This is an ex-monk (but Buddhists say he’s alive)

Trigger warning: frozen Buddhist

This is an ex-monk. He has ceased to be. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. He has joined the choir invisible:

_80772094_insidemummy

According to the BBC News, this monk’s body (his robes are beside him in the photo) was found frozen and preserved in Mongolia. There’s no telling how long he’s been dead, but the Mongolian climate probably freeze-dried the body, explaining the remarkable preservation.

The thing is, though, that some Buddhists think he’s alive!

But Dr Barry Kerzin, a physician to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, told the Siberian Times that the monk was in a rare state of meditation called “tukdam”.

“If the meditator can continue to stay in this meditative state, he can become a Buddha,” Dr Kerzin said.

The monk was discovered after being stolen by a man hoping to sell him on the black market.

Mongolian police have arrested the culprit and the monk is now being guarded at the National Centre of Forensic Expertise.

The Siberian Times piece adds this:

Dr Barry Kerzin, a famous Buddhist monk and a physician to the Dalai Lama, said: ‘I had the privilege to take care of some meditators who were in a tukdam state.

‘If the person is able to remain in this state for more than three weeks – which rarely happens – his body gradually shrinks, and in the end all that remains from the person is his hair, nails, and clothes. Usually in this case, people who live next to the monk see a rainbow that glows in the sky for several days. This means that he has found a ‘rainbow body’. This is the highest state close to the state of Buddha’.

He added: ‘If the meditator can continue to stay in this meditative state, he can become a Buddha. Reaching such a high spiritual level the meditator will also help others, and all the people around will feel a deep sense of joy’.

Now perhaps you can be dead and still be in a “meditative state,” but I don’t know how that works, nor have I heard anything about that in my fragmentary readings about Buddhism.

Regardless, though, this nonsense shows that not all Buddhists are rationalists. Buddhism is often praised for not having the supernatural beliefs that cast doubt on other faiths, but even the Dalai Lama (often praised for being science-friendly) believes in reincarnation and karma—unevidenced spiritual doctrines.

In the meantime, although the doctor says that this monk is just resting and pining for the Potala, he is in fact a late monk, one who’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff.

UPDATE: I just received this email, which I won’t dignify with a reply save to say that here we have a fruitcake with extra brandy:

you cant leave anyone alone can you.you are absolutely sure that no form whatsoever of reincarnation takes  place what is it when a ray of sunlight hits a leaf you don’t know what 90 per cent of the universe is,but you arrogantly assure the unwashed what it isn’t.pure hubris

h/t:Barry

 

111 Comments

  1. Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    He’s still alive, but he desperately needs intravenous vitamin C and a strong cup of Darjeeling tea.

    • Alex Shuffell
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      He needs to sit up straight too. If he keeps his neck bent like that he will do some serious damage.

    • Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Though your advice appears to be
      sound, I had to check with my personal guru, the random Deepakity generator. I know you will be thrilled to find out that you are correct!

      “Making tea influences the progressive expansion of force fields”

    • Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      youtube.com/watch?v=VoPPMktXCEI

      This will revive him. Tea, song, sand, fire.

    • jaxkayaker
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 6:03 am | Permalink

      And a good long soak in a nice warm bath.

  2. Pliny the in Between
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    “In the meantime, although the doctor says that this monk is just resting and pining for the Potala, he is in fact a late monk, one who’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff.”

    I don’t know why, but this passage is conjuring up memories of Micheal Palin, John Cleese and an unfortunate parrot.

    • ploubere
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      That came to my mind too. “a late parrot!”

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      You didn’t get that from the title? 😀

  3. Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Oi vey.
    Meditation surely works…
    But I am confused about the preservation of the body (I am a complete layman). I can imagine how it can happen in very cold and dry conditions. But I would imagine that it wouldn’t work so well anymore once the body is exposed to more normal conditions.
    Can anyone explain this?

    • Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      I suspect he’s like beef jerky now: all the fluids are gone, and so he’s a leather man. But I can’t say for sure.

      • Cb
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Looks like a cat that a friend found under his cottage-basically freeze dried. (Cold winters up here) and quite sad. I hope the monk was in a good state of mind when he died.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 7, 2015 at 3:28 am | Permalink

          Umm, if he ‘died’ and was perfectly preserved in a frozen state including all his brain cells, then wouldn’t his good state of mind also have been preserved? So that in some sense he is not actually dead?

