Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sky Burial

My neighbor's 18-year-old, still-healthy calico cat didn't come home one morning after her nightly hunting expedition. Although it was unusual, it was not unheard of, so my neighbor Connie didn't worry--yet.

About noon, Connie was looking out her kitchen window, and out beyond the vegetable garden, she saw a crow fly from the ground up to a tree with something white in its beak. Connie walked down to the vegetable garden, and there were the remains of Calico Cat. The predator had become prey--probably of a fisher cat (a member of the weasel family).

Connie, who trained Peace Corps volunteers in Nepal, has seen "sky burial," which is practiced in Tibet and parts of Nepal where the rocky, mountainous ground makes earth burial impossible. Dead bodies are butchered into joints of meat and fed to lammergeyers, a type of vulture.

In this way, death immediately becomes life by feeding these creatures of the sky. So too, Calico Cat had her own Tibetan "sky burial." Her dead body fed crows (and a weasel) and thus became life.

May all creatures be free from suffering.

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