Sutta on blessings for departed relatives


Are there any suttas that talks about giving blessings to departed relatives?

One of my friend’s father passed away and I wonder if there is any sutta that I can share with him to give him comfort?

Best Regards

AN 10.177 addresses this subject, though i haven’t read it through and don’t know if it would be appropriate for a person seeking comfort. the Buddha is relentlessly truthful…and for this reason, not always what one might consider comforting.

at my meditation center we share merits with departed relatives…while i’ve read that it’s not good to direct the brahmavihāras, for example, to the departed, because our doing that is based on a concept of who they were when we knew them here, and they’re not that person anymore…and i’m not sure what all the implications of that are, but i got the impression it can be counterproductive and possibly even harmful in some way.

ah: Achariya Bhuddharakkhita writes:

The reason for this is that the dead person, having changed form, will
be out of the focus of metta-projection. The object of metta always is a
living being, and the thought-force will become ineffective if the
object is not alive.

sharing merits with departed relatives should be an excellent practice, though, i would think, because it would benefit the departed as well as ourselves - who have to amass some merits in the first place so we’ll have them to share! :wink:

I think this is missing the point. There is a recommendation not to develop formal metta meditation for those who have departed. But it’s not about notions of identity and self. Metta is about emotional development, not understanding identity.

The point of this recommendation is that when we think of the departed we may experience grief, and the grief sullies the metta, which should be pure, simple happiness.

Also, ghosts. :scream:

In the chapters on meditation in the Visuddhimagga where this stems from, you’ll find all kinds of highly specific, detailed recommendations which are finely tuned for someone who is dedicated to developing advanced meditation. They’re not meant as general advice, but as subtle refinements.

So if you want to do metta for the departed, no problem. Just remember that when the mind draws close to samadhi, any disturbance, even the faintest shadow of grief, can be enough to pull you out.


thank you for the clarification, Bhante. makes sense.

would you agree with Bhuddharakkhita’s assertion, which seems to me to amount to, “you can direct mettā to the departed all you like as long as it doesn’t bother you that it’s having no effect”? :smiley:

Sure. These are all meant as handy hints, not rigid rules.

Perhaps we should translate Visuddhimagga as “Handy Hints on the Path”


I second that. To me much of it reads like a collection of meditation talks and other hints from various teachers, which it is, being a collection of ideas from commentaries. Like any modern hints, some will be useful to particular individuals and some won’t.