Buddhist believe in karma and reincarnation, with death marking the beginning of another incarnation. As such, the primary focus of Buddhist funeral rites is on helping the deceased transition smoothly from this life to the next. There is however a secondary purpose; to remind those left behind of the doctrine of Anicca or impermanence (i.e. the transient and inconstant nature of life) and hence, the importance of accumulate good deeds during one’s lifetime is necessary to bring the soul closer to Nivarna.
When Death is Looming
During the final moments, Buddhist teaches to focus on preparing the dying individual, both spiritually and mentally, for the process of dying and rebirth. Thus it is important to maintain a calm and peaceful setting, with images of Buddha, and perhaps some decorative flowers around will be very helpful. A family member should be by the bedside throughout, helping dying person to remain calm, recall his good deeds and assuring him of the karmic forces he has accumulated as a result of those good deeds. If possible, a Buddhist monk should be present to chant protective verses.
Buddhist Funeral Services – Rites and Rituals
As there are different branches of Buddhism, funeral rites and rituals may differ. Hence, it is always best for the bereaved family to seek guidance from the deceased’s Buddhist community or a experienced funeral director who is well versed in Buddhism rites. That said, these funeral services and rituals should be simple yet solemn and will certainly include chanting to help generate merit for the deceased and bring his soul closer towards enlightenment. These chanting can be led by monks or lay members of the deceased’s Buddhist group. Eulogies delivered by family members and close friends are also appropriate during these services.