Why David Bowie Chose Cremation

why did David Bowie choose to be cremated

David Bowie’s career as a musician, actor, and performer, always had a sense of a unique and intriguing style. His last musical album, Blackstar, released January 8, 2016 on his sixty-ninth birthday. The album came out just before his death on January 10, 2016. It contains a song entitled, “Lazarus,” which is the same name as the Biblical character that Jesus rose from the dead.

This was David Bowie’s last gift to his fans and a stylish way to say good-bye. David Bowie knew he was dying. He made it clear that his last wish was to be cremated “without any fuss.” He did not want a funeral or any public memorial. He wanted to exit this life on his own terms and move on to the next experience.

Buddhist Traditions

This sentiment follows the Buddhist tradition. Upon his death, the Supreme Buddha was cremated.

The Buddhists believe that when a person’s dies their energy has left the body to either escape “Samsara,” if they reached Buddha-hood or return to have another life here on Earth. Samsara is the almost endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. The goal of the Buddhist practitioners is to try to gain enough merits while living on Earth in order not to have to return again by rebirth here.

Japanese Zen

David Bowie had a deep appreciation for Japanese culture, which was reflected in his style and interests. Zen is a type of Mahayana Buddhism, made famous for “koans,” which are paradoxical sayings and questions that do not have a clear answer, such as “When a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it; does it make a sound?”

Zen Masters know when the time of their death is near. They gather friends and family to give a last good-bye. One Japanese Zen Master named Hofaku, upon nearing his time of death, called all his monk followers, and told them that his energy was diminishing, there is no reason for worry, yet his death is soon to come.

One monk asked the Master Hofaku, about the meaning of death. The Master told him that death is just the ways of things. The monk asked how to understand the two different states of being alive and being dead. In a typical Zen way, Master Hofaku said, “When it rains, it pours,” and then he died peacefully.

Memories of David Bowie

As reported in the UK Mirror, David Bowie made peace with his own impending death. He prepared his family for the transition. He made sure his wishes were known about what to do after his death. He died completely comfortable with the process. His last album had just come out. One of the last photos of the superstar shows him dapperly dressed in a suit and hat with a great big smile.

He was cremated in New York without any ceremony, with no friends or family in attendance.

David Bowie only wished to be remembered for the good times he experienced and his music. His life was a work of art. His simple cremation after his death completed it.


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