Is there anything we can do now to help people who have died a long time ago?

A student writes:

My Father died more than 25 years ago. Unfortunately a few days before he died I discovered something that made me very upset and furious with him. Before and after he died I was consumed with bad feelings toward him. So much so that I didn’t go to his funeral. 

I am currently reading your book ‘There’s more to Dying Than Death’ and to think I may have caused him great harm and sadness during his dying process is deeply worrying. I so regret the things I thought and said. He was a good Father.

My question is, is there anything I can do now that may help him in some way, wherever he is now? As he may need it.

Lama Shenpen responds:

Yes there is plenty you can do – it is never too late even though of course he would have suffered at the time.  Now that you have a better understanding you can help him by recalling both his and your all-pervading Buddha Nature in which nothing is ever lost.

You can connect to him in your heart and make pranidhanas [aspirational or wishing prayers] that you will meet again in all your future lifetimes and you will be good Dharma companions working for the benefit of all beings. You can wish him well wherever he is as you practice the Apramanas and Tonglen

You can dedicate punya [often translated as ‘merit’] from practices you do or even all you are doing as you follow the path to Awakening for him to make a strong connection to Dharma too, through his connection with you.  You can make offerings on his behalf and purify your own negative thinking and karma by asking forgiveness from the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and for their blessing to help bring your pranidhanas and prayers to fulfilment.  Of course you are doing this for your mother too and all beings – but in this case you are doing it especially for your father and in order to heal your connection with him.

Lama Shenpen Hookham

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2 thoughts on “Is there anything we can do now to help people who have died a long time ago?

  1. It would be easier to understand if there were less words like adhistana etc whichi dont understand . A glossary would be good.

    1. Hi Robert, thanks for your comment. I’ve updated the post with word meanings links to other articles that explain the meanings more. I couldn’t see adhistana in this post, but it means a powerful blessing/influence coming from the Truth/Buddha/Lineage etc. There’s more information on that particular word here – Best wishes, site admin

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