Question: Are websites for virtual commemoration of the deceased a good idea?
Answer: It depends on what you wish to have. If you just want an online memorial of sorts, they are alright. However, if such sites charge fees, they might be a quick way to make easy money, while doing nothing practically useful for the deceased. Many of such sites are not unlike Facebook pages in function, allowing uploading of pictures and comments. If so, one might as well create a free Facebook page.While some memorial sites have virtual offering functions, these ‘offerings’ are not real at all. Who needs computer animated flickering candles and fake flowers? These sites offer no power of guidance or merits at all – unless they do remind and encourage you to offer these powers ‘live’. Nothing done online connects to the deceased in reality, even while they offer ways to express some sense of devotion.
Q: What should be done on memorial days (such as Ullambana and Qingming Days) then?
A: The crucial offerings to the deceased are always the power of guidance and merits. It is better to practise Nianjing (chanting of Amituojing; Amitabha Sutra) to offer guidance for the deceased (if they are still around) and create merits (for dedicating to them), and Nianfo (chanting the name of Amituofo; Amitabha Buddha) to show the practice needed to reach Amituofo’s Pure Land. (Details can be seen at http://purelanders.com/2013/
11/07/how-to-share-the-power- of-merits-guidance)You can also contribute to Dharma (and general) charities in cash (e.g. for proper animal liberation and printing of Dharma books), kind and effort, to create merits in the name of the deceased. (Details can be seen at http://purelanders.com/2012/ 06/25/general-buddhist-pure-la nd-practices-during-qing-ming- ullambana)