By Nhat Quan
Today's monks and nuns, in addition to trying to transform body and mind, have a mission that, through many different means, but with the same purpose, is to alleviate human suffering and bring peace, and happiness to people.
The purpose of requiem for the deceased is one of the thousands of means that monastics often undertake. However, to be honest, not everyone who practices these means can understand the bottom line and follow the basic spirit of Buddhism. Therefore, the purpose of requiem is the expression of another form of wish. And of course, Buddhism does not focus on pure wish but advocates practical action.
To say a requiem is an aspiration or a wish is to want someone to be liberated or reborn in the world of Buddhas. Therefore, the word requiem can be a shortened form of the phrase "requiem for rebirth in the pure land". This is the aspiration, or wish, aimed primarily at the deceased.
As mentioned, the purpose of holding the requiem ceremony is to wish the spirits of the deceased to escape from the sufferings of hell, hungry ghosts, and animals. At the same time, they are reborn in the human realm or other realms such as the Buddha realm, and the heaven realm. True Requiem should be aspiration, sincerity, sincerity, and helpful action to help the soul benefit in rebirth.
The requiem only has meaning, and value when the living person teaches, warns, and helps the dead to change their mind. The Dharma language, the sutras, and the verse have the power to help the spirits and spirits to be enlightened and to generate joy so that they are at peace without suffering. The merits and blessings that the living people do to dedicate to the spirit, also bring many benefits to the spirit.
When the dead know how to rejoice at the deeds that create merit, and the blessings of their loved ones, and develop reverence towards the Three Jewels, they have partially transformed their evil karma. And increase one's own merit, thereby being reborn in a happy state. As is the case:
- The mother of the venerable Maugalyayana.
- Wife of Liang-Wu-Ti.
The mother of the venerable Maugalyayana in her life was greedy, impoverished, and distrustful of the Three Jewels. She created many evil karma, so after death, fell as a hungry ghost, suffering, hunger, and thirst. The venerable Maugalyayana held a ceremony to offer sacrifices to the dead, to invite the Buddha and the ten directions to requiem for her. Thanks to the merits and blessings of the venerable Maugalyayana's offering of the Three Jewels and her joy in the work of the Venerable, she was freed from the crime of bearing the body of a hungry ghost.
The queen's wife Liang-Wu-Ti, while still alive, also created a lot of bad karma, so after she died, she was born as a snake. Thanks to Liang-Wu-Ti for inviting Venerable Chi Cong and the monks to open a forum called the Liang-Wu-Ti method of repentance to help his wife repent of her sins that she escaped from the snake life.
This shows that requiem is an activity of spiritual life, which has long become a practical need for those who care about spiritual values. Because everyone wants their loved ones after death to be reborn in happy realms, to return to Buddha or heaven. Or at least be back as a human, not fall into the hells, hungry ghosts, and animals. It is a legitimate need, a beautiful gesture of encouragement and praise, a work imbued with human love and rich in compassion.
Requiem for your loved ones at the same time also pray for all the spirits who have not yet escaped from the sufferings, which is an act of showing the gratitude and affection of the living to the deceased. Shows the connection between people despite living in two completely different worlds.
The requiem with the desire to help the spirits who have not escaped from hell, hungry ghosts, and animals to be liberated. The spirits, who are in the midst of suffering, are freed from suffering, which is also an expression of compassion, which should be cared for and developed.
In the matter of requiem, it is also necessary to clarify, that although it is desired for the dead to be liberated, it is not possible to pray for those who create many negative karmas to be released according to your will. Because all the deeds done during life are good or bad after death will have to receive the result in the form of rebirth in a higher or lower realm. That is, after death, a person will be freed, i.e. reborn in a leisurely state, or fall, i.e. reborn in a miserable state, depending on the karma that person has created.
