Funeral Ceremony for our friend Francis

The practice taught by Buddha is that of awakening: realizing that our life must be devoted to helping others awaken. That is how monks alleviate the suffering of their contemporaries.

In Japan, monks are there for grieving families during funeral ceremonies. This buddhist practice is not widespread in Europe, and not always understood. However, when we are called upon to celebrate such ceremonies, we understand their virtues. Below is the account of a ceremony in which we recently took part.


Francis used to work for the monastery in his capacity as electrician. He wasn’t interested in religion; yet, when he heard us chant sutras, he turned off his drill to listen… He had told his family that, if ever something were to happen to him, he wanted the monks and nuns of Kanshoji to be present.

We were there to pay our respects on the day of his cremation, choosing our words so as not to upset the atheistst or the catholics in attendance:

Every departed person stays in the heart of the living,
And becomes someone who shows them the way.
Francis showed us the way of giving and selflessness.
The best way to pay homage to him,
Is, like him, to live a generous life, effacing ourselves before others […]

The unbearable distress of all those for whom Francis’s heart had stopped beating tore us away from our pettiness.

Later, we were together again in the cemetery for the burying of his ashes. Surrounded by his loved ones, we chanted the Sutra of Great Compassion, the Daihishin Darani. A bird partook in this homage, trying to sing louder than us…

He returns to perfect awakening,
Like the wave peacefully returns to the original ocean.
May his name and his kindness
Be henceforth revered at every opportunity.

…The faces of his loved ones, calm at last, were again shining, and we could see the sense of our monks’ practice. We were at Francis’s side on the path of floating clouds.  He is now present in our hearts on the path of awakening.

The monks and nuns of Kanshoji.