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Thread: Rotting Corpse

  1. #1
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Rotting Corpse

    Hi All,

    Here is a transcription from a Dharma talk given by Jay Rinsen Weik which I thought was very interesting.

    Tibetan's do this, they meditate with an actual human corpse. did you know that? Not all of them, but some of them. It's a very important rite of passage for some of these cats, you know.
    (woman from the audience) "A rotting one?"
    (back to Rinsen Sensei) Yeah, yeah the whole thing honey...the whole thing. The elder monk has passed on and his last act of service is to allow the other brethren to meditate on the impermanence of life with his rotting corpse. And so day after day they are with and watch and understand. And again it's not a morbid like creepy thing. It's just like...this is true. This is true.
    I can really see how this practice could be of benefit. Still don't know if I could do it, but I do see the idea. I know I have one friend here at Treeleaf who(because of his line of work with the dearly departed :wink: ) must have a similar experience as what these monks are trying to achieve through this. The psychology behind some of the Tibetan practices(that I know of) really interests me.

    Gassho,
    John

  2. #2
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Rotting Corpse

    Here in Japan, cremation has a similar effect. Within a few hours (the time to drink a few beers and eat a few sushi and talk about the one that has died) you leave a coffin and a body and you find a heap of ashes and bones as you are invited to pick up bones with chopsticks and put them into an urn. A great medecine to really see and realize the fleeting nature of all things.

    gassho

    Taigu

  3. #3
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Rotting Corpse

    Great point Taigu Sensei! I wrote at lenth about the Japanese funeral process in a post here a while back. My wife Kyoko talked about the entire process for which her family had done when her father had passed away. I was very impressed with the whole process.

    Gassho,
    John

  4. #4

    Re: Rotting Corpse

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Hi All,

    Here is a transcription from a Dharma talk given by Jay Rinsen Weik which I thought was very interesting.

    Tibetan's do this, they meditate with an actual human corpse. did you know that? Not all of them, but some of them. It's a very important rite of passage for some of these cats, you know.
    (woman from the audience) "A rotting one?"
    (back to Rinsen Sensei) Yeah, yeah the whole thing honey...the whole thing. The elder monk has passed on and his last act of service is to allow the other brethren to meditate on the impermanence of life with his rotting corpse. And so day after day they are with and watch and understand. And again it's not a morbid like creepy thing. It's just like...this is true. This is true.
    I can really see how this practice could be of benefit. Still don't know if I could do it, but I do see the idea. I know I have one friend here at Treeleaf who(because of his line of work with the dearly departed :wink: ) must have a similar experience as what these monks are trying to achieve through this. The psychology behind some of the Tibetan practices(that I know of) really interests me.

    Gassho,
    John
    Yea, I did that once. I think it helped me with my fear of the dead and dying.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Rotting Corpse

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Tibetan's do this, they meditate with an actual human corpse.
    I have read that Indians will sometimes meditate before a burning corpse.

    I meditated a bit while viewing the body of my boyfriend's grandfather and had similar feelings about how true death is. I always remember it as such a good day because of how much everyone was appreciating each other in the absence of someone.

  6. #6

    Re: Rotting Corpse

    Very interesting. I know so Tibetan Linage mediate in grave yards and such, or in front of a skull. Or with a bone mala. Mediating on death can be very powerful. I know one practice that teaches that one should mediate on one's one death. Visualize that you yourself came ace to face with death...seems like this can be very powerful.. To remember that we ourselves are impermanent can be a great push to keep on sitting...


    Gassho

    Seiryu

  7. #7

    Re: Rotting Corpse

    In Mexico, we celebrate Day of the Dead. In some regions of Souther Mexico, we visit the cementary. Open the vault. Clean the bones. Bring them out and have a family pic nic with the family bones. In most regions, it's normal to lay food and drink and clean the cementary plot.






  8. #8
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Rotting Corpse

    In Mexico, we celebrate Day of the Dead. In some regions of Souther Mexico, we visit the cementary. Open the vault. Clean the bones. Bring them out and have a family pic nic with the family bones. In most regions, it's normal to lay food and drink and clean the cementary plot.
    Wow I never knew that. Sounds like a wonderful tradition! Thanks for sharing.

    Gassho,
    John

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Rotting Corpse

    Having done fifteen years in the funeral industry (pls note; the word funeral begins with f-u-n I've spent a lot of time with dead human remains in all stages of decomposition. Consequently, I was quite interested to read about these practices a few years ago; and, can relate to the experience. Personaly I am totaly in awe and fascination of the anaomy and physiology of the human system. It,s workings are the epitome of impermaence. I can go on but my batery is low. Suffice it to say thepractice is a worthwhile effort

  10. #10

    Re: Rotting Corpse

    I found this talk about death mediation and I think it is very good...
    just wanted to add this to the mix

    [youtube] [/youtube]

    Gassho

    Seiryu

  11. #11

    Re: Rotting Corpse

    Thank you for the post, Seiryu.

