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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

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Celestial Burial in Tibet

Death does not discriminate. It stalks everyone from emperors, buddhas to men in the street, with no exception.

Throughout history, people have tried to avoid death or at least delay it. Some try to find a fountain of youth. Some hope good works can prolong lifespan. Most view death as something to be dreaded. The Tibetan view of death is, on the contrary, optimistic . One of their burial customs is called sky burial, or celestial burial, which shows their respect for nature and an understanding of life.

Before the ceremony begins, the Lamas chant a prayer to help the soul of the deceased person ascend. This is in fact a requiem for the dead. The corpse is then chopped and cypress branches are burnt to attract hawks or vultures. It is considered auspicious if the birds eat up the minced flesh. This is a kind of sacrifice proposed by Tibetan Buddhism which believes in human elevation with the help of animals. It also shows the Buddhist's love for all creatures of the world.

To the Tibetans, the sky, or the universe, holds a supreme position. It is where the sacred world lies. To merge with the sky is a holy event, one which replaces the sufferings of this world with peace.


  1. Anonymous9:06 PM

    Quite a way to go to the Heavensm

  2. Anonymous9:23 PM

    Extremely terrible.

  3. Pathetic and barbaric.


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