Tibetan Sky Burial (photos)

See the (2014) updated version of this post here:

Tibetan Sky Burial (photos) UPDATED: Propaganda vs Scholarship


A set of recently-posted Sky Burial pictures has recieved over half a million views in less than 24 hours. As a poignant reminder of the impermanence of this body, they’re worth viewing.

Click here for all of them (warning, some are graphic).

And here are a couple videos to give the context:

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

Mapping Buddhism in America
“Why am I here?” – an interview with Zen priest and interfaith dialogue participant, Rev. Dr. David Zuniga
The Onion sends NBC’s Brian Williams to Tibet
UPDATED: Thich Nhat Hanh drinks tea, smiles in rehab
  • http://buddhanadtea.blogspot.com/?spref=fb johnl

    Looking through the photos, as well as the links on Wikipedia, the most offensive thing I saw was a video of two guys with American accents wandering around an actual charnel ground, .showing their disgust at ‘barbaric practices.’ Later in the video they expressed their intention to convert these people to Christianity. I guess it’s also a bit shocking that reluctance to publicize this kind of imagery has broken down. Maybe Buddhists can use these images for contemplation of death, but I am concerned about those who might have trouble keeping their funerals private, away from prying eyes of those seeking a grotesque thrill..

    • Justin Whitaker

      Good comment, Johnl, thanks. This brings up two things for me: 1) that this is part of my hope as an educator, to present things in a way that leads to appreciation and deeper thought, not grotesque thrill seeking, etc. I do sometimes include what I consider eye-catching titles and images, but I do usually try to explain things in a balanced way. 2) I think in that regard I should have given more explanation in my post, beyond a couple links and videos, as those could be easily overlooked for those in search of the bizarre.

      I think your worry over privacy is valid; and certainly those who want privacy should have it. Yet there are those who do want to share this part of their culture and to be understood by others. So long as these things are shared respectfully and without exploitation, I see it as a good thing in general. I doubt most of those (now one million+) viewers of the photos have any idea what they are about, but if they got there through my page, at least they have those links/videos to help get a better idea… That’s my hope at least.

  • http://buddhanadtea.blogspot.com/?spref=fb johnl

    I’d like to clarify: I agree that now that these pictures are out, it is best for everyone to be culturally aware and educated on the topic. Can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. But I am surprised that this has become so open recently. Not long ago, internet searches on this topic brought up very few images, and lots of notes that most of these people didn’t welcome photography and other outside attention. In the best case, interpretations by this site and other knowledgeable sources will promote understanding and minimize thrill-seeking. So, let’s hope for the best!