Buddhist Prayer for the Deceased from the Bardo Thodol
In light of recent tragedies I would like to honor the dead of all of these tragedies worldwide and share a few things from the Buddhist tradition that could be useful to those who are grieving as well as to those who want to help from afar.
King Milinda asked: “When someone is reborn, Venerable Nagasena, is he the same as the one who just died, or is he another?”
He replied: “He is neither the same nor another.”
“Give me an illustration!”
“What do you think, Great King? When you were a tiny infant, newly born and quite soft, were you then the same as the one who is now grown up?”
“No, that infant was one, I, now grown up, am another.”
“If that is so, then, Great King, you have had no mother, no father, no reaching, no schooling! Do we then take it that there is one mother for the embryo in the first stage, another for the second stage, another for the third, another for the fourth, another for the baby, another for the grown-up man? Is the school-boy one person, and the one who has finished school another? Does one commit a crime, but the hands and feet of another are cut off?”
“Certainly not! But what would you say, Reverend Sir, to all that?”
The elder replied: “I was neither the tiny infant, newly born and quite soft, nor am I now the grown-up man; but all these are comprised in one unit depending on this very body.”
“Give me a simile!”
“If a man were to light a lamp, could it give light throughout the whole night?”
“Yes, it could.”
“Is now the flame which burns in the first watch of the night the same as the one which burns in the second?”
“It is not the same.”
“Or is the flame which burns in the second watch the same as the one which burns in the last one?”
“It is not the same.”
“Do we then take it that there is one lamp in the first watch of the night, another in the second, and another again in the third?”
“No, it is just because of the light of the lamp shines throughout the night.”
Buddhist monk from “The Questions of King Milinda“
In light of recent tragedies both man-made and natural, I thought I would try to be helpful and maybe offer something from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition
I see so many people putting up special Facebook profiles, offering their “thoughts” and “condolences” which sound nice and is done with the best of intentions, but that doesn’t really help the person experiencing the suffering. There are so many good people out there who feel helpless and are trying to comfort others using social media but feel like they are not really being heard and sometimes such words and phrases like “I’m sorry” become cliche and lose their meaning.
Then I remembered a lecture I listened to recently by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Robert Thurman in which he talked about the Nepal earthquakes and guides us through a reading from the Bardo Thodol (The Great Book of Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between) which will help to guide the deceased toward a favorable outcome in the Between. Or you could simply view it in the terms of your faith that you already are a part of. To sum up we can say that it helps their souls find their way to a better place.
This is something anyone can do to benefit those who have passed as a result of any tragedy or natural disaster, so I encourage you to listen by clicking below. a Buddhist prayer the Six Between “states” (or Bardo in Tibetan).
May we attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings!!!