This is another great article from Dr. Wong Yin Onn:
After death, while the dead person is being prepared for the funeral, the monks and laypeople continue to chant to console the family and to help all recall the Dhamma. There will understandably be grieve and lamentation but calmness must be encouraged and maintained as such negative emotional states will help no-one. Wailing and emotional outbursts are discouraged as this will only create more attachments for both the dying, the dead and the relatives.The mind that arises at the time of death is usually the one that the person is most habituated to. People tend to die in character, although this is not always so. So it is emphasised strongly that the time to prepare for death is now, because if we develop and gain control over our mind now and create many positive causes we will have a calm and controlled mind at the time of death and be free of fear. In effect, our whole life is a preparation for death and it is said that the mark of a spiritual practitioner is to have no regrets at the time of death. “It’s time we started swotting for the finals!”
The Funeral service
Don’t fall victim to funeral scams.
o those who do evil and hold wrong views and are reborn as hell beings
o those who do evil and hold wrong views and are reborn as animals
o those who refrain from evil and hold right views and are reborn as humans
o those who refrain from evil and hold right views and are reborn as devas
~ condition of opportunity:
o those who do evil and hold wrong views and are reborn in the realm of ghosts.
It is clear here that food dana can only reach the deceased if he is reborn as a ghost.
In this sutta, we learn three important points:
o The dana given by the living to the deceased cannot reach him if he is born in hell, in the animal kingdom, in the human world or even in heaven.
o The dana can only reach the deceased if he is born in the realm of ghosts.
o Dana here has to specifically mean offering food and drinks to the departed relatives, since this dana cannot be received by a departed one reborn as a deva.
In Pattakamma Sutta (AN 4.61) the Buddha said to Anathapindika that a noble disciple who acquired his income through righteous means should spend it by making five types of offerings. These are offerings to
o living relatives
o departed relatives
o the king (government)
o devas.There is also a verse in Ratana Sutta (Khp 6) that urges deities to protect humans because they make offerings to them day and night.
The above references bring us to the following conclusion: a Buddhist is actually encouraged by the Buddha to make offerings to departed relatives as well as to devas.
Dedication of Offerings to Devas
In the story on the making of Pataliputta village found in Mahaparinibbana Sutta (DN. 16), the Buddha advised people to offer dana to virtuous monks and dedicate the offering to the devas there. These devas, being honoured and cherished, will honour and cherish the occupants of the house in return.
We can make two types of offerings: the direct offering of food and drinks to the departed ones, and the dana to the Sangha followed by sharing of merits. So, whether or not one’s offerings are appreciated or used by the recipient does not affect the validity of the wholesome kamma of doing puja.
1. Everyone must die…
2. The remainder of our life span is decreasing continually.
3. Death will come regardless of whether or not we have made time to practice the dharma.
4. Human life expectancy is uncertain.
5. There are many causes of death.
6. The human Body is very fragile.
7. Our wealth cannot help us.
8. Our loved ones cannot help.
9. Our body cannot help but grow old.
It is our conjecture that yearning for life is greatest when the fear of death is greatest. The fear of death is greatest when one’s sense of guilt is greatest, the fear that one has squandered the great opportunity of human life, an opportunity which could have been well utilized for spiritual growth. If, on the other hand, one has well utilized the opportunity of human life for spiritual growth, one can face the inevitability of death with relative calm, contentment and happy satisfaction.
It can also be very helpful to consider NOW how we would react if we were told, for example, that we only had 3 or 6 months to live, to ask ourselves questions like:
- am I ready to die?
- what unfinished business do I have?
- what do I want to do or achieve in the time I have left?
- will my priorities change?
- what can help me at the time of death?
- “Live each day as though it were your last and one day you’ll be right!”