Religious Approaches To Death

  1. Buddha
    “enlightened one”
  2. Meditation
    training mind away from body

    Means to becoming bodhisattva

    Project ideal Buddha worlds

    Basis for Tibetan Book of the Dead
  3. pretas
    “the departed” “ghosts” turn against family that fails to do so. Failure: Wandering ghost for eternity.
  4. reincarnation
    viewed negatively in Hinduism, as trapped in human body/cycle
  5. Vaitarani River
    blood and puss, cross on on a cow crossing the vaitarani river with aid on a cow (requested by mahaptra)
  6. Ganges River
    where ashes are cast. Channels between heaven/earth.
  7. Pitrs
    • “fathers” “ancestors” , intercede with gods for
    • family that performs death rites properly success: one year journey ends with preta

    • Want to turn deceased parents into ancestor (pitr) so they don’t come
    • back as (pretas
  8. three debts
    • older than doctrine of karma, one born as debt
    • to three groups, which repaid as follows:

    1)    Vedic seers: by learning vedas

    2)    Gods: by offering sacrifice

    3)    Ancestors: by having sons
  9. Pinda
    rice balls/ body

    Water carries pinda to preta, and feeds
  10. Rite of the Skull
    soul/breathe must escape corpse, skull split open by son, failure condemns soul/ghost to eternal wandering
  11. Sraddha
    = faith

    Fire “cooks” restores life-body

    Ashes cast into water = Ganges
  12. Weighing of the Heart
    the god Ma’at weighs the heart
  13. Field of Reeds
    • flourishing nile, when we die we can go,
    • somewhere geographically pleasant
  14. Opening of the Mouth
    • occurred after the deceased had arrived at his tomb.
    • The basic purpose of which was to re animate the mummy. 
    • Renewed relationship of ka and ba with the corpse.
    • Words of the text appear in Pyramid texts.
    • The revised version were purification, the sacrifice of a bull, the mouth- opening itself, and the presentation of offerings.
    • Ritual ended with an invocation to the gods at the placing of the mummy or statue in the tomb.
  15. Amulets
    used in funeral rites to protect the dead, many different kinds each used for different purposes
  16. Ba
    • bird – like ba,
    • dwells in mummy at night, travels by day, death rites bring ba back to the body/tomb, to remain there.
  17. Ka
    dwells in mummified body, receiver of offerings, immortal life-force of the deceased, remains in/near tomb
  18. Ra
    sun god, main goal of deceased is to join sun god.
  19. Pyramid texts, coffin
    texts, and book of the dead
    were concerned primarily with the destiny of the deceased in the afterlife. These are the Books of the Underworld, the most important texts used in the king’s tombs in the New Kingdom.
  20. Book of the Dead
    • developed by the beginning of New Kingdom.  Comprised ~ 200 spells. Created at Thebes in 17th Dynasty.
    • Provided instructions and access to magical power to assist the deceased in his passage to the afterlife and in his existence there.
    • Most are ‘ personal’ spells. Most important addition to text corpus was spell 125, relating to judgment of deceased to determine his worthiness to receive new life.
  21. Coffin Texts
    • complied after the end of the old kingdom.
    • Examples are found inscribed in cursive hieroglyphic script on surfaces of wooden coffins, tomb walls, mummy masks and papyri.
    • These texts express the possibility that all Egyptians could attain divine status in afterlife.
    • Develop the notion of 2 main contrasting concepts of the afterlife: the heavenly travels of ba, and the existence in the earthly netherworld, through preservation of the corpse and nourishing of ka.
  22. Pyramid Texts
    • organized into 3 different categories. One category consists of ‘incantations’ of a protective nature, designed to ward
    • off the attacks of dangerous creatures such as snakes, or other hostile entities.

    • Second category
    • comprises the words to be spoke at the enactment of important funerary rituals carried out for the benefit of the dead

    • Third category
    • comprises the ‘personal’ spells designed for the deceased’s own use, particularly the transition to the next world.
  23. Necropolis
    a cemetery, especially one of large size andusually of an ancient city.
  24. Hypogeum
    was at once necropolis and chapel, no burials found in temples. Has yielded the statues of recumbent women suggesting an incubation rite
  25. Mausoleum
    a burial place for the bodies or remains of many individuals, often of a single family, usually in the form of a small building
  26. megalith
    • characterized by the continuity between life and death through the exaltation of the ancestors associated with the stones.
    • Man hopes his name will be remembered through agency of stone.
  27. relics
    bodily remains of saints, martyrs

    infinity reducible, transferable

    housed in shrines, reliquaries
  28. caring burial
    • we bury not because we want to dispose, but
    • because we care
  29. cremation
    a sacrificial act, gods are the source oforder, and sacrifices feed the gods
  30. Tower of Silence
    related to Zoroastrian, how they decompose their dead, feed them to animals
  31. mana
    the force or substance responsible for power, fertility, etc.

