Buddhist Monks Mummified Their Bodies While Still Alive
Over 1,000 years ago, an esoteric organization known as Shingon, which combined elements of Buddhism, Old Shinto, Taoism, and other religions, developed the macabre practice of self-mummification of a living body. The goal was to demonstrate the ultimate act of religious discipline and devotion.
Shingon Buddhism is one of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan and one of the few surviving Vajrayana lineages in East Asia, originally spread from India to China through traveling monks.
This practice, known as Sokushinbutsu, was first introduced by a Japanese priest named Kukai and involved drying the body for several years in a grueling process that inevitably led to death and mummification of the body.
Tise Gyalwa Rinpoche in tukdam.
The steps involved in mummifying one’s own body were extremely rigorous and painful. During the first 1,000 days, the monks stopped consuming all food except nuts, seeds, fruits and berries, and they engaged in intense physical activity to get rid of all fat deposits.
For the next thousand days, their diet was limited to bark and roots only. Toward the end of this period, they drank a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, which caused vomiting and rapid loss of bodily fluids.
It also acted as a preservative and killed larvae and bacteria that would otherwise cause the body to decay after death.
At the final stage, after more than six years of painful preparation, the monk locked himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he plunged into a state of meditation. He sat in the lotus position, from which he did not leave until his death.
A small air tube provided oxygen to the tomb. Every day the monk rang the bell to inform the outside world that he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the pipe was removed and the tomb was sealed for the final thousand-year period of the ritual.
At the end of this period, the tomb was opened to see if the monk had managed to mummify himself. If the body was found in a preserved state, the monk was elevated to the status of Buddha, his body was removed from the tomb and placed in the temple, where he was worshiped and revered.
The practice of self-mummification continued until the 19th century when it was banned by the Japanese government.
It is believed that many hundreds of monks tried to repeat the sokushinbutsu ritual, but only 28 achieved mummification. Some of them can be seen in various temples in Japan.
The Dark and Mysterious History of Yosemite’s Tenaya Canyon
Tenaya Canyon is a trail-less and treacherous part of Yosemite
National Park that runs from Tenaya Lake down to Yosemite Valley. It is
known as the “Bermuda Triangle of Yosemite” because of the many
accidents, injuries and deaths that have occurred there over the years.
people even believe that the canyon is cursed by the spirits of the
original inhabitants of Yosemite, who were violently displaced by the
Mariposa Indian War in the 1850s.
The canyon is a challenging and
risky route for adventurous hikers and climbers, who have to navigate
smooth granite slabs, steep rappels, mandatory swims and precarious
ledges. The canyon also offers stunning views of waterfalls, swimming
holes and rock formations.
However, the park officials warn that
“a trip into the unforgiving terrain of Tenaya Canyon…should not be
taken lightly.” There is a sign at the entrance of the canyon that
reads: “TRAVEL BEYOND THIS POINT IS DANGEROUS.”
of the most famous incidents in Tenaya Canyon happened in 1918, when
John Muir, the “Father of the National Parks,” fell and was knocked
unconscious while exploring the canyon.
He later wrote: “I was
suddenly brought to a standstill by a blow on the head that confused my
senses for a moment or two without wholly stunning me.” He managed to
recover and continue his journey, but he never returned to the canyon.
Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, CA
“Tenaya Canyon is one of those places where you can feel history all
around you,” said Scott Gediman, a park ranger at Yosemite National
Park. “It’s a very powerful place.”
Another notable explorer of
Tenaya Canyon was Ron Kauk, a legendary climber who lived in Yosemite
for decades and scaled some of its most challenging walls.
He camped on the side of a rock face in Tenaya Canyon and felt a mysterious force pulling on his sleeping bag.
He told SFGATE:
“It was like something that came around in a teasing kind of way or
something. It wasn’t anything too dramatic, no lights flashing around or
flying by you. Just to acknowledge that there was something else
He speculated that the canyon might be “the holding place for the original spirit of the place and the people (of Yosemite).”
