Question: Why do some carry urns with umbrellas? Is the consciousness of the deceased afraid of sunlight?
Answer: There is the belief of so by some. However, the point is that there should have been plenty of encouragement of the deceased to practise Nianfo sincerely to go to Pure Land already. We should not reinforce the wrong idea that the deceased should stay in or near their remains.
Q: Why is there this practice of scattering ashes of the deceased into the sea?
A: It is frankly, just a way to ‘rid’ the remains in an openly natural way, such that they can no longer be traced, and need not be cared for any more. More ‘romantically’, it can be seen as return to the elements, although ashes do not exactly come from the water. Scattering of the ashes does not mean the deceased will definitely become ‘liberated’ or be able to go wherever pleased.
Q: If so, why not scatter the ashes on land, in forested areas or buried in the mountains?
A: If legal where you are, this can be done too, but it would be scary if you leave the big bones you mentioned lying around in a makeshift shallow grave, to be discovered by some animal or human trekker!
Q: What are other ways to handle the ashes?
A: They can be put From http://purelanders.com/2015/12/30/important-guidelines-3-after-dying-pure-land-passport-section-4c: ‘If the deceased did not like sea burial, and preferred the urn to be kept in a certain place, for peace of mind, it should be kept there (e.g. in a temple’s columbarium or at home). However, upon storing the urn, there should be reminder to the deceased, who might still be around, to not be attached to the urn or its location. As there will be rebirth eventually and possibly suddenly due to the law of karma, he or she should continue to Niànfó sincerely, to be reborn in Pure Land swiftly.’
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