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Thread: Those final things

  1. #1

    Those final things

    I don't wish to bring everyone down with this question, but it has come up recently in several discussions and I would like to know how folks feel and/or believe about it here. I'm speaking about "those final things" that need to be done about us; that we may let others know we prefer to have done when we die, or which others decide for us. In particular I am interested in what your thoughts are regarding disposal of the body: burial versus cremation in particular. It may not be something the younger memebrs of the Sangha care to think about, but it has been crossing my mind lately (not that I'm planning this event, or feel I need to!! :roll: right now!)

    I know that there are people who feel strongly about this. I have mostly been exposed to burial, and with many of my relatives over the past years entombment in a mausoleum rather than earth burial. My Abbey also maintains a Columbarium. So far we haven't used sky-burial like the Tibetans! Cremation is something new for us and frankly it gives me the willies. I know, I know I won't know but even so.... Right now I'm more inclined toward earth burial in a simple wooden coffin, but I'm open. I see this as an exercise in the nature if impermanence.



  2. #2

    Re: Those final things

    Hi Denis!
    Its something ALL of us should think of!! Sit with and then completely with out!!
    It (death) happens. Like it or not, young or old! All passes!

    I always said burial. I changed my mind after my brothers death. I already knew what he wanted, though not on paper, he told me a few times he wanted to be buried - we talked of stuff like that - he said buried in the cemetery that bears our family name...he joked it was one thing our last name could be put on that couldnt be F#D@ked up.

    That said i see my folks and friends and the like go to visit on anniversaries closest to that person (birthday, death day, day they first met and so on) and relive stuff. I decided then i wanted to be burned , though even that is not my first choice. I would rather have my body unceremoniously dumped in the bush to decomp like it should. But, since being tossed over a side hill sans clothing and embalming is illegal - cremation it is. failing that for some reason (LNG shortage :P) a bon fire...failing that, in a hole no box... and so on...

    Cermony too...i thought.. "oh a buddhist funeral (what ever that is) would be it"...but to be honest...once my organs are nabbed.. do what ever makes my family and friends most comfortable...if its in a church or a synagogue or whatever suits. It is they that suffer the loss so what ever works. My preference is the least impact on the universe.

    Soooo if i get hit by a bus - Count this as my written instructions as what i would prefer! lol will or w/e!

    Good topic to broach Denis!!


  3. #3

    Re: Those final things

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    So far we haven't used sky-burial like the Tibetans!
    I want my body to be of some use after I'm done with it. First let humans harvest all the organs they can use, and what they don't need I would like to be put out as food for whatever wants it.

  4. #4

  5. #5

    Re: Those final things

    Hello Folks,

    the historical Buddha was cremated. As a Buddhist, I would like to follow his example. It costs a whole lot less to do as well and is better for the environment and is a good way to show that the body means nothing really. If you're into Tibetan style Bardo teachings, it might help your mindstream realise that you're really dead dead dead. No beginning, no end.Now stop crying.



    P.S. I am all for organ donation btw.

  6. #6

    Re: Those final things

    The way that conventional burials are now done in the U.S. is very bad for the environment. Lots of truly nasty chemicals put into the ground, lots of cement and not a whole lot of regular old decomposition going on.

    I hope this doesn't make anyone too uncomfortable, but as a student of science, I was amazed to learn some of the true tasks of topsoil. Burying things "six feet under" is a long way from the aerobic bacteria that do a good deal of decomposition work. I've buried goats and horses that have passed on, buried them only about a foot under. This in an area rife with racoons, coyotes and stray dogs. The burial areas were not disturbed, there was no smell and lo and behold-- not even six months later I could turn the area over with no traces of my animal friends except bones! There's something touching about touching the flowers growing from such a grave. Thank you friend, for your friendship, and what you gave back even after passing on.

    I look at death as the returning of our borrowed bodies back to from where they came. Putting lots of chemicals in my body, then putting me in a lavish casket full of god knows what other chemicals, then putting that in a cement box six feet under is acting like I can keep my body, instead of giving it back. I hear a lot of that sentiment echoed in the responses above.

