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更新时间:2016-8-31 18:29:27 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Corpses, Pythons, Sleep Deprivation: Meditation Rituals in Thailand Can Be Intense

A decomposing body may not seem like an ideal meditation aid, but at some of Thailand’s tens of thousands of Buddhist temples, it is common to find monks reflecting while seated before a rotting corpse.


The practice of corpse meditation, largely limited to Thailand today, is an ancient concept in Buddhism, sanctioned by the Buddha himself. There are centuries-old murals and manuscripts depicting scenes of meditation next to different types of cadavers, some infested with worms, others cut in two or being picked at by crows.


The unpleasant sight and overpowering stench of flesh decaying in tropical heat can impart lessons about important Buddhist precepts, like nonattachment to one’s body and the impermanence of everything, said Justin McDaniel, a professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

这种令人不快的场面以及肉体在高温下腐烂的难闻臭味可以传达重要的佛教教义,诸如不要执着肉体,一切都是无常,宾夕法尼亚大学宗教学教授贾斯汀·麦克丹尼尔(Justin McDaniel)说。

The ritual is viewed as a powerful way to learn selflessness, Professor McDaniel said, “and the more selfless you are, the closer you are to nirvana.”


The corpse is often that of a child or young adult who has died unexpectedly. A family will donate the body to a temple, hoping something good can come from the tragedy.


The monks see the deceased young people as “representing the best of humanity,” Professor McDaniel said. “They’re innocent — not so selfish and greedy and ambitious. If something so beautiful can decay, why are you so proud and vain? You’re even uglier.”


The abbots who run Thailand’s temples, or wats, have tremendous leeway in adopting innovative approaches to meditation, and certain practices may be limited to a single sanctuary.


At one temple in Nong Bua Lamphu Province, a monk meditates in what appears to be hot oil. At another temple, Wat Tham Mangkon Thong, nuns meditate while floating in a pool. At Wat Pai Civilsai, meditation has taken place in a box with pythons. Monks also meditate in caves and coffins, where the absolute darkness enhances concentration.

在廊磨喃蒲府(Nong Bua Lamphu Province)的一座寺院里,一个僧侣在似乎是热油的液体里冥想。在金龙洞寺(Wat Tham Mangkon Thong),尼姑漂浮在水池中冥想。在Pai Civilsai寺,僧侣们在装着蟒蛇的箱子里冥想。僧侣们还会在洞穴和棺材里冥想,里面绝对的黑暗有助于集中精神。

So-called forest monks who observe strict ascetic practices known as dhutanga are said to meditate while walking for weeks without ever lying down, even to sleep.


It is not only monks who meditate in ways that may seem extreme.


Julia Cassaniti, an anthropology professor at Washington State University, was walking in the woods of a Thai monastery when she heard screams coming from a hut. The laypeople inside were using meditation to interact with their past lives, a struggle that adherents describe as painful.

华盛顿州立大学人类学教授茱莉亚·卡桑尼提(Julia Cassaniti)在泰国一座寺院的森林里行走时,听见一座小屋里传来阵阵尖叫声。屋里的俗家修行者正在使用冥想与自己的前世交流,根据信徒的描述,那是一种痛苦的挣扎。

A mediation technique that both monks and laypeople practice is a 10-day period of total silence. Some temples offer meditation retreats for tourists and encourage visitors to remain awake for the final three days.


“The sleep deprivation is seen as worth it to get to the first stages of enlightenment,” said Brooke Schedneck, a lecturer in Buddhist studies at the Institute of South East Asian Affairs in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

“为了达到觉醒的初级阶段,睡眠剥夺被认为是值得的,”泰国清迈东南亚事务研究所的佛学讲师布鲁克·施德尼克(Brooke Schedneck)说。

The goal of meditation for all Buddhists is to gain insights into spiritual truths. These more extreme practices, Professor Cassaniti said, can “heighten the access, so you get there a little faster or more intensely.”