Mummified Remains Sit Inside Buddha Statue

Mummified Remains Sit Inside Buddha Statue

The mummified remains of a Buddhist monk sit within a Gautama Buddha statue - and researchers think the process was completely voluntary.

One of the most recognizable religious images in the world is that of Buddha (not to be confused with Budai), who has statues representing him in an enlightened state. But researchers at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands are studying a far more unusual example - a statue that contains the 1000 year-old mummified corpse of a Buddhist monk. The body was sitting inside in an identical lotus position, prompting the museum to believe the monk was self-mummified in an attempt to achieve enlightenment.

"On the outside, it looks like a large statue of Buddha," the museum said in a press release. "Scan research has shown that on the inside, it is the mummy of a Buddhist monk who lived around the year 1100."

The statue itself, now being shown for the first time outside of China, revealed its body when researchers were conducting non-invasive CT scans. The remains are believed to belong to Liu Quan, a Buddhist master and member of the Chinese Meditation School. The practice of self-mummification wasn't unheard of at the time, especially in Japan. We'll describe the process in the next two paragraphs, but be warned - it's super gross.

So let's say you've decided to try out self-mummification - you've got a long journey ahead of you. First, you follow a strict 1000 day diet of nuts and seeds to purge the fat from your body. Then you level up to another 1000 day diet of bark and roots. By this point, you'll be ludicrously thin, but we're not finished yet: Next you drink a poisonous tea made from Japanese varnish tree sap. This induces vomiting, a rapid loss of bodily fluids, and might even make your body too poisonous for insects to eat.

If you've survived this long, you'll be placed in a statue with an air tube and bell. The bell would be rung every day to inform other monks you were still a "living Buddha". Once you stopped ringing the bell, the monks assumed you were dead, removed the air tube, and sealed your tomb. In Liu Quan's case however, it seems his internal organs were removed and replaced with scripts of Chinese writing - although it's not entirely clear at what point in the timeline this happened.

If you're fascinated enough by the story to see the statue, it will be displayed at the National Museum of Natural History in Budapest until May. If you can't wait to look at mummies, we've included a gallery from Discovery.

Warning: We put these in spoiler tags on the off chance it makes you lose your lunch after that description.

Source: Discovery

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That's some horror-movie stuff right there.

"And then I realized... all the statues... they were full of bones..."

Tell me again why going throught that deadly ordeal is suppose you enlighten you? The process enlighten you to the afterlife?

Scarim Coral:
Tell me again why going throught that deadly ordeal is suppose you enlighten you? The process enlighten you to the afterlife?

Sounds like the whole process made his entrails lightened. I guess that counts, right?

Scarim Coral:
Tell me again why going throught that deadly ordeal is suppose you enlighten you? The process enlighten you to the afterlife?

Many religions have a concept that suffering in this life can bring rewards in the afterlife - especially religions like Buddhism which are based on karma.

Scarim Coral:
Tell me again why going throught that deadly ordeal is suppose you enlighten you? The process enlighten you to the afterlife?

In short, the idea is that your suffering and lack of consuming living beings to survive (as far as possible in this case) along with prayer and meditation purifies your soul of it's accumulated karma in the most efficient way and gains you enough merit to be reborn in a better world such as a Pure Land in your next incarnation, or perhaps even become free of the cycle of birth and rebirth and attain nirvana. In Buddhism lack of desire is associated with enlightenment, and what could indicate less desire for anything than refusing to eat and live?

JoJo:
[quote="Scarim Coral" post="7.871168.21838468"][...] what could indicate less desire for anything than refusing to eat and live?

Hmm... but what if it is indicative of a very, very strong desire to die?

Rhykker:

JoJo:
[quote="Scarim Coral" post="7.871168.21838468"][...] what could indicate less desire for anything than refusing to eat and live?

Hmm... but what if it is indicative of a very, very strong desire to die?

I guess, though there's probably quicker ways to commit suicide than slowly starving yourself to death over almost seven years :-P

Seems his true enlightenment is receiving a copy of Donald Trump's wig a thousand years later. That should make up for the stolen organs.

...That's... pretty creepy. I know it's probably a cultural difference... but that's not the way I'd like to go...

Fanghawk:

Scarim Coral:
Tell me again why going throught that deadly ordeal is suppose you enlighten you? The process enlighten you to the afterlife?

Many religions have a concept that suffering in this life can bring rewards in the afterlife - especially religions like Buddhism which are based on karma.

I would not say that Buddhism teaches that suffering in this life bring you a reward in the next. Or at least I have never had a Buddhist teacher tell me this nor have I ever read it in a Buddhist scripture(I have not read them all there are a ton). What Buddhism does teach is that Enlightenment brings with it the end of suffering.

I suppose if you were to take this at an exact and literal interpretation (I have never taken it literally) a Buddhist monk who felt like he had achieved enlightenment to could go though a process like this to test it out on perhaps prove (which doesn't seem like a Buddha like thing to do but who am I to judge) it to his fellow monks.

FangHawk- full enlightenment is suppose to free a persons from the "wheel" of life meaning no more reincarnations. Enlightenment is a process that happens while you are alive.

How sad is it that the first place I heard of this was Inu Yasha...

Makes me wonder what's lurking inside this one.

newwiseman:
How sad is it that the first place I heard of this was Inu Yasha...

There's nothing unusual about that. It's called tangential learning; the process of self-education regarding a subject brought up in something you enjoy. Like learning about Gilgamesh after playing Final Fantasy, or in your case, certain religious practices after watching anime.

Dried up dead people are probably my favorite kind of dead people to look at.

What the mummification process dose to their bodies is almost artistic.

Imagine the look on the scientist's faces when the scan results came back: "Ah let's just take a look here and see what HOLY FUCKMOTHERING WHAT?!"

And now you've cracked it open, unleashing upon us all the no-doubt terrifyingly benign Buddhist curse that resided within.

Nukey:
Makes me wonder what's lurking inside this one.

Starik20X6:
Imagine the look on the scientist's faces when the scan results came back: "Ah let's just take a look here and see what HOLY FUCKMOTHERING WHAT?!"

And now you've cracked it open, unleashing upon us all the no-doubt terrifyingly benign Buddhist curse that resided within.

Nukey:
Makes me wonder what's lurking inside this one.

On topic: Read about this the other day and heard about this practice in the past. Bet it was quite a surprise when they found someone INSIDE.

Question: Is this where comes the idea for Daisoujou (of Shin Megami Tensei fame)?

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