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Question: For sea burial, is it better to scatter the ashes, which seems to express freedom, or to drop the ashes in the urn?

Answer: Scattering of ashes does not lead to freedom of the deceased, just as keeping ashes together does not lead to being trapped. What matters is the attitude of the deceased, more than the projected hope of the living in charge.

The scattering or storage of the remains (in an urn in the sea, or in an urn in a columbarium) should follow the deceased’s (likelier) preference when alive, out of respect, or it might lead to some unhappiness, if the consciousness is still around.

Whatever the choice, there should be clear and repeated guidance to not be attached to the remains and where they are, to sincerely and swiftly be mindful of Buddha’s name (Amituofo) until he is seen, for following him to his Pure Land. Survivors should not project their attachment to the remains too, to set a good example, even if they offer guidance and chanting before them.

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