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An ecological journey from campus to the world led by Shengjia, Wanhong & Barbara

Barbara's picture

So it was really an amazing process of how we decided on the theme. We came up with two ideas (campus site revisit and the sky burial) and did not want to give up either of them. As we worked on the project, we found these two themes could well be connected (not just the hawk!). Over the semester, we have been having a journey. In much of the texts we have discussed, the horizon is limited by who the author are; yet not few of them indicated applying their theory to all other people. Personally, I believe that getting to know different cultures is crucial in an academic discussion of ecology. From campus (our culture) to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Tibet (an unfamiliar culture) is a major move that we should take after the course. That is why we named the project "Ecological Imaginings from Campus to the World".

 I really enjoyed the pictures and words collected for us to review. Sometimes rediscovering is even more delightful than seeing it for the first time. I myself actually regret that I did not take enough pictures of my site, so I sort of tried to make it up last Sunday. But...too late to record changes. I could tell those materials engaged the class a lot. (Yeah! Thanks to Shengjia for her sensibility, class!)

 Sky burial came up to my mind during the brainstorming, because when I first heard of it I found it striking and venerable. I wanted to present something that may provoke people to think. This tradition is controversial and some people say it is completely barbaric and has to be stopped. The ceremony itself and relevant comments also invited me to think about the meaning of life. Why some people cannot accept this idea at all? Are body and spirit separable? What we become of after death? I always think that people who have made most of their life let go of death. It is somewhat comparable to organ donation after death. In Tibet, people respect this tradition and have observed it for centuries. The ceremony is respectful because of the philosophy behind it - to return to nature. I really love my classmates' quote today that "considering on a molecular level, we are all of the same age" (cannot remember the exact wording). I believe that our ecological imagining journey had made us to appreciate and understand such traditions better. The sky burial is a profound theme for us to investigate how nature and human have interacted over time. Religion, geology, and biology all have their influence on shaping this practice. I also liked the video that we showed a lot because it allowed me to actually see the natural setting of the area and hear what Tibetan themselves say about this tradition. It helped me rethink about the sky burial and hopefully the class learned something out of it as well.

 I am glad that all of our initially ideas worked well today. And thanks for everyone - for your pictures, for your writings, for your paintings, for your moving around and showing us that we added something new to your mind!



Barbara's picture

Thanks for bringing the idea

Thanks for bringing the idea of "eco-afterlife", mtran! I found this article online and I think it's worth reading.  

Sky burial is shocking to many people, but taking less land for cremetion is definitely more widely acceptable!

mtran's picture

I enjoy your group's journey

I enjoy your group's journey from campus to the world. It is interesting to me how we can examine a problem from different approaches. Even on campus, which is so small compared to the world cultures, each of us has our own ecological journey that differs. And with your presentation of Sky burial, it is a relief to realize that even though human beings have been doing harm to the ecosystem, we have also recognized and been doing something we can to contribute to it. A brief search on google also reveals some other kinds of "eco-afterlife" in practice such as coral reef burial or green burial as well.