    concentrated in skull

    many be inherited, or transferred

    mana objects tabu (powerful)
  32. Delog
    “shamans” who return from the dead, report on situation, location of dead in bardos, non-scriptural elements of delog accounts of worlds of dead
  33. Diamond Path
    Buddhist Tantra, “diamond” clarity of enlightened consciousness

    Tibetan Buddhism a form of Buddhist Tantra

    Enormous pantheon

    Celestial Buddhas and bodhisattras

    “mild” and “fierce” forms
  34. Anamnesis
  35. Lethe
    forgetting, river of forgetting

    Souls drink from Lethe

    • Those lacking wisdom
    • drink to excess, amnesia
  36. Katabasis
    “descent” Orpheus descended into underworld

    • Burial w/ tablets
    • describing:

    Entrance to hades

    Preparations for souls journey
  37. Myth of Er
    • Er is a “reanimated” warrior, geography of underworld,
    • new bodies chosen through lots, only philosopher knows which lot to draw
  38. Phaedo
    • Plato’s book. Stated that the soul returns to
    • earth after a long time.

    Oppositions in Phaedo:

    World of ideas –material world

    Soul – body

    Philosophers – other humans

    contemplation – sense perception

    the invisible – the visible
  39. Plato
    • 5th-4th c. BCE
    • pupil of Socrates.  
    • Teacher of Aristotle.
    • Attempted to complete his master’s teaching and to provide a scientific basis for the validity of knowledge, he studied mathematics.
    • Was fascinated by the Pythagorean conception of universal unity, order of cosmos, and harmony.
    • Said soul- not life- was most precious thing, for it belonged to the ideal and eternal world
    • borrowed from the “orphico” – Pythagorean tradition, and adapting to his own system, the doctrine of the transmigration of the soul and of “recollecting”.
    • He rediscovers and develops the archaic ontology: the theory of Ideas carries on the doctrine of exemplary models that is characteristic of traditional spirituality.
    • Plato’s idealism:

    • “ideas” prototypes for
    • worldly things

    • World of Ideas home of
    • elevated immortal soul

    • Contemplation of ideas
    • >> perfect knowledge>> soul’s freedom
  40. Socrates
    • insisted on the inestimable value of the soul, for it alone was source of knowledge.
    • Concentrated on maieutics, a method of arriving at self-knowledge and the discipline of the soul’s facilities.
    • Investigation of natural world did not interest him.
  41. ancestral mounds (Dobu)
    • yams = ancestral spirit 
    • called tomot = human being
    • specific to family lineage
    • alternation of generations
    • yam gardens = ancestor mounds
  42. yam
    • were known as ancestors (ancestral spirits)
    • wealth was measured in yams
    • displayed in front of house 
    • given up in potlatch, ritual of maximum exchange

    • yams give life to descendants(as food & as ancestors)
    • descendants give life to ancestors (yams) through cultivation
    • yams give prestige to descendants through potlatch 
    • descendants give prestige to ancestors through ability to exchange
  43. exchange ritual
    potlatch reciprocity, prestige, loss of face
  44. Hainuwele
    “coconut girl”
  45. 3 souls (Zoroastrianism)
    • inner soul (ruwan)
    • wandering soul (daena) -> after death, dreaming
    • heavenly soul (fravashi) -> dwells eternally
  46. Five Collectors/Receptors
    • in Zad Sprem :
    • bone and sinew- earth
    • Blood – water
    • Hair – plants
    • Fire(body heat) – light
    • Breath – wind
  47. Zoroastrianism
    named after Zoroaster/Zarathustra

    Iranian religion over 2000 years, early cult of fire, halo of fire over head

    z. eschatology likely influenced New Testament & Qur’an

    surviving Parsee (Persian) community in India

    leave bodies to be eaten by birds (tower of silence – how they decompose their dead
  48. Anthropogony
    the study of human generation, the origin of man
  49. Cosmogony
    theory concerning the coming into of existence
  50. Macrocosm
    universe macro > micro at birth
  51. Microcosm
    human body micro > macro at death
  52. Indo-European
    themes- myths about relationship between:  creation of universe and body of creator god

    Destruction of universe and bodies of creatures, especially humans.
  53. Final Judgment
    on this day “all awaken” to be judged by Allah

    • The final days:
    • Signs, trumpets,
    • resurrection/gathering together, “reckoning” (hisab), bridge, possibility of
    • intercession
  54. Iblis
    from greek diabolis, satan in Islam
  55. Hadith
    • tradition of Islam. Important for understanding Qur’an.
    • Later hadiths: barzakh is a time/place where soul dwells between death and resurrection
  56. barzakh
    time/ place where soul dwells between death and resurrection

