Should Those With Ashes Scattered Have Tablets?
Question: Is inland (or sea) ash-scattering a good idea for all?
Answer: The answer is not so straightforward. Do see https://purelanders.com/2021/01/27/is-inland-and-sea-ash-scattering-alright-for-all for the answer.
Question: If there is inland (or sea) ash-scattering for one, should there still be the person’s ancestral tablet?
Answer: The inland ash scattering gardens (in Singapore) do not allow setting up of ancestral tablets or any other forms of ‘markers’ where one’s ashes are scattered. If this is allowed, the gardens will effectively resemble graveyards, defeating the purpose of saving space by ‘recycling’ usage of the land for more ashes.
Within the actual inland ash scattering gardens, no religious practices, including verbal chanting is allowed. Only ‘simple rites’ are allowed at prayer facilities near but outside the gardens.
However, tablets can still be put up elsewhere, in a temple and/or at home. Do not be mistaken that the deceased’s consciousness will be ‘dissipated’ like the scattered ashes, to become ‘nothing’. This is an extreme wrong view (邪见) that is nihilistic (断见), as the consciousness will continue existing, for better or worse, with or without being helped.
Depending on the mindset of the deceased, he or she might be attached to his or her ashes (in the urn, garden or sea), body (in the casket or grave), tablet (with name and/or picture), or home etc. Tablets serve as commemorative ‘markers’, reminders of the deceased person’s departure. They are thus usually ‘centres’ or ‘hubs’, where most chanting and offerings are offered.
If the deceased when alive was (likely to be) attached to having a tablet, it is best to have one for him or her after death, lest there be unhappiness, leading to haunting and/or a lower rebirth. Even a photograph put up at home can serve as an ancestral ‘tablet’.
With or without a tablet, what most important is to offer adequate guidance (开示) and support-chanting (助念) at where the deceased is most likely to be attached to, for ensuring there is rebirth in Pure Land (净土), repeating them if needed for more peace of mind. The recommended sequence of prayers can be seen at https://purelanders.com/wake.
Is Inland (And Sea) Ash-Scattering Alright For All?
Chanting When Dying, After Death, During And After Wakes