Revered monk Luang Phor Pian died aged 92 on November 16 after succumbing to illness in a hospital in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok.
Originally from Cambodia, Pian spent the majority of his life serving as a well-known spiritual and Buddhist guru in the central Thai province of Lopburi, where his body was returned to the following death.
This week when his followers removed his body from his coffin, which had been kept at the temple where he served, they were shocked to find his body that his body had not decayed.
Amazingly, Pian also appeared to be smiling, with followers snapping pictures of the incredible moment and sharing it on social media.
Reports said the monks had removed the holy man’s body in order to fit him with new, clean robes.
His body appeared in a state consistent with somebody who had been dead for no more than 36 hours.
Pian’s peaceful state has been described as a sign that the monk has truly reached nirvana, the ultimate spiritual goal in Buddhism.
The monk’s followers will continue to pray for him until a final resting ceremony is held on the 100th day of his death.
Bodies may be embalmed in order to preserve during this time, but it’s understood this didn’t happen in this case.
Samsara, the Sanskrit word for the cycle of life and death, is the basis of the theory of the karmic cycle and reincarnation in Buddhism.
It’s the aim of Buddhists to reach true spiritual enlightenment in order to liberate themselves from the cycle of existence and achieve Nirvana.
In order to do so, the Buddhist may aim for the Four Noble Truths; the truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth suffering will end, and the path to making it happen.
Everybody is stuck in the cycle of Samsara, which causes dukkha – a state of suffering or lack of fulfilment in life – and everybody should try and break out of this cycle, according to Buddhism.
Perhaps one of the most famous Buddhist monks is Thích Quảng Đức, who’s been immortalised through the images of his self-immolation in Saigon in 1963.
The Vietnamese monk burned himself to death to protest the persecution of Buddhists in South Vietnam.
The monk’s last words before his self-immolation were left in a letter, writing:
Before closing my eyes and moving towards the vision of the Buddha, I respectfully plead to President Ngô Đình Diệm to take a mind of compassion towards the people of the nation and implement religious equality to maintain the strength of the homeland eternally.
I call the venerable, reverends, members of the sangha and the lay Buddhists to organise in solidarity to make sacrifices to protect Buddhism.
Phor Pian is yet to be fully laid to rest, but in the meantime, his followers will continue to pray and chant for him until the final ceremony is held.