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Friday, 23 October 2009

A Frugal Burial

Last night, while dining at a nearby food square, Ming Tien in Taman Megah, I spotted a shelf nearby the cashier. The signboard placed atop the shelf said "FREE BOOK". Naturally my curiosity was piqued. I approached the shelf and saw there were quite a number of booklets. One of these was the 102-page book "A Kite To The Wind: Embrace Simplicity, Travel Light in Life" by Chan Kah Yein. She holds a Ph. D and teaches Mathematics at a tertiary level educational institution. At page 85, she wrote about funerals:

It is said that of all the species of the animal kingdom, only humans and whales organise funerals. Buddhists are "lucky" in the sense that authentic Buddhists funerals are simple, elegant and therefore, relatively cheap. But one can still choose to have it done elaborately if one chooses to, but whatever for, right? Remember the Metta Sutta? Let us not be a burden to others, dead or alive!
How would I like my funeral to be like? Well, I am a registered organ donor, so when I am confirmed dead, I would like my organs to be donated, then my remains cremated in the cheapest possible manner, and my ashes can be brought home to be buried in a flower pot to fertilise the soil. I would rather not have a memorial tablet because that would only create a burden on my loved ones. Embrace simplicity, travel light in life .... and in death too.

I think that this is a great book and that everybody should read it. It is, of course, from a Buddhist perspective. Nevertheless, the true great faiths of the world never preach waste and needless luxury. Humility and simplicity are always the hallmarks of the true great faiths. There is also no doubt that the true great faiths of the world bear no grudge against those who make it in life as successful millionaires and billionaires if such success if gained through honest work.

Let us look at some of the simpler and more frugal modes of funerals. One of the websites that I've been browsing of late is Inhabitat, which has an eco-friendly slant. Naturally, in addition to being frugal and living a simple life, one who is truly humble in nature would also like to do good to the environment. Can one be a follower of the great faiths in a world divorced from nature? Think of the Bodhi tree in Buddhism and the Tree of Life in Christianity. Think of the river from the Mahabharata. Isn't this mention of nature and the eco-system indicative of something greater? Hence, culled from the archives of Inhabitat, come the following:
From GOOD Magazine, here is a YouTube video detailing the "Business Of Death". It also includes descriptions of the latest eco-friendly funeral trends.

More about this in the future? Perhaps. But remember that life is not meant to be a source of regret and sadness. Life is meant to be lived!

Further Reading:
  • "A Kite To The Wind: Embrace Simplicity, Travel Light in Life" by Chan Kah Yein. (Kuala Lumpur, 2008.) Printer: Sukhi Hotu Sdn Bhd. ISBN No. 978-983-9283-45-7.