          I’m sure there’s a catch somewhere.

          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted February 7, 2015 at 6:52 am | Permalink

            There is no actual ‘state’ in which brain cells either are or could be preserved in. The brain is in continual process of electrical and chemical change.
            It is the process that generates the mind.
            There needs to be potential differences, gradients, at each stage of the process.
            Any fixed state is death.

            • CB
              Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

              Oh, I just meant I hope he was not thinking to himself ‘why on earth did I get myself into this mess!’ And was reasonably content. Nothing more esoteric than that.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 7, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

                That is a benevolent and charitable thought. I hope so too.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted February 7, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

              This would mean that the cryonically frozen people (most famously but incorrectly including Walt Disney) are S.O.L.

              I just Googled ‘cryonics’, there’s a whole Wikipedia article on it. But even if valid, I suspect it would require massive injections of the miracle ingredient $$$$ to work.

              • Michael Waterhouse
                Posted February 8, 2015 at 4:05 am | Permalink

                I’m not sure what S.O.L is but I wonder if a brain could be restarted. It couldn’t keep the same exact state as that is too complex but I wonder if it would be like waking up or coming out of a concussion. I wonder if memories would be there?
                I reckon it would be mush.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 8, 2015 at 4:34 am | Permalink

                Sorry. S.O.L. = Stiff outta luck.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 8, 2015 at 4:36 am | Permalink

                I suppose the aim of the cryonics people would be to freeze the brain in such a way that the structure was perfectly preserved.

                I imagine this could be difficult.

              • Michael Waterhouse
                Posted February 9, 2015 at 5:53 am | Permalink

                S.O.L indeed.

      • Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        I think you’re right. I just found a pic online of this monk, before the transition.

        • Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          Note the lotus position.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

            That’s actually the beef jerky position and it definitely has black market potential.

    • aldrayn
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      I have seen bodies preserved like this in Peruvian museums, they are dessicated in desert environments. One such mummy in a Peruvian museum had a hand cut off and had been re-hydrated in a jar of water, it was like when you soak dried fruits, it reconstituted into a nice plumpiness…given enough time in a damp environment the dead monk would plump up and then rot. Or he could be crushed to a powder and put into capsules for communion…another religion comes to mind who eat their dead martyrs in the form of a nice crispy wafer.

      As for Buddhism, I will convert when the next Dalai Lama reincarnates as a girl in some back woods Missouri fundamentalist christian family.

      I met the Theocratic leader in Manali in 1982…he preaches to poor illiterate peasants. Peasants on a miserable daily diet of tsampa and rancid yak butter tea are easy to bamboozle.

      Definition of a peasant: One who produces a surplus for a parasite class such as the religious clergy. In the case of Tibetans, they have been producing surplus babies who were snatched from their homes to work as monks for the elite theocrats in the Potala.

      • Timothy Hughbanks
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Peasant(Americam style):

        You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish… can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires.
        – Matt Taibbi

    • Mattapult
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      I saw a show on self-mummification a long time ago, here’s what I remember. It’s a 3,000 day process (commitment!) broken into 1,000 day phases. Basically, they exercise obsessively and eat very little to get as close as possible to 0% body fat, which would otherwise retain water and decay the corpse. In the last few days, the Monks would drink from a magic well, “magic” meaning “contains trace amounts of arsenic.” The arsenic would kill stomach bacteria that might otherwise decay the corpse.
      Then the Monk climbs into a mausoleum, sits for days in the lotus position and rings a bell periodically. Once the bell stoped ringing, the other Monks would wait 1,000 days before peeking in. It was considered a success if the monk was still sitting and hadn’t rotted.

  4. GBJames
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    He’s bleeding joined the choir invisible!

    Tukdam!

    The human mind is nothing if not imaginative.

  5. Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I started watching a movie which began with a monk in the tukdam state. A group of monks arrived at his isolated ‘cave’ played music in his ears to let him know they were there, then cleaned him up and took him home.

    Personally I thought the entire scene was ridiculous. He had been in the lotus position so long his fingers and joints had to be forced back into their normal positions, and the other evidence (hair & nail growth, etc.) indicated he had been in that position for more than just a few days. He would have died of thirst long before he died of starvation (and he certainly wasn’t in a position to make any meals).

