inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Aemilius » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:23 pm

In this video you'll see dead corpses floating on River Ganges, crows having a snack thereof, etc.. This is helpful for your meditation on impermanence of life. Scenes mentioned in the Satipatthana sutta section of Nine Cemetery Contemplations are difficult to come by these days, here you see several of them:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xxz7LwEreaE&feature=related
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:40 pm

When I was at the Ganges River in Varanasi back in 2010 at around 5.30am on a boat cruise, I wasn't so lucky enough to encounter a floating corpse as I have always heard travellers tell but did watch 3 live riverside cremations in progress...alongside activities of bathing, morning rituals, linen washing and tourist cruises...

This is another resource apt for cemetary reflections but as always proceed with caution...
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Tarpa » Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:11 am

Just watch faces of death videos, etc. if you're looking for a visceral jolt of mortality. Good occasion to recall the 4 turnings of the mind towards dharma. I see corpses and violent tragedy fairly often as a truck driver, the roads are graveyards.
In any case all the worlds a charnel ground, no need to go around looking for corpses, you inhabit one.
The nonexistence of the transcendence of suffering
is what the protector of the world has taught as the transcendence
of suffering.
Knots tied on space
are untied by space itself.

May I never be seperated from perfect masters in all lives,
and delightfully experiencing the magnificent dharma,
completing all qualities of the stages of the paths
may I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:43 am

Tarpa wrote:Just watch faces of death videos, etc. if you're looking for a visceral jolt of mortality. Good occasion to recall the 4 turnings of the mind towards dharma. I see corpses and violent tragedy fairly often as a truck driver, the roads are graveyards.
In any case all the worlds a charnel ground, no need to go around looking for corpses, you inhabit one.


Every time you drive you could end up like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... n5zHxvKZF0
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Tarpa » Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:48 am

Probably at least a double fatality, at least the drivers of both vehicles. Only takes a second. I don't look anymore, I feel like I'm invading their privacy in a very personal moment for them, dying out there in the middle of nowhere in the night or whatever, in shock, hundreds of strangers gawking at you. I usually say some mani's every time I pass a highway cross or places where I know people have died or passing wrecks, and when passing where animals have been killed, lots and lots of animals. I always wonder what the last thing they were looking at was, could be a beautiful day and one minute they were just driving along looking at the view or the road and having a nice day and the next they were gone, just like that, all up and down the roads, millions of people drive by and never know what happened there. Makes you think, not really morbidness but a definite visceral weirdness, we're out of touch with death like with nature.

Sorry about going off topic, thanks for the cool video link Aemelius, cool slideshow, it would be a trip to visit varanasi.
The nonexistence of the transcendence of suffering
is what the protector of the world has taught as the transcendence
of suffering.
Knots tied on space
are untied by space itself.

May I never be seperated from perfect masters in all lives,
and delightfully experiencing the magnificent dharma,
completing all qualities of the stages of the paths
may I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Indrajala » Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:26 am

Here's something to see. Don't click the link if you think you can't handle it.

Tourist Finds Dog Eating The Headless Corpse Of A Child Next To The Ganges River (India) **GRAPHIC**

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=342_1329917450
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Aemilius » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:40 pm

The parsis, that is zoroastrians, have also practiced skyburial, that is feeding the corpses to the vultures. These places are called Towers of Silence in the zoroastrian faith. In Mumbai India there is a parsi Tower of Silence which in recent years has suffered from the lack of vultures. Many of the dead parsis had been only partly devoured, and the half eaten rotting corpses were lying in heaps in the parsi cemetery of Mumbai. This scandal was in the news briefly in the year 2006. There are some videos in Youtube about a parsi Tower of Silence in Iran, but that has been closed for the deceased by the government and is not functioning anymore, it still retains something of a tangible atmosphere of silence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dakhma
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Aemilius » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:32 am

Alex Berzin has written in his article about Buddhism in Afghanistan that tibetans traveled through Afghanistan on their way to visiting Persia/Iran. This happened hundreds of years ago, Berzin thinks that the ones who went there were probably Drikung Kagyu. It could very well be that tibetans got the idea and tradition of skyburials from the parsi religion in Iran, which they saw on their visits to Iran/Persia.
The claim that they never went to foreign countries is simply untrue.


