You might be busy with stories of a global pandemic and worldwide protesting, but did you catch the story of the Buddhist monk named Ani Tenzin who was found in a state of “thukdam” 2 weeks after her death? Thukdam is a state of meditation monks use around the period of their death. It is a continuation of consciousness after physical death that delays all signs of decay. In other words, your body is dead, but you are still conscious.
Ani, age 82, was found sitting in a meditative posture for what they believe was 2 weeks after her physical death. Although no pulse or breathing remain, she is believed to be in a “holding” pattern of elevated meditation. This is a Buddhist phenomenon of a realised master. “Thuk”, meaning mind, and “dam”, meaning samadhi, or meditative state.
Of course this intrigued my curiosity. I found that this has been going on for some time! A British story from 2016 features the mummified body of a monk in lotus position, at the approximate age of 200. You can read the story here:
According to the article, if you can stay in this elevated meditational state for more than 3 weeks, your body begins to “shrink”, or die. Your body may emanate a rainbow, and you have a “rainbow body”. This is the closest you can get to the Buddha himself. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.
A more recent event from 2018, features a monk who is still smiling, a full two months after his death. They exhumed his 92-year-old body from the coffin in his temple, only to find his smiling face, a sure sign to his fellow monks that he had reached Nirvana, the state in which all sense of self, and the never-ending cycle of birth and death are finished…..aaaahhhhh. You can see his happy self here:
Apparently, over a decade ago, the Dalai Lama commissioned research on the state of Thukdam. Russian scientists have been studying the minds of Buddhist masters to evaluate how to stabilize and control the mind, as well as to understand the neurophysiological mechanism of meditation in relation to the functioning of the nervous system.
This is all very good news, especially in this chaotic period of human history. If we can nail down what the actual physical and emotional benefits of meditation are, teach it in a global, relatable fashion, and move people towards a common goal of compassion and coexistence, then, we will be able to face the future in a much better light.
Keep sitting and breathing. Have a great week, Cheers, Deb