Question: After a friend’s Aunt’s ashes were scattered into the sea, he dreamt of her saying she is cold. Why is this so?
Answer: There are three possibilities.
 His Aunt, when alive and after death, was attached to the misconception that her consciousness should follow her remains. Thus, when her ashes were scattered into the sea, she followed them.
 He is attached to the same misconception, thus having the dream that plays out his own attachment. He might have gotten this wrong idea from hearing others having such dreams too.
 Both the above.
Question: What should be done?
Answer: If he feels that the dream is likely to be genuine, there should be recitation of the below at home and/or where the ashes were scattered: https://purelanders.com/wake. This is to offer guidance (开示) and support-chanting (助念) to the deceased, to encourage mindfulness of Buddha (念佛), so as to attain the best rebirth in his Pure Land (净土). Otherwise, the deceased might become a wandering spirit (孤魂野鬼) with much suffering.
Question: How do we decide if ashes of the deceased should be scattered into the sea or placed elsewhere, such as in a temple’s columbarium?
Answer: Before death, all should be aware of the teachings here, including those in the links above and below, to understand why there should not be attachment to one’s remains, and how to be mindful of the Buddha to reach his Pure Land. With this knowledge put in practice in everyday life, he or she should not be attached to his or her remains, wherever they are.
Even those whose remains are placed in a temple might lack this knowledge and practice, thus becoming wandering spirits too. Thus, the recommended recitation practice should be done at temples too. If the deceased was not aware of the above before death, it is ‘safer’ to place the ashes in a proper Buddhist columbarium.
It is best to master the teachings at https://purelanders.com/now with attending of the companion course ‘Destination Pureland‘ for learning more details. What should ‘go viral’ is this set of teachings; not the misconception that those whose ashes are scattered into the sea ‘will’ become wet and cold. Not only does this reinforce the misconception that one should be attached to one’s remains, it also does not offer a clear path to the best rebirth at all.
With the deceased and survivors understanding and practising properly, not only will there be no disturbing dreams, there might be auspicious signs (瑞相) of reaching Pure Land.
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