Inspiration

Tibetan Sky Burial

When I die, I want to free up real estate so that others can more easily take my place. So I don’t like the idea of being buried in the ground. Just incinerate my body and spread the ashes to the wind.

Or better yet, let me feed the wildlife, by giving me a Tibetan-style Sky Burial.

The finality of death is chilling. I like to dispel the chill by assuming there’s a hereafter. I like to assume that the only finality is the end of our history on this earth, and that somehow our consciousness will migrate to a different realm.

We simply move on, to chase new unicorns in new ways.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no inside information on this subject. And I’m willing to agree that I could be living in a fool’s paradise. But for me, a fool’s paradise beats the depression and abject terror that would darken my every remaining day, if I assumed there is no more life after our bodies cease to function.

So I can watch a Tibetan Sky Burial with hope, rather than horror. I see death as a change, and quite possibly a change for the better. And this thought of death as change leaves me looking forward, to some degree, to my last day on this crazy earth.

Tibetan Sky Burials tend to attract audiences of Chinese tourists. And the monks who conduct these burials sometimes complain about the tourists, viewing them and their cell phone cameras as desecrating a solemn event.

And yet Buddhism teaches us to embrace impermanence. One way to embrace the impermanence of life, is to come face-to-face with this vulturine approach to the disposal of dead bodies. So I like that audiences and cell phone cameras are allowed.

You too can be part of the audience, by watching the following video.

But I must warn you: If you’re squeamish, you might want to keep a barf bucket nearby.

Categories: Inspiration

183 replies »

  1. I routinely get to watch black vultures and turkey vultures perform deer sky burials on the side of the roads where I live. That is the state’s solution, and even though it is a bit disgusting I think it is a good solution. We have a very large population of vultures around here these days and it is illegal to interfere with them.

    Deer enjoy a symbiotic relationship with man around here as they can’t be hunted in most places and we have driven away all of their other natural predators. Then vultures also get a nice symbiotic relationship with man as our vehicles are the deer’s new unnatural predator, but a predator that does not consume the carcass.

    I love nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having lived in Texas hill country, I can remember many dead deer carcasses by the side of the road, while commuting from Buchanan Dam to Burnet. I was very poor, and a bit tempted to interfere with the vultures, for my share of the protein, whether or not it was legal.
      But vultures are nature’s undertakers, and perform an essential job. So these days I would never interfere with them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As an aside, it would take 50,000,000,000,000 graves to fill the land area of the earth if we don’t bury people on top of other people. That is 10,000 times as many people as there are in existence. So, if everyone was buried in their own grave, it would take up a hundredth of a percent of the land.

    Just to ease your mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s reassuring. Just the same, cemeteries seem to me like a waste of space. As do Indian burial grounds. There’s nothing sacred about them, in my view. I’m all for leaving room for those who follow, even if it is just a tiny bit of room.

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      • It seems like our modern burial techniques are designed to preserve the carcass for centuries to come. I can’t really say that I understand why. We have the same sort of issue here that the ancient Egyptians did, I suppose.

        I am ok with just burying me in a good hole and letting the worms and microbes do their business. Leave a stone marker that will probably only be relevant for a century or two. Maybe an archeologist will find me as a curiosity in a few thousand years. I have seen the mummies on display at a museum and thought to myself “boy, their plans did not work out the way they thought. Here they are a couple of thousand years later, on another continent, with a bunch weird people paying to look at their bodies.”

        Even the best remembered person will be lost to history in a few thousand years. Our entire species may be lost to history in a few million years. Eventually the sun will die a violent death and either destroy our earth or anything close to its surface. Even if Earth does survive the death of the sun, several billion years later it will eventually fall into the white dwarf carcass of the sun and be finally destroyed. And then, if dark energy theory is to be believed, all of the matter that makes up the earth, the sun, and us will be eventually torn apart as dark energy eventually grows to overpower every other force. Who knows. We are pretty temporary in the universe, it appears.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s a pretty funny view of those Egyptian mummies. Yeah, the poor bastards. Things have not worked out for them at all.
          You’re right about being forgotten, because nothing is permanent. Even the most famous human will one day cease to exist in known history.
          Buddhists have this theory that’s quite similar to the Big Bang. According to them, the universe follows a cycle of birth and death. It was born spontaneously, it will expand for awhile, and then one day it will collapse upon itself and disintegrate, only to start anew again.
          I agree, we are very temporary. But as long as we continue to be temporary, I have no problem with that.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. HI TG. An interesting Post but I have to ask why “The finality of death is chilling”? Such a dismal perspective on the inevitable. I would like to believe in a “hereafter”, but am realistic enough to know that nothing is assured … but there is nothing “chilling” about it to me.

    I am already slowly losing touch with the world, and have difficulty projecting much of a future for our species over the next 50-100 years. I can remember my grandmother preaching “doom and gloom”, which was probably understandable as she had lived through two world wars and knew that the nuclear bombs which devastated Japan would totally change warfare in the future to something close to total annihilation.

    I would like to live another 10 years or so but, after that, I think that I will be quite happy to take a permanent break from the world. The finality of death? Quite possibly, but chilling? Hell … no. If I have any say in my timing, it will be simply another adventure! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t believe in a sky daddy, but it’s a nice thought that consciousness/energy/spirit continues in some way — even if it’s just in the DNA or relationships we leave behind. I’m a fan a cremation. Puts out some carbon, but at least it doesn’t have another species develop a taste for human flesh…

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  5. The video was fascinating. I’d only read of these, and the version described the body being pulverized with rocks in order to not leave a skeleton. In an environment where firewood is likely a precious commodity and the landscape doesn’t facilitate burial , I can see how this would be a pragmatic approach to not leaving a landscape littered with the dead.

    Perhaps a cultural and/or family exposure thing, but not particularly squeamish. I was the one who volunteered to blow air down the trachea to inflate the removed lungs from the A&P cadaver in college.

    My dad was a physician. And the full, two-day Japanese Buddhist funeral traditionally includes the deceased at the first night’s drunken party, as well as the communal moving of the bones after the cremation. There’s even a Buddhist meditation on death that sorta takes the wind out of its sails.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, inflating a pair of dead human lungs must have been a trip. I guess if you can do that, you’re not squeamish. Or you’ll be cured of any squeamishness you might have.

      I’ve heard of a Buddhist meditation on death where you spend the night meditating in a graveyard. I’ve never done that, but I have spread the ashes of a few cremated relatives. It’s illegal, so first I dug through the cremains to find and remove the identifying tags. Didn’t bother me, but I’m not sure I could handle inflating someone’s lungs.

      Liked by 1 person

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