Ken: He’s Not Dead…He’s Meditating

Have you heard that old tale about buddhist monks who can slow their heartbeat down to around eight beats per minute? It’s pretty crazy when you think about it, because a normal resting adult heart rate is somewhere between 50 and 100 beats per minute. Even while sleeping your heart rate only drops by about 8 percent to somewhere around 46 BPM. So, at 8 beats per minute, the blood of these monk’s seems to be flowing like the sap of a molasses tree. However, 8 BPM is actually fairly brisk compared to what one Tibetan monk was able to pull off: one beat per year.

In January of 2015, in the Songinokhairkhan district of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, a group of archaeologists and scientists exhumed the body of a monk that was over 200-years-old. Now here’s the crazy part, an expert in the ancient tradition of Buddhist lamas claims that this man isn’t dead, but rather in a meditative state known as “tukdam.”

This mummy – if you will – is said to belong to a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, named Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, who was born in 1852. Itigilov reportedly reached tukdam in 1927 while meditating and hasn’t moved since. Buddhist monks examined his body in 1955 and again in 1973, but the body remained in the lotus position and didn’t show any signs of decay. Even 75 years into his “meditation,” Itigilov is remarkably well-preserved.

Now, the skeptic in me wants to say that this old man mearly died peacefully while meditating – that some combination of luck and unique environmental conditions helped preserve the body so well. But what if this monk actually did achieve a rare form of enlightenment? What universal secrets might have opened up before him? What if Itigilov managed to achieve one of the greatest feats in the history of mankind and has actually become immortal?

And what will happen if, one day, he suddenly gets up and starts to move again?