So… I was walking down the streets of Kangding around 8 am and was toying with the idea of a few places to visit. Suddenly a man approached me and asked me whether I want to go to Tagong in his van. In fact, Tagong was on my list to visit later and since the opportunity presented itself, I thought I might as well find out more about it. He took me to the van and there were already 7 Chinese young adults seated inside. The van driver just needed one passenger to make it a full van load. I obtained my information of how this van tour is going to be from one of the passengers who spoke little English.
WHAT IS SKY BURIAL?
Human beings are not immortal and when death knocks on the door of our lives, the souls leave the earth but the lifeless bodies remain. How we approach to handle the last vestige of the evidence of our life will depend on the culture we live in. In Tibet and in Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures in China, they have a unique way of handling the deceased. Tibetan Buddhists follow the guidance of their death handbook, the Bardo Thodol, a guide to the stages of death and the pathway to reincarnation written in the 8th century CE. But this journey is for the soul, not for the body, which is just the soft shell we are encased in. Unlike the Christian traditions that many western nations have founded their death practices on, which speak of resurrection of the intact body, in Tibet the body is seen as part of nature’s cycle and not the human it once was.
I stumbled upon the existence of Dongchuan Redland while I was surfing randomly for beautiful places to visit in 2012. The different layers of bold brilliant colours of the landscape captivated my eyes and I vowed that I will see it with my own eyes. In September 2014, I lost my beloved brother to liver failure and his death deeply traumatised me. I was wallowing in deep grief and drowning in great sorrow. Tears fell constantly and I was heading into a gloomy depression. My most effective therapy was to get away to reconcile my emotions and also accept the demise of my brother. Dongchuan was a balm to my sorrowful soul and a delight to my eyes.