Saturday, September 26, 2020

Buddhism, your body post death

There’s no specific advice around burials in Buddhism. Buddhism does acknowledge that our bodies, the one we loved an cherished for many years, will ultimately return to the earth, to the worms and the beetles, and yes to the birds. Buddhism and Buddhists adapt to each culture. The central teachings remain the same, but day-to-day conventions around ways of living can vary. There’s nothing in the teaching of the Buddha that would forbid a sky burial. So whenever a group meets a culture with sky burial, it does not stop it, the practice carries on.

There is some benefit to seeing bodies decay. The Buddha would sometimes suggest a meditator go practice on the “charnel grounds”, these are cemeteries, but I think bodies were placed atop the earth. The flies and the worms would come. A stench would develop. After months, the skin and muscles would rot away the bones would start to become visible. The monks he recommended this to were typically troubled by lust. They were asked to reflect upon the fact that their own bodies and the bodies of the ladies they lusted for, all these were subject to the same decay. They had not got beyond the state of rot and stench.

As meditators, we are asked to make much of the death around us. Relatives who die. Squirrels lying dead on the side of the road. Insects and pets. Whatever. We don’t have much time as humans. It’s best to stop ignoring this fundamental truth and attend to the task at hand without delay.

- Jim, who was a monk with Aukana Trust