Tibetan Monks Are Scared Shitless Of Death (And Selfish!)

tibetan-monksWhen researchers from Harvard Divinity School & elsewhere polled people from various religious traditions all over the world, they naturally expected to find Buddhists blissfully basking in a serenity derived from faith in the eternal cycle of life. But noooo….

[Cognitive Science Via LionsRoar.com]

Researchers speculated that Tibetan monastics would be less inclined to fear death. According to Buddhist teachings, understanding the concept of no-self can be an antidote to egocentricity and fear of death.

But this was not the case for Tibetan monastic participants.

“To our surprise,” wrote the authors, “monastic Tibetan Buddhists showed significantly greater fear of death than any other group.”


Researchers also acknowledged that—as Buddhists themselves have recognized in the past—the sense of identity across a biological lifespan is very strong. They speculate that perhaps the fear of death too instinctual to be tamed, even by the philosophical belief that there is no persistent self.

Or mayhaps it’s precisely their philosophical beliefs — specifically that they are doomed to suffer for eternity, reincarnated as rats, cockroaches and sundry other vermin, that has them pining to remain right where they are — in a sweet human body wearing comfy robes and living rent-free in a nice culty dorm. But wait, it gets better:

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Participants were also asked if they would trade months of their own life to increase another person’s life. Responses suggested that Tibetan monastics were more “egocentric” than others. The majority (72 per cent) would not give away six months of their life, even if it prolonged the other person’s life by five years or more… [full story]

Hey yo, those five Buddhist precepts only say to refrain from hurting any living thing; they don’t say SQUAT about helping anyone, OK?

Categories: Buddhism

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