Eaten by Maggots

October 9, 2019

Shambhavi riffs on impermanence, maggots, and cremation grounds. Toward the end, she does her not-quite-famous impersonation of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

Somebody was talking about maggots today. They rescued a kitty that had an infected ear, and there were some maggots in its ear. And I said, helpfully, “We’re all going to be eaten by maggots one day.”

The person responded, “Yes, but in my condition of mostly feeling separate, I don’t want to be eaten by maggots while I’m alive.” It was kind of interesting because I meant when we’re dead. I suppose we could be eaten by maggots while we’re still alive. But that would have to be some extreme situation! But this person immediately went to “I’m going to be attacked by maggots while I’m alive!”

So the question is, what’s the use of being reminded of impermanence? Of course, in common Buddhist parlance, there’s often a bunch of finger wagging about impermanence. “Everything’s impermanent!” And that’s supposed to spur us in some way. And in fact people even sometimes say things aren’t real because they’re impermanent. Of course that’s not our view. The teaching on impermanence is a relative teaching.

Some people feel they don’t want to have to think about maggots when they’re still feeling separate. Actually, that’s exactly when you should think about it. When you’re in a relative condition, when you’re still mostly stuck in dualistic vision, that’s when thinking about being eating by maggots is actually good for you.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.