For centuries, some Buddhist monks followed self-mummification, which meant a rigorous diet followed by lying in a tomb, ringing a bell each day they were still alive | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


For centuries, some Buddhist monks followed self-mummification, which meant a rigorous diet followed by lying in a tomb, ringing a bell each day they were still alive

As Buddhism spread across Asian countries over the past centuries, various forms of Buddhist schools and teachings emerged as the religion came into contact with many local cultures. Some Buddhist monks observed that all life is sacred, and their school taught followers to move around the temple with the utmost caution, that they should not even by accident squash an ant or any other tiny insect. Other schools and teachings have, however, adopted fairly bizarre beliefs and practices, like learning how to self-mummify in order to achieve an advanced level of enlightenment. This did not produce your typical mummy such as those embalmed in ancient Egypt.

Self-mummifying was attempted, most notably in the Japanese Yamagata Prefecture in the north of the country, starting in the 11th century and lasting until the 19th century, when the Japanese government ruled this was a form of assisted suicide. But there were still devotees of the process who self-mummified, even after there was an active decree against that.

The obscure practice first saw the light of day thanks to a monk known as K?kai, the founder of the Buddhist Shingon school during the early 9th century. This was an esoteric school, more or less. Two centuries after K?kai died, his hagiography surfaced and said that he had not passed away but rather entombed himself in a special meditative state. Upon his reemergence, millions of years in the future, he would help others ascend into the state of nirvana, the hagiography reportedly claimed.

Yamagata Shingon monks are today counted among the ones who most frequently attempted to become living Buddhas, in their own flesh. The monks subjected themselves to severity before entering the meditative state in their tombs, where their lives ceased and some of them turned into mummies–Sokushinbutsu.

Comments

SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA