Monastery, North Eastern Tibet, 1933
Here I have the majesty of solitude, uninterrupted awareness of buddha nature. Great lamas – like my Rinpoche – die sitting up, in wooden meditation boxes, consciousness controlling body until the very end. After death they rest in the clear light before body – a fruit which has come to ripeness – begins to decay. We call it thugdham. I hope to die like that. Oh, to bury myself in luminosity! To hide in spaciousness of mind. In the west people bury bodies in earth but in Tibet we want bardo of dharmata burial … For 49 days after my death the monks will light butter lamps to chase hungry ghosts away. A lama will do phowa prayers for my transition. Then the body will be taken to consecrated land for sky burial. They will cut the body up, blood will seep into earth, feed creatures underground. The remains will be offered to the bearded vultures – lamergeyers we call them – who wait.