Today, the Independent newspaper is carrying a story about the perfectly preserved body of a Buddhist monk that has been found in Mongolia. One Buddhist academic maintains that the monk, still sitting in the lotus position, may not be dead but might be in a state of deep mediation.

Now, as some of you know, I’m not one to be taken in by religious relics. I wasn’t fooled when a ‘genuine,’ nail, from the crucifixion of Jesus was put up for sale on Ebay, nor was I convinced by the splinter from the cross that was being offered by the same seller. (Not least because I had already bought one from a street market seller when I was in Turkey, and the one I’d haggled for was made of a much darker wood.) I was sorely tempted to purchase one of the thirty six, Messiah’s foreskins that were offered to me on the same holiday, but in the end I didn’t succumb, I mean, Jesus only had one foreskin removed, how could I be sure which one of them was the genuine article? I could have ended up with Judas’ prepuce and that wouldn’t have been half as valuable. I suppose, in a way they may all have been genuine, he was a supreme healer, after all. I just don’t think he’d have put up with a rabbi following him around with a sharp knife waiting to snip the latest growth.

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