Psyche Diver is chock full of insanity that seems pure fiction. It’s real though.
For readers outside of Japan, it’s easy to think the series is pure fantasy–the work of a guy obsessed with sex and violence. But the book is a virtual introductory course on the craziest elements of Japan’s past. Time to countdown the top five crazy things that are really real:
To be united as a man and woman is to be united with Buddha.
Who doesn’t love a threesome with the man himself? In Psyche Diver, Biku is a heroic martial arts and Buddhist master, both incredibly beautiful and shockingly handsome, and also a practitioner of the ways of the Tachikawa school of Buddhism. Tachikawa practitioners sought nirvana through sexual intercourse. The ritual went something like:
No wonder Tachikawa-Ryu grew to be roughly the same size as vanilla Buddhism in ancient Japan. Unfortunately, there were a few weird practices, like the act of mixing the man’s fluids with the woman’s and rubbing them on a block of gold for 7 years. Weird, but I don’t think it justifies completely abandoning the religion.
I for one intend to bring it back. I just tried #3 on my wife. She slapped me in the diamond realm.
Sure, it’s easy to read about a skull cut in half and made into a ritual bowl for blood sacrifices and think that it’s fantasy, but you’d be slapping Indian Tantric Buddhism in the face. From Wikipedia:
The kapala is made in the form of a skull specially collected and prepared. It is elaborately anointed and consecrated before use.
And we all know Wikipedia doesn’t lie.
So the Kapala is real, but what about filling it with blood and pouring it over a bunch of sweaty bodies in the middle of an orgy? Well, we can’t speak for the orgy part, so we’ll just believe in it like Santa Clause, but as for the blood ritual:
Traditionally it was filled with blood, flesh and other fluids and today these have been replaced by alcohol, tea and cakes made to resemble flesh. It is a reminder of the transient nature of existence.
Even more crazy, google that mofo and you’ll find a whole section on Alibaba dedicated to selling Kapala’s made from real human skulls.
He would hammer his maimed fist into piles of stone, heedless as blood sprayed from the torn and blistered flesh. – Psyche Diver Volume 1, Demon Hunters: Desires of the Flesh
It’s easy to assume there’s some extra salt thrown in there to make it sound more intense. After all, who would be crazy enough to bash their fingers into stones until they sprayed blood, only to do it again as soon as they healed?
Well, it is crazy, to the extent that Fuminari was punching stones, but the idea of punching extremely tough things until your fingers bleed is a pretty normal concept in fight training. Take for example, Makiwara, which translated means hard wood wrapped with thick, gnarly rope.
Other ways to strengthen your knuckles include: slapping a stone with the front and back side of your hand, doing pushups on your knuckles, and playing the wheelbarrow game with a friend, only you’re on the bottom and walking on your fists.
I’m skipping this one. While I like to believe I use my fists for the common good, realistically that amounts to (a) Typing, and (b) Putting Banh Mi in my mouth. Banh Mi is the new Torta. Bikoo called it here first.
That’s right, Brendon Fraser’s excellent The Mummy was in fact notthe first time the idea of mummies was created. Actually, mummification is a real thing and apparently the desire to make dead people look sort of like they were living has been a thing for a long time, and not just for Puerto Rican gang bangers.
The rest of the world was content to mummify the recently deceased. But what’s good enough for the rest of the world is often just the starting point for Japan, and along with Shingon Buddhism, famous monk Kukai brought the ancient method of self-mummification to Japan in the 8th century.
The self-mummification process happens while the monk is still alive. Hundreds have tried, but only 24 successful examples of Sokushinbutsu have ever been found.
For 1000 days, the monk would eat a special diet of nuts and seeds while working out like crazy to strip them of any body fat.
For the next 1000 days, the monk ate only tree bark and roots combined with a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urishi tree, which is usually used to lacquer bowls.
The result is a body that is so poisoned and nasty that even maggots are too disgusted to eat it.
If the monk managed to survive 6 years of agonizing preparation, he would lock himself in a chamber, and enter the lotus position. All he had was a tube for air and a bell to ring. Each day, the monk would ring the bell to signal he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the air tube would be sealed and the monk would be locked in the airtight chamber for another 1000 days.
Upon opening the chamber, if the monk was found to be sitting in the lotus position and preserved, he would be hailed as having achieved nirvana and in a state of eternal meditation.
If his body had deteriorated, there would be an awkward silence, everybody would leave the room and his only friend monk that always believed in him and acted as a sort of father figure would pat his back and whisper into his ear, “You tried your best, and that’s all that matters.”
This is where we get to brag about Baku Yumemakura. You see, before there was the Matrix, before Paprika and Inception, before all the memes there was The Psyche Diver series. The Psyche Diver series was released in 1984, some 15 years before The Matrix, introducing the concept of a device that would let someone enter into the mind of another.
The concept of telepathy has been around for centuries, but despite the migraines caused by people trying really hard to pull it off, it’s a matter of pure fantasy. The concept of using a machine to map brain waves, create images, then sync two minds allowing one to experience the mental pictures of another, takes us from fantasy to Science Fiction.
Funny thing about Science Fiction is sometimes reality starts to find ways to make it non-fiction.
Of course, the negative Nancy in your mind is saying, that fuzzy little shape is a long ways from anything close to a Psyche Diver machine. Thanks for the input Nancy. The gigantic room sized vacuum tube computer from the 40’s was a whole shit ton away from creating computer tablets that fit in your hands, but bam, 50 years later you’re probably reading this on the same kind of tablets they used in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Is it around the corner? No, but we’re a few quantum leaps from having this technology in the palms of our hands. I, for one, am well prepared for this future world. I’ve been trying to read people’s minds for decades, and I have the wrinkles from over-furrowing my brow to prove it.