Sky-Burial Tourism

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Vasana
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Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Vasana » Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:21 pm

phpBB [video]

VULTURES OF TIBET explores the recent commercialization of a sacred Tibetan funeral tradition known as Sky Burial. In Sky Burial, Tibetans ritually feed the bodies of their dead to wild Griffon Vultures as an offering to benefit other living beings.

With the modernization of Western China and the expansion of tourism in Tibet, burial sites are now highlighted on tourist maps and local officials charge visitors admission to view the private ritual. Against the will of affected families, visitors take photos and video, often posting them online. Filmed in August, 2011, when regional tensions became so unbearable that scores of Tibetans began setting themselves on fire; VULTURES OF TIBET reveals the current state of Sky Burial as an anecdote of the larger ideological issues in Tibet today.

Exposing a world in which nature and culture, humans and animals, spirituality and politics are all interconnected, VULTURES OF TIBET engages audiences with the potential for oppression in the act of looking.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Queequeg
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Queequeg » Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:11 pm

Saw this on the NatGeo feed the other day.

I spent a lot of time in Varanasi years ago. I spent a lot of time sitting by the burning ghats, watching families come, cremate their loved one, and then leave. It was macabre, watching a body burn away over the course of hours, and I wondered if it was polite for me to be there. I asked the locals, and they said it was fine as long as I didn't disturb anyone.

Being Varanasi, with its burning ghats, corpses floating by, and everything else that is... Varanasi, is like a continuous meditation on impermanence, as well as the perpetual cycle of life...

I've told my wife I'd like to be cremated on a pyre or given a sky burial - and invite my family and friends to attend, let me impose one last time - a performance piece on the impermanence of life... LOL

I wonder if the tourists were more respectful it would be OK.

I wonder if the monks should be so offended.

I imagine a lot of what we see there is a microcosm of Chinese-Tibetan relations.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Lobsang Chojor
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Lobsang Chojor » Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:47 am

I do remember reading in the UK news that there are some social issues.
  • I believe there at ok with people watching as long as they are respectful. I imagine it is the same in Varanasi and that everyone on DW would respect the local customs and views.
  • And, there have been incidents where Chinese people were attacked because they took photos and mocked the practice, calling it backwards and such likes.
"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
  • Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

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Taco_Rice
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Taco_Rice » Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:57 am

Manjushri Fan wrote:And, there have been incidents where Chinese people were attacked because they took photos and mocked the practice, calling it backwards and such likes.
Just imagine your own mother, deceased, naked, and being dissected by animals in front of a jeering crowd of condescending foreigners. I imagine it would be intolerable.
When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there. One who has understood this is no different from Kannon with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
— Takuan Sōhō, the Unfettered Mind

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Lobsang Chojor
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Lobsang Chojor » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:10 am

Taco_Rice wrote: Just imagine your own mother, deceased, naked, and being dissected by animals in front of a jeering crowd of condescending foreigners. I imagine it would be intolerable.
Exactly, I imagine that this would be intolerable and may lead to violence
"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
  • Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

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Qing Tian
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Qing Tian » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:50 am

A dead animal gets eaten by another animal. People watch, laugh. What's the problem?
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”

Myoho-Nameless
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Myoho-Nameless » Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:56 am

Queequeg wrote: I wonder if the monks should be so offended.
Similar to what the high lord of the lone star state already said, I would probably be quite irate. I don't speak Tibetan so I can't pick up on any subtleties, but it was remarkable how chill they seemed when talking about it in that vid.
Queequeg wrote: is like a continuous meditation on impermanence, as well as the perpetual cycle of life
Family member of mine was just in Nepal. He saw some cremations in the Hindu parts of the country, and in the Buddhist parts he said that their attitude towards impermanence (which seems to me more emphasized in Himalayan Buddhism than any other) was partially why they aren't so motivated to repair damage to shrines or stupas and stuff still leftover by the earthquake.
I just don't belong.

tingdzin
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by tingdzin » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:04 am

Qing Tian wrote:A dead animal gets eaten by another animal. People watch, laugh. What's the problem?
In Tibetan Buddhism, there is the concept that the whole environment around dying is a sacral one; the dead person's consciousness may still be present and can be influenced by what is going on. Whether or not you believe this (and I find it odd that anyone claiming to be a Buddhist is not at least aware of it), it is only good manners to not provoke people who do. Then again, many Chinese believe themselves racially superior to the Tibetans, and doubtless feel that they can do as they please.

