Sokushinbutsu Is The Practice Of Mummifying Yourself…While You're Still Alive


If you think you’re dedicated to your goals, just wait until you hear what Buddhist monks used to do in Japan.

Between the 11th and 19th centuries, Shingon monks in Yamagata, Japan,
were so disciplined that they actually practiced sokushinbutsu, a process of self-mummification. While it is believed that hundreds attempted this practice and failed, 24 succeeded at transforming themselves into mummies with a strict diet and deliberate dehydration…while they were still alive.

Kūkai, the founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism in Japan, is believed to have brought this practice from China.

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Monks believed that doing this would help them become more Buddha-like, redeem mankind, and get into Tusita Heaven, where they would need their physical bodies.

This process was perfected in the Haguro, Gassan, and Yudono mountains, where monks would begin the mokujikigyo diet, which literally means “eating a tree.” They ate only pine needles, tree roots, bark, nuts, berries, and seeds to eliminate fat from their bodies.

This would last anywhere from 1,000 days to 10 years, and served to remove naturally occurring bacteria and moisture from the body so that it would not decompose. To dehydrate themselves, they only drank a small amount of water, slowly reducing their liquid intake.

They would then begin drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Chinese lacquer tree. This caused them to vomit and lose fluids. It also prevented maggots from feeding on their bodies after they died.

When the monks were close to death, they would get inside small pine boxes and begin meditating. Others then lowered it into the ground and covered it with charcoal, providing the monks with a bamboo rod so they could breathe.

They were also left with a bell to alert the others that they were still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the other monks sealed the grave and waited 1,000 days before digging up the body and inspecting it for decay.

Those who did decay were buried again for good, but the few who were successfully preserved were then dressed up and placed in temples for others to worship.

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The practice of sokushinbutsu has since died out, as the Japanese government made it illegal in 1877. However, one monk named Bukkai successfully mummified himself in 1903.

(via All That Is Interesting)

I can’t even fathom the amount of self-control it takes to slowly starve and dehydrate yourself to death. Though I would never even think about following in their footsteps, I really have to admire their dedication to their beliefs.

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