    So do we have any evidence of someone actually managing to survive for a week or more in that state? I think not.

    Breft of life, he rests in peace. If you hadn’t stolen his body and tried to sell it on the black market, he’d be pushing up the daisies!

    • Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      The Tukdam Channel is the most boring thing on basic cable. 24 hours of motionless, silent monks. And the banal commentary! “He’s about to move … he’s going to move, Jim! Aaaaaand, no. I was wrong.”

      Actually, second-most boring. After C-SPAN, of course.

  6. GBJames
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    And.. regarding the note at the end.

    Authorities on reincarnation should take the time to master basic punctuation skills.

    • Rafael
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      It might be hard to type with stiff hands from all that meditation, y’know.

      • Cb
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Actually meditation loosens you up

    • William G
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s progress that he didn’t go in the other direction and use CAPS LOCK.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Probably typed from his phone. I tend to abandon caps & punctuation on mine…

  7. Myron
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    “This is an ex-monk. He has ceased to be.” – J. Coyne

    He’s certainly dead, but he hasn’t ceased to be. He is still there. He has “survived” his (psychological and biological) death, and now continues to exist as a mind- and lifeless corpse. Why? Because we humans are animals, and dead animals are existing animals (unless the cause of death is e.g. an explosion that destroys the animal completely). The dead monk is not an ex-animal but only an ex-person. He will cease to exist only when he disintegrates physically. For example, he would no longer exist if he had been cremated.

    • Doriw Walker
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      Huh?

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      You want say a lifeless corpse is still an animal? Why? Because it still has the shape and outward appearance of what is was when it was alive? It’s chemistry has changed dramatically; even its composition has already radically changed. It is almoat as if you think a piece of petrified wood is still a piece of wood.

      • GBJames
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think I agree there, Timothy. When I go to the grocery I see object in the meat department labeled “chicken”. It doesn’t say “item having the shape and outward appearance of what was once a chicken, but missing the feathers”. It’s a dead chicken, but still a chicken. Same thing is observable at the fish counter.

      • microraptor
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        No, petrified wood is a mineral that used to be a vegetable.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted February 11, 2015 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      Question is, could you make a nutritious soup out of him? I reckon that makes him biological rather than mineral, and he’s not a vegetable, so…

  8. Muttley
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    When he comes round he’s going to be pissed off that his phone has been pinched.

    If you put an iphone in his hand, stuck a jacket on him and put him on a train, it would be weeks before anyone realised he was dead.

    • GBJames
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Dead? He’s not dead, he’s pining for the fjords!

  9. Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    The monk was discovered after being stolen by a man hoping to sell him on the black market.

    That’s not a sentence you see too often.

    • ploubere
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      I wonder what a well-preserved monk fetches on the black market these days.

      • microraptor
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        More than an Asian palm civet, but less than a pangolin.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted February 11, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

          He’s probably not worth his weight in tiger penises or bear bile.

    • Robert Seidel
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      It’s good they intercepted / freed him. Maybe he narrowly escaped being ground up for traditional medicine. That, I think, would have seriously disturbed his meditation.

  10. Q-Tim
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    There’s certainly lots of bullshit in Buddhism, as many have pointed out– including, for instance, Sam Harris, who is very well familiar with the subject.

    However, if one takes the core Buddhist teachings and excises all supernatural nonsense and such, there still going to be quite a bit of useful stuff left.

    E.g., editing Satipatthana Sutta (one of the Buddha’s discourses) to remove all the stuff about reincarnation would still leave you with decent psychology treatise/meditation manual (a 2.5 year old one, but nonetheless).

    What’s going to be left if you remove BS, nonsense, irrelevant and/or bad stuff from, say, Leviticus or Deuteronomy?

    • Muttley
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Punctuation, but if the email PCC got is anything to go by, they wouldn’t know what to do with it.

