Thursday, May 2, 2013
Why Do We Memorialize Our Ancestors?
Do you know why we memorialize our ancestors? We are all children of God. Although our physical bodies become old/sick and die, our real selves never die. Therefore, we memorialize these spirits which are indestructible and deathless. Even though our physical lives are over, and our physical bodies are cremated and become ashes, our individual souls still continue their activities in the spiritual world. We do not become nothing when we die. In the Divine Message of Return of the Soul to the Spiritual World it states, “All people must someday lose their physical body, but they do not die. Man is a child of God and therefore deathless. The form of your temporary existence will change according to your thought’s musical score. The temporary existence of all people will differ according to the differences in their thought. When a major change occurs in the form of your thought your temporary existence will manifest itself in another world and your physical body—the manifestation of your thoughts until now—will quickly disintegrate. People call this ‘death,’ but it is not death. It is as if Life has finished the performance of one musical composition on the strings of thought and turned to another.” Our true selves which are children of God will never die; therefore, from the standpoint of the True Image World, death means just an end of one performance by a child of God. He begins another performance in a different time and place.
Human Beings Are Not Physical Bodies
To know that we are not physical bodies but spiritual existences is the quintessential reason for us to memorialize our ancestors. If some of these spirits didn’t realize that their physical bodies had died, they would still believe that their physical lives continue in this world. For example, classic literature, religious texts and world folklore depict ghosts who continue to suffer from their illnesses or injuries that existed before their death. Since their physical bodies do not exist anymore in this physical world, the sufferings of their physical bodies also should not exist. Then, why do ghosts suffer? Many spiritual communication dialogues describe the condition of spirits or ghosts in this manner. This is because these spirits do not realize that they are children of God and that their physical bodies have already ceased to exist and became ashes. Therefore, those spirits need to be taken care of by others to be awakened to the Truth. Those spirits who have not realized the Truth ask for help from their immediate family members or relatives in this physical world. Through memorializing our ancestors, these spirits will realize the Truth that they are already healthy, wealthy children of God as they are by reading the Holy Sutra at the memorial services. Reading the Holy Sutra is a great help for those spirits. At the same time when they realize their true selves, they will increase their spiritual power and help and guide their descendants like guardian angels.
Two Important Things for Ancestor Service
We now need to clearly realize two reasons of the importance of performing the Ancestor Memorial Service. First, we are all children of God; therefore, in essence all spirits do not need to be memorialized. However, some spirits do not realize this truth, so for the secondary reason we memorialize them to help them to realize the Truth. We also need to understand that there are two meanings of our everlasting lives. First, I already described earlier by quoting the Divine Message of Return of the Soul to the Spiritual World that we are deathless. Just like the possibility of musical arrangements is fluid and infinite, so are our thoughts that lead us from the phenomenal to the spiritual world to continue fulfilling lives. Second, it means our lives are the result of our ancestors. We cannot exist without our ancestors. If one of my parents had not existed in this world, I would not have been born in this world. In the same way, if one of my grandparents or great grandparents had not existed, I would not have existed here right now. When I trace my family back to my great grandparents, I realize that 14 individual spirits exist. When I trace ten generations of my ancestors, I can statistically figure that there are 2,046 individual spirits. Likewise, I can figure, going back 30 generations, that there are 2,147,483,646 spirits. My current existence flows from my ancestors’ lives. I would not exist today if one of my over 2 billion ancestors was missing. Likewise, my phenomenal life which is the expression of my everlasting life is not only my own individual life, but the unique infinite life endowed to me through the stream of the lives of my ancestors. So, I feel deep gratitude towards all of my ancestors who, along with God, are responsible for my existence, and my infinite life, and who provide me with enduring strength and support. Therefore, we must memorialize our ancestors to awaken them to their infinite individual lives and at the same time to show our gratefulness because our lives are a part of their infinite life stream.
I will briefly explain how to memorialize our ancestors in the SNI way at home. I summarized this service which can be adaptable in our present life styles into 7 categories. (I omitted explanation for the following seven categories. If you need more information, please contact your local members or contact the SNI US Missionary Headquarters 310-323-8486)
2. Memorial Tablet/Spiritual Register:
3. Period of individual memorialization:
4. Food offering:
5. Memorializing spirits who are unrelated:
6. SNI memorial service:
7. Procedure for the SNI Ancestor Memorial Service at home: