Today, the Independent newspaper is carrying a story about the perfectly preserved body of a Buddhist monk that has been found in Mongolia. One Buddhist academic maintains that the monk, still sitting in the lotus position, may not be dead but might be in a state of deep mediation.
Now, as some of you know, I’m not one to be taken in by religious relics. I wasn’t fooled when a ‘genuine,’ nail, from the crucifixion of Jesus was put up for sale on Ebay, nor was I convinced by the splinter from the cross that was being offered by the same seller. (Not least because I had already bought one from a street market seller when I was in Turkey, and the one I’d haggled for was made of a much darker wood.) I was sorely tempted to purchase one of the thirty six, Messiah’s foreskins that were offered to me on the same holiday, but in the end I didn’t succumb, I mean, Jesus only had one foreskin removed, how could I be sure which one of them was the genuine article? I could have ended up with Judas’ prepuce and that wouldn’t have been half as valuable. I suppose, in a way they may all have been genuine, he was a supreme healer after all. I just don’t think he’d have put up with a rabbi following him around with a sharp knife waiting to snip the latest growth.
No, I’m not easily fooled. Had I been I would have snapped up the toenail that St Paul lost when he stubbed his foot on the way to Antioch. I could have avoided the tantrums and insults that were thrown at me the day I refused to lend the missus the tenner that would enable her to acquire the bones of one of the fish that Jesus served up during the Sermon on the Mount. The bones were housed in what looked to be an ancient, worm-riddled box but the stamp bearing the name of a cigar company from Havana was a bit of a giveaway. So, despite the floods of blackmail tears I declined the offer and bought her a genuine Rolex with the tenner instead.
But what about the meditating monk?
Now then, you’d think, after reading the above, that I’d be a tad sceptical about it all, but no, I think there may be more to this than meets my normal, cynical eye. Some people can put themselves into deep trances and while most of them don’t become trapped for a couple of centuries I’m quite prepared to believe that one or two of the more persistent acolytes could have slept the clock round. From there I guess it’s just a small step to narcolepsy or coma.
I’m sure I’ve been close to falling into a catatonic state myself. I remember my eyes glazing over during an algebra lesson at school and there have been many other times during the course of my life where I’ve felt my spirit leave this dimension to float on a higher plane. This mostly happened when the mother-in-law was lecturing me about how lucky I was to snare her daughter with the use of my snake-like tongue, or when the missus herself embarked on one of her forty-eight-hour gossip sagas.
Here’s a proposition for you. What if our monk had been attending an early nineteenth century lecture about the nine consciousnesses, had misheard the word, ‘one consciousness,’ and slipped into a state of unconsciousness from which he was unable to recover? Stranger things have happened.
It’s all right people taking the piss; the poor bloke is an easy target, he can’t answer back until he wakes up and that might not be for another few hundred years yet. Still, it will give him time to think up some cracking comebacks.
I’ve seen a lot of sarky comments on Facebook already. There are posts stating, ‘Looks like he needs a good moisturiser,’ ‘OM My God,’ and there are many, many re-hashes of Python’s dead parrot sketch. Well let me tell you it’s not funny and it’s not clever, he’s not the Messiah, he’s a mediating monk.
The daftest comment was from someone who said he looks like he could do with a bacon sandwich. I mean, come on! He’s a Buddhist for pities sake. He wouldn’t touch bacon.