Buddhist Funeral Customs
The varied number of Buddhist denominations believe both life and death are part of the cycle known as Samsura. In Samsura a person’s deeds in this life and all previous incarnations of life, lead to further reincarnation. The goal is to be freed in order to attain enlightenment and reach the state of Nirvana.
The dying person, family and friends reflect on his or her good deeds during this life, and the value these deeds will have over the next incarnation. To comfort the dying person, various items are placed with the person. Various verses are chanted to make the dying person more comfortable.
After death, the body is washed and prepared. There may be a wake with the body present in an open casket dressed as the person dressed during their lifetime. Next to the casket, there may be an altar with a picture of the deceased, an image of Buddah or various other items
Buddhist Funeral Customs are Serene
Buddhist funeral customs differ but are peaceful and serene. The dress for a typical Buddhist funeral is white. Those attending often walk with sticks representing the need for support and grief. They may chant or sing Sutras, bring offerings, burn incense or ring gongs and bells.
At the time of burial or cremation, monks perform the last rite, chanting:
“I take refuge in the Buddah. I take refuge in the Dharma. I take refuge in the Sangha” in addition to other verses. Then the casket is sealed and transported to the funeral hall or crematorium. The casket may be placed in a hearse or other vehicle with family and friends following to form a procession.
Many Buddhists in San Diego prefer burial at sea. We coordinate many of these burials every year. With our large fleet of yachts, we are able to accommodate small, medium and large groups of family and friends.
Life is a journey. Death is a return to earth. The universe is like an inn. The passing years are like dust. Regard this phantom world as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp – a phantom – and a dream.” Vairacchedika 32
Buddhist Customs Vary From Country to Country
Customs vary from one area or country and another because of history, and culture. If you’re interested in investigating the differences, see the following links.