Image: Wupu Woman (Chinese mummy), Jeffery Newbury, 1994. Courtesy Discover Magazine
Image: Wupu Woman (Chinese mummy), Jeffery Newbury, 1994. Courtesy Discover Magazine

That Body Is This Body

If [a monk] were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground, picked at by crows, vultures, and hawks, by dogs, hyenas, and various other creatures . . . a skeleton smeared with flesh and blood, connected with tendons . . . a fleshless skeleton smeared with blood, connected with tendons . . . a skeleton without flesh or blood, connected with tendons . . . bones detached from their tendons, scattered in all direc­ tions-here a hand bone, there a foot bone, here a shin bone, there a thigh bone, here a hip bone, there a back bone, here a rib, there a chest bone, here a shoulder bone, there a neck bone, here a jaw bone, there a tooth, here a skull . . . the bones whitened, somewhat like the color of shells . . . piled up, more than a year old . . . decomposed into a powder: He applies it to this very body, “This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate.”

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