This monk ain’t dead, he’s just meditating

This monk ain’t dead, he’s just meditating

Some Buddhists in Mongolia are insisting that a 200-year mummified monk is alive, but in a deep meditative state.

The Telegraph reports that scientists in Mongolia are examining the preserved body of the monk, sitting in the cross-legged lotus position. He was discovered last week, covered in cattle skin, in the Songino Khairkhan district of the capital, Ulan Bator.

The ash-coloured mummy has reportedly been sent to the National Centre of Forensic Expertise in Ulan Bator for further study.

Gankhüügiin Pürevbat, the founder of the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art at Ulan Bator Buddhist University said:

The lama is sitting in the lotus position vajra, the left hand is opened, and the right hand symbolises of the preaching Sutra. This is a sign that the lama is not dead, but is in a very deep meditation according to the ancient tradition of Buddhist lamas.

Some experts on Buddhism said the monk could be in “tukdam”, a kind of deep meditative state that crosses over between life and death.

Dr Barry Kerzin, a monk and a physician to the Dalai Lama:

If the person is able to remain in this state for more than three weeks – which rarely happens – his body gradually shrinks, and in the end all that remains from the person is his hair, nails, and clothes.

Local media said a 45-old-man had been arrested because the monk’s body had been stolen from a cave with the intention of selling it off. It was unclear in what circumstances it was originally found.

The monk is generally thought to have died in the 19th century. His identity is unknown.

In a similar case, the body of Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, a lama in Russia’s Buryatia region, showed few signs of decay when it was exhumed in 2002. Monks say Itigilov is “not completely dead” and the temperature of his body rises during ceremonies at the monastery where it is kept near Ulan Ude.

Itigilov died in 1927 while meditating, having asked fellow monks to bury him in the lotus position after he passed away. His body was packed in salt.

Hat tip: Robert Stovold.

21 responses to “This monk ain’t dead, he’s just meditating”

  1. Broga says:

    I suspect he could be dead.

  2. AgentCormac says:

    I read this article earlier today and nearly choked on my early-morning cuppa. It just shows how religious ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ can make otherwise sane people totally disregard the reality before their eyes, turning them into complete, drooling-from-the-corner-of-their-mouths idiots.

    If this monk ever wakes up from his ‘trance’ I will, as a form of penance, happily run naked around our local village with nettles tied to my inner thighs. I don’t expect to be doing any such thing any time soon.

  3. Ophelia Benson says:

    He’s not dead, he’s restin’!

  4. carlynot says:

    Being an atheist I still have taken many things from buddism and the dalai lamas writing(peace, love compassion, meditation, breathing) but it’s stuff like this and reincarnation that keeps me non theist.

  5. David says:

    He is pining for the fjords.

  6. AgentCormac says:

    BTW, I would just love to know what so-called ‘creationists’ make of this:

  7. Adrian says:

    Ophelia Benson says:
    Thu 5 Feb at 10:08 pm
    He’s not dead, he’s restin’!

    Lovely plumage tho…Oh wait.

  8. 1859 says:

    If this guy’s just meditating then finally I can believe in the re-incarnation of Elvis! Life is wonderful!

  9. Vanity Unfair says:

    This is a problem that regularly arises in medicine, philosophy and law. How dead is dead. Dying is a process, not an event, differently described by each of these studies. In the end life and death might just be a matter of opinion.
    If he hasn’t eaten for 200 years I think he’s probably dead.
    Or an alien spaceman in suspended animation.

  10. RussellW says:

    Look, he’s dead, deceased, shuffled off, karked it, fallen off the twig, passed on, passed away……..

  11. RussellW says:


    I’m not sure if you’re implying that Buddhism is a theistic religion, it isn’t.

  12. Robster says:

    He doesn’t look well, or is perhaps watching cricket?

  13. Newspaniard says:

    OT I see that the religion of peace are justifying burning people alive. Don’t look if you are sensitive to horror:

  14. Broga says:

    Newspaniard: I’m not going to look. Burning apostates alive? That includes those on this site. ISIS is back in the time of Henry V111 when reading the bible in English was a burning offence. I watched a brilliant programme by Melvyn Bragg on William Tyndale who ended up burned alive for translating the bible into English.

    I see Jordan is giving Isis a bit of a kicking at the moment.

  15. Maggie says:

    @RussellW, I think Buddhism is a theistic religion in the UK as it is only monotheistic religions that get the tax breaks. Hinduism in the UK claims all its gods are basically different guises of a single god. Religion can be quite ‘flexible’ if there are tax breaks to be had.

  16. barriejohn says:

    Broga: I wouldn’t get too worked up about any of the nonsense that Pamela Geller posts online. I am only amazed that any sensible person would link to her ghastly site.

    BTW Although Wolf Hall deserves praise for portraying Sir Thomas More as the deranged psychopath that he undoubtedly was (actions speak louder than words), its portrayal of Thomas Cromwell is so far from historically accurate as to be laughable. I’m most disappointed.

    PS A woman wrote in to the Daily Mail and declared that as “St” Thomas More “is a canonised saint… he is without doubt in heaven and in the presence of God”. Care in the community, eh?

  17. Newspaniard says:

    @barriejohn: And you make snide remarks about the things I read?

  18. gedediah says:

    Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o’clock alarm call!

  19. RussellW says:


    I agree that Geller is a Zionist nutter, however ‘ Loonwatch’ is an excellent site to observe Islamist loons at work.


    I see, theistic for tax purposes only. I’ve heard Buddhists claim that they don’t believe in God, certainly Buddhism, as originally practised, seemed more like a philosophy than a religion.

  20. lucy 1 says:

    But I have spent time with Buddhists who certainly prayed to Buddha, made offerings and did all the shit that is indistinguishable from worshipping a god. They may not have been ‘true Buddhists’ but an outsider would be hard pressed to know why not.