      • Cb
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        The tradition of meditation that developed in Tibet, joined with warrior traditions from Mongolia and also incorporating Tantric teachings from India is quite impeccable.And amazingly intelligent. There are many aspects in the tradition that are inimical to a strictly rational mind and nobody is enforcing belief- .
        I have been inculcated with the edict of ‘not regarding one’s own view as best’ in my many years of buddhist involvement. Criticizing punctuation and grammar when you have no idea of a person’s background seems a bit petty to me. He/she may have only just arrived from Kham or who knows where and English may be a third or fourth language. Intelligence involves more than knowing the earth is round and simple data.

        • GBJames
          Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

          That’s possible. The writer might be “right off the boat”, so to speak. But if you read the content of the message, it is clear that intelligence, or at least wisdom, isn’t much in evidence. This is a dead monk. He isn’t meditating.

          He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!!

          I’ll wager that failure to punctuate reasonably probably occurs in the writer’s native language as well.

          • CB
            Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

            I agree his comment is not too smart or whatever.
            I just read the article about the finding of the mummy. It is ostensibly around 200 years old. I think even the most devoted of practitioners would regard it as a simple mummy after that length of time.-tho’ apparently the good doctor did not. Tukdam means sacred body and in my experience refers to the state of the body of a master after death when some signs of sacredness remain- warmth around the heart etc. (as a person with a science education I have trouble with the whole set of ideas -but I do have respect for them)and after those signs fade then a ceremony usually involving ceremonial burning is conducted. Since he was found in Mongolia he likely was not longing for the Potala. Tho’ in the Potala- before the Chinese got their hands on it- there were gold plated mummies of past teachers. How’s that for a different cast of mind.
            In Tibet an ordinary dead body is dissected a bit and put out on a rock for vultures etc. The tradition of the rainbow body is peculiar to one of the sects and practices of Tibetan Buddhism and there is not much left to do anything with other than hair and fingernails. It all transcends rationality for sure but nevertheless has much depth. The conditions of life and relation to the world were/are very different from Northern European views of life.

            • GBJames
              Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

              Humanity has created innumerable variants on what to do with the bodies of dead people and why what they do should be done. It is interesting stuff. But it is interesting partly because of the light it shines on how insane people can be when dealing with death. Very little of it makes much sense when you examine it, based as it nearly always is in fictional notions about how the universe works.

              Mortuary practices are a worthy subject of study. But falling into the trap of artificial respect for silly ideas is a step beyond. It leads to some insane policy arguments, like the one about Kennewick Man’s skull.

              Personally, we should all get done up like Jeremy Bentham although finding storage for us all might be a bit of a challenge.

              • CB
                Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

                There is not much else to do with dead bodies in Tibet-the ground being frozen and all for much of the year.feeding vultures seems pretty sane in the circumstances. Plus there being very little wood available a funeral pyre is reserved for people of note-often some time (months)after the death-the body often preserved in salt in the meantime-to allow time for people from far and wide, on yak or horseback to attend to pay respect. Somebody else on here was talking about rolling their eyes and moving along which is not exactly acceptance.some customs seem directly harmful like FGM for example and the excesses of the S. USA fundamentalist and I would not advocate acceptance there -but an intelligent curiosity is often warranted, certainly in advance of eye rolling and dismissal.
                The Tibetans I have known-quite a few-are remarkably straightforward and down to earth dealing with death-the death rate of mothers around childbirth is appalling as is infant mortality.A highborn lady from Lhadak once said to me ‘It’s very easy to die in Lhadak after the age of 40.’
                Sometimes people from those areas they just laugh at western interpretations of their ‘beliefs’.Better just to help with setting up medical clinics and finance roving teams of medical people who can deal with cataracts and restore sight etc. plus literacy programs where it is workable.

              • GBJames
                Posted February 7, 2015 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

                What exactly do you mean by “acceptance”? If you mean “recognition of”, that’s one thing. If you mean “honoring and respecting the idea”, that’s another. It is one thing to be fascinated by the ritual burial of sacrificial victims along with a dead “great man”, it is something else to not try to stop such behavior if one encounters it. (Not that one encounters that particular practice any more.)