Everybody is not a monk, Qing Tian, and expecting them to behave as if they were is rather arrogant and short-sighted.

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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Simon E. » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:08 am

Qing Tian wrote:A dead animal gets eaten by another animal. People watch, laugh. What's the problem?
Apart from being dysfunctional and sick ?
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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Qing Tian
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Qing Tian » Wed Feb 10, 2016 11:00 am

I have spent a sizable portion of my life (about 20 years) up to my armpits in death and decay. It is a beautifully economic thing, and quite fascinating. To see the utility of death in the service of life is wonderful.

Sorry, I am not saying that people should go and laugh at these things, just that if it were my relatives being rent asunder on the mountain-side I wouldn't be the least perturbed by people that do. I don't see that as arrogant so much as understanding that people behave in many ways, and I don't have the ability to correct everyone else for things I may not like.

There are so many taboos around death. I think it is unhealthy.


tingdzin, you make many assumptions based on nothing at all. Just so you know, I am not Chinese, and I am not a monk. I am also not offended by your assumptions. After all, you do not know any different, just like the people who laugh at the funeral.
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”

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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Simon E. » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:41 pm

The criterion is not the way that students of Buddhadharma characteristically react to the dissolution of the body..that should be with a degree of upeksha and maitri..

But what we are seeing here is the apparent mocking of tradition by those with little in the way of values, a tradition which is deeply meaningful to those who have recourse to it.

We are not required to maintain an air of indifference to such crassness.
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

newbie
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by newbie » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:22 pm

So I assumed according to the books and created a scenario.

Never mind the birds, my appologies and I'm out.
(One job needs to be found.)

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Taco_Rice
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Taco_Rice » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:23 pm

Myoho-Nameless wrote:the high lord of the lone star state
Hey hey, now. And it's not the Lone Star State... Just the western portion and part of northern Mexico.

With money and without money
I always do what I want
and my word is the law
I have neither throne nor queen
nor anyone who understands me
but I am still the king


Qing Tian wrote:Sorry, I am not saying that people should go and laugh at these things, just that if it were my relatives being rent asunder on the mountain-side I wouldn't be the least perturbed by people that do. I don't see that as arrogant so much as understanding that people behave in many ways, and I don't have the ability to correct everyone else for things I may not like.
Sure, we all have relatives that we might not mind so much if they were ripped apart by animals in front of a crowd. But I see this as being a huge stress for the average person. I don't know if this is "oppression" since, from what is said by the monk in the video, the representatives of the community sold them out or haven't taken appropriate measures to make sure that the tourism is carried out in a respectful way.
There are so many taboos around death. I think it is unhealthy.
I agree.
When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there. One who has understood this is no different from Kannon with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
— Takuan Sōhō, the Unfettered Mind

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skittles
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by skittles » Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:33 am

Over the next 20-40 years we will probably begin switching over to a liquidification disposal method where the remains go into the sewer. If Tibetans had the chemical know how to dissolve bodies they probably wouldn't have started sky burials. Interestingly, I have heard many Tibetans, monasteries included, just roll the bodies down the side of a mountain into a valley people don't live in.

The "traditional" method of TIbetan funeral and burial is not fun. The body is supposed to be kept in the house a few days while prayers are done and decomposition waits for no one and the bowels usually are released. The family in the mean time isn't supposed to cry or anything like that. Then the sky burial happens. If nothing else, the practice should be stopped for sanitary reasons. Cleaning a corpse of feces is a major disease vector I think. Rolling the body into a ravine seems better in many ways.

Considering the million plus Tibetans killed in cold blood by China and the continued attempts to wipe them out, taking photos of funerals is minor. I've actually lost track of how many Tibetans have burned themselves alive to draw attention to what China hides from Westerners.
"My main teacher Serkong Rinpoche, who was one of the teachers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, explained that having a protector is like having a very strong and vicious dog. If you are a strong person, you could go sit and guard your own gate every night to make sure that thieves don’t attack, but usually people wouldn’t do that. It’s not that we don’t have the ability, it’s just: why bother? You could post a dog there instead." - Alex Berzin http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... rs_ab.html

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Taco_Rice
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Taco_Rice » Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:25 pm

skittles wrote:Over the next 20-40 years we will probably begin switching over to a liquidification disposal method where the remains go into the sewer. If Tibetans had the chemical know how to dissolve bodies they probably wouldn't have started sky burials. Interestingly, I have heard many Tibetans, monasteries included, just roll the bodies down the side of a mountain into a valley people don't live in.

The "traditional" method of TIbetan funeral and burial is not fun. The body is supposed to be kept in the house a few days while prayers are done and decomposition waits for no one and the bowels usually are released. The family in the mean time isn't supposed to cry or anything like that. Then the sky burial happens. If nothing else, the practice should be stopped for sanitary reasons. Cleaning a corpse of feces is a major disease vector I think. Rolling the body into a ravine seems better in many ways.

I don't really know anything about Tibetan burial practices, though I assumed something like this was a way of affirming impermanence in the context of a spiritually oriented life. You make it sound like the Tibetans would practically chunk their deceased in the garbage if they could.
Considering the million plus Tibetans killed in cold blood by China and the continued attempts to wipe them out, taking photos of funerals is minor. I've actually lost track of how many Tibetans have burned themselves alive to draw attention to what China hides from Westerners.
I've only read about what the Chinese do to their own poor, from working them like pampered slaves in facilities with suicide nets outside of the windows to officials pressuring women to undergo sterilization so that those officials can reap the benefits of meeting certain quotas. I can't imagine what cruel things that government could be hiding. Yet, I just don't know how accurate the information that we get about China really is, whether positive or negative.
When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there. One who has understood this is no different from Kannon with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
— Takuan Sōhō, the Unfettered Mind

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skittles
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by skittles » Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:18 pm

Where do you think Tibetans without trash service put their garbage?

LOL I'm just kidding. I have no idea what they do/did with their garbage. That hasn't ever come up in coversation before except with things like feces and urine, which freeze in place much of the year and then smell really bad when it thaws all at once. It's not easy to dig a hole in most of Tibet because it's either frozen or very rocky.
"My main teacher Serkong Rinpoche, who was one of the teachers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, explained that having a protector is like having a very strong and vicious dog. If you are a strong person, you could go sit and guard your own gate every night to make sure that thieves don’t attack, but usually people wouldn’t do that. It’s not that we don’t have the ability, it’s just: why bother? You could post a dog there instead." - Alex Berzin http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... rs_ab.html

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Taco_Rice
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Taco_Rice » Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:49 pm

skittles wrote:Where do you think Tibetans without trash service put their garbage?
A cold joke indeed, friend. I don't understand the Tibetans, but I do respect them and their dead. I'm not sure what the laws are concerning immigration of Tibetans from their occupied home to the US, but my opinion is that they should get automatic entry if they want it. I don't have anything more to share in this thread.
When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there. One who has understood this is no different from Kannon with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
— Takuan Sōhō, the Unfettered Mind

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Qing Tian
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Qing Tian » Fri Feb 12, 2016 11:35 pm

My apologies if my posts on this thread led to offence being taken. I am a very practical person at heart. Disposal of the dead for me has always been just a practical matter, and seen as little more than a natural part of life's procession. I understand that others do not see it this way and again I offer my apologies, for such that you may feel it is worth.

On a darker note, I had been unable to post this earlier as I collapsed at work during the week and have spent the last few days hooked up to various machines in hospital on the acute stroke ward This is the first time as an adult that I have ever been a patient, and it has been a most anxious time. I am back home now, been given the all clear but am still under observation. Life, you never know when it's going to throw you a curve, and with my sister hospitalised last month under worse conditions it seems that 2016 has not started at all auspiciously for my family.
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”

Simon E.
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Simon E. » Sat Feb 13, 2016 12:06 am

May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.. :namaste:
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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Taco_Rice
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Re: Sky-Burial Tourism

Post by Taco_Rice » Sat Feb 13, 2016 12:23 am

Qing Tian wrote:My apologies if my posts on this thread led to offence being taken. I am a very practical person at heart. Disposal of the dead for me has always been just a practical matter, and seen as little more than a natural part of life's procession. I understand that others do not see it this way and again I offer my apologies, for such that you may feel it is worth.

On a darker note, I had been unable to post this earlier as I collapsed at work during the week and have spent the last few days hooked up to various machines in hospital on the acute stroke ward This is the first time as an adult that I have ever been a patient, and it has been a most anxious time. I am back home now, been given the all clear but am still under observation. Life, you never know when it's going to throw you a curve, and with my sister hospitalised last month under worse conditions it seems that 2016 has not started at all auspiciously for my family.
Simon E. wrote:May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering..
:namaste:
When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there. One who has understood this is no different from Kannon with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
— Takuan Sōhō, the Unfettered Mind

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