Saturday, February 28, 2015

Money Matters (有钱能使鬼推磨)

I have said the below Chinese proverb in MagicSEA blog:

阎王要人三更死,谁敢留人到五更?
If Hell King wants a person to die at 3am, who dares to keep him till 5am?

Perhaps I have exaggerated the power of the Hell King and belittled the abilities of those low ranking hell officials. The fact is that during the process of soul arresting, those messengers are in fact holds some degrees of freedom. When these folks play the card right, then who says 5am; a person can even lives for 5 months more would not be a problem too. He/she can even escape the grasp of those horrible ghostly messengers!

Of course, it is not free to enjoy this favor and that it also goes beyond who knows who in that matter. Everything boils down to ‘money’! Even in the underworld: uniquely the Chinese underworld.

Another old Chinese proverb sounds like:

空手不入公门
One should not enter a court empty handed.

Regardless if one is the prosecutor or defendant; money matters. In the matter of power and money trade, too little money spent is useless too. One only needs to fill the stomach of those hell officials, and then they will release the dead soul and let him/her return to life. That’s all to it.

In a story told in “The After Note Of Spiritual Search” (授神后记)

Mr. Lee from Xiangyang (襄阳) suffered from epidemic and died. His father and wife stayed beside his sickbed. At midnight, Mr. Lee suddenly sat up and grabbed her arm. He then took off his wife’s gold armlet.

Mr. Lee’s father also helped and after some struggle, the armlet was finally off. Mr. Lee held the armlet in his hand and murmured some words and kicked his bucket again. His wife figured that there must be a sequel to this strange happening. So she kept her watch over her hubby’s body.

As it was expected, when day breaks, Mr. Lee’s heart slowly turned warm and slowly he regain consciousness.

After woke up, Mr. Lee said that he was arrested by a hell messenger and that he saw his companion gave a gold necklace to the messenger and then his companion was released. So he thought of his wife’s gold armlet and after some discussion with the messenger, he was let go to get the armlet. This explained the incident of the grabbing of armlet at night.

Even though the gold armlet was given to the messenger, the gold armlet still remained in the mortal world. Nevertheless, Mrs. Lee dare not wear the armlet and rather buried it underground.

In another story described in “I Am Not Talking” (子不语):

A lady was disturbed by a vengeful ghost and her hubby took a machete to chop the ghost and subsequently hurt its right forehead. And he further took his rifle and shot the ghost’s arm. However, the ghost was very fierce and it vowed to take the lady’s life.

As the last resort the lady’s father wrote a letter and lodged an ‘official complaint’ to the city god temple.

At night, the lady dreamed that two underworld messengers came to her and asked her to go to the hearing. In addition both of the messengers asked the lady for some money and said:

“We shall guarantee that you shall win this law suit. However, you must burn 2,000 pieces of tin ingots to thank us. You should not criticize us for asking too much. In underworld, the price is only 97 silver 20 ounces; the rest is for bribing officials above and below us on your behalf.”

To tell you the truth, bribery such as the above with a stipulated price can be treated as a win-win situation. The worse case is that those folks dare not say that they wanted bribes, but after some torturing; only they express their intention of wanting money. That is what I call unethical!



A Messenger Needs To Eat Too (鬼差也要吃饭)

Chinese generally believe that since the job of a hell messenger is to arrest living soul when a person’s time has arrived; and that a person would do all he/she can to escape death; then it is of utmost important to give these ghostly messengers feasts not only during their visits; but also a consistent food and wine offerings also in order. That is if you know what is good for you because:


There is practically no food in the underworld except on the bank of “River of No Return” (奈何桥) where some tree barks and roots can be consumed. So the only hope for these ghostly messengers to have a good meal is when they are sent out to arrest some living souls. We can try to imagine what would happen when the messengers came with full hope but returned empty handed correct? Yup. The poor soul who follows these hunger stricken messengers would be tortured on their way to see Hell King. So providing these messengers with sumptuous foods and money and the dead soul would suffer less.

It is actually too late just to make offerings to these ghostly messengers when they come to visit a person who has just kicked his bucket. So it is good also to establish good PR with other spirits in the vicinity as well. Such as the local god, the earth god, the city gods and whatever gods that one can think of must be fed with sumptuous food offerings.

