Dhamma Talk given on 29 March,2013 at Yuan Ming Hall , PuTuoSi, Kota KinaBalu, Sabah Malaysia1WHAT THE LIVING CAN DO FOR THEIR DEARLY DEPARTEDNanthayani BhikkhuniNirodharam Bhikkhuni Arama, Chiang Mai, ThailandNamo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma SambuddhassaHomage to the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Perfectly Enlightened One, alongwith the Dhamma and the Sangha of the Blessed One’s disciples who have practiced well.I respectfully ask permission from the venerable bhikkhus and bhikkhunis gatheredhere today to give a Dhamma talk this evening on the topic “ What The Living Can Do forTheir Dearly Departed”.In the past, I was like many of you. I also didn’t know what I could do for dearlydeparted relatives and friends. So I tried to find out. And then I discovered the Buddha’sTeachings. I tried to practice according to these teachings and was able to prove throughmy own experience that they are true. I now understand that the best thing one can do forone’s dearly departed is to practice sila-samadhi-panna: keeping virtue purely, cultivatingthe mind through meditation, and developing wisdom, that is, insight into the threecharacteristics of life - impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha), non-self (anatta). Thegoodness or merit that arises from this practice can be shared with all beings in all realmsof existence. So our relatives can benefit from it no matter where they are reborn.For instance, in my own life, because I have practiced sila-samadhi-panna, I havebeen able to share the Dhamma as a teacher. If by doing this, I am able to influenceanother person to start to keep the precepts and to live their life in a wholesome way, thiswill have a ripple effect, benefiting other beings that person comes into contact with. If, say,that person had been a farmer who killed chickens for a living, and now stopped killingchickens, if my departed dear one had been reborn as a chicken in that farmer’s farm, theywould now be saved. Or if my dear one had been reborn as a relative or friend of thatfarmer, they would also benefit from the better state of mind the farmer has due to moreethical behavior. Or even if my dear one had been reborn as a deva, she would be able torejoice in my practice and the goodness that results from this. So in this way, my practiceof sila-samadhi-panna can have far-reaching benefit.However, if all you do is offer material things, such as food and other requisites tothe sangha or other virtuous people, the only kind of being who can receive a share of themerit resulting from these deeds is the hungry ghost (peta). So it is only if your relative hasbeen reborn in the hungry ghost realm that she can benefit.Nonetheless, it is worth noting that even if your relative does not benefit, you yourselfwill surely receive benefit from your act of giving. Even if you are reborn as an animal(because in your lifetime you perform many other unwholesome deeds), you will still receive
Dhamma Talk given on 29 March,2013 at Yuan Ming Hall , PuTuoSi, Kota KinaBalu, Sabah Malaysia2the benefit from having performed that act of giving by being an animal that enjoys materialwell-being commensurate to what you had given. And if in your lifetime you perform manygood deeds and practice wholesome courses of action (10 kusala-kammapatha) and arethus reborn as a human or deva, your act of giving will result in your enjoying pleasures ofthe five senses in either the human or deva realm.Therefore, keep in mind that the best way for you to transfer merit to your departeddear ones is by doing good deeds, speaking good words, and thinking good thoughts, andat the highest level, developing the wisdom to know the truth of life.* * * * * * * * * * *According to the Buddha’s teachings, giving to others (practicing dana) earns one less meritthan keeping the 5 precepts because keeping the 5 precepts is the greatest form of giving(mahadana):1. Abstaining from killing other beings gives safety to others’ lives.2. Abstaining from stealing gives security to others’ cherished possessions. Stealing isforbidden means giving safety to their treasures that is the greatest giving to others.3. Abstaining from sexual misconduct gives happiness to others’ families and relatives.4. Abstaining from false speech gives peace of mind borne of trustworthiness toothers.5. Abstaining from drinking alcohol or taking drugs gives safety to one’s own life andthe life of others.