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tibetian bhuddism ashes water

Tibetan Buddhist thinking may not favour water burials for ashes

I have often thought that the more you read the less you really know, this I often feel when considering the stances of the various world religions and subdivisions thereof.

Tibetan Bhuddiam has a slightly different take on many aspects of doctrine compared to other forms of Buddhism. Mr Khenpo Karma Tharchin Rinpoche, a senior lama of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism was asked about whether it was a good idea to scatter ashes over water.

He appears to be of the opinion that this may not necessarily be the best course of a action, principally due to the welfare of the decedents: firstly there is no evident dharmic (cosmic law and order) reason for this for a water burial, but there is another reason too (the main reason).

Now I am going to try and explain what I think the rationale is in a way that makes sense to us more familiar to western ways of thinking. After death the consciousness of a person moves on for rebirth what remains is called a persons ‘la’* (you may choose to describe this as spirit – but it is not consciousness or soul or mind). This is the spirit of your ancestral line. I am gong to embarrass myself here, the closest I can get to this understanding at present is the dragon in the Disney cartoon Mulan – I know I know hardy high brow, but I was watching it with the kids the other day and blurted out ‘Oh right, that’s the family spirit’, this received concerned stares form my offspring but nothing more. Anyway I digress, these spirits inhabit the burial site of the body or ashes, so it stand to reason they don’t want to anywhere awful.

Therefore if the body is interred in a lovely place with excellent feng shui, then this will nourish this spirit. If the family’s spirit is nourished, the descendants of that person will benefit because the spirit will add its strength to those alive, on the other hand if it is in a bad place then the spirit will become weak and this may manifest itself in bad luck, illness or general mishaps. Therefore a columbarium where all things can be ‘just so’ maybe the best option and a water burial may not…

* I am sense that when you are in Liverpool and local addresses you with the phrase ‘Alright La!’ that he or she is likely to addressing you, as opposed to a cosmic denizen sitting on your shoulder… but you never know, so next time swivel quickly just to check.


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