I remembered some blog visitor only offered some sweets to the spirits and I can assure you that this will not do as those spirits are spirit of status and ranks, not the kids! So if one knows what is good for him/her, at least he/she would make offerings of 3 meats: pork, fish and chicken at least occasionally to these spirits so that they will look after the soul of deceased when the time comes.

Please remember one thing:

It is whom you know in the underworld that counts; not what you know!

Before it is too late, one should start making offerings starting from now or he/she would have to beg for the mercies of those spirits in the underworld. If you are still not convenience, then follow me to the underworld and have a look yourself!




Friday, February 27, 2015

This Is How People Kick The Bucket (勾魂)

There are many methods how a messenger of hell takes away one’s life:

A record from Eastern Jin (东晋) 400AD mentioned that:

“A person died in 400AD and came back to life after 3 days. He said someone has used some red clay to seal his nose and drag him to the gate of the heaven.”

Since there is only one record concerning the use of red clay, I would think that the above method is just too outdated and hence only being used by prankster spirits of later years to make fun of unwary night travelers. Of course, these low lever spirits only make use of whatever mud, sludge or clay they can find and not limited to red clay alone.

Another method and more reasonable way to take life away is through the use of “breath taking bag” (抽气袋). According to “Strange Tales” (述异记) from Liang Dynasty (502-557AD):

“Ghostly messenger takes a bag to chase after its target and within a few days the person will die.”

Likewise a work “Assort Works Of Western Sun” ( 西阳杂俎) from Tang Dynasty (618-907AD):

A family in Changan (长安) with a sick person whose sickness worsen and his family members invited monks to perform blessing ceremony. His wife and children accompanied him beside the sickbed. One night, someone saw a tall shadow went into the house and they thought it was a thief. So the household gave chase and the shadow suddenly jumped into a big earth urn.

Some family members boiled a big bowl of hot water and poured it into the urn. To their surprised, there was no one in the urn but a bag floating on the surface of the water.

At this instant, a disembodied voice was heard:

“Please return the bag to me; I shall take other’s life to replace your love one!”

On hearing the voice, someone grabbed the air and thrown into the air and the sick was subsequently recovered.

Again, the above method is still too troublesome, so another direct method is to use a piece of cloth to suffocate the person. Also another work from Tang Dynasty titled “The Vast Strange Stories” (广异记):

“A person was chased by a ghostly messenger with a piece of white linen. When the ghost approached him, it wrapped the linen over the person’s head and soon the person kicked the bucket.”

Yet in another work “The Retribution Of Underworld” (冥报记) mentioned that the ghostly messenger used a baton, rope and bag to assault its target.

Lee was assaulted and then being dragged to the hell. Because he could recite Buddhist sutras and he was allowed to return home. But before he was allowed to leave, he had to pay a sum of money to three ghostly messengers. The three spirits said to Lee:

“Three of us were the ones who had assaulted you: one tied you with red rope, one use baton to strike your head and one used the bag to catch your soul.”

Apparently the above description has made the impartial hell folks as if highway robbers, fees even need to be paid after they have made a mistake! This is not the hell's problem, but it is the person’s extreme bad luck. I supposed the person should be grateful as he was a Buddhist and it is worthwhile to pay to celebrate his release.

I am sure a very unique method of Chinese ghostly messengers to get to a soul is through the use of ‘poison’. Can you imagine if a god of death resorts to the use of poison in other part of the world?

The use of poison by ghostly messenger is described in “Telling Stories Of The Room” (宣室志):

Liu stayed in the same room with his helper. One day he went out and met a person in purple clothing. The person took out 10 or so green color pills and put them in a bowl and then told Liu: “I am from other world. I am ordered to bring you in and you should consume these pills. Please don’t tell anyone or there will be troubles!”

I think I will stop here for if I continue on, you may raise many funny questions why Chinese ghostly messengers would do such a thing just to catch a soul. Maybe the western way is much simpler: the god of death only brings a large sickle for all jobs.



Thursday, February 26, 2015

It Is All In The Family (佛教与阴府)

The Buddhism has changed Chinese ghost culture considerably too with the introduction of hell and the concept of underworld. Let me put it in a much simpler comparison:

In the West, God and Satan oppose each other. However, it is fair to say that in Buddhism, the hell and Buddhism are all in a family. It is more appropriate to put it as the hell is a subsidiary of Buddhism as whoever not only does good deeds; if he/she is also a Buddhist shall be saved from the torment of hell. Although the Buddha and bodhisattvas are very compassionate, they would turn their heads to those who are not Buddhists. So, without the fear of hell, no one would embrace Buddhism and no one would vow to be born in Pure Land!

