Letters

Is It Advisable For Buddhists To Burn Paper Offerings For The Deceased? 佛教徒该为亡者烧纸扎供品吗?

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Question: Is it alright for a Buddhist wake to have burning of paper offerings?

Answer: Unless it is an absolute ‘must’ to appease those who insist, this should be avoided. And if done, only a little should be burnt.

Question: Why is it discouraged?

Answer: According to ‘The Pure Land Passport’《净土护照》in the section on ‘Important Guidlines: [3] After Dying’,

[23] No Paper Burning: There should be no burning of paper offerings… as this can… confuse (痴) the person into thinking the offerings can be gotten, giving rise to attachment (贪) due to anticipation, and aversion (嗔) when not received

[24] Dreams: If the deceased used to stubbornly believe in the need of paper offerings, to give peace of mind, a little can be burnt to prove it is pointless.

Likewise can be done if there are requests for paper offerings in dreams, though these might arise in the minds of family members due to their own attachment to such offerings.

Whether real or not, the deceased who appears in dreams should be guided to Niànfó (念佛: be mindful of Āmítuófó’s name: 阿弥陀佛) sincerely to swiftly reach his Pure Land (净土).

Answer: Buddhists wakes are ideally for offering guidance (开示) and support-chanting (助念) to facilitate the deceased’s reaching of Āmítuófó’s Pure Land. Practices for doing so can be seen at https://purelanders.com/wake.

Since this mission is clear, it is important to stay focused, to not compromise and confuse by sending mixed signals. For those who do not understand, this article should be shared.

In the worst-case scenario, with the presence of paper offerings like a house, ‘money’ and such at the wake, the deceased might become keen on receiving them, thus not being sincere in practising mindfulness of Āmítuófó’. Not only will the offerings not be received, the Pure Land will not be reached too, becoming a wandering spirit instead. This is a lose-lose situation, hazardous to the next life of the deceased.

If there is regular guidance and support-chanting offered sincerely, and if the deceased likewise gives rise to sincere mindfulness of Buddha, not only will the Pure Land be reached, the amenities attained there will be supreme and pure in nature, transcending those worldly ones hoped for. This is a win-win situation, beneficial to the deceased, and even the survivors who faciliated this.

Related Article:

死亡前后与丧礼中后的诵念
What To Chant When Dying, After Death, During And After Wakes
https://purelanders.com/wake

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