    Qur’an: on judgment day, a “barrier’ (barzakh) shall divide saved from damned
  57. “Great Awakening”
    resurrection at the end of time, resurrection bodies joined with spirit/ souls all subject to final judgment.
  58. qiyamma
    bodily resurrection, most contested part of Qur’an
  59. nafs/ruh
    naf- soul, ruh – spirit souls born twice/die twice
  60. Shaitan
    satan in Isalm also called the fallen angel, The “Force of evil”, Ilblis
  61. angels (Islam)
    a fallen angel “jinn”
  62. Allah
    • creator in Qur’an.
    • Satan’s temptations are part of Allah’s plan. None can guide those who Allah leads astray.
  63. Miraj
    Muhammad in paradise (photo)
  64. Muhammad
    the “seal of the Prophets” successor to Adam,Moses, Jesus… Biblical teachings were valid but denied by Jews & Christians
  65. Qur’an
    • revealed by Allah to prophet Muhammad, from AD
    • 610

    • Text compiled 644-654
    • CE, after Muhammad’s death

    Foundation of Islam: “I submit”

    Predestination in Qur’an resembles Christian doctrine
  66. resurrection body
    not the body that died

    provided by god

    source the seed or kernel sown in life

    in Islam:

    bodily resurrection (qiyamma) is most contested part of Qur’an

    direct link between creation of Adam and final resurrection

    Allah creates eternal bodies for dead at resurrection

    physical body is not resurrected

    Allah clothes seed or kernel in spiritual body
  67. sheep and goats
    sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell
  68. Book of Revelation
    New Testament sources on Resurrection
  69. Soteriology
    (Gk. Soter, “savior”) doctrines of salvation, how one becomes saved, enlightened
  70. Jesus as “second Adam”
    • innocent Jesus’s self-sacrifice will redeem
    • guilty Adam’s sin/fall

    • Legend of bones, skull
    • of Adam beneath Calvary Hill

    • Blood of Christ falls
    • on bones, redeeming humanity
  71. Augustine
    • Christian Doctrine of Predestination by Saint
    • Augustine, 5th c.

    • Fall part was of God’s
    • greater plan

    • Incomprehensible to
    • humans, because she we are not God
  72. eschatological expectation
    (Gk. Eschaton, “theend”) doctrines of end of time
  73. Sheol
    Jewish underworld mentioned in Samuel 2:6
  74. Valley of Dry Bones
    • Ezekiel 37:1-14.
    • Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dried bones = prediction of resurrection.
    • The dead bones are people of Israel, who living in exile, have given up hope.
    • The restoration of the bones to life (by the Lord giving them flesh and breath of life) indicates that God will open the graves of Ezekiel’s audience and restore them to the land of Israel (promise land) to live in their own soil.
    • Connection to Zoroastrianism, with a resurrection of the dead figures
  75. Garden of Eden/Paradise
    • Eden = “delight”
    • two trees: life, knowledge of good and evil (death)
    • four rivers, include Tigris & Euphrates,
    • knowledge & death
  76. Serpent
    • created by Lord God
    • named by Adam
    • wild creature with human speech
    • relationship to Adam and Eve: tempted Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil
  77. Eve
    • made to keep Adam company, and be his helper.
    • Eve = “life” born from Adam’s rib

    Eve Adam’s “wife” & “daughter” no incest or shame in sexuality
  78. Adam
    created by Lord God. Earth + water = clay >>> man
  79. Elohim
  80. Jahweh
    “Lord God”
  81. “The Cast Skin”
    • A Melanesian Myth.
    • People never grew old but cast off their skins like snakes and came out with renewed youth.
    • A woman growing old went to cast off her skin in the water, but when she came back her child no longer recognized her so she went back to put on her cast and from that time one mankind became mortal.
  82. “Stone and Banana”
    • Indonesian Myth, uninformed primal couple, transient vs. permanent life, message that failed.
    • Natives of Poso say that sky was very near to earth, creator would send them gifts from the end of a rope.
    • He sent a stone, they didn’t want it. He sent a banana, they took it, therefore they rejected immortality for mortality.
  83. Karma
    individual reincarnation based on past acts
  84. Dualism
    powers of good vs. evil, evil has taken over, trapped souls in bodies
  85. Predestination
    sin/error committed by primal (wo)man
  86. Theodicy
    explanation of why a all-knowing perfectly almighty God permits evil.
  87. Annunaki
    judges of the death of the Mesopotamian underworld (Nergal & Erishkigal)
  88. Erishkigal
    the lady/judge of the underworld and decide fate (eat place below
  89. votive offering
    “voluntary” opposite of “obligatory”
  90. Kispu
    • called “cutting up”
    • feast with the dead, last day of the month, offered to/on behalf of dead and to Annunaki
  91. Etemmu
    “skeleton” one’s “double” or “shadow”
  92. Zaqiqu
    “breath” soul or spirit
  93. Mourning
    communal ritual practice suspension of grief public show of grief memorial moument
  94. Kigal/House of Dust
    • Babylonian Underworld
    • the realm of Nergal and Erishkigal- annunaki judges
    • tablet of destinies.
  95. Utanapishtim
    • Noah.
    • Gains immortality (some story of the flood and god’s decisions to make him and his wife their “kin” establishing them at mouths of the rivers.
    • He reveals the secret of immorality to Gilgamesh.
    • Sole human “immortal” and lives on edge of the world.
  96. Gilgamesh
    • Lord of Uruk, (a
    • city-state in meso-potamia.)

