Sokushinbutsu - The ancient Japanese monks mummified to death

Sokushinbutsu and the ancient Japanese monks that mummified themselves to death

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Sokushinbutsu of  Dainichi Temple – Atlas Obscura. Available from:

By April Holloway


These monks were trying to reach the highest forms of Enlightenment by denying themselves everything of the "Real" world. By eliminating food, water, the only left would be the mind and spirit. Since those two are housed in the body, their non-decaying state shows that they have reached full Enlightment and no longer affected by outside forces. They never considered it suicide because they really haven't died, they've transcended. Technically, any monk who attempted to do this to become famous would fail since they were still holding onto the trappings of the material world.

Don't forget similar ascetic practices are found in the stories of the western Catholic saints. In Eastern philosophies there are many, many paths that one could take to reach Enlightment. Everything from the techniques practiced by these Shingon monks, the altruist Shakyamuni warrior monks, and even to sexual Tantric practices. Any of these school and the hundreds of other schools of thought if done properly will take a person to buddha-hood. To a Buddhist, this is a proper reflection of how varied reality can be.

I am sorry to say but IMO this is pointless, if existence(life) only served to achieve the most painful death, why bother at all? Whatever is the purpose of Life I can't imagine it being something like this.

I think this is an example of a philosophy going Amok, which is the case with any Religion, anything which involves belief ends up in a Dead End often quite literally.

There is no proof of Nirvana, Heathen, Hell, Reincarnation(although probably much more than the rest), etc.

And what exactly is "Enlightenment" ? And why bother with it in the first place? Yes, knowledge, wisdom, intuition are all noble virtues but this "enlightenment" what does it do you can't get anywhere else? Seems to me to be just another gimmick (like Heathen) to con you into doing stuff you would otherwise not want to do, like self immolate or self mummification.

I don't think you can "buy" your way into Heaven or Nirvana or to Enlightenment, with "buy" I mean working overtime on achieving it, torturing your self, killing your self, zealously observing rituals, performing any specific tasks solely designed to get you there etc.

Live your Life! The Journey is more important than the End. How you die, as long as it "just happens", is of no consequence to your afterlife if such a thing exists, you are far more likely to "mess it up" by trying too hard like those guys.

Your reflections are those of a "normal" human being, whose life is centered on accomplishments desirable in human society and efforts towards fulfillment of ambitions serving to satisfy the ego and a sense of self-importance.

You could pause to ask yourself how many of the billions of human beings leading a "normal" life are serving the purpose of life.

This makes my skin crawl.


I have been thinking about it all day.

Of course it demonstrates the srength of mental power , but why? Of all things they could have with so much willpower, his is what they choose.?

For fame?? These monks who are supposed to be humble.  Nay I don't think so..

I think I'll never forget this.


Sunny Young

I second this motion!


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