Zombies and Tara

Nov 7, 2011 – One of the manifestations of Tara, supreme goddess of compassion, subdues zombies.  She subdues all manner of other beings, too, including ones with horse heads and human bodies.  All such beings are ways to visualize negative emotions that lead to negative actions.  Lama who teaches us occasionally entertains us with stories about these imaginary but also real beings.  He has many tales about zombies.

Five manifestations of Tara

Zombies are bodies inhabited by a demon who replaced the original occupant.  There are none now because high lamas killed them all.  It’s unfortunate in a way because wherever there were zombies you could be sure a high lama would soon appear, too.  Those high lamas could make zombies work.  One took a long pilgrimage all across Tibet and needed to bring a lot of stuff with him.  He made a zombie carry it all.  At the end of each day he told the zombie to stop.  The zombie would crash to the ground and remain immobile ’til morning.  Toward the end of the pilgrimage it started making a funny noise as it walked.  That’s because its feet were almost worn through.

Another time the abbot of a monastery was nearing death.  He told his lamas they must at all costs cut up and burn his body within three days of his death.  When the time came, his lamas decided it wouldn’t be right to do that because even the lowest person is allowed to rest for a week.  They laid him to rest and respectfully slept where his body lay.  On the third night in that room one young lama was too scared to sleep.  At last he turned and placed his head where his feet should be so he could keep a close watch on the abbot’s body.  Suddenly, its eyes opened.  It blinked and sat up.  It rose to its feet and began touching each sleeping monk’s head.  They instantly became zombies.  Only the young monk escaped.  That’s because it was his feet that were touched.  He ran from the room, locked all the zombies in, and probably burned the monastery to the ground. Lama says he can’t attest to the veracity of that last point.  It’s just his assumption based on other such incidents.

The reason for sky burial, the Tibetan tradition of cutting bodies into small pieces and leaving them for vultures, was to avert zombies.  Since there are no zombies now, sky burial is no longer necessary.  The workers who cut up the bodies had to hide the heads because vultures, who are in fact special-purpose deities, like brains best.  If they got brains first, they wouldn’t finish the flesh and other organs.

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