for four days in the trance the person does not know if he or she is alive or dead, the Mahayana Buddhists call this period the Bardo, and though out this period monks say special verses.
Some of the most important readings that are recited are the Amitabha Sutra and the name of Amitabha. The Mahayana Buddhists also believe that during this period the dead person will see a brilliant light, if it does not scare them, and they can welcome it then they no longer need to be re-born, however most people run away from the light which then fades. The person then relieves that that they have died, and enter the second Bardo, they see everything that they have ever done, or thought.
They also think that they have a body, they later relies that they do not, and enter the third Bardo, which is a state in which they search for a another body. * ways morning periods observed * prayers * offerings Buddhist believe in Karma; Karma is everything that you have ever done I your whole life, added up when you die and then weighed. If you have more good Karma then bad Buddhists believe that in your next life you will have a better life then the one that you just lived, how ever if you have more bad Karma then good karma you will be re-born in to a worse life.
How great you life can be judged on many points, your family, friends, how wealthy you are, any disabilities, your home, some Buddhists even say that it can determine how pretty you are when you are re-born. This is all decided when you die and enter the second stage of Bardo; Bardo is a place between death and being re-born. Most Buddhist are believed to just be re-born, however there are Buddhists that have reached the end of being re-born, and karma, they enter Nirvana, enlightenment, which is the ultimate aim for all Buddhists.
This teaches Buddhists that their lives are in their hands, they can improve it or not. So, Buddhists try to make as much good karma as they can, to reach enlightenment. They do this by following the 10 precepts, which consist of, not killing or harming any living thing, not stealing, not to misuse sex, not to lie and not to cloud the mind with alcohol or drugs, a Buddhists mind should at all times be clear so they can concentrate on reaching enlightenment. The other 5 precepts are not quite as widely practiced, it is usually monks that practice these continually, but are still very important.
They are to refrain from eating after midday, to refrain from dancing, singing, or watching unsuitable entertainment. They should also try not to use scents or garlands, they should not sleep on a high or luxurious bed, and they should not touch gold, silver or handle money. Another way Buddhists can reach enlightenment is by following the 8 fold path, the 8fold path has three sections, the way of wisdom, the way of morality and the way of mental training.
The way of wisdom teaches Buddhists a “true insight and deep understanding of lie. (3) The way of morality teaches them how to “behave towards other people and the environment”. (3) Whist the way of mental training teaches them the “spiritual practices that the Buddha can perform in order to reach Nibbana. ” (3) Under these headings they have the 8 points of the 8 fold path that they must follow, they are having the right view, the right intentions, the right speech, the right action, the right livelihood, the right effort, the right meditation and the right mindfulness.
If a Buddhist follows the rules of the 8 Fold Path, then he is on his way to making himself a better Buddhist, not only this, but the more he or she practices the 8 Fold Path the closer they get to reaching enlightenment which is their ultimate aim. By following these rules, they allow them selves to enter a state of mind, which “Makes the mind still and steady… opens vast vistas of bliss, serenity and power,” and helps them to “generate the insights unveiling the ultimate truth of things. ” (2). Red: Wisdom Training. Right View, understanding the 4 Noble Truths, and understanding Karma.
Right Intentions, having Good Will (Metta) and Harmlessness. Blue: Ethics Training. Right Speech, not harsh, rude, false, slander, or idle chit-chatter. Right Action, not killing anything alive, stealing, or sexual misconduct. Right Livelihood earning your living legally, honestly, peacefully, and without harm. Purple: Meditation Training. Right Effort in path of enlightenment, and the undertaking of the “great endeavors”. Right Concentration/ Meditation, opening your mind, being calm and in control. Right Mindfulness, not being lazy, mindful contemplation of the body, feelings, states of mind, and phenomena.