              • CB
                Posted February 7, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

                Someone else in these comments commented on his hands which are in the teaching mudra. I had managed not to notice this. It likely means he did not die in solitary retreat but was surrounded by students etc. and was fully aware and possibly actively teaching when he died. So the body likely became an object of veneration.the kudung of one of his principal students(if he is who he is currently thought to be) has also been found. He was packed in salt and is in pretty decent shape also.
                We in the west have some pretty silly burial customs also-elaborate lead lined coffins and preservation of the body etc. I intend to dig a big hole in my garden when the time approaches and sit by it with an adequate supply of decent wine and hopefully tumble in the right direction.
                I think I have already said what I think about cruel and ‘immoral’ customs.
                Did you read about the recent stramash(good Scots word) in Scotland where some evangelists from the US invaded a group of Scottish schools and began teaching YEC? In Scotland-the land of enlightened education!That’s what can happen when other people’s customs are regarded as inadequate.
                Fortunately someone caught it and they have been sent packing-but not soon enough.

              • GBJames
                Posted February 8, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

                Bodies can be positioned in all kinds of ways after death. He didn’t necessarily do this to himself.

    • Q-Tim
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      2.5 thousand years, of course

    • Posted February 7, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      I agree.

      I would suspect that the karma and reincarnation terms are used loosely within the Buddhist community. ‘Karma’ could be used in the way that “what goes around comes around’. I suspect that some of them don’t really believe in reincarnation, and it’s more of metaphor, and perhaps just a cultural tradition when it comes to this thing about the new Dalai Lama being a reincarnation of the last one, and so forth. I’ve seen a talk with the Dalai Lama, and he was very natural and comfortable in one of his responses where he said that the Universe is indifferent to us.

      • ECB
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        To watch quite a bit of the Dalai Lama look up mind and life conferences on YouTube.he has been setting up these conferences for quite a few years now with western scientists-the most recent ones being with neuroscientists. They can be bonecrackingly boring, funny and kind of amazing all at the same time. But quite genuine, I feel.

  11. Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps he’s merely spending a year dead for tax purposes.

    • grasshopper
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      The monk’s last words were “So long, and thanks for all the fish”. Lady Hope told me.

  12. microraptor
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Are you sure he’s not just mostly dead?

    Has anyone checked for a pulse?

    • Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Some Chabadniks believe that their rabbi is not dead, and he was buried years ago.
      Those who say that the monk is alive won’t be the technicality that he has no pulse.

      • Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Kim Il-sung is the “eternal president” of north korea, so being dead and buried is apparently only a minor inconvenience

        • Posted February 7, 2015 at 2:55 am | Permalink

          Mary Baker Eddy is still the “Pastor Emeritus” of Christian Science. Her followers refused to admit that she had died, until that became untenable. They seem to have toned down the belief that she is still alive.

        • Posted February 7, 2015 at 5:43 am | Permalink

          Hahah +1

      • microraptor
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        It was a reference to Mystery Men.

  13. Ken Phelps
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    “If the meditator can continue to stay in this meditative state…”

    Ohhhh, I think that’s a given.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      lol!

  14. Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this! I have a faible for mummified Buddhists. Dunno why. Google “sokoshinbutsu” (a Japanese technique for self-mummification) for more images. This Thai monk I find most coolest: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Tpltxn41x8w/UlCBjJwo2PI/AAAAAAAAMkQ/M99S9jCLnZ8/s1600/selbstmumifizierung+buddhistischer+m%C3%B6nche+hotnewsblog.jpg

    For night meditation I like to visualize the mummy of Sangha Tenzin, sitting in his Himalayan cave for 500 years, looking at clouds and mountains breathing in breathing out. http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/go-away-to-gue/article4561440.ece

  15. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Believe the guy who left the email could use some meditation, or maybe that’s marination.

  16. tubby
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I seem to recall from an art history class a looooong time ago that monks could sort of ensure their bodies became natural mummies by slowly starving themselves and setting up meditation shop in a cold, dry area and that doing this aided them in becoming a Buddha themselves. I don’t recall anything about being in a trance state though, just a kind of martyrdom.

    • Cb
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Well, you should not believe everything you hear

      • tubby
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        I would hope that the texts used in a college level art history course would be properly sourced and actually as correct as it could be given the material.

  17. Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Hot damn! Another example of fanciful thinking. Wake up, people! (Not you, Zombie seated in lotus position.)

  18. Dave
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t Monty Python do a skit about a dead monk? No, wait a minute, that was a parrot. Truth imitating art…again.

    • Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      I think Jerry’s intro paid homage – well, it did, I’m only assuming it was intentional. I doubt he’s pining for the Tibetan fjords, but then I am arrogant – arrogant I tells ya! – and don’t know about sunlight hitting a leaf and the unwashed whatever.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        It is confusing, it must be some old religious reference, because I am thinking of the poor monk. He is moldy, so clearly unwashed.

        • Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

          Actually, the leaf part sounds like a Deepity.

  19. Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I’d love to hear Sam Harris’s take on this. He knows about meditation and Buddhism. Come on, Sam!

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      My take home message was that 3 weeks of meditation (and likely some access to water) makes you moldy. And very dead.

      I’m putting that in the “very harmful” bin.

  20. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Has anybody asked the poor dehydrated monk if he wants assisted suicide? Or at least his clothes?

    what is it when a ray of sunlight hits a leaf you don’t know what 90 per cent of the universe is,

    I think the correspondent has that backwards. We used to not know what 95 percent of the universe was, or even that it existed, or how far back light would take us.

    But now we know all that, and we know for sure that sunlight on a leaf is among the completely known 10^11 or so standard parts of the local universe vs the exotic physics that we just recently constrained.

    The correct question is “why didn’t you know much about the physics that appear when you go out an order of magnitude more in distance than the Milky Way is large”, and the answer is that “it is early days for cosmology (and even if we know more now we can always constrain it better)”.

    And yes, that standard physics declares that monk as nailed on his perch, his metabolic processes now history.

    • Kevin
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, one need not be an astute physicists to find out on Google what a photon from the sun that first transits our atmosphere may do when it comes into contact with a leaf.

      I can account for scattering, absorption, and possibly diffraction (depending on the leaf). That has got to account for about 99.99999999% of all possibilities. Maybe some non-linear interaction, or high order photon-photon scattering (P<10-34). And as you state, each of the paths the photon may take is known to within 1/10^11. This guy/girl needs to know what hubris actually means.

  21. Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    We may appear to be arrogant and hubristic, with our Western “facts” and “theories,” but at least we are open to evidence that might change our views. I would expect by contrast that Jerry’s correspondent is impervious to disconfiing evidenxe and will continue to sound like a nutbar (and just a wee bit arrogant, ironically).

    What is it with overwrought email writers and the shift key? They seem to either have caps lock fully on, or no caps at all. Makes me wonder how much editing the the “letters from readers” desk at a newspaper must do before they go to press – they shouldn’t! Print the letters as they come, incorrect casing, spelling and all. We have a right to know with whom we’re dealing.

    • C
      Posted February 8, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Well, you are technically and logically correct of course. I am less inclined to be that skeptical knowing something of the tradition.
      As to ‘acceptance’
      I was talking about strange traditional customs-trying to see them as meaningful to the people involved, as meaningful, or as acceptable as our customs are to us-and some of those are pretty strange. Not acceptable in any way are things that IS is currently up to. I think there are no hard and fast boundaries and and one has to use judgement and awareness.
      The American evangelists in Scotland plainly had no respect or acceptance of the local customs and thought their way was better.

  22. Roger
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    So if he sneezes he won’t get to be a Buddha.

  23. Mike Paps
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    He wasn’t stolen to be sold. He was kidnapped for ransom. Let’s have some respect for Buddhists deeply held religious beliefs. :p

  24. Dave
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    From the position he’s holding his arms in, I think he’d make a handy umbrella stand if you sat him in the corner next to the front door.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      Great idea! Save an elephant!

  25. FloM
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Where is the news? You can find people like that in every corporate office…

  26. Kevin
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Want to find Buddha?

    Go to your favorite restaurant. Eat copiously. When you can endure no more, take your hands and brace your belly, shake and repeat:

    “Buddha belly, Buddha belly, Buddha belly.”

    Then you will find Buddha.

  27. Jay Lonner
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m no Buddhist, nor do I have similar metaphysical commitments. But I am a physician, and have witnessed many deaths that have been immiserated through interventions that prolong life but take away from living. When my time comes, I hope that I can contemplate eternity in a similarly accepting and stoic posture.

  28. W.Benson
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    The Dalai Lama, although apparently a nice guy, is nevertheless just one more misguided transcendentalist.

  29. Roan Ridgeway
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I would prefer not to have Dr. Barry Kerzin tend to my medical needs.