A Google images search on "Towers of Silence" brings up a lot pictures on the topic (of parsi skyburials).
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby 5heaps » Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:17 am

even while surrounded by so much death you will still look upon impermanence with a layer of permanence.
much better to study study study and just quickly realize subtle impermanence....then you can hang around death in order to stabilize your no longer looking upon impermanence with permanence
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Jnana » Mon Mar 12, 2012 12:06 am

Aemilius wrote:In this video you'll see dead corpses floating on River Ganges, crows having a snack thereof, etc.. This is helpful for your meditation on impermanence of life. Scenes mentioned in the Satipatthana sutta section of Nine Cemetery Contemplations are difficult to come by these days, here you see several of them:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xxz7LwEreaE&feature=related

Indeed. And FWIW, the cemetery contemplations are also taught in the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra:

    Furthermore, Subhūti, when the bodhisattva, mahāsattva, who is engaged in the practice of perfection of wisdom, has gone to a charnel ground and sees many different kinds of corpses that have been discarded in that charnel ground, abandoned in that place for dead bodies, which have been dead for one, two, three, four, or five days, which are swollen, dark blue, putrid, worm-infested, partially eaten, or dismembered, he should compare his own body with them in the following way: “This body also has the same quality. It is of the same nature, and it has not gone beyond that condition.” O Subhūti, this is how the bodhisattva, mahāsattva, who is engaged in the practice of perfection of wisdom, dwells watching the body in relation to an outer body.

:anjali:
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Aemilius » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:55 am

The Nine Cemetery Contemplations that are described in Satipatthana sutta are well known. But there is a Mahayana list of nine cemetery contemplations that are different nine items. The Mahayana Nine Cemetery Contemplations, found in Maha-vyutpatti, translated by Har Dayal in Bodhisattva Doctrine in..., are:

1. Viniilaka; a discoloured, bluish, livid corpse
2. Vidhuutika; a festering corpse
3. VipaDumaka; a worm eaten corpse
4. Vyaadhmaataka; a bloated, swollen corpse
5. Vilohitaka; a bloody corpse
6. Vikhaaditaka; a devoured and mangled corpse
7. Vikshiptaka; a scattered corpse
8. Vidagdhaka; a burned corpse
9. Asthi; bones
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:24 am

If anyone feels overwhelmed by lust sometimes, bookmark this thread. It is bitter but potent medicine.
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:48 pm

It also potent medicine against aversion.
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Aemilius » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:20 am

svaha
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Aemilius » Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:27 am

Aemilius wrote:


This independent documentary was produced and directed by Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and has been broadcast internationally.

"A very lyrical, haunting film"
(Sundance Film Festival)

"Altogether mesmerizing"
(Los Angeles Times -Kevin Thomas)

"Images are so stark and unprecedented... Hadaegh and Babcock's steady gaze pays its own considerable, if esoteric, dividends."
(Variety -Todd McCarthy)
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 25, 2014 6:35 pm

I was actually just going to start a new thread about the Cemetary Contemplations. Might as well post it in this old thread.

There was this site I came across years ago, and found it again. A great way to reduce attachment, desire, and the view of the self.

Warning for graphic images: http://silentmindopenheart.org/docs/cemetery/Death.html

May all beings be free of desire,
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Aemilius » Sat Mar 22, 2014 12:27 pm



Impermanent are all composite things.



Fully worn out is this body, a nest of diseases, and fragile. This foul mass breaks up, for death is the end of life. (Dhammapada 148.)
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Aemilius » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:00 am

The atoms and molecules that make up your body now, will later make up the bodies of insects, bacteria, fungi, plants, animals and trees.
In buddhist terms your body is made of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space).
The existence of atoms and molecules is implicit in the teaching of five elements.
Your body consists of the five elements and it dissolves back into those same elements.
This process takes place every day, not just after death. You lose matter form your body back to the elements in the form of your sweat, your outgoing breath, urine, excrement, saliva, snot, earwax, hair, nails, dandruff, etc...

The formation and dissolution of the body is a traditional object of contemplation. It is mentioned for example in the Satipatthana sutta.
Formation and disintegration of the body is described with great detail in modern science. This knowledge is very useful for a buddhist meditator.
Entomological decomposition of the carcass: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forensic_entomological_decomposition

The buddhist scholar Vasubandhu attacks the atomic theory of Kashmir Vaibhashikas in his writings, and he quotes the Kashmir Vaibhashikas: " We do not say that atoms do not have parts, but we say that atoms nevertheless exist." This is illogical and incoherent for Vasunbandhu, it needs no further comment from him. But acidentally it is the view of modern science about atoms!

In buddhist meditation you think that none of the atoms or elements of your body are You, because you will lose them back to the world around you, and other beings will be made from those very same atoms and elements.
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:34 am

Ven. Samahita has a large collection of pictures along these morbid lines. For those interested, check out this link and search for "photobucket" on the page.
Peace,
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Re: inspiration for cemetery contemplations

Postby Aemilius » Wed Jun 04, 2014 12:05 pm

Thanks for your link!
I don't see this topic as "morbid", the emphasis is on the fact that it forms a natural bridge to the scientific knowledge about the formation and disintegration of the human form.
We don't regard it morbid when plants die and leaves fall every autumn. We know and accept that it belongs to the natural cycle of life. Human life is not different form it.
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