Incredible photos have surfaced online which show a dead Buddhist monk still smiling, despite being dead for two months.
The monk in question, Luang Phor Pian, died on November 16 last year in Bangkok, Thailand, and his body was recently exhumed in incredible condition.
Followers of the revered 92-year-old monk removed him from his coffin at the temple in which he served, to find his body was incredibly well preserved.
People have claimed this as an example of a divine occurrence for Luang Phor Pian and claim this is evidence he’s reached true nirvana, spiritual state in which the sense of self – and the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara) – is gone.
Nirvana is the ultimate spiritual goal for Buddhists, so no wonder he’s smiling.
The body was exhumed in order to redress him, putting clean robes on the body, yet nobody was expecting him to be in such an extraordinary condition.
Phor Pian was Cambodian, but moved to Thailand, where he spent his life as a Buddhist trying to attain Nirvana – he was apparently well-respected and well-known.
In Buddhist ceremonies, different memorial services can be held on different days up to the 100th day after the death of the Buddhist.
Bodies may be embalmed in order to preserve during this time, but it’s understood this didn’t happen in his case.
Samsara, the Sanskrit word for the cycle of life and death, is the basis of the theory of the karmic cycle and reincarnation in Buddhism.
It’s the aim of Buddhists to reach true spiritual enlightenment in order to liberate themselves from the cycle of existence and achieve Nirvana.
In order to do so, the Buddhist may aim for the Four Noble Truths; the truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth suffering will end, and the path to make it happen.
Everybody is stuck in the cycle of Samsara, which causes dukkha – a state of suffering or lack of fulfilment in life – and everybody should try and break out of this cycle, according to Buddhism.
Perhaps one of the most famous Buddhist monks is Thích Quảng Đức, who’s been immortalised through the images of his self-immolation in Saigon in 1963.
The Vietnamese monk burned himself to death to protest the persecution of Buddhists in South Vietnam.
The monk’s last words before his self-immolation were left in a letter, writing:
Before closing my eyes and moving towards the vision of the Buddha, I respectfully plead to President Ngô Đình Diệm to take a mind of compassion towards the people of the nation and implement religious equality to maintain the strength of the homeland eternally.
I call the venerable, reverends, members of the sangha and the lay Buddhists to organise in solidarity to make sacrifices to protect Buddhism.
Phor Pian is yet to be fully laid to rest, but in the meantime, his followers will continue to pray and chant for him until the final ceremony is held.