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What Buddhists Believe

What Buddhists Believe

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Published by: Animesh_Singh1 on Jan 05, 2012
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01/05/2012

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Proper Buddhist funeral practices are simple, solemn and dignified
religious services.

AS practised in many Buddhist countries, a Buddhist funeral

is a simple, solemn and dignified service. Unfortunately,

some people have included many unnecessary, extraneous

items and superstitious practices into the funeral rites. The

extraneous items and practices vary according to the traditions and

customs of the people. Rituals were introduced in the past by people

who could not understand the nature of life, nature of death, and

what life would be after death. When such ideas were incorporated

as so-called Buddhist practices, critics tended to condemn Buddhism

for expensive and meaningless funeral rites. If they approach proper

persons who have studied the real Teachings of the Buddha and

Buddhist tradition, they could receive advice on how to perform

Buddhist funeral rites in the correct manner. It is most unfortunate

that a bad impression has been created that Buddhism encourages

people to waste their money and time on unnecessary rites and

246 ! WHAT BUDDHISTS BELIEVE

rituals. It must be clearly understood that Buddhism has nothing

to do with such debased practices.

Buddhists are not very particular regarding the burial or

cremation of a dead body. In many Buddhist countries, cremation

is customary. For hygienic and economic reasons, it is advisable to

cremate. Today, the population in the world is increasing and if we

continue to have dead bodies occupying valuable land, then one

day all remaining available land will be occupied by the dead and

the living will have no place to live.

There are still some people who object to the cremation of dead

bodies. They say that cremation is against God’s law, in the same

way they have objected to many other things in the past. It will take

some time for such people to understand that cremation is much

more appropriate and convenient than burial.

Besides, Buddhists do not believe that one day someone will

come and awaken the departed persons’ spirits from their graveyards

or give life to the ashes from their urns and decide who should go

to heaven and who should go to hell.

The consciousness or mental energy of the departed person has

no connection with the body left behind or his or her skeleton or

ashes. A dead body is simply the rotten old empty house which the

departed person’s life occupied. The Buddha called it ‘a useless

log’. Many people believe that if the deceased is not given a proper

burial or if a sanctified tombstone is not placed on the grave, then

the soul of the deceased will wander to the four corners of the

world and weep and wail and sometimes even return to disturb the

relatives. Such a belief cannot be found anywhere in Buddhism.

Leading a Buddhist Life ! 247

Some people believe that if the dead body or the ashes of the

departed person is buried or enshrined in a particular place by

spending a big amount of money, the departed person will be

benefited.

If we really want to honour a departed person, we must do

some meritorious deeds such as giving some donations to deserving

cases and charitable or religious activities in memory of the departed

ones, and not by performing expensive rites and rituals.

Buddhists believe that when a person dies, rebirth will take

place somewhere else according to his or her good or bad actions.

As long as a person possesses the craving for existence, that person

must experience rebirth. Only the Arahants, who have gone beyond

all passions will have no more rebirths and so after their death,

they will attain their final goal Nirvana.*

*Read ‘Day-To-Day Buddhist Practice’ by the same author.

DHARMA AND OURSELVES AS REFUGE

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