Canyon is named after Chief Tenaya, the leader of the Ahwahneechee
tribe that lived in Yosemite Valley before they were driven out by the
Mariposa Battalion, a group of armed volunteers sent by California’s
governor to subdue the Native Americans in the area.
battalion captured Chief Tenaya and his people and forced them to
relocate to a reservation near Fresno. However, some of them escaped and
returned to Yosemite Valley, where they were attacked again by the
Chief Tenaya’s son was killed in the battle, and he
reportedly cursed his enemies and his homeland before fleeing into
Tenaya Canyon. He was later killed by a rival tribe near Mono Lake.
historians and locals believe that Chief Tenaya’s curse still lingers
in Tenaya Canyon, causing misfortune and tragedy for those who enter it.
Others think that the canyon is simply a dangerous place that requires
caution and respect.
Tenaya Canyon has had more than 110 people
killed there and many more injured. It is known to the Park Service as
the Bermuda Triangle of Yosemite.
of people go missing at national parks across the United States every
year. Some of these disappearances are never solved. Yosemite National
Park holds the notorious position as the national park with the third
most missing persons per year (233).
Either way, Tenaya Canyon
remains one of Yosemite’s most fascinating and mysterious places, where
nature’s beauty and history’s brutality collide.
Vatican investigates potential miracle at Connecticut church
The Catholic Church is reportedly investigating a potential miracle that occurred at a church in Connecticut, reports independent.co.uk.
The supposed miracle took place at St Thomas Church in Thomaston, Connecticut, according to the Hartford Courant.
Revered Joseph Crowley, who heads St Maximilian Kolbe Parish, which
includes St Thomas Church, reported that the wafers distributed during
the observation of communion multiplied while sitting inside the
“God duplicated himself in the ciborium,” Rev Crowley
said after communion, referencing the metal storage containers used to
house the communion wafers. “God provides and it’s strange how God does
that. And that happened.”
response, the Archdiocese of Hartford began an investigation to
determine whether or not a miracle had occurred at the church.
then, the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith, a group dating
back to the 1500’s tasked with promoting and defending the Catholic
faith throughout the world, has been notified and has begun its own
A spokesman for the archdiocese, David Elliott,
issued a statement to the Hartford Courant saying that “reports such as
the alleged miracle in Thomaston require referral to the Dicastery for
the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. The Archdiocese has proceeded
accordingly, and will await a response in due time.”
an important part of the process of becoming a saint within the Catholic
Church. Sainthood considerations typically begin five years after the
death of an exceptional Catholic.
number of criteria must be met, including “verified miracles” — Vatican
officials must determine that the miracles are a direct result of an
individual praying to the candidate saint. They must come to the
decision that the miracle was a result of the dead potential saint
interceding between the petitioner and God, causing the miracle.
Catholic Church defines a miracle as a “sign of wonder such as a
healing, or control of nature, which can only be attributed to divine
While duplicating thin bread wafers may seem like a minor
use of divine power to those unfamiliar with Catholic theology, the
Eucharist — often called communion or the lord’s supper — is arguably
the holiest and most important sacrament — or ritual — in the faith.
typically believe in the idea of transubstantiation, or the idea that
the bread and wine given during the ritual literally become the body and
blood of Jesus Christ upon consecration, as opposed to simply symbols
of his presence.
O’Neil, who goes by the moniker Miracle Hunter, authored a book called
Science and the Miraculous: How the Church Investigates the
Supernatural, spoke to the Hartford Courant and gave examples of
previous eucharistic miracles.
“There are various types of
eucharistic miracles, but the ones that are most remarkable, in my
opinion, were on some rare occasions, the host is said to bleed human
blood,” he said.
Reverend Michael McGivney, the founder of the
Knights of Columbus, ended his clerical career at St Thomas, where the
alleged communion miracle took place. He has been in consideration for
sainthood and requires one more verified miracle before he moves on to
final consideration for sainthood within the Catholic Church.
Leonard Blair explained to the Hartford Courant that “what has been
reported to have occurred at our parish church in Thomaston, of which
Blessed Michael McGivney was once pastor, if verified, would constitute a
sign or wonder that can only be attributed to divine power to
strengthen our faith in the daily miracle of the Most Holy Eucharist.
would also be a source of blessing from Heaven for the effort that the
US Bishops are making to renew and deepen the faith and practice of our
Catholic people with regard to this great Sacrament.”
“Blessed” is a title given to saint candidates who have had “verified” miracles attributed to them by the Vatican.
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