Cremation [Is] Easiest [For] Handling [The] Body
[Of] cremation, [this] one method, when [in the] Táng [and] Sòng [Dynasties, with the] Buddha’s Dharma flourishing, [there were already] many householders using it. However, [there] should [be] following [of] common burial [nowadays (i.e. around 1940’s period in China)], fearing [that] those obstinately attached [to cultural ‘formalities’ might] give rise [to] criticism.
[Note 1: Cremation was already common in the Buddha’s time in India, and in the golden age of Buddhism in ancient China. However, due to cultural changes later, burial became more common. For the sake of family harmony, burial can be done. While burial is still slightly more preferred in China today, cremation is now more common in its large cities to save cost and space.]
[Note 2: This can be offered as final guidance (开示) before burial – ‘Let go of the useless body. Only be wholeheartedly mindful of the Buddha, until you see the Buddha, to follow the Buddha, to be reborn in his Pure Land, where there will only be ultimate bliss, with no more suffering! Āmítuófó…’ (放下没有用的身体。只要一心念佛，直到见佛，跟佛，往生到他那没有苦的极乐世界！阿弥陀佛… ) Then recite the Buddha’s name until burial is completed.]
Actually, burning it [i.e. the body] is easier [for its] obliteration, [with] passing seven [of] seven days [(ideally), is] burning [it] completely appropriate. [With] years of burial long, perhaps leading [to the] bones [being] revealed only.
[Note 3: To return the body to the elements without further need to rebury (or cremate) the possibly exposed remains later, direct cremation is the most efficient. Around 1940’s period in China, it was still possible to leave the body intact for forty-nine days before cremation, perhaps in rural areas. (Nowadays, depending on one’s location, burial or cremation usually has to be done within a few days.) This window period is in case the consciousness of the deceased is still attached to the body. To lessen this possibility, the guidance in Note 2 should be offered with support-chanting (助念) regularly.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (First Compilation): Reply Letter [To] Zhōu Mèngyóu’s Brothers;
Record [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence (204th Short Section): 4th [Chapter]: Discussion [On] Births’ [And] Deaths’ Great Matter: Third, Guidance [On When] Approaching [Life’s] End’s Definite Essentials (14th Short Section)
[Ref: #204 / 4.3.14]
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence