So-And-So, Quickly Escape! 某某,快跑!

dried flowers near a brown wooden coffin
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Where you are for now
is not as important
as where you are going to for good.

— Shilashanti (Part 1)

In popular Chinese (but non-Buddhist) culture, there is the unofficial custom of shouting at a coffin as it is pushed into a crematorium’s furnace. Words tearfully yelled are usually along the line of, ‘So-and-so, quickly escape!’ (某某,快跑!) The ‘rationale’ is that the consciousness of the deceased might still be attached to the body, thus with the potential of being ‘burnt alive.’

While the intention seems sensible, are these words necessary? Just as your hand will automatically by reflex be pulled away upon touching a hot stove, the consciousness will leave the body and coffin if either becomes very hot. Thus, leaving is not a problem, without need for reminding. The shouting might even come across as crude and shocking, creating a less than peaceful departure.

The reminder expresses concern, but offern no directions on where to go and how to get there. It is just sudden outpour of sorrow, that might spur great attachment to the survivors. Thus, there should be repeated offering of clear guidance (开示) to the dying and deceased, to ‘be sincerely mindful of Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛), till you see Āmítuófó, to follow Āmítuófó (念佛,见佛,跟佛) to his Pure Land (净土).

To transform the understandable attachment, someone should lead all sending off the deceased by saying aloud the line of guidance above, followed by everyone offering support-chanting (助念) with Āmítuófó’s name sincerely. There will thus be clear directions given. In case there is no rebirth in Pure Land yet, similar or more detailed guidance with support-chanting should be repeated at home for 49 days.

Also from Chinese culture, there is a preceding problem, that is the reverse of the ‘cremation shout.’ During encoffining, there is informing of the deceased, also in case the consciousness is still present, to ‘Enter the big house!’ (进大屋!) This is an instruction to stay within the coffin – but whatever for? What more, it is euphemism that the coffin is nice and big, which is not true at all. (There should also be ample guidance and support-chanting at the cemetary if there is burial later.)

If the consciousness does stay in the coffin at the wake, does this not lead to attachment to the body, till the very point of cremation? If there is no guidance and support to reach Pure Land swiftly, precious time would have been wasted. It is in the Pure Land that there will be truly spacious and magnificent palace halls (宫殿) and towering pavillions (楼阁) for lodging, that can even levitate to travel with ease. Thus, there should also be ample guidance and support-chanting at the wake.

After cremation, during housing of the urn in a columbarium, there is often the utterance again, to ‘Enter the big house!’ Again, this is disingenuous, with such a ‘house’ being much smaller than the coffin! What is the point of staying in the niche? The very suggestion to stay put or around is as if to wish the deceased to become a wandering spirit (游魂), which is an unfortunate state. There should thus be ample guidance and support-chanting at the niche too. Enter Āmítuófó’s immeasurably splendid Pure Land instead! It is where to ‘quickly escape’ to, for true freedom!

Thus, keep on going
towards where you are
supposed to get to.

— Shilashanti (Part 2)

Related Teachings:

What To Chant When Dying, After Death, During And After Wakes

《临终三大要》 原文·白话·详解
The Three Great Essentials When Approaching Death: Original, Simplified And Explanatory Text

Your Coffin, Urn, Tablet, House Is Not Your True Home

Verse On Good Mindfulness

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.