Therefore, while you are still alive, you should create good karma for yourself, because that is the only baggage you can take with you after you die. This good karma will determine your next life. This is what you need to pay attention to the most. The issue of requiem after death is just a support condition, only beneficial when the spirit of the deceased hears the sound of verses or sutras and awakens. Then arouse joy and reverence towards the Three Jewels, believe in the Buddhadharma, and transform your own mind.
During the requiem ceremony, you must keep in mind four factors. Strictly implementing these four factors will certainly benefit the spirit:
- The role of the spirit is primary,
- Next is the purity of the prayer offerings,
- The moral virtue of the monks
- And the devotion and earnestness of the relatives of the deceased, along with the blessings they have created and dedicated to the spirit.
It is said that the spirit plays a decisive role because the spirit has to change its mind, let go of misleading ideas, let go of afflictions, desires, and attachments, and change its own karma to be able to escape. But without the help and support of the monks and relatives by teaching, warning, guiding the spirit towards the Three Jewels, and doing good deeds to dedicate it to, the spirit, the spirit will also be unlikely to escape. Therefore, relatives need to support the spirit so that it can escape suffering and benefit.
As said once. For those who are still alive, in order to have luggage when they die and know where to be reborn, while still healthy you should try to practice and do good deeds as in the Kutadanta Sutra of Dirgha agama No. 5, the Buddha taught that:
- Regularly making offerings to monastics, building viharas, revering the Three Jewels upholding the five precepts, and practicing spiritual practices are the ways of worship and prayer that really bring the most benefits.
Indeed, according to the sutras, when the Buddha was in the world, he once met a sinner who had his limbs cut off and brought him a lotus flower, the Buddha said to the monks:
- Thanks to this merit and virtue, during the next ninety-one kalpas, the amputee will not only be saved from falling into the three evil paths of hell, hungry ghosts, and animals, but will also be reborn in the heavenly realms, until he ends his blessings in that heaven, he turns back to being a human.
For the deceased, in the Northern Buddhist countries, influenced by the Pure Land Dharma, the sutras that are recited at funerals and death anniversaries are usually the Amitabha, Ksitigarbhapranidhana-Sutra, and The Ullambana Sutra:
- Chanting the Amitabha Sutra is mainly to introduce the noble realm of Amitabha Buddha, and at the same time, it is also a reminder for the dead to recall the Dharma of reciting Buddha's name. The one-pointedness of mind is not chaotic as a prerequisite for rebirth in the Pure Land so that the souls can follow it to recite the Buddha's name and be reborn.
- Reciting Ksitigarbhapranidhana-Sutra on the one hand is to review the merits of this bodhisattva's filial piety, on the other hand, to promote and cultivate the land of mind. When chanting this sutra, the descendants of the deceased have the opportunity to learn about filial piety and also have the opportunity to improve their character.
- Read the Ullambana Sutra to learn the special example of filial piety of venerable Mahamaudgalyayana.
In general, the above suttas, not only have good effects for the deceased but are also aimed at encouraging the relatives of the deceased to practice methods and make merit. Therefore, however, Buddhism believes in the effects of requiem. However, that effect has a certain limit. Requiem is only a secondary power, not a primary strength. Because the main time to practice good and do good is the time when people are still alive. After the person has died, it is the living person who organizes the requiem ceremony for the dead person and dedicates the living people's merit and virtues to the dead.
The Ksitigarbha Sutra says that the benefits of the requiem ceremony have seven parts, six of which belong to the living person who is organizing the requiem ceremony, and only one part of the benefit belongs to the dead person. At the same time, genuine Buddhism, regarding the method of requiem, has a slightly different concept from folk customs. To say requiem is to say that we have escaped from the realm of suffering, and ascended to the realm of joy, is based on the inspiration of the good karma of friends and relatives of the dead, not by the effect of chanting alone of monks and nuns. It is the induction by the combination of the good karma of the requiem organizer and the practice of the praying monks and nuns.
