What To Do When Passing Wakes?
Questions: When walking or driving, should we avoid passing by wakes to avert ‘bad luck’? If not, what should be done?
Answer: If there is ‘bad luck’ simply by being near wakes, funeral service providers are surely with immense misfortune. Of course, this is not true, or there would be no service providers at all. If there is respectfulness, why should there be any ill consequences?
There is a common superstition that the ‘spirit’ of the deceased might follow one home, but if one is a stranger with little or no affinity, not attached to, why should this happen? What more, when there is sincere mindfulness of the Buddha’s name (Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛), there is instant protection against any spirits with ill intentions, at the wake, before and after.
The best thing to do then, when passing by, is to sincerely, be it verbally or mentally, offer a clear and short line of guidance (开示), followed by brief support-chanting (助念) – ‘Be wholeheartedly mindful of the Buddha, to see the Buddha, follow the Buddha, and be born in his Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss. Āmítuófó, Āmítuófó, Āmítuófó…’ (一心念佛，见佛跟佛，生极乐国。阿弥陀佛，阿弥陀佛，阿弥陀佛… ) The Buddha’s name should be recited until the wake is out of sight. If reciting verbally, it should be discreet, to not disturb others who might not understand.
[Further Usages: (i) If in charge of a wake, these words can be put up near the casket as a poster (as below) to remind the deceased too. (ii) These words can also be recited (softly) when visiting a wake formally while paying respects. (iii) When encountering what could be the presence of unseen being(s) on any other occasion, this can be recited too.]
Whether the instructions are followed by those listening and reading our minds or not, doing the above will create meritorious virtues (功德) for benefitting any unseen being(s) present. This is surely better than just walking by fretfully, while imagining the unfounded, which is totally unhelpful to everyone.
If in charge of a wake, there should be following of the full instructions at https://purelanders.com/wake.