Two years ago I wrote briefly about the Tibetan funerary custom of sky burial. Now, the vultures again circle my neighborhood, swooping within a few feet of my bedroom window before taking their perches in the Norway pines next door.
So I wonder, what hybrid being can take their place for the Buddhist cyborg? What chimera has the appetite not only for blood and tissue and organs, but plastic, wire, silicon and rare earth metals?
How can we collect the cyborg’s data, dispersed in sky obscuring clouds, and place it in the cyborg charnel ground with our animal bodies?
Machik Labdron developed the Buddhist practices of Chod in the 11th Century. Chod is a set of Vajrayana practices that use the visualization of one’s own death, dismemberment, and the feeding of the parts to demons. Chod is then, the spiritual equivalent to watching one’s own sky burial. The point of the exercise was explained by Jamon Kautrul in the 19th Century:
It [Chod] is a radical method for cutting through the inflation of ego-fixation through the willingness to accept what is undesirable, the disregard of difficult circumstances, the realization that gods and demons are one’s own mind, and the understanding that oneself and others are utterly equal.
Jamon Kontrol quoted in the Introduction to Machic’s Complete Understanding translated and edited by Sarah Harding
Machik combined shamanic practices prevalent at the time with Buddhism. What cyborg practices do we combine with Buddhism now to give us the opportunity to develop the radical compassion Machik sought to teach us?