Accidentally getting involved in a cult is just one of those things that your parents worry about at night. What is he learning in that school of his? Back in 2013 I switched my focus in graduate school from international relations to Asian studies after coming out of every IR class depressed about the state of the world. A fortuitous chance friendship with a former monk lead me away from the doom and gloom of the world of politics, and into a whole ‘nother level-level of doom and gloom. Meeting William Colachicco was a defining moment for me. No so much a fork in the road, as a slap in the face and a directive to “Go that way!” He and some of my professors convinced me, despite my heavy skepticism, that studying Buddhism was, as they say, right up my alley.
Now called Professor by his bright-eyed students, Mr. Colachicco is our first guest on Mindfulness of Doom. Expect to hear more from him. He is dreamy. He and I have had many late night arguments about the nature of the universe, the cosmological constant, and the gathering of magic. We normally discuss our disagreements over our shared love of Chipotle. By the way, for you patreon supporters, my standard order is: burrito bowl with the tortilla shell on the side, brown rice, no beans, steak, mild pico de gallo, corn, sour cream, cheese, guac. Yes. I know it’s extra, we’ve been through this. Pomegranate-Cherry juice.
Oh right, we’re all going to die. Let me get to the point. Death. It’s going to happen. All Buddhist monks, of the Theravandan variety are exposed to the practice discussed in today’s episode. They may not actually practice it, but it is in the Pali Canon as well as the Visuddhimagga, the most popular commentarial text on Theravada Buddhism. Started well, that sentence. Yeah, it got away from me. The point is, monks study it, but it isn’t a practice normally taught to lay people. Which is interesting, especially considering this is an ancient practice revived using modern technology. Specifically, the use of medical autopsy DVDs and slide shows of corpses as meditation objects. I know right!
Will and I got into the study of this practice pretty intently. We went back several times and took observations and collected survey data of the participants after and as they watched the DVDs. I’ve never been so excited to see people uncomfortable before. The data was great. You know… for science. We wrote a 50 page paper on it. Publication pending. Perhaps one day it will see the light of day. Stay tuned.
~People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.