The Purpose of Memorial Ceremonies – Video Dharma talk by Daehaeng Sunim

Woohoo! We’ve finally got a new subtitled video Dharma talk up! This one addresses the issue of memorial ceremonies, and ceremonies to help the dead move forward (Cheondo jae). In this video, that got translated as “spirit-guiding ceremony”. Part of me thinks I must have been tired to let it go as that (it sounds a bit clunky), but, on the other hand, that’s a very accurate description. The more I think about this, the more I wonder if the topic doesn’t need a larger introduction. Anyway, as is, there’s a lot of good stuff here, but be sure to ask questions in the comments if you have them.

6 thoughts on “The Purpose of Memorial Ceremonies – Video Dharma talk by Daehaeng Sunim”

  1. I think this topic is so important, and maybe it can be broadened by other dharma talks, because if it is just this what is taught in the video then it is a bit confusing, because in other dharma talks Kun Sunim teaches about doing this ceremony through mind without actual physical ceremony. I think it is important because the circumstances can be different. The particular ceremony is very much tied to a Korean culture and tradition, ( there is very similar ceremony in Tibetan tradition too) but the truth about guiding and helping people / relatives is the same truth and it doesn’t always have to involve a ceremony because you can do it through mind. Because KunSunim emphasized the importance of doing things through mind, I think it is important to include other dharma talks on this topic. Maybe to make a series of posts and youtube videos on this topic because KunSunim taught options of doing this ceremony- just follow the ceremony according to instructions, or you can entrust everything and raise mind for those who passed, or if you thoroughly know that mind of all Buddhas and all ancestors are not two all is accomplished by itself.

  2. Hi Sunim,

    Thank you very much for this video translation. I have often wondered at the purpose of all the memorial services that are performed at my temple.

    What would be the teaching for children whose parent(s) abused (physically / emotionally / sexually) and/or abandoned them (by leaving physically or abandoning the family via drugs etc)?

    I hope you are well and happy!


    – roy

    1. Hi Roy!
      In that case, these ceremonies to help guide the spirits of the dead forward are even more important. Because, (as I suspect you know!), all of that stuff is done from ignorance. It’s just ignorance. Ignorance, and trouble coping, in a lot of cases. People just don’t have enough mental resources/space/?? to deal with the other stuff in their life. And in a lot of cases, that’s because they’re overwhelmed with their own pain. Sometimes it’s just straight up narcissism, but even then, it’s coming from ignorance of their connection with others. And operating without this awareness just generates all kinds of karma, usually bad.

      If we can help people/spirits move to a better place spiritually, then that’s good for them, of course, but they also stop causing problems for the people around them. It seems a bit… unfair, perhaps? that the solution to people behaving badly is to help them out, but that’s the case. It’s good for us, and good for them.

      Teachings for those abused by parents/family in general, whew. I’d have to say it’s got to be the same for everyone: Know your root. Live relying on your root. Entrust everything to this root and move forward, having faith that it will take care of you and show you the way forward. Keep your eyes open, and when you can, try to see the world from the perspective of this root.

      Regardless of what happened to us, forward is the only direction truly open to us. Resentment and blame create a division and strengthen a sense of duality, so for our own sake, for our own ability to move forward, we need to try to let go of those. “He or she just didn’t know better” is what it ultimately comes down to, imo. Even when the actions were malicious, that was still (or even more) done from a deep place of ignorance. Also, I personally don’t want carry that kind of stuff into my next life! I don’t want my own feelings/mental creations being used as building blocks the next time around. Stepping forward while cleanly letting go of this stuff is definitely not easy, but it’s the only clean/refreshing/fulfilling way to go, in my experience.

      I hope you and your family are doing well as winter and the holidays gathers near!
      with palms together,
      Chong Go

      1. Dear Sunim,

        Thank you so much for this response. I find it very helpful.

        Thank you for keeping this site going.

        All best wishes – and – Palms together,

        – roy

  3. I wish there would be a place to ask questions, something like “ask a sunim” page, that could help alot to understand things and to move forward and also it could help connect dharma teachings, I think KunSunim’s teachings is like a bridge to different Dharma teachings and other religions, i think connecting all would be a very long term process but for now having questions answered would be great and very helpful and perhaps a start to connect and unite in some way Buddhist teachings. And simply I have a lot of questions! (lol)

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