Religious Traditions and Cremation Beliefs: Buddhism
Several world religions incorporate cremation into their belief system. Learn about the world religions that encourage their followers to be cremated.
Cremation is becoming more accepted in Judaism, Catholicism, and other major world religions. However, many Eastern religions have always embraced cremation as part of their worldview.
This multi-part series explores religious beliefs about cremation. Whether to release the body from its earthly restraints or begin reincarnation, we invite you to learn how cremation is essential to sacred funeral rituals for millions of believers worldwide.
Buddhism originated 2,500 years ago in India on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha. It is one of the world's largest religions, with about 535 million followers. Buddhism does not worship a deity, unlike Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Buddhists believe people should exhibit good behavior, meditate, and perform spiritual and physical labor to achieve 'nirvana.
Cremation Is Practical and Spiritual
Because Buddhism is based on the idea that we suffer in this world but can achieve enlightenment in the next, cremation is a practical and spiritual belief. The Buddha himself was cremated, providing an example for his followers. Like other Eastern religions, Buddhists believe that cremation releases the soul so that it can be rebirthed.
When a Buddhist dies, a priest leaves the body undisturbed while performing the sacred Last Rites of Amitabha. Before and after death, family members chant the name of Amitabha Buddha. Flowers, candles, fruit, and incense are often placed on a simple wooden casket.
Buddhists typically hold cremation services soon after passing. A priest may recite final prayers over the closed coffin as it is transported to the crematory. Family members may serve as pallbearers in a last act of service. Those who do not lift the casket watch in respectful silence. Buddhists do not have a rule about watching the cremation, but family members are often witnesses. It is customary to include a few items of special meaning to be cremated with their loved ones. Cremated remains are scattered.
Buddhism is one of many world religions incorporating cremation into its belief system. Use the links below to learn about religious traditions and cremation in other faiths:
Cremation and Your Beliefs
Buddhists prefer cremation because it is simple, practical and respects their beliefs.
Deciding between cremation and burial is a personal choice. You can choose cremation and still be buried in a family plot, cremation garden, within a niche, or scattered in a favorite place. Cremation offers many options. Tulip provides simple, dignified, and affordable cremation services. Please contact our expert care team with any questions or if you are ready to start preplanning.