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Lions Roar : March 2018
BEGINNER’S MIND What happens at a Buddhist funeral? There is no universal liturgy for a Buddhist funeral. As a result, the outer form of the rites varies from tradition to tradition, usually borrowing from the cultural norms of the country where the particular branch of Buddhism originated. There are some commonalities, however, having to do with the Buddhist understanding that the consciousness continues beyond death. The Buddha indicated in the Pali Canon that clinging to the departed is not generous to them because it will not help them on their journey. It is considered more helpful to think of the needs of the person who has passed away than to focus on your own loss. A wake is often held for several days where people spend time with the body meditating or chanting. At this time, we let go of regretting that the per- son has died and wishing for them to remain and maintain a mind of equa- nimity and compassion. It is understood that during the period immediately following death, a person’s consciousness can roam quite freely and if those close to the deceased cling to them, their journey through the passage between this life and the next may be filled with regret and fear. Whatever their outer form, at their core most Buddhist rites encourage the attitude of letting go of the person completely, celebrating their life, and wishing them a fearless pas- sage into the next life. DHARMA FAQS We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation. BUDDHISM BY THE NUMBERS ILLUSTRATIONSBYNOLANPELLETIER YOU CAN CONTEMPLATE these pithy descriptions of what bodhisattvas and other enlightened beings realize, which are chanted mainly in the Mahayana tradition. The world is impermanent: Contemplating that every- thing changes, you are released from the endless cycle of birth and death. More desire brings more suffering: Realizing that get- ting what you desire won’t bring happiness, you relax your clinging. The human mind is always searching outside itself and never feels fulfilled: Liberation comes from cultivating contentment, not from more things or experiences. Diligent effort is needed to free yourself from the prison of samsara: Unravelling your deep-seated cling- ing to a permanent self takes hard work and persistence. Ignorance is the cause of the endless round of birth and death: You seek the best teaching and training to counteract your habit of ignoring reality. Poverty creates hatred and anger: You are generous and treat all beings with equanimity. The five categories of sensual desire—money, sex, fame, overeating, and oversleeping—lead to problems: Sensory pleasures imprison you in unwholesome ways of being. The fire of birth and death is raging, causing endless suffering everywhere: You vow to save all sentient beings from the suffering of cyclical existence. RAYFENWICK LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2018 34