    I have mixed feelings about burning myself, as I feel we burn too many things as is. Burning seems very extreme to me. I guess I'm a woodland girl, and I'd like to mix imperceptibly back with the soil over time and nourish trees, and grasses, and fungus. Part of me could flow back into my beloved rivers, and I'd like it to not be formaldehyde flowing in there.

    I have heard very sad things about the air burial places, that they are having administrative difficulties and the bodies are not decomposing. Scavenger birds in the area are being poisoned by the chemicals from the bodies.

    I can't speak for anyone else's spiritual needs, but I love dirt and I think dirt loves me.

  7. #7

    Re: Those final things

    Cremation looks the best option. Simple. Clear. A bit tough for the relatives and friends but very healthy too. you cannot fool around with the idea of sleeping for ever... I would like no grave anddon t want to leave my name. So it will be ashes in the wind and the stream or the sea. What will be left? Maybe a few cheap poems and writings that people will remember...or forget until they are spoken and written again by somebody else.



  8. #8

    Re: Those final things

    A great topic to write from my hospital bed (cough cough, wheeze) ...

    I think that everyone can decide for themselves what they and their family wish, and consider any "Buddhist" way of doing things as a traditional custom, not a requirement.

    Me, I told my wife to call the public sanitation and haul me away with the old kitchen appliances. Since that is illegal (and after harvesting any organs, although that is just catching on here in Japan), get the cheapest cremation she can find and dump the ashes somewhere on Tsukuba mountain (carefully, cause that is possibly illegal too). "Think of me once in awhile when you look at the mountain".

    I also told here to pull the plug pretty fast if she thought that return to consciousness was unlikely and/or I was in physical pain.

    Now ... where did I put my oxygen mask?

    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9

    Re: Those final things

    Well, for me, cremation. My siblings and I chatted about this recently and most of us opted to be scattered somewhere near the cabin and islands up North where we spent our Summer childhoods. I like the idea of becoming part of that place. Really though, it is up to those left behind. Whatever gives them comfort is fine.
    There is a growing movement in my area for a simple burial in a biodegradable box in the woods (no marker) and that would be OK too. m

  10. #10

    Re: Those final things

    There was a Buddhist judge in England a few years back (was It Christmas Humphries?), who stipulated that his body should be cut up and used to feed the strays in Battersea Dogs Home, but unfortunately the health and safety regulations didn't allow for humans to be consumed by animals.

    For me: re-use any of the good bits; then put the rest in a cardboard box (they do cardboard coffins in Ireland now). Cremation is traditional with my lot so I'd go for that, but apparently it aint a good thing to contribute to all the carbon that's already being pumped into the atmosphere.

    Mum says that she wants her ashes to be packed into a big firework and then lauched over the village where she lives.

    If you think about it though, we've been disposing of our bodies ever since we were born. Isn't every atom in our body exchanged over an 11 year cycle or somethng like that? We're sloughing our skins, shedding our hair, cutting our toenails all the time. We've already strewn buckloads of ourselves around the place and all of that has been recycled very efficiently without much fuss. Funeral arrangements are just like trying to work out what to do with a final, very large toenail clipping.

    Probably the most useful thing you can do for those left behind, apart from organ donation, is to remember to make a will. Nobody wants to go through grieving and legal wrangles at the same time.

    Hey it's snowing outside! I'm off to watch...



  11. #11

    Re: Those final things

    Michael, that post brought a smile to my face

  12. #12

    Re: Those final things

    Found this web site, maybe someone will find it of some use.

    Sounds like a good idea, to me.

    Reminds me f that TV show a few years back. "Northern Exposure," I think. One of the characters built an enormous trebuchet near a lake in Alaska, and when one of the other characters died, they loaded his coffin into it and flung him out over the lake.

  13. #13

    Re: Those final things

    I have recently reviewed my wishes to family members and friends but had to change things. My ashes were to be strewn on a special mountain lake in northern New Mexico, but due to newly enforced tribal laws that will not be possible anymore. Not to mention no one is in good physical shape for the strenuous half day hike to this spot. So I have switched to a green burial of my ashes in the Galisteo Basin preserve, south of Santa Fe, that area should be ready by the time I check out.

