CRESTONE, Colo. — Philip Incao was about 6 years old when he asked his mother if it was true he would die. Yes, she replied. And what happens afterward? he asked.
“Nothing,” she said. “You just die, that’s all.”
It was a profoundly unsatisfying answer, and one that Dr. Incao later identified as the starting point for a lifetime of study.
He pursued a path that wound through medical school, training in holistic healing and devotion to the early 20th-century esoteric Rudolf Steiner, a polymath who theorized that the spiritual world could be explored through scientific methods.
Decades of searching led him all the way to an unconventional decision about what would happen to his body after his death.
commonplace in some parts of India, but they remain taboo in the United States. A Buddhist retreat center in northern Colorado maintains a private pyre, but efforts to open public sites like Crestone’s have faltered, running up against squeamish cultural sensibilities about death.