What to Do with Ashes of a Loved One

What to Do with Ashes of a Loved One

Date of Advice:
December 2018
Date Posted:
May 2021

After her husband’s death and cremation, a student had planned to bury his ashes in the garden. Rinpoche advised it was important to first consecrate the ashes by doing jangwa, a purification ritual to benefit the deceased. Rinpoche also recommended putting the consecrated ashes in tsa tsas.

Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche making Chenrezig tsa tsas on the rooftop terrace at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1973.

It’s very important to first have jangwa purification done by a good practitioner. By doing that the ashes are also consecrated. After that they look like ashes, but it is the same as having a statue of Buddha. The ashes become a holy object.

Then you can sprinkle the ashes in the ocean or a lake, and it blesses the water. All the creatures in the water are purified and do not get reborn in the lower realms. Or you can sprinkle the ashes on a mountain where there is wind, so the ashes are scattered in space and help any sentient being that they touch. It purifies them. You can also sprinkle the ashes in places where there are lots of insects, worms and animals, so they are purified and liberated from the lower realm.

The other good thing you can do is make tsa tsas and put some of the ashes inside. Usually in Tibet and Solu Khumbu, they make tsa tsas of the Immovable Buddha, Mitukpa. This is very powerful for purification. You can make a stupa or a buddha tsa tsa or a Mitukpa tsa tsa.

You can make any amount of tsa tsas, but without doing jangwa and just putting the ashes in the garden, there is no benefit, not only for the person who has died, but also for the family and for others. There is no benefit at all. Especially making tsa tsas has benefits—the family receives benefits and so much merit.

This advice should be kept well, so others can know this. For those who need to understand, that helps to save my time.

The student sent a photo of the nice garden where she would bury her husband's ashes. Rinpoche advised:

Probably you are thinking that your husband, who has already passed away, wants to be in a nice place, but there is no effect for your husband. That place is very nice, but it is only for your mind. If there are lots of ants or other creatures there, then it can be useful because it purifies them, as long as the ashes have had jangwa puja on them. Or, you can put the ashes in the ocean or even at the beach, where there are many tiny lobsters and there might be other animals that can receive benefit.