how eating dogshit can avert death

 Wrathful deities of the Vajra family.  Thangkas painted by Shawu Tsering and photographed by Jill Morley Smith are in the private collection of Gyurme Dorje
Been reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead (deluxe edition, Penguin, 2005). Here's an excerpt from the "Specific Rites for Averting Death":
"When the indication of protruding ankle bones appears, one should face westward towards the sun when it is close to setting and remove one's clothes. Then, placing a dog's tail under oneself, and some dog excrement in a heap in front, one should eat a mouthful and bark like a dog. This should be repeated three times...

"Also in cases where other people are afflicted by illness: if the roots of their teeth grow grimy and black, such a person should wear a goat's skin, face the sunrise, and bleat three times like a goat. Similarly, in cases where the nostrils sag inwards, it will be beneficial if one visualises the syllable A on the tip of the subject's nose, recites the syllable A twenty-one times, and bathes in various rivers..." (number of rivers not specified)
The excerpt is from the Ritual Averting of Signs of Near Death (page 190), which is part of the section entitled, Ritual Deception of Death, which contains Specific Rites for Averting Death, published in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, deluxe edition, Penguin Books Ltd, 2005. Available at Amazon.

The Book is not one cohesive narrative but rather a collection of writings on various subjects. It includes substantial chunks of content focusing on the "grass-roots" folklore and ritual to do with Death, in those cultures / in that part of world.

As highlighted in the relevant Context within the Book itself, many of the rituals are "...idiosyncratic and ... not commonly practised." In other words, downright weird to the max.

But the Book also features profound and unique insights into the nature of Life, Death and Reality.

Alongside insights into human psychology, the Book maps the domains and landscapes in which the souls of those who have recently died are believed to wander (and wonder!). (You can substitute "consciousnesses" for "souls" if you like.Wrathful deities of the Vajra family. Thangkas painted by Shawu Tsering and photographed by Jill Morley Smith are in the private collection of Gyurme Dorje.


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NIGHTMERRIES: THE LIGHTER SIDE OF DARKNESS This so-called "book" will chew you up, spit you out, and leave you twitching and frothing on the carpet. More than 60 dark and feculent fictions (read ‘em and weep) copiously illustrated by over 20 grotesque images you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.

AWAREWOLF & OTHER CRHYMES AGAINST HUMANITY (Vot could be Verse?) We all hate poetry, right? But we might make an exception for this sick and twisted stuff. This devil's banquet of adults-only offal features more than 50 satanic sonnets, vitriolic verses and odious odes.

MANIC MEMES & OTHER MINDSPACE INVADERS A disturbing repository of quotably quirky quotes, sayings, proverbs, maxims, ponderances, adages and aphorisms. This menagerie holds no fewer than 184 memes from eight meme-species perfectly adapted to their respective environments.

MASTRESS & OTHER TWISTED TAILS, ILLUSTRATED: an unholy corpus of oddities, strangelings, bizarritudes and peculiaritisms

FIENDS & FREAKS Adults-only Tales of Serpents, Dragons, Devils, Lobsters, Anguished Spirits, Gods, Anti-gods and Other Horse-thieves You Wouldn't Want to Meet in a Dark Kosmos: 4th Edition

HAGS TO HAGGIS Whiskey-soaked Tails of War-nags, Witches, Manticores and Escapegoats, Debottlenecking and Desilofication, Illustrated

paradoxgarage said...

Thanks for this. I have a large collection, but was not sure what to do with it. I just had this I wait for the ankle bone to protrude.....getting closer.

masterymistery said...

Hi paradoxgarage, thanks for stopping by.

I must admit I feel a bit bad about the post.

It's easy to poke fun at the Book, and there's more to come!

But there's also a lot of really good stuff --- penetrating insights into Life Death Reality and the Human Condition!

So I really ought to have been a bit more balanced.

But who can resist making childish taunts, especially when eating dogshit is involved?!

The Real Cie said...

Shoot, and here I went and rehomed my dogs earlier this year. Who knew!
The thing about holy tomes is you have to pick through the dog shit, so to speak, and find the stuff that is truly worthy. Which is why I will always find biblical literalists to be, for lack of a better turn of phrase, closed minded and annoying.

Martin Olson said...

I've never read it, but now I'd like to. Thanks.

masterymistery said...

Hi Martin, thanks for stopping by. I'm not sure whether there's intentional irony in your comment, but let me point to what I said in response to paradoxgarage's comments, about the lack of balance in the post. The Book is a very mixed bag holding (what to me is) utter crap alongside gold nuggets of insight.

So, yes, I think it's well worth reading, especially for the author of the Encyclopaedia: if nothing else it's a great xsource of raw material to be Encycled!



weirsdo said...

Happy New Year!
I have resolved to be around more.
I have no use for such magical thinking, but it seems most cannot escape it entirely.

masterymistery said...

Hi weirsdo, great to hear from you again. Happy and prosperous new year (and beyond) to you too.

The thing about magical thinking, is that it's... well, magical! So, people who enjoy magic may enjoy the Book, for its magic.

Yes, a lot of the Book strikes one a silly/laughable: eg things like the 42 wrathful deities and the 58 peaceful deities.

One might well ask what 100 deities are doing in a particular flavour of a Buddhist belief-system that is supposedly deity-free.

And that would be a very good question.

To which the Book has an OK answer, not a good answer, mind, just an OK answer: The deities are the products of the mind.

OK, so at this point one heaves a sigh of relief: Oh, so they're not really deities, they're just the products of the mind. Everything's OK, then. One can relax and continue reading the Book in the knowledge that the weird stuff is firmly in its box, which is the imagination, and that the weird stuff is appropriately contextualised so that one can swallow it without demur.

However, Sorry, no relaxation for the wicked: the weird stuff is in the mind. But the Book is talking about the minds of dead people! So we're back to square one.

And that is the pattern of the Book. That is what makes it so fascinating (to me). It's a mixture of what in my opinion is rubbish/silliness, alongside substantial chunks of content that are highly sophisticated and insightful in terms of human psychology, and metaphysics.

But don't take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. Or, wait for the series of posts in the weeks and months ahead in which Cosmic Rapture will dissect, analyse and evaluate the Book in detail.

Let me end this rambling comment with the following comment: BEing a jaded faded baby boomer, I want to believe that this stuff is real. Stuff? Reincarnation, psychic powers, astral travel, the Akashic REcord, enlightenment, nirvana, etc etc etc

I passionately want all of the above, and more, to be real.

But I'm a faded jaded baby boomer with an enormous appetite for proof/evidence/data/empirical research. So, sadly, I can't and don't accept yet that any of the above things are real.

But I believe they are not inconceivable: we wouldn't be having this conversation if they were inconceivable.

And further, I believe they are logically possible. So I hope you don't feel I'm being an intellectual coward, or that my thinking is being distorted by my wishes and wants: But I do have to resort to the old cop-out: the jury's still out!

Thanks for your commnmet. Cheers, MM

masterymistery said...

The Real Cie, you're absolutely right: see next post. Cheers, MM