5. Cremation

Generally in many Eastern traditions, cremation is the way

of disposing of the corpse. In Tibetan Buddhism, there are also

specific practices for cremation. The crematorium or funeral

pyre is visualized as the mandala of Vajrasattva, or the Hundred

Peaceful and Wrathful Deities, and the deities are

strongly visualized and their presence is invoked. The dead

person's corpse is seen as actually representing all his or her

negative karma and obscurations. As the corpse burns, these

are consumed by the deities as a great feast and transmuted

and transformed by them into their wisdom nature. Rays of

light are imagined streaming out from the deities; the corpse is

visualized dissolving completely into light, as all the impurities

of the dead person are purified in the blazing flames of wisdom.

As you visualize this, you can recite the hundred-syllable

or six-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva. This simple practice for a

cremation was transmitted and inspired by Dudjom Rinpoche

and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

The ashes of the body, and the tsenjang, can then be mixed

with clay to make little images called tsatsa. These are blessed

and dedicated on behalf of the dead person, so creating auspicious

conditions for a future good rebirth.

6. The Weekly Practices

In a Tibetan environment practices and rituals happen regularly

every seventh day after death, or if the family can afford it,

for each of the forty-nine days. Monks are invited to do practice,

especially the Lamas who are close to the family and had a

link with the dead person. Lights are offered and prayers said

continuously, especially until the time the body is taken out of

the house. Offerings are made to masters and to shrines, and

alms are given to the poor in the name of the dead person.

These "weekly" practices on behalf of the dead person are

considered essential, since the mental body in the bardo of

becoming undergoes every week, on the same day, the experience

of death. If the dead person has enough merit as a result

of positive actions in the past, then the benefit of these practices

can give him or her the impetus to transfer to a pure

realm. Strictly speaking, if a person passed away on a Wednesday

before noon, the first week's practice day would fall on

the following Tuesday. If the person died after noon, it would

fall on the following Wednesday.

Tibetans regard the fourth week after death as especially

significant, because some say that most ordinary beings do not

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