At some point in our existence we all find ourselves confronted with the painful reality of death. Whether it be the death of a family member, a loved one or eventually our own, we have no way of escaping it.
According to the Buddha's teachings, what one does with the body of a dead person should depend on that person's wishes. It is important to respect the wishes of the deceased as a matter of moral and spiritual obligation.
Everyone has the possibility to choose between burial and cremation. In both cases rituals exist to guide the deceased's consciousness and to act as a support for family and friends.
As far as cremation is concerned, French laws are very precise on this subject. It may only take place in certain authorised establishments, called communal crematoriums. Afterwards the ashes may be deposited in a place designated by the deceased person, as opposed to public cemeteries which may not be the favoured choice.
The Karma Tarchin Lhundrup Buddhist monastic congregation has an area put aside prepared for this purpose - the Remembrance Garden, situated within the grounds of Dhagpo Kundreul Ling itself.
The Remembrance garden is an area of contemplation and prayer consisting of several funerary edifices (tsakangs) in which it is possible to conserve the ashes of the deceased in conditions in keeping with the Buddhist tradition. The garden and its stupas act both as a "support for the enlightenment" of the deceased person and a source of comfort for bereaved families.
The Funeral Rituals
When someone dies the family gives us the person's name and a photograph which are passed on to the various retreat centres and the monastic hermitages of Le Bost and Laussedat. In this way wishing prayers are carried out every day to ensure that the deceased person's mind moves on in a positive direction without hindrance.
On the day of the cremation, if the deceased so desired, one or several lamas may be able to come and make wishing prayers at the crematorium (or the cemetery in the case of a burial), according to the lamas' availability.
On the tenth day of each month of the lunar calendar the practitioners in the retreat centres and the lamas and druplas of the monastic hermitages perform the Dorje Sempa ritual. This includes the 'Nelung' ritual for the deceased as well as an offering feast.
The purpose of this ritual is to allow the deceased person's mind to be guided in the correct manner without any emotional disturbances. This is the reason why the ceremony is not accessible to the public. It is carried out uniquely by lamas and druplas.
After this ceremony the ashes are placed in the tsakang, for an unlimited period.
It is possible for the bereaved families to come and make offerings (flowers, light, incense) in the temple, in front of the Buddha's shrine for their deceased loved one, whenever they wish.
Who can access to this tradition ?
This tradition is available to everyone, whether Buddhist or not and whatever race, culture or religion one may belong to. One simply must make one's preferences. This can be done with a solicitor, or by leaving written instructions for one's family, after having explained the reasons for one's choice since the family may not necessarily share one's convictions. A family discussion about each person's choice of funeral can allow individuals to prepare themselves psychologically and helps to avoid excessive suffering and complication at the time of death.
There is no need to reserve a place in the tsakang during one's lifetime since there will always be a possibility to leave one's ashes there when the moment arrives.
How does one go about depositing the ashes ?
Once the deceased person has been cremated, his or her direct heirs must arrange an appointment with one of the Remembrance garden's managers. This is necessary in order to deposit the funeral urn, to settle the administrative aspects of handing it over and to ensure that it was the genuine wish of the person concerned to be placed there.
What are the costs involved ?
The existence of the Remembrance garden (and indeed all of the community's projects) relies upon donations which are given to us by benefactors and the families of the deceased.
These donations allow the community to carry out the construction and maintenance of the funerary edifices, the preparation and upkeep of their surrounding environment and the relevant rituals and offerings.
For further information, please contact the Remembrance Garden's managers at :
Centre bouddhiste Dhagpo Kundreul Ling
Le Bost - BP1, F-63640 Biollet,
Tél : 04.73.52.24.34 - Fax : 04.73.52.24.36