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Buddhist funeral poems

If you’re planning a funeral or doing a reading at a funeral, you might want to include a poem as part of the service or wake. Lots of people find that poems offer a way to put thoughts into words. They can be comforting for both you and those who are listening to you. If your loved one was Buddhist, or you’re Buddhist, here you can find Buddhist funeral poems to choose from.

Bhumisparsha - Thich Nhat Hanh

This poem by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Thiền monk, tells a conversation of someone facing death and death’s response. It’s comforting, reminding us that while this life will inevitably pass, we will return time and time again. You can find the full poem, as well as some of Hanh’s other poems here.

“I say, ‘I come and I go. Then I come again. And I go again.

I always come back. You can neither make me exist nor nonexist.’

‘How do you know that you will come again?’ Death asks.

‘I know because I have done that countless times,’ I say.

‘How do I know that you are telling the truth?

Who can be the witness?’ Death frowns.

I touch the Earth and say,

‘Earth is the witness. She is my mother.’”

Love – Bante Whimala

Love by Bante Whimala is one of the most popular Buddhist poems for a funeral. It encourages a state of meditation that can help you to feel love living on and life continuing for eternity. You can find the full poem here.

“When your mind becomes motionless

and the brilliant eyes of the peaceful mind

take a straight look down into the depth of your heart

you will see the life-force pulsating and thriving

in the warmth of pure love.

As you experience this pure love

what we all call "heart"

beams of light will begin to radiate from the center of it

for heaven is there in eternity.”

Eight Things to Remember – Jetsun Milarepa

Eight Things to Remember can be found in The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, a collection of the Tibetan siddha’s poems. It has eight short stanzas, each focusing on different worldly experiences we need to be ready to part with. If you want to keep your reading shorter, you can simply pick out the individual teachings you like, or feel are particularly relevant. You can find a full English translation of the poem here.

“At the moment you are fond of family relations,

You surround yourself with relatives and friends.

But when your time to go has come, you'll have to leave them—

Kin and dear ones, every last one.

Are you aware that this is what will happen?

You'd do well to remember and keep it well in mind.”

And It Must Be That I Will Die Soon – Kenji Miyazawa

This poem by Kenji Miyazawa is taken from his collection During Illness & Other Poems. It was written while he was close to passing away himself and shares his thoughts on death being a natural part of existence, with our bodies only serving as the vessel that we travel in for a short and temporary period of time.

“I shall die soon today or tomorrow.

Again, anew, I contemplate: What am I?

I am ultimately nothing other than a principle.

My body is bones, blood, flesh,

which are in the end various molecules,

combinations of dozens of atoms;

the atom is in the end a form of vacuum,

and so is the external world.”

More information for Buddhist funerals 

You can find more information that can be useful for planning or attending a Buddhist funeral in our guide: What happens at a Buddhist funeral?


Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash.