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10 cemetery contemplations:
1. A corpse that is bloated
2. A corpse that is livid (has patchy discoloration)
3. A corpse that is festering (trickling with pus in broken places)
4. A corpse that is cut up
5. A corpse that is gnawed
6. A corpse that is scattered
7. A corpse that is hacked and scattered
8. A corpse that is bleeding
9. A corpse that is worm-infested
10. A corpse that is a skeleton
We tend to forget our mortality, always putting off spiritual concerns and development. It is not a common meditation subject, except in some Southeast Asian countries, but it is a very important one. By seeing a corpse, it wakes us to the urgency of our practice. We know that we are of the same nature and will die one day. It becomes much more apparent when we see a real dead body.
Viewing a corpse at a funeral home does not count, there the embalming process and make-up hides the fact of the natural deterioration of the human body. The natural decay of the body is much different from the embalming process and viewing that is done at funeral homes. It wakes you to the reality of death and gives you a sense of urgency in regard to the practice. Not all were elderly and we all hear in the news of very young people passing away. Athletes have dropped dead in their twenties.
At some Southeast Asian monasteries there is a room with a dead body in it for viewing. The bodies are from people who died naturally and donated their bodies to assist others in their practice. It is a rare practice, but we can still do this, by imagining the different stages of the dead body. It might seem quite morbid, but death is a fact of life which we will not escape. This meditation is simply to remind you of your mortal state, that there is no time like the present to focus on your practice.