Eyewitness account of recent Tibetan sky burial

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Kim O'Hara
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Eyewitness account of recent Tibetan sky burial

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:29 am

Tibetan Sky Burials: Stumbling upon the secret ritual of feeding the dead to vulture 'angels'

Tibetan Sky Burials is a traditional custom in Tibetan Buddhism to farewell their dead, and these days outsiders are mostly forbidden from witnessing them.
I had heard of Tibetan Sky Burials with a mixture of horror and fascination. To put it bluntly, a dead body is chopped up into pieces and fed to waiting vultures.
Tibetans see it as a last gift to the universe — a way to show the insignificance and the impermanence of our earthly lives.
But it sounded way too brutal to show to my three kids.
So, when we arrived at a very isolated and traditional Tibetan Buddhist monastery near Tagong in North Eastern Sichuan I thought, "let's just look at the site where it happens".
We'd been told foreigners were not allowed to experience the secret ritual anyway.
Our driver directed us up to the top of the mountain where the burials take place. It was surrounded by a sea of Tibetan prayer flags and you could just make out a kind of stone slab.
So we hiked up there. Upon arriving we could hear Tibetan nuns chanting. "How lovely?" I thought.
Then I turned and saw about 100 vultures sitting on the hill, waiting. Then, what looked like a body bag on the stone slab.
I actually couldn't believe it. Have we stumbled into the start of a sky burial? Through a translation app I asked one of the Tibetans next to me what was happening.
"Flesh eating birds" he replied.
"Oh, can we stay?" I asked.
"Yes, but on the side and no photos," he replied. ...
The whole ritual is described.
I would doubt the report, except that it comes from a senior ABC journalist based in Asia and is published on the regular news site at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-16/s ... ls/8948332.
There are some photos, but only of the surroundings - prayer flags, monastery, etc.


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Re: Eyewitness account of recent Tibetan sky burial

Post by Ayu » Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:36 am

I once saw a TV documentary mentioning it. The burial was no social event, i.e. nobody came to join it.
There was only a young monk doing his job kind of respectfully: feeding the vultures.
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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Re: Eyewitness account of recent Tibetan sky burial

Post by odysseus » Sat Sep 16, 2017 2:47 pm

It's not a secret. It is customary and no less weird than just sending a wooden coffin into the soil. Maybe even a better use of the carcass to make practical use of it, recycle or die. I don't see why Westerners should be shocked.

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Re: Eyewitness account of recent Tibetan sky burial

Post by justsit » Sat Sep 16, 2017 3:06 pm

There are videos available on YouTube, if you are interested.

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