Buddhist Advance Medical Directive

Posted on Nov 06, 2017

Buddhist Advance Medical Directive

Our Firm often represents Vermont and National Buddhist organizations and mindfulness meditation centers. We also represent quite a few individuals who are practicing meditators. A post-mortem issue faced by such clients is how to convince the medical and funeral professionals to treat their body consistent with their beliefs.  One of the core beliefs of Tibetan Buddhism, for example, is that the mind continues to hover around the body for a number of hours or days after death. As such, how the body is treated is something that the deceased’s consciousness may then notice. This Buddhist belief may not seem so strange if you consider the substantial literature on near-death experiences. Many who have “come back” discuss looking at their own body being surrounded by their loved ones after they have seemingly died. 

Whatever the case may be, we would like to have our clients’ wishes respected. For this purpose we have prepared the following language for insertion in an Advance Directive for Tibetan Buddhist practitioners and other meditators who wish to have special treatment of their body following their death consistent with their religious beliefs.  The following language is used for members of the Shambala Buddhist lineage as practiced in the Karmê Chöling Meditation Center in Barnet, Vermont, but it could be adapted easily to other religions and regions.  

I direct my Agent to arrange for my funeral and the disposition of my physical body in accordance with the rites, teachings and practices of the Shambhala Buddhist religion as taught by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, who is my spiritual friend and teacher, and by the Shambhala USA Buddhist church, an association of Buddhist churches including Karmê Chöling of Barnet, Vermont.  My direction as expressed in this paragraph is of the strongest possible nature and must be observed under all circumstances. 

This language may be inserted in Advance Directive of Appointment of Agent on our Resource Page by adding it in Section III.a. (“Disposition of Remains”).

The person nominating an agent in this manner should consider the personality of the agent and whether she or he will know what to do.  An advance spiritual directive supplied to a church might be useful. An example can be found on the White River Junction or Shambhala Center’s website. As we work with more religious groups, we hope to expand this offering.

As with any legal document, individuals intending to use this language in Advance Directives should consult with their own attorney to make sure that the documents are tailored to their wishes and legally valid for the purposes for which they intend to use them.  State and Federal law is continually changing, and this language (for Vermont law purposes) is current as of September, 2017.  

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