Therefore, righteous Buddhism believes that the subject of the requiem is not monks and nuns but the family members of the dead. In the moment of death of a loved one, if the family knows how to bring the dying person's favorite things, make offerings to the Three Jewels, give alms to the poor, and make the dying person understand, it is doing merit to help them in reincarnation, it will have a great effect on the spirits of the dead. It is due to the induction of good karma thought that the dying person's mind is comforted so that the dead person's karmic consciousness is directed to the good realm. Doing that is not superstition, it is a good mind towards a good realm.
If, when a loved one has died, their descendants and relatives show great respect, organize offerings to the monks, give alms, do great deeds, and show filial piety urgently, then there may also be an impression that helps souls to be reborn in the good realm. However, the effect is not equal to working while the person is still alive. When a child or loved one is filial and sincere, like when Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva makes a vow of great compassion in order to save his mother, vowing that in order to save his mother, for eternity, he will save sentient beings from the sea of suffering. Based on the power of that great prayer, you can sympathize with the dead, and help the dead reduce or eliminate crimes. That is not superstition, but the sympathy of the great filial piety, of the great aspiration, making the mind and strength of the person praying to integrate and sympathize with the karma of the loved one in need of requiem. Both of them are clear in the same mind, thanks to that, the dead person is transcended.
Therefore, for righteous Buddhism, if children and relatives want to save the dead, they should do things like:
- Offering to the Three Jewels, giving to the poor,
It is not necessary to invite monks and nuns to chant sutras. When the monks and nuns are offered offerings, they only dedicate this work to the spirits but mainly pay attention to the benefactors. As monks and nuns chanting is their daily job during ceremonies, Chanting is a spiritual practice, the purpose of chanting is not to requiem the dead. Donors make offerings to the monks so that the monks can practice and achieve their goals, to maintain the Buddha's teachings in the world. Although Buddhism says chanting to requiem the dead, it's actually hoping that everyone knows how to chant. The reason you have to know how to chant is to see good or bad. What to do and what not to do. Only then will you practice good karma while you are still alive.
Just in case, you don't know how to chant or chant too little, ask the monks and nuns to chant for you. In fact, the function of monks and nuns is to maintain Buddhism in the world, to take the Buddha Dharma to save sentient beings, not to specialize in requiem work for the dead.
It must be known that the merit of chanting is due to faith in the Buddha's Dharma and practicing in accordance with the Buddha's teachings, so it is not only monks and nuns who chant sutras, and even more so when people die, they need to chant sutras. Furthermore, the best requiem period is within 49 days. That is the stage when the spirit waits to determine which realm to be born in.
The scriptures show that:
- While living, cultivating many good karmas is a person with great merit. When they die, they are reborn in the six Desire Realms, or those who practice samadhi with results, when they die, they are reborn in the heavens of Meditation.
- People with heavy negative karma, die, they will go to hell immediately.
As for the average person:
- That is, people who are evil also do evil while they are alive, but also practice good. At the time of death, it is not known whether there is much evil or much good, so they have to spend 49 days waiting for their fixed karma to decide where to be reborn.
If during this time, children and relatives know how to use merit to make offerings to the Three Jewels and give alms to the poor to dedicate to the dead, the dead person will be reborn through that merit and good karma and be reborn in heaven or human realm. If it takes after 49 days to organize a requiem, it can only increase the blessings of children, grandchildren, and relatives more, and the support for the dead is very little. So there was no way to affect their rebirth direction.
However, there are exceptions, in the case of a loved one being unjustly, tragically, or fatally killed. Due to unpaid wrongdoing, one can be born in the hungry ghost realm, and continue to ask for help from the living. Usually, people call it haunted. In this special case, it is necessary to pray, chant sutras, and preach the Dharma to the devil so that he can clearly see the direction of reincarnation. Thanks to the Buddha's power, the spirit can be reborn in a good realm. Buddhism often refers to the demon realm as the hungry ghost. So when feeding hungry ghosts, it is common to use secret dharmas such as reciting the food change mantra to produce a large amount of food to satisfy the hungry ghosts.
If you have any recommendations, please e-mail to: