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Traditional Alive Funeral Rites in Naesosa Temple
The 40th Death Anniversary of the Most Ven. Haean
“I am going, I am gone, saying goodbye to this world. Amitabha Buddha! I am finally departing this world. Leaving behind all that is familiar, the mountains and the rivers, I will now be going Amitabha Buddha...” The ‘Korean Yeolbanga’ or the Songs of Parinirvana solemnly echoed throughout the forest trails of Naesosa temple.
To remember the 53th anniversary of the most Ven. Haean’s life time funeral, his disciple Ven. Dongmyeong, the present day abbot of Jeondeungsa temple also reenacted the ‘life time funeral’ and sang the songs of Parinirvana inside the funeral bier. It is indeed a very rare rite for a living to enter the funeral bier, where only the dead generally find themselves in. The Korean Buddhist communities gathered from all over the nation to pay their respect at the Jijangam Hermitage of Naesosa Temple.
Ven. Dongmyeong, entered the funeral bier after a brief ceremony which included chanting of the Heart Sutra, which was formally organized in order to pay respect to the Buddha and his root mater, Ven. Haean. Over 700 fourfold assembly followed the funeral procession while the ceremony continued on,.
After passing through the One Pillar Gate, Ven. Dongmyeong, who sat inside the bier, began to sing the Songs of Parinirvana. This song holds a profound significance, as it is in remembrance of Ven. Haean and his sincere Buddhist practices he had pursued in his life, in not being attached to the worldly pleasures, that was clearly demonstrated in the song. The voice of Ven. Dongmyeong trembled ever so slightly, as he was singing the songs of parinirvana his master had sung 53 years prior.
After passing through the trails of cherry blossoms which began to bloom to signal the arrival of spring, the funeral bier finally stopped in front of the memorial hall in Naesosa temple. When the fourfold assembly had gathered inside the memorial hall, everyone once again beard in mind the impermanence and the transient nature of life, the core teachings of Buddhism and also that of Ven. Haean.
Ven. Dongmyeong stated the following upon conclusion of the 40th Death Anniversary Ceremony of Ven. Haean, “Although my master had passed away long ago, I feel quite anew to walk the path my master had also walked 53 years ago with other members of the Sangha. After the ceremony I can understand more clearly what life really means,” and added “ We must remember what Ven. Haean had taught- anyone can attain enlightenment in just one week, whether they are monk, farmer, or a merchant.”
“I am going, I am gone, saying goodbye to this world…”