    • Semi divine figure in
    • “epic”. (two-thirds a divine being, song of goddess Ninsun and a mortal.

    • Is a tyrant who
    • overuses his power, mistreats people, violates women.

    • Makes it his goal to
    • become immortal, but fails. Snake steals away the plant that gives youth back.

    • He is later elevated
    • to a divined ancestor.

    • A king of the
    • underworld. His name means “the old man is youthful” dead Gilgamesh is honored
    • in underworld, god’s make him “Lord of the Dead”
  97. Mandala
    • meditation tools
    • “Circle” in Sanskrit
    • Depict Buddha worlds
  98. Yama
    Yama, torments are mental projections

    Personal “guardian” deity

    Mirror of Karma

    Release through knowledge
  99. Six Bardos
    • 3 “in
    • life” (waking/dreaming/meditative states)

    3 during the 49 days after death, best chances for enlightenment

    1)   Moment of death

    2)   Reality between

    3)   Becoming>> rebirth
  100. Bardo Thödol
    at death, mind >> Buddha is at heart of mandala

    Encounters Buddha’s successively lower, fiercer forms

    Finally, cast from mandala >> world of rebirth
  101. Benares
    city on the banks of Ganges
  102. Sapindikarana
    ritual of uniting the pretra with the pitra, twelfth day, or after one year.
  103. Tablet of Petelia
    orphic gold tablets
  104. shaman
    A member of certain tribal societies who acts as a medium between the visible world and an invisible spirit world and who practices magic or sorcery for purposes of healing, divination, and control over natural events.
  105. Psyche
    spirit, conciousness
  106. Dionysios
    • titans kill baby Dionysius like sacrificial
    • victim and eat all but heart, burned by Zeus’s thunderbolt, ashes of Titans + heart + earth >> human race

    • Dionysios myth is
    • basis for:

    1)    Orphic view of dual human nature

    2)    Vegetarianism

    3)    Katharsis

    4)    Mysteries
  107. Sarcophagus
    “flesh” – Greek. is a box-like funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved in stone, and displayed above ground, though they may also be buried.
  108. prosthesis (wake)
    first part of elaborate funeral burials.  Laying out of the body. relatives and friends came to mourn and pay their respects.
  109. ekphora (procession)
    the deceased was brought to the cemetery in a procession, the ekphora, which usually took place just before dawn
  110. Celestial Buddha
    Those Buddhas, or those manifestations of the one buddha-nature, who appear in the trikāya forms of manifestation, in thesambhoga-kāya. They are accompanied by bodhisattvas. They are prolific in number.
  111. Heruka
    • represent the embodiment of indivisible bliss
    • and emptiness
  112. ossuaries
    is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains.
  113. sky burial/exposure
    funerary practice of Tibetan Buddhists, incision of the human body and placed on mountaintops to show the impermanence of life
  114. Baraka
    • is the beneficent force from God that flows through the physical and spiritual spheres as prosperity, protection, and happiness.
    • Baraka is the continuity of spiritual presence and revelation that begins with God and flows through that and those closest to God.
  115. Dargah
    Sufi Islamic shrine built over the grave of arevered religious figure, often a Sufi saint or dervish.
  116. Isis
    both Osiris’s mother and sister, unites sexually with Osiris, conceives Horus, the “new Osiris” whom she marries
  117. Osiris
    • seth, his brother, kills and dismembers Osiris,
    • sister Isis reassemble pieces,
  118. Upanisads
    are a collection of philosophical texts which form the theoretical basis for the Hindu religion
  119. shabti
    funerary figurine in the form of a mummy
  120. canopic jars
    were used by the Ancient Egyptians during the mummification process to store and preserve the viscera of their owner for the afterlife.
  121. Anubis
    for a jackal-headed god associated with mummification and the after life in ancient Egyptian religion.
  122. Enkidu
    • half-savage creature was created to balance out Gilgamesh (defeat him).
    • He lives in peace with the wild beasts, drink and eat together.
    • Fights with Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh wins but conceives affection for Enkidu and they become companions.
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Religious Approaches To Death
religious terms