Divinations, Prayers, Pujas and 49 Day Ceremonies for the Deceased
When challenging circumstances arise, we may need help to decide the most appropriate and compassionate course of action to take. We, or someone we know, may experience sickness, injury, or mental upheavals such as intense disturbing emotions, fear, and anxiety. Similarly, we may need support in accomplishing a project or activity that is important to us. In such cases, in addition to the worldly actions we take, we can also rely on practices, prayers, and ceremonies. These create profound interdependent conditions that help bring forth positive outcomes and remove obstacles.
The Tibetan view of karma is not that the result of every action is predetermined to have a predetermined result in a fatalistic sense. Rather, when certain causes and conditions come together, these forces ripen as our experience. Over time, we can change those causes and conditions by accumulating merit and wisdom, and by purifying obscurations.
When we request a divination or ask for prayers, we are not asking which specific worldly action to take, but rather which practices will be most supportive in gaining clarity, so we can make the best possible decisions and achieve optimal outcomes.
A divination, called a moh in Tibetan, is a question given to a realized practitioner who has both special insight and has learned special practices for performing divinations. The divination then indicates practices or prayers we can sponsor or do ourselves.
P’howa and the Forty-nine day ceremonies
P’howa, or “transference of consciousness,” is a Tibetan Buddhist practice performed at the time of death to help the deceased person’s consciousness leave this life without attachment or regret, then find a positive rebirth. The practice of p’howa can benefit anyone, whether they are Buddhist or not, and can even help animals.
The forty-nine day ceremonies are the traditional and elaborate Tibetan Buddhist rites performed on behalf of the deceased. These ceremonies are performed daily for a total of 49 days as a series of ritual practices, which support and guide the consciousness through the dying process and the intermediate state after death (the bardo, in Tibetan), and then lead the consciousness to a better rebirth. In general, these practices include daily liturgies, the offering of butter lamps, special smoke-offering practices, and many other relevant prayers and aspirations.