Does the Sight of a Corpse Calm the Mind?


Hello sir, why do mind gets into sense of peaceful state on looking at a corpse.

—Sanjay, India


Dear Sanjay,

It’s wonderful that your mind becomes peaceful upon seeing a corpse. I suspect that you have a deeper-than-conscious understanding that your existence will not end with death, and that death is, in fact, a doorway to a happier existence in the astral world. Or perhaps your peacefulness stems from a deeper-than-conscious memory of death being a deliverance from some great danger or pain.

Paramhansa Yogananda, as a young adult, liked to meditate at night near crematory grounds as a means of freeing himself from attachment to the body. As he put it in Autobiography of a Yogi, “crematory grounds, especially gruesome at night, are considered highly attractive by the yogi. He who would find the Deathless Essence must not be dismayed by a few unadorned skulls. Human inadequacy becomes clear in the gloomy abode of miscellaneous bones.”

Keep in mind, however, that not everyone feels peaceful around corpses and crematory grounds. Some people are understandably terrified by corpses, because they are attached to their bodies, and a corpse reminds them of their own mortality. Well, we all have our attachments, and the body is a big one, so we will do well to be compassionate toward both ourselves and others.

Nayaswami Gyandev