The mummified body of deceased monk Luang Pho Daeng sits enclosed in a special glass display case, like a quirky, macabre statue. He is the main attraction at Wat Khunaram, a temple on the Thai island of Ko Samui where visitors are welcomed with cool shades and a deathly grin.
The figure sits wrapped in his bright orange monk’s robes. Perched above his nose is a pair of dark Ray-Ban sunglasses, completely hiding what’s left of his eyes.
Luang Pho Daeng was once the abbot at this temple. The monk’s body was manipulated into a simple meditative pose following his passing in 1973 at the ripe old age of 79.
It is believed that Luang Pho Daeng predicted when he would pass away and left instructions detailing what was to be done with his body when the time came. If it decomposed – as one might expect it would in the warm, sticky climate of southern Thailand – he was to be cremated. If, however, his body evinced fewer signs of decomposition, his wish was that it be put on display.
Luang Pho Daeng hoped that his preserved corpse would be a source of inspiration to forthcoming generations – an influence on them to act upon Buddhist teachings and so help save themselves from the endless suffering of life.
Because Luang Pho Daeng spent the last days of his life in deep meditation, fasting and refraining from speaking, some have suggested that this may have slowed down the decaying process after death. If this is true, it may explain why his body is so surprisingly well-maintained.
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