Inside a Buddha statue that is dated back to the 11th or 12th century, there is an impressive secret. There are mummified remains of a monk inside the statue. Erik Bruijn, a Buddhism expert, led a study that determined the mummy belonged to a Buddhist master named Liuquan. He is believed to have belonged to the Chinese Meditation School.
The CT scan and endoscopy of the mummified Buddha were carried out by Drents Museum at Meander Medical Centre in the Netherlands. While they knew there was definitely a body inside, they had no idea that the organs had been removed prior to mummification.
Stuffed inside the body were scrolls of paper with Chinese writing. While this may seem like a grim thought, self-mummification was thought to be reserved for only the most devoted monks. It was considered the highest form of religious enlightenment.
This process didn’t just start with the mummification though. It was a long process that started when the monk started to meditate to reach enlightenment. The process started with a year-long diet of water, nuts, berries, and other specific foods. The monk would not eat grains or other substantial foods. After the year was over, the monk would be sealed inside a statue such as the one that was found. They were then fed a tea that was made from a toxic lacquer tree and they would use a tube for food and air. They would also have a bell that they would ring to let everyone know they were still alive.
When the bell stopped ringing, the monk would be sealed inside of a tomb for three more years. After three years, they would reopen the tomb and find the deceased monk in one piece. It was believe that at this point they have reached true enlightenment.
However, if the monk was found decomposed, they believe that this monk did not meet their goal of reaching true enlightenment. Even if the monk did fall short, their efforts were still honored.
Now the statue has been transported to Hungary where it will be on display at the Hungarian Natural History Museum. Researchers are still processing all of the papers that were removed from the mummy. I can’t wait to see and hear what the writings say.