Posts Tagged ‘Samsara’

Reflections on a Cadaver

Sunday, November 18th, 2012
Image from Gunther Von Hagens’s Body Worlds

As a part of the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Karuna students have the option of going to a cadaver lab at Springfield College with Megan Frazier. The lab has two cadavers to view, one supine and the other prone. The environment encourages students and visitors to view the cadavers objectively without attachment to who is on the table. For many people the study of anatomy is purely scientific but for yogis the samsaric perspectives on the cycle of life and death inevitably arise.

Katherine Veazey Policy is a current Yoga Teacher Trainee in the 200-hr program and a Vipassana Meditator. The following post is her reflection on her visit to the cadaver lab.

I went to the lab at Springfield College today to study the human cadavers. I have wanted to do so for several years after hearing that some Buddhist monks meditate on dead bodies. It was fascinating. I noticed while looking at one of the cadavers that the body seemed to retain memory. This ‘lifeless’ body was still reflecting the way that it had lived.  The quality of the cadaver also reflected the quality of the person’s thoughts.  I could practically feel the dead person’s daily life in the examination room today. Her hands, which we didn’t look at too closely, contained a consciousness that was beyond death. Two major religions, Islam and Christianity, talk about raising up from the grave. I’ve never understood how that could be possible but today had me wondering. Human beings often visit the tombs of holy people. There is something tremendously alive in those places. There are instances of the bodies of spiritual masters not decomposing for quite some time after death and some of them even grow crystals in their bodies. I just wondered what Paramahansa Yognandaji’s  body would be like. I assume this is because of the coherence, sympathy, and unity in the vibrations these masters had generated through practice in their former lives.  Upon gazing at the bodies the thought arose that it would be beautiful to live in such a way that one’s corpse could be an inspiration to live mindfully.  The body can be a temple through which one sees the universe and cares for all beings or it can be inert leavings of a half-conscious un-actualized god.

One of my teachers says that the body is the textbook for one’s life in God’s creation and that we write in it.  I have observed in photographs and in living beings that some people have very ‘coherent’ bodies. There’s little chaos; one can think more clearly while looking at them. The physical structure and energetic structure are confluent and un-conflicted. The abdomen can be a jumble of whirls and indistinct physical structures or it can be a pleasant energetic ‘book’ for the person connecting with it. Upon connecting, one finds peace and order while one’s attention moves down over muscles that express the grace of alignment. The muscles align meaningfully to a point in the chest. They are imbued with intelligence including eloquence of speech, thought and refinement of emotion. They are a communication and record of an understanding of the workings of creation and oneness. I was grateful to have witnessed these corpses and to have seen lives and life written in them.  I am in awe of the potential we have to create and communicate. Witnessing such a corpse elicited an awareness of myself as beyond manifestation. I observed and learned from the corpse and yet I was beyond it, even while simultaneously connecting with it.

May you and beings and things be happy.

Buddhist illustration of Parinirvana

Movie Recommendation: Samsara

Friday, October 12th, 2012

SAMSARA Theatrical Trailer from Baraka & Samsara on Vimeo.

read the New Yorker’s review here