English Section

      Buddhism Today 

Vietnamese Section


...... ... .  . .  .  .
Highest gift to the departed ones
Colonel. F. S. Kasturiarachchi

Kandy -- If you want to honour and help your departed ones, then do some meritorious deeds in their name and transfer the merits to them.

According to Buddhism good deeds bring happiness to the doer both in this world and in the here after.

Good deeds or acts of merit can be performed through body, speech or mind. Every good deed produces merit which accumulates to the credit of the doer. Buddhism teaches that the acquired merit can be transferred to either living or departed ones. The method of transferring merit is quite simple. First some good deeds are performed. The doer of the good deeds has merely to wish that the merit he has gained accrues to someone in particular or to all beings.

This wish can be purely mental or it can be accompanied by an statement of words.

To transfer merit to the departed does not mean that a person is deprived of the merit he has originally acquired by his good deed. According to Buddhism the greatest gift one can confer on the departed ones is to perform "Acts of Merit" and to transfer these merits acquired.

The Buddha encouraged those who did good deeds such as offering alms to the holy men to transfer the merits which they received to their departed ones. Alms should be given in memory of the departed ones by recalling to the mind the good things the departed one did when he/she was alive.

Those who did not harm others and lived a wholesome virtuous self respecting life will certainly have the chance to be reborn in a happy place. Such persons do not require the help of living family members and relatives.

However, those who have no chance to be reborn in a happy abode are always waiting to receive merit from their family members and relatives to offset their deficiency and to enable them to be born in a happy abode.

The dead are always remembered when any good deed is done, and more on occasions connected with their lives, such as their birth or death anniversaries.

On such occasions, there is a ritual which is generally practised. The transferrer pours water from a jug or other similar vessal into a receptacle, while repeating a pali formula which is translated as follows:

As rivers, when full must flow
and reach and fill the distant main,
So indeed what is given here will
reach and bless the spirits there.
As water poured on moutain
top must
soon descend and fill the plain
So indeed what is given
here will reach
and bless the spirits there.

Some people are simply wasting time and money on meaningless ceremonies and performances in memory of departed ones by building big grave yards, tombs and other paraphernalia, nor is it possible to help the departed by slaughtering animals and offering them along with other kinds of food.

The only way to help the departed ones is to do some meritorious deeds in a religious way in memory of them. The meritorious deeds include such acts as giving alms to others, and assist in building schools, temples, orphanages, hospitals and printing religious books for free distribution and similar charitable deeds. While others pray to god for the departed ones, Buddhists radiate their loving kindness directly to them.

By doing meritorious deeds they can transfer the merits to their beloved ones for their well being.

This is the best way of remembering and giving real honour to and perpetuating the names of the departed ones. It is, therefore, the duty of family members and relatives to remember their departed ones by transferring merit and by radiating loving kindness directly to them.

These good deeds should be performed with due respect to the departed ones and under a sober and religious atmosphere.


Updated: 2-8-2001

Return to "Buddhist Culture"

Top of Page