What Should We Do If Missing Departed Ones? 想念亡者该如何?

What Should We Do If Missing Departed Ones?

Question: What should we do when we miss loved ones who have departed?

Answer: Sincere mindfulness of the Buddha’s name (念佛) and dedication (回向) of the meritorious virtues (功德) from doing so to the departed should be practised. (Mere pining in sadness will not be healthy or fruitful for oneself and the departed if they are aware of this.)

If departure was recent, such as within 49 days, there should be guidance (开示) offered first. More can be done too, according to the sequence recommended at https://purelanders.com/wake. This is effectively support-chanting (助念).

[1] Rebirth In Pure Land: If the departed have reached Pure Land (净土) already, with clear auspicious signs (瑞相), all the more should one practise mindfulness of Buddha and dedication, for one’s own reaching of Pure Land in good time. This is how the loved ones can be met there.

[2] Rebirth With Uncertainty: If there is uncertainty of where the departed are now, mindfulness of Buddha and dedication is still key due to the three reasons below.

[i] No Rebirth Yet: In case there is no rebirth yet (e.g. due to signs of haunting), all the more should there be guidance, mindfulness of Buddha and dedication – to facilitate birth in the best place possible (i.e. Pure Land) soon, for meeting there later. (It is not physically and spiritually healthy for humans to dwell with those in the bardo state [中阴身] and those as wandering spirits [孤魂野鬼].)

[ii] Rebirth In Lower Realm: In case there is rebirth in a lower realm, the meritorious virtues dedicated can alleviate suffering and facilitate a better rebirth in a higher realm sooner. Hopefully, with more meritorious virtues received, prior karmic affinity with Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛), if any, will ripen soon, with them giving rise to the Three Provisions (三资粮) of Faith, Aspiration and Practice (信愿行) to reach Pure Land (https://purelanders.com/2018/02/08/the-three-provisions), where they can be met later.

[iii] Rebirth In Higher (Or This) Realm: In case there is rebirth in a higher realm, that is not Pure Land, such as in a heaven, (or here), if there is spiritual complacency, the existing good karma sustaining life there (or here) can be depleted. Meritorious virtues from mindfulness of Buddha dedicated can prevent this (to some extent). Hopefully, prior karmic affinity with Āmítuófó, if any, will ripen soon, with them giving rise to the Three Provisions to reach Pure Land, where they can be met later.

Note that for all these cases, there is dedication for oneself and departed ones to all reach Pure Land. This is the most constructive practice and goal to have because in the Pure Land, all past lives and relationships will be remembered. Thus, it is where all can meaningfully recognise and reunite with one another.

If one reaches Pure Land, with others concerned not there, or yet to be there, one can still reach out to them as skilful Bodhisattvas (菩萨) after training, to guide them to Pure Land, where there can be meaningful reunion. Thus to summarise, for answering the question, for handling all possibilities, mindfulness of Buddha and dedication is key. Knowing that one is doing what is best for one another already, this practice will also give rise to peace of mind, to overcome grief.

Related Articles:

How To Know If The Deceased Has Reached Pure Land
(How To Seek Advice For Difficult Decisions?)
15 Auspicious Signs
15 种瑞相

Must There Be A Specific Auspicious Sign To Know The Departed Is Born In Pure Land?

How To Have The Ultimately Blissful Reunion?

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