Responsibility to the Dead: Remembering and Letting Go

Venue: The residence of Mrs Law Hwee Meng’s parents 
Special occasion: To commemorate the 49th day after the death of Mrs Law’s brother

We just chanted the Metta Sutta and the Mangala Sutta. The Metta Sutta is chanted for the well being, happiness and peace of all beings, far and near. The Mangala Sutta tells us what blessings are, such as associating with the wise, having respect for those worthy of respect, and showing gratitude.

We hope that Ah Loong who passed away 7 weeks ago, heard the suttas and is also well, happy and peaceful. We hope that he heard the blessings of the Mangala Sutta. One who has died and is not yet reborn can hear the suttas because the consciousness is still around. He can understand the suttas in any language because those in the spirit world have no language but communicate with the mind.

Letting Go

Attachment to someone as a result of long association is natural and understandable. However, attachments, such as on the part of the living for the dead and vice versa, do not benefit anyone. Instead, it causes and prolongs suffering. The coming and going of something is what impermanence is all about. It is the way of the world and we have to accept it. I hope Ah Loong and his family members understand this and are able to let go of this attachment. Both parties have to let go. If not, his consciousness will continue to wander and prevent his rebirth.

Difference between attachment and love

Real love has no attachments and asks for nothing in return. It is unconditional and accepts whatever one does — good deeds, bad deeds, coming and going. Love is good; attachment is not. Attachment brings suffering whereas loving-kindness brings happiness. We must differentiate between the two.

Remembering the Dead 

The purpose of today’s dana is to transfer merits to the deceased. You’ve performed a number of meritorious deeds today. You’ve taken refuge in the Triple Gem, taken the 5 Precepts and offered food to the Sangha. We have given and listened to a Dhamma talk and chanted. If Ah Loong rejoices in these deeds, he will receive all the merits transferred to him. I hope he receives these merits and goes to a better place. Today’s dana is one way of fulfilling one of the responsibilities of the living towards the dead.

Transference of merits to the dead

This responsibility is expounded in the Tirokutta Sutta which tells of dead relatives coming back to the house when the living relatives are giving dana.

These departed relatives stand at the door, but because of previous bad kamma, no one remembers them. Those with compassion will offer good food to their dead relatives who will come and in return wish for a long and happy life for the living. The dead depends on the living for sustenance. This sutta likens these offerings for the dead to water flowing down a river. In the same way, the offerings will flow down to the dead. Considering the good deeds done for the living by the deceased while he was alive, the living should make offerings for his benefit. Lamentation, on the other hand, is no help to the dead. Offerings may include offerings to the Sangha, which give strength to the Sangha and bring the highest and lasting merits to the giver, according to the Buddha.

So, with this talk, I hope both the living and the departed would know what is of use and what is not, and would know what to do for the benefit of all.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top