Illuminating Sunshine: Buddhist funeral rituals of Avalokiteśvara by Martin Boord (Rig-‘dzin rdo-rje)

Apart from the prayers stemming from the well-known Tibetan Book of the Dead, there is a remarkable lack of ritual material available in the Western world for those who wish to perform a Buddhist funeral.

This gap has now been filled with this publication from Wandel Verlag, from September, 16th, 2012:

According to our author Padma ‘phrin-las (1641-1718), disciple of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and fourth incarnation of the gter-ston Rig-‘dzin rgod-ldem, there are three main stages in the care of those who have come to the end of their lives.  These consist of facilitating the transference of consciousness (’pho ba) at the moment of death, performing postmortem rituals in order to guide the deceased along pathways of escape from the six modes of unhappy rebirth in saṁsāra, and cremating the corpse with due dignity. Associated rites include prayers of good wishes for the deceased to be reborn in the pureland of Amitābha’s Blissful Paradise (Sukhāvatī), and the casting of small votive images (tsha tsha) from any fragments of bone that may remain after the cremation has been completed.   Taken as a whole, such rites are designed to ensure that the good karma of the deceased is used to maximum effect so that he or she may be liberated from bondage to an endless cycle of confusion and pain, obtaining instead the three kāya of an awakened being.

All the relevant texts have been gathered together in the present volume, which thus contains a full set of instructions for those who find themselves called upon to care for the Buddhist dead.  Together with the Tibetan texts and English translations, this book contains transliterated prayers that may be chanted with greater ease on such solemn occasions, with full explanations of how to perform a full Buddhist funeral ceremony, by either burial or cremation.

May this work bring happiness and comfort to the living, as well as blissful liberation to the deceased!

Of immense practical value, this book must surely find a place in the library of every Buddhist centre and private home in the land.  As it has been wisely said, one never knows which will come first: tomorrow morning or the next life.  These prayers, therefore, should be kept close at hand at all times as a powerful blessing for the living and the dead.


A Cloudburst of Blessings.  On p. 231, the final line of the verse that begins “HŪṀ This is the deity Amṛtakuṇḍalin …”  should read: “ Now you receive the empowerment of control over all your karma.”

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