    "Meditation on corpses" is not a form of Zazen we do "as Zazen" (Shikantaza). However, at other times, we may contemplate/meditate on death and the impermanence of the body as much as any other Buddhists. Mongen and I have worked at Hospice centers, holding the hands of those on their deathbeds ... incredibly worthwhile practice. We may sometimes meditate with sick and dying family members, and I sometimes sit in a cemetery (a lovely place to sit). It is not a form of Zazen we do as Zazen, although we contemplate/meditate on death, dying, the impermanence and vanity of the body, and the corpse like other Buddhists.

    It sounds awfully bleak ... but, truly, each can be a joyous AFFIRMATION of this life too.

    HOWEVER, A WORD OF CAUTION:

    It is a dangerous practice, especially without a teacher to guide one through (maybe even with a teacher if the contemplator is very sensitive). So, I hesitate to recommend what is recommended in that video ... expressing to those prone to rather dark or depressive natures. I recall this story from the ancient Vinaya ...

    One infamous example of monastic suicide occurred following the Buddha’s lecture on detachment and meditating on the loathsomeness of the body [and his recommendation of the contemplation of corpses]. Shortly after the lecture, the Buddha went into seclusion for ?fteen days [leaving the monks to practice alone and unsupervised] and then returned to ?nd that over a hundred monks were dead, either by suicide or by asking a local recluse, Migalandika, to kill them. :shock:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=tsFURZ ... ya&f=false

    So, I would not encourage everyone to go marching down to the county morgue to sit Zazen on a slab. :?

    However, let us all be aware at how we must not be overly attached to mere physical beauty, the things of the body ... and appreciate the wonder and joys of this life. That is something we should all do.

    Gassho, J

  12. #12

    Re: Rotting Corpse

    I would like to recommend to everyone a lovely, recent Japanese film (won the Oscar) call ... Departures ...

    I wrote this about it, and my own experience at family funerals here in Japan ...

    Our Shokai, who was a funeral director here in Japan for some time, can speak of this much better. However, I experienced this twice in Japan, and I believe it truly lovely.

    First, the deceased may be brought home (not everyone does this though), and placed on a "futon" (with dry ice) while the family ... kids and all ... have a kind of "Irish Wake" around him for 2 or 3 days ... chatting with him, telling stories about him. Then, a kind of bath and dressing is performed, with the whole family taking part. This was the subject of the lovely movie "Departures", which won the Oscar (see below).

    The Buddhist priests come at various times to chant this or that.

    Oh, and there is a Chanting service where family, friends, co-workers all gather, usually in a temple or rented hall.

    Then, the whole family goes to the crematorium, which has a special room where everyone eats and drinks beer while grandpa is burned up.

    Then, the whole family ... mothers and dads holding the hands of the smallest kids ... go in a room and, with big chopsticks, move granpa's bones (many still quite recognizable) into the urn. Parents help the littlest kids.

    It is sad, but a beautiful experience ... and (in my opinion) rather nicer that the "throw makeup on the body and keep it at a distance" attitude in much of the modern west. The Japanese way is a true GOODBYE, FAREWELL. The preciousness of life is impressed on everyone.

    Me, I told my wife to call the public sanitation and haul me away with the old kitchen appliances. Since that is illegal (and after harvesting any organs, although that is just catching on here in Japan), get the cheapest cremation she can find and dump the ashes somewhere on Tsukuba mountain (carefully, cause that is possibly illegal too), maybe a bit under our persimmon tree in the back field. "Think of me once in awhile when you look at the mountain and the tree". 8) **

    Gassho, J

    ** However, if anyone really really feels the need to turn me into a mummy ... you have my permission! :roll:



    For a more critical, but hilarious look at the funeral business in Japan ... including the monk who comes in his rolls royce ...

    THE FUNERAL (older film)
    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/23/movie ... itami.html

  13. #13
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Rotting Corpse

    Thank you Jundo Sensei. I have seen it and thought it was a wonderful film. I was even thinking about suggesting it in the future for our film club to watch. If anyone hasn't been over to the film club lately check it out
    We are currently discussing the movie Zen.

    Gassho,
    John

  14. #14
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Rotting Corpse

    Appropriate topic for Memorial Day here in the US

  15. #15

    Re: Rotting Corpse

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Thank you Jundo Sensei. I have seen it and thought it was a wonderful film. I was even thinking about suggesting it in the future for our film club to watch.

    Gassho,
    John
    Good idea!

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