    Roshi Joan has just posted some photos of Daido's furneral at Zen Mountain.


    After thought, if others think of you as a "gem" of a person, then they might consider turning your carbon into a diamond. Costly. ... n2006.aspx

  14. #14

    Re: Those final things

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    Cremation is something new for us and frankly it gives me the willies. I know, I know I won't know but even so....
    Cremation are like the pillows in coffins. Are you really gonna care if your family and friends skimp on the fluffy pillows? :mrgreen:

    I remember when we were getting all the stuff together for one of my co-workers who passed away. We accompanied the Spanish-speaking wife to a funeral home just to make sure she wasn't taken advantage of. They went through a list of coffins & pricing. From simple wooden coffin to the metal comfy ones. One of them we asked what was the difference in $$$ for two coffins. Response: "The pillow. It's nicer pillow for him to rest his head." His head or our head?

    My aunt owns a funeral home. No matter how bad times are economically, they were always doing fairly well. The dead never stop. Dead are dead. But some folks want to $$fork over$$ cash to please the dead...even for the fluffy pillows.

    My 87 yo dad has already told me he wants to be cremated. Doesn't want to pay the "funeral bidness racket" (as he calls it) more money than they need. He already has $1,000 set aside for it. I got my $150 for his urn. He hasn't made up his mind what he wants us do with he ashes.

    Me: Likewise. But. Then. I don't have much of a say once I am gone.

    I always found this passage in the NT very interesting...Matthew 8 18:23
    18 Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19A scribe then approached and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ 20And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ 21Another of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ 22But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’

  15. #15

    Re: Those final things

    Hello everyone,

    I haven't really thought of this too much, but I think I would go with cremation. After all my organs are given to those in need. I'm really glad that this topic was brought up; it's something we all should think about.



  16. #16

    Re: Those final things

    Honestly, I can't say. I've thought about it, but am not clinging to any particular ceremony. No desires of being stewn across mountains or thrown in a river or ocean. No preferrence to burial or cremation. I'd like it to be handled with the least amount of fuss, cheapest price and in the least environmentally destructive way possible. If my organs could be used to help someone then sure. I used to not want to donate because the idea of being buried or cremated and missing some pieces never sat well with me. Nowadays, I'm past that.

    I kind of it would like it not so noticed by others as well. After it's all said and done just let me go and be happy.

    Dave _/_

  17. #17

    Re: Those final things

    Cremation for me.

    Back in 2003 my Grandfather died. He was a very important figure in my life, he actually raised me for the better part of my early years. Grandpa wanted to be cremated and did not want a funeral. So we took his ashes up to his old camping site (he spent a few weeks every year there with his fiends until they could no longer do it) in a clearing in the middle of the woods. Everyone took a small bit of the ashes and went off into the woods on their own to do their own "service" per say. While I am not sure why, it felt very natural and was very comforting to go through this process.

    So... because of this experience and because I like the idea of returning to nature and I think cremation just helps the process along a bit... Cremation it is... and no specific ceremony, anyone who would like to do something with my ashes can do as they wish. Keep them, flush them, bury them, send them to space... Whatever brings you peace.

    Oh yeah and this is only after everything that is of some use to somebody in need is harvested from my body...


  18. #18

    Re: Those final things

    Cremation sounds good to me. I would like to become a diamond
    but at about $7000 for a half carot, it's a little pricey

  19. #19

    Re: Those final things

    Man! This thread is making jam to this song:


    All our times have come
    Here but now they're gone
    Seasons don't fear the reaper
    Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain..we can be like they are
    Come on baby...don't fear the reaper

  20. #20

    Re: Those final things

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Man! This thread is making jam to this song:


    All our times have come
    Here but now they're gone
    Seasons don't fear the reaper
    Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain..we can be like they are
    Come on baby...don't fear the reaper
    Great song. I used to love that song just for the beat and melody. I didn't realize the lyrics were so cool.

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