Mummified Buddhist discovered inside ancient Buddha statue

When you think of what your final resting place will be like, statue-mummification doesn’t usually come to mind. That was the case, however, for one Buddhist master immortalized within a religious idol.

Researchers at the Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort, Netherlands discovered the mummified remains of a monk inside a Chinese statue of Buddha. The remains, which are presumed to be of Buddhist master Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School, are the first of its kind to be found. The remains are believed to date back to 1100 A.D.

The entire body was found inside, folded in the same resting position as the exterior of the Buddha statue.

Buddhist art expert Erik Brujin supervised a full CT scan and endoscopy of the Buddha. Samples were also taken of the mummies thoracic and abdominal cavities, revealing scraps of paper scribed with ancient Chinese characters.

Researchers believe this “living Buddha” may be an example of self-mummification, which entails a life of extreme solemnity and austerity. After a strict diet comprised of water, seeds, nuts, roots, tree bark, and special tea for 2,000 days, the monks would be sealed in a stone tomb.

Following another 1,000 days after the monk’s death, the tomb would be opened and the state of the body checked. Monks who had mummified would be placed in temples and venerated. Those who had not achieved mummification would be respected, but remain entombed. In the past, some believed this type of mummification was less a form of death, and more so a highly spiritual state and advanced form of enlightenment.

For those who choose to study the thoughts, writings on philosophy of Buddha the man, the twists and turns taken by those who turn that body of work into a religion are often little more than a curiosity. Still, I guess our species can be as interesting for the ways we kill ourselves – as the ways we kill others, the rationales we use to justify both.

Mid-winter on the New England coast — cold enough to freeze waves

freezing wave
Click to enlargeCredit Jonathan Nimerfroh

How cold has it been on Nantucket? Chilly enough to freeze waves.

Last Friday, Jonathan Nimerfroh, a photographer, arrived on the beach and saw an unusual sight: slow-moving waves of slush…

Normally, water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But salt in the ocean lowers the freezing temperature — basically by getting in the way of the water molecules — to about 28.4 degrees.

The movement of the waves seems to have broken up ice crystals before they could grow into a sheet covering that shallow stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. The result was an ocean with the consistency of a 7-Eleven Slurpee…

Mr. Nimerfroh returned to the beach on Saturday, which was even colder by a few degrees. But by then, the water had frozen into an ice sheet. “Nothing was moving,” he said. “There were no waves anymore.”

I’ve seen this a few times – growing up on the New England coast. Made me feel even colder. 🙂