Buddhism on Death & Dying Part 4: Practices for the Deceased

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Practices for the Deceased

After the death Vajrasattva mantras can be done for the deceased.

If possible, Lamas can be asked to perform the rituals such as Shitro practices for the deceased. This can be done immediately after someone dies but Buddhists also continue this for a forty-nine day period after the death.

Family and friends can continue say prayers every day during that period for the deceased.

Tibetan Buddhism understands the post-death state as being a perilous one for many people since it is shocking and confusing to have died. Without the stability of the physical body, the body of mind is all that is left, with all its habits which are now amplified. So if there is the habit of fear or anger those states would dominate. This is why training the mind during one’s life is important. This is also why Tibetan Buddhists believe that our loved ones can offer great help. By offering prayers, mantras and other practices at this time, it helps to comfort and guide the deceased through their passing, through the post-death state, into a state of greater peace and clarity. The Vajrasattva mantra can be recited every day for forty-nine days after the person has died.

Buddhist tradition also has the family of the loved also make charitable donations, offerings of generosity in the name of the deceased to help accumulate positive momentum, “merit’ for the deceased to help them in their transition and future lives. Also, practically speaking, such actions of generosity bring a positive experience into the grieving period which can help the family in their healing process.

The most important thing is at least, whatever actions supports loving compassion and harmony at this time. Or ideally to have practices and prayers be done to help generate states of love, compassion, confidence and peace.

Here is a link to arrange for a Buddhist Lama to do the death rites for your loved ones.

Here are the Links to the series Below.

Also related- the prayer we read to those dying. Although it requires some training and transmission, reading about it can be beneficial to help understand what important learning could happen during the period before death.

Pema Khandro
Pema Khandro is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, humanitarian, and teacher in the rare lineage of Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis. Raised in the west, ordained in the Nyingma lineage, enthroned as a tulku and trained as an academic, Pema Khandro presents both a traditional perspective and a modern voice. Read more at: https://www.pemakhandro.org/pema-khandro-extended-biography/