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Last year I sat in meditation in an ancient crematorium, dead bodies filling the floor and about 6 of them being burnt a few feet in front of me

November 10, 2023


There’s a distinctive smell, particular to a burning dead body in the Ghats of Varanasi, India.

It’s one of the very few places left on earth where they burn the dead out in the open- a tradition that’s been going on for over 3000 years

Imagine that!

For thousands of years these fires have kept on going with 6+ bodies always on rotation burning.

A human body takes 3 hours to burn and consumes 250kg of wood, from which only Banyan tree and Sandalwood are allowed.

As I sat in meditation I could smell a mix of Sandalwood with that of burnt flesh.

My mind went silent for a little as my body remembered:

This is where I’m going.

This is where we’re all going.

Death is what we’re doing from the moment we’re born.

Somewhat obvious yet I was raised in a catholic family in Colombia & death was not something you talk about.

You were expected to look the other way if you happened to drive by an accident.

A total avoidance of it..

I had never seen a dead body as an adult.

I have never lost someone dear to me.

So I decided to face that which I’d been conditioned to turn away from.

Walking through the streets I found my way into meeting a guy that knew the son of the owner of the Ghat, so after one phone call and a bribe, I was allowed in.

Usually only the family of those being burnt are allowed by the pyres.

As I walked in I realized it is hot as hell!

Pyres burn at 760 to 982.2 Celsius (1400-1800 Fahrenheit)

Yet a strange chill spread through my body..

It felt like the parts of me which thought we had an eternity to explore what is truly meaningful had just been given a reality check.

Time’s ticking!

You’re mortal.

The energy was palpable as the prana that would usually take 14 days to leave a dead body was forcefully pushed out by the fire in a fraction of the time..

A wave tantric yogics can ride if they dare to.

After that night, food tasted like death for a few days.

& the scent of the dead stayed with me.

It now keeps me going.

Clear about what matters,

and flexible about what one day won’t.

Nicolas Canon
Nico Canon is an artist, writer and dating coach. His art and writing are about reclaiming our right to be seduced by our lives and relationships. Through his work he explores the links between people and their deepest and rawest desires, opening up a bridge of self-expression and acceptance.

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