You are here:

Meditation/Mahayana Buddhist and deceased family


Hello Dr. Clark. I know very little about Buddhist factions other than that there are two general practice paradigms. My wife's elderly Chinese (Hokkien) mother died two days ago in the Chinese district of Manila. My wife is Catholic, but she attended a Buddhist temple with her mother (whom I suspect was a Mahayana Buddhist)for years.
I've chosen to wear a black patch on my shirt sleeves for 100 days out of respect. Yes, I know as a son-in-law different rules apply, but I intend to do this anyway. My question is: In our home here in Virginia I have a spcial stand with framed pictures of her deceased mother father and I'd appreciate suggestions as to what to place in front of those pictures.
Dr. Richard xxxxxxxxx

If it were me, I'd talk with my wife and come to an agreement that we were both comfortable with. I don't believe in political correctness when it comes to faith. But I also believe in respecting others' beliefs. In other words... I think this is one issue that you and your wife have to resolve.

Myself, I'm a Christian but might just light a candle and think about the person / persons. But I'm not you. So...


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Michael Clark, Ph.D.


I'd prefer to answer questions from seekers rather than those wishing to get into in an academic debate. I do, however, have a considerable degree of scholarly knowledge that may be applied to the inherent complexities - or simplicities - of the contemplative life. But the key word here is "applied."

I tend to agree with these sentiments as expressed by the woman writer on mysticism, Evelyn Underhill:

"Now meditation is a half-way house between thinking and contemplating: and as a discipline, it derives its chief value from this transitional character."

Source: Practical Mysticism: A little book for normal people (1914), p. 46.

Moreover, I strongly believe that all persons possess an essential individuality--not just a superficial, conceptual or constructed sense of individuality. So if you're looking to lose your essential self in 'nothingness,' please ask another expert. I don't believe in that idea.


I began to meditate in the 1980s. I did hatha yoga and studied and taught Tai Chi. I then lived in India for two years where meditation was a way of life. Although my methods have changed over the years in keeping with my personal development, I still consider myself a contemplative person.

Print Media:
My table from "Religions and Cults" at is reproduced with permission in L. Lindsey, S. Beach and B. Ravelli, Core Concepts in Sociology, 2nd ed., p. 157

World Wide Web:
My online article "Letter to God" coauthored with Buddhist monk, E. Raymond Rock, appears on several different spirituality-based websites, including

I've interviewed, as a Christian, a self-proclaimed mystic:

My articles appeared at the former New View magazine and are published at

Ph.D. in Religious Studies
M.A. in Comparative Religion
B.A. Hon. in Psychology/Sociology
For more info, please see my CV and letters of recommendation and my blog at

©2016 All rights reserved.