  30. Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    anybody up for a weekend at buddha’s?

  31. Jeffery
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Buddhism has been around long enough that the inevitable proliferation of various “sects” has resulted in the introduction of many strange and bizarre beliefs and practices, especially in the Tibetan region. Alexandra David-Neel’s book, “Magic and Mystery in Tibet” runs through a lot of them, such as the heating of the body by meditative power (tested by how many wet cloths you can dry on yourself outside in winter after they’ve been dipped in an icy river); the “walling up” of a devotee in a rock enclosure with only a top opening (which the devotee levitates out of when sufficiently enlightened); “lungam-pa” runners, who can run for hundreds of miles while in a trance, etc.

    I’ve always thought it amusing that, although traditional Buddhist doctrine denies the existence of any fixed “self”, many Buddhists somehow persist in believing in reincarnation- of what? The Dalai Lama holds his position of wealth and privilege due only to this belief. I do find the doctrine of “dependent arising”, where the “self” is simply manifested whenever conditions are right, to be a fairly accurate appraisal of our human condition.

    One researcher (his name escapes me right now) spent a good deal of his life studying cases of supposed reincarnation in Asia, in areas where the belief was widely held. Much to his disappointment, he was only able to come up with a couple of cases that seemed impossible to explain logically.

  32. marksolock
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  33. Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t call this a rare state. Most people in human history are right there with him.

  34. Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  35. Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Different religions have different belief systems. If Christianity whose basic tenet is the resurrection of Jesus Christ can be called rational, then so can other religions. Our lack of understanding of beliefs must not interfere with our acceptance of other peoples beliefs. Some religious practises are so bizarre that it confounds normal people, but since this is accepted my the members of that religion, one just lives with the fact…

    • Posted February 7, 2015 at 2:32 am | Permalink

      “If Christianity whose basic tenet is the resurrection of Jesus Christ can be called rational, then so can other religions. ”

      OK, let me be first. Who says the resurrection of Jesus Christ can be called rational?

      It implies that a flesh-and-blood human being, not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead, can lie in a cold tomb for two nights and a day, and then stop being dead, and resume being alive. What does this do to the meaning of “dead” – let alone “decay”?

      “Our lack of understanding of beliefs must not interfere with our acceptance of other peoples beliefs.”

      If by “acceptance” you mean “agreement” I (and I doubt that I’m alone) couldn’t disagree more. If you mean we roll our eyes and move on, I guess. But when their beliefs then lead to them violating other people’s human rights, as is often the case, then we may have to challenge the beliefs themselves.

      • Posted February 7, 2015 at 5:17 am | Permalink

        Look up “the outsider’s test for faith”

  36. Ionescu
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    I keep getting surprised by the stupidity of the media. So the object was discovered AFTER it was stolen.

  37. Gerard O'Neill
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    E = mc²

    • microraptor
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      E=MC Hammer

  38. Mattapult
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    “you are absolutely sure that no form whatsoever of reincarnation takes place”

    A dead body is not proof of reincarnation. Soaking him in Miracle Grow and watching him wake up would be, but let’s be honest, that won’t happen.

  39. Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    How old is this mummy, any carbon dating done?
    That is what makes these mummies fascinating nowadays, we can know how old they are, what they ate, what type of environment they lived, which diseases they had, often what they probably died of and some more, but alas not what it was thinking. (unless specific mummy ca be identified as a specific author).
    Hooray for science!

    • Mattapult
      Posted February 7, 2015 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      we can know how old they are, what they ate, what type of environment they lived, which diseases they had…

      $20 says he had the Faith Virus.

  40. qualandar
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Ramblings.

  41. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    There was in the 19th and early 20th century a massive attempt to “market” Buddhism in the West as being science friendly, an impression which better historians no longer have.

    However, there are thousands of Americans who self-identify as Buddhist who have an extraordinarily superficial view of Buddhist history. A sampling of the more enlightened (meaning historically enlightened) Buddhists congregate in the movement known as “secular Buddhism”.

    I myself regard the entire concept of a “meditative state” as problematic. Ideally, meditation should be a way of establishing a different way of relating to the world around you. My experience is that for many meditation brings calm and focus, but does not necessarily bring wisdom.


%d bloggers like this: