Last year it was reported that a medical team in the Netherlands discovered the mummified remains of an ancient Buddhist monk entombed within a golden statue of the Buddha. Scholars believe that the monk, Liu Quan, passed away sometime around the year 1100, and was mummified in a bid to become a “living Buddha.”
Fast forward 900 years later to the present day, and there is now a website for that! Still, it would seem that the more traditional practice of preserving revered monks is alive and well. Earlier this week, the body of a revered monk from the Fujian city of Quanzhou finished the final stage of a three-year mummification process.
According to the Quanzhou Evening News, the monk, Fu Hou, passed away back in 2012, at the age of 94. At the behest of head abbot Li Ren, he was preserved and placed inside a porcelain statue in lotus position. Fu was a devout follower of Buddhism and veteran monk, who joined the order when he was just 17.
Now, after three years of rest, the corpse has finally seen the light of day yet again. It looks to be in pristine condition (save for some very dry skin). The body was washed, covered in gauze and lacquer, before finally being coated in a gold leaf.
Fu Hou will eventually be robed, interred inside a glass case (protected with an anti-theft device) and then placed upon a mountaintop to be worshiped by pilgrims. Damn, the best we can hope for is being turned into somebody’s earring.
But out with the old and in with the new! As the world observes the ascension of Fu Hou to godhood, a new generation of monks is coming to the forefront to help bring Buddhist teachings to the masses, spearhead by Xian’er, the adorable robo-monk at Dragon Spring Temple in Beijing.
Pondering questions regarding the meaning of life, the universe and everything? Xian’er can be reached by WeChat at the handle, “賢二機器僧.”
While some worshipers have expressed skepticism at the idea of a future in which temples are populated by adorable automatons, the behavior of some monks in recent years has certainly compelled us to wonder if this current generation of flesh-and-blood monks will be able to inspire piety and reverence for the Buddha. Recent wrongdoings range from petty squabbles to serious corruption scandals at the famed Shaolin Temple.
Xian’er would never do any of those things.
By Stanley Yu
[Images via Quanzhou Evening News]