Further reflections on the practice of acquainting ourselves with the (you might say) unaesthetic aspects of the human body, the inside bits:
Some Buddhists occasionally have the depressed/depressing “the-body-is-a-sordid-pit” kind of approach.
On the other hand, when you’ve got a spare eight minutes for contemplation (which I hope you do often have), take a look at this video, which gives us taste of the respect and wonder that can be awakened by modern knowledge of the body:
[The ‘giant body’ referred to in the video subject entry is to the powerful visualisation used in Tarthang Tulku’s book, ‘Time, Space, Knowledge’ (1977).]
Recently, I watched Dr. Gunther von Hagens dissecting some bodies, on a 2-dvd set called ‘Anatomy for Beginners.’ I did that as a part of my getting real about our biological fragility, our mortality, and about the messy bits of the human body. It was a mind-blower. I recommend it (if you have a strong stomach). It confronted me with the certainty of death, while educating me in regard to the body. You’ll find that there are some youtube videos on his work, online.
He’s the same man who invented the controversial process of plasticising bodies for educational purposes. With sevral members of Tortoise Mountain sangha, I saw his exhibition of bodies, in Sydney, and it was a very valuable experience for my mindfulness practice – both ‘mindfulness of the body’ and ‘mindfulness of death.’ I was also struck with the compassion and kindness of the people who donate their body to science, for the education of others.
For a soft introduciton, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKsujA42tW4
These are modern ways that we can do the kind of contemplations that open graveyards made possible in the time of the Buddha. Again, I think it’s important that you remember that these contemplations will have a deep impact, and so they need to be balanced with the positivity of love, compassion and appreciative discernment. I was surprised how affected I was by viewing ‘Anatomy for Beginnners.’
Outside my window right now: Eucalypts: shadows against the mist. The call of the whip-bird.