[202] Funerals Should Be Completely Vegetarian, With Guidance And Mindfulness Of Buddha 丧礼全素,开示念佛

[202] Funerals [Should Be] Completely Veg[etari]an, [With] Guidance [And] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha


As for funeral rituals, all should use veg[etari]an [food], not according [to] ‘customs’ transforming [this].

[Note 1: All food offered to the Buddha, the deceased, family members and visitors should not contain animal products (of meat and other animal by-products), the five pungent roots (of garlic, leek, onion, chive and asafoetida) and alcohol.

This is so as offering and eating animal products create evil karma, as they arise from killing and exploitation. The roots spur lust when eaten cooked and anger when eaten raw. Alcohol can cause intoxication leading to breaking of more precepts with loss of mindfulness.]

[Note 2: While offering (and eating) of the above will create evil karma in the name of the deceased, possibly leading to a less fortunate rebirth, offering (and eating) of veg[etari]an food will create meritorious virtues (功德) for him or her. This is so as all the food is made available due to the occasion being his or her funeral.]

[Note 3: As taught by Earth Treasury [Kṣitigarbha] Bodhisattva (地藏菩萨) in Earth Treasury Sūtra’s《地藏经》Chapter Seven [On] Benefitting [The] Living [And] Deceased (利益存亡品第七):

如是罪业众生,命终之后,眷属骨肉,为修营斋,资助业道,未斋食竟,及营斋之次,米泔菜叶,不弃于地,乃至诸食未献佛僧,勿得先食。如有违食及不精勤,是命终人,了不得力。如精勤护净奉献佛僧,是命终人,七分获一。是故… 阎浮众生,若能为其父母乃至眷属,命终之后,设斋供养,志心勤恳,如是之人,存亡获利。

[Of] such karmically transgressive sentient beings, after their lives end, [their] family members [and] kin, [should] for [them] cultivate managing [of] veg[etari]an [offerings, to] provide support [of their] karmic paths. [When] yet [to have] veg[etari]an [offerings] eaten completely, and [when] next [with] managing of veg[etari]an [offerings’ (leftovers)], rice slops [and] vegetable leaves, [should] not [be] thrown on [the] ground [i.e. be wasted]. And even [with] all food yet [to be] dedicated [to the] Buddha [and] Saṃgha, [there] must not [be] first eating [them] [i.e. to express reverence]. If [there] are [those with] violative eating and [those] not diligent, [for] these persons [with] lives ended, [this] completely [does] not attain [meritorious virtues’] power. If diligently protecting purely, dedicated [to the] Buddha [and] Saṃgha, [for] these persons [with] lives ended, [of] seven parts [of the meritorious virtues created, they will] obtain one [i.e. with the other six parts belonging to those making the offerings]. Therefore… Jambudvīpa sentient beings, if able [to], for their fathers [and] mothers, and even family members, after their lives end, establish veg[etari]an offerings, [with] aspiring minds diligent [and] sincere, [because] of such persons, [the] living [and] deceased [will] obtain benefits.

For more details on this excerpt, see For more on the Buddhist practise of consuming (and offering the kindness diet, see]


Even if those [who do] not know [the] current task [at hand] say [this] as ‘unreasonable’, also allow their ridiculing only.

[Note 4: If there are those open to reason, the rationale of the food offerings should be shared, for educating them. For those unreasonable, let them be, so as to not create further conflict during the funeral with distracting arguments.]


Of funeral [and] burial practices, [there] must not [be] overly doing arrangements [with] plans [and] preparations.

[Note 5: If there is much of the lavish and costly done for showing off, with pretensions of being ‘filial’, this is not only a waste of efforts and money, it creates evil karma as it distracts from focus on doing more of the most appropriate, which is the offering of guidance (开示) and support-chanting (助念) with the Buddha’s name (Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛). The guidance is for introducing and reminding the deceased on why there should be sincere mindfulness of the Buddha’s name for reaching his Pure Land (净土). Excess money should be spent on doing good works in the name of the deceased, so as to create more meritorious virtues on his or her behalf.]


[When] doing Buddhist practices [as funeral rituals], [there] only can [be] mindfulness [of the] Buddha[‘s name: Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛)], not doing other Buddhist practices.

[Note 6: Repeated offering of concise guidance followed by much support-chanting will be adequate for guiding the deceased to have the best rebirth possible. All other practices, even if good as they create meritorious virtues, might distract the deceased from focusing on sincere mindfulness of the Buddha’s name for reaching his Pure Land in time, before karma might suddenly ripen to force rebirth to elsewhere. With more meritorious virtues but no connection to the Buddha, this at most leads to a good rebirth in the human or heavenly path, still in the cycle of birth and death; not to a pure rebirth in Pure Land, which is liberated from this cycle.]


Furthermore, [if] enabling [your] whole family [to] all [be] earnestly mindful [of the] Buddha, then for your [departed] mother, for you [and] all [your] family members, relatives and friends, all [will] have true benefits.

[Note 7: As mindfulness of the Buddha together creates much meritorious virtues and connection to the Buddha, for both the deceased and living, all will be benefitted greatly, now and in the future.]

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 (202nd Short Section): 4th [Chapter]: Discussion [On] Births’ [And] Deaths’ Great Matter: Third, Guidance [On When] Approaching [Life’s] End’s Definite Essentials (12th Short Section)
[Ref: #202 / 4.3.12]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Related Text:

Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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