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Blackballed, Tibetan Style

June 4, 2009

yama_the_god_of_death

In some forms of Buddhism, there is a judge of the dead named Yama (pictured above). He judges the karma you collected during your life. How does he know what you’ve collected? Well, there is a spirit born with you who keeps track of your karma during your life—this spirit shows the evidence to Yama.

It is a bit different in some forms of Tibetan Buddhism. In Travels in the Netherworld, Bryan J. Cuevas writes:

In Tibetan literature, from at least the fourteenth century onward, it is more common to find two such spirits rather than one identified in scenes of the postmortem judgment: a divine spirit … and a demonic spirit. The former is usually described as holding white pebbles representing the deceased’s virtues, while the latter carries black pebbles representing accumulated sins. Both spirits stand beside the deceased to help argue his or her case before Yama.

Yama weighs the white pebbles against the black ones. If the black ones outweigh the white ones, you could be blackballed, and sent to one of these Buddhist hells.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Roland permalink
    June 7, 2009 2:09 am

    And I thought blackball was a disease males of the species get from time to time.

  2. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    June 7, 2009 11:31 am

    Hehe; gross.

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