Sokushinbutsu: Self-Mummification

To prove once again that Buddhist monks are hardcore to the bone, Sokushinbutsu were Buddhist monks who caused their own deaths through self-mummification. To date, only between 16 and 24 of these self-mummifications have been discovered, but it is believed that hundreds more have tried. No Buddhist sect currently practices or promotes Sokushinbutsu. Below is an image of a Sokushinbutsu, which looks so much more horrifying than any mummy costume I have ever seen.

A successful Sokushinbutsu.

How Sokushinbutsu works:

Step 1: For 1,000 days the Buddhist monk would eat a special diet of only nuts and seeds. During this time they performed an intense regimen of physical activity. The combination of diet and exercise stripped their body of all fat.

Step 2: For another 1,000 days the Buddhist monk would eat only bark and roots, along with drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree. The poisonous tea caused the monk to vomit and rapidly lose bodily fluids. Most importantly, however, it made their flesh too poisonous to be consumed by maggots.

Step 3: The Buddhist monk locked himself into a stone tomb barely large enough for his body. Inside that stone tomb, locked away in pure darkness, he remained in the lotus position. The only connection he had with the outside world was an air tube and a bell. The bell was rung every day to let the outside world know that he was still alive.

Step 4: Once the bell ceased to be rung, individuals outside the stone tomb would remove the air tube and finalize the tomb’s sealing. The tomb was left alone for another 1,000 days, then opened to see if the mummification process had worked.

Step 5: If the monk was found successfully mummified, he was viewed as a true Buddha. The body was removed from the tomb and displayed in a Buddhist temple for all to view. If the mummification process failed, resulting in a decomposed body, then the individual was still removed and displayed in a temple. However, they were not viewed as a true Buddha, since they failed self-mummification, but they were revered for their dedication and spirit.



One thought on “Sokushinbutsu: Self-Mummification”

  1. First of all, that’s really, really, terrifying. I have to research this more. Wtf is that yellow puffy thing where his mouth was? His jawbone? It looks like a mushroom.
    Second of all, I love your blog. I always end up googling the stuff you write about to learn more :-)

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