The most noticeable influence of Buddhism to ghost culture is the belief of karma: good deeds give rise to good karma; bad deeds give rise to bad karma. We can find many such stories being passed down from the Tang Dynasty (唐朝) for the purpose of attracting more folks of that time to embrace Buddhism.

One of the most extreme types of ghost story relate to the soul of a still living person being trial and tortured in hell. According to the narration of a work titled “Retribution Of Hell” ( 冥报记) dated from early Tang Dynasty:

A person named Xie was pronounced dead after a long illness but he became alive again after 4 days. Mr. Xie then said: “The news of the deceased of a person shall be foretold 3 years before his/her death in the underworld.”

Basically these types of stories are the same. I would categorize them into two categories:

1.      Someone has done extremely bad deeds in the dark and that he/she has escaped the punishment in the court of law, then the Hell King would send someone to arrest his/her soul and being beaten 500 times by an iron bar on his/her buttock. When this person’s soul returned to the mortal world, his/her buttock would be as if being sliced open.
2.      Some bad people’s soul is forever imprisoned in the hell, even though his/her physical body is still alive, his/her soul would be under constant torture in the hell. Hence this person’s physical body would always be under unspeakable pain.

In order to enhance and to increase the faith of followers, there are many stories told of the cruelty of hell. According to the work of a Tang writer titled “Entering Underworld” (通幽记):

A person known as Huang was arrested by mistake by messengers of hell. By right his soul should be released immediately. But since his aunty was someone of influence in the underworld, his aunty ordered a monk to bring Huang around the hell to hang around. Perhaps this aunty wanted to warn Huang of being good. Everything was fine until Huang accidentally entered an inflamed black castle and saw countless of souls being stripped off their skins and that these souls were drained off their blood. Some of the soul bodies were seen being minced by machetes. Sounds of yelling and swearing filled the atmosphere… to make the story short: it was indeed ‘hell’!

As Mr. Huang was rushing out of the castle, he saw a door gushing with flames at his north. That was the notorious “Hell of Bottomless” (无间地狱). At this time, Huang started to feel scared and begin to repent of his sins; he heard someone called his name. Then Huang saw a monk was sitting in a red hot iron bed whose head was pierced by a piece of iron nail; whose blood oozed until the ground.

When Huang looked further, the monk was an acquaintance. So he asked the monk why was he there. The monk replied: “It is all due to eating meat and drinking wine with you. I felt awfully sorry but now it is too late!”

After Huang’s soul returned to the mortal world, he went to visit the monk and the monk’s master told him that the monk had died of a bad sore on his head a few days ago…

Of course there are many similar stories as the above in the records. Most of these stories are about while the person’s soul is being tortured in hell, his body was yelling in pain in the human world. Almost all of the heroes of the stories are monks or Buddhists. I would have guessed that these stories were made up by Buddhists to supplement the teaching of Buddha. On the other hand, it also reflected that the stage of monks and Buddhists breaking precepts already at a worrisome level.

So when someone wanted to make up a story to prevent believers from breaking Buddhist precepts, they need to speed up the rate of karmic actions; the faster the bad karma befell a culprit, the better it is to scare naïve folks. Perhaps, people losing patience on waiting for karma fruits to ripen. No one has the patient to wait for a few life times to see a killer died of cancer; best if this killer can be gun down here and then. Don’t you think so too?
  


Temple Of Lost Souls (城隍庙)

There is one thing that needs mentioning: in many local customs, since Ming () and Qing Dynasty (清朝), whenever a person is said to have ‘lost’ his soul, he/she would need to visit the ‘temple of city god’ (城隍庙) to ‘reclaim’ his/her lost soul.

I would have guessed that there are two reasons for that:

The first is that after Ming Dynasty, the temple of city god has transformed to be the local spirit hall (冥府). In the past, when a dead soul is being summoned by spirit hall, it would need to come face to face with the Lord of Hell (阎王). So, this city god temple has indirectly become the interim meeting place with the Lord of Hell. Hence, whatever this Hell King wants to do: either it is to summon a living soul for witness, or ‘voluntary’ workers; the orders are carried out by this city god. That explains why when a person lost his/her soul, he/she had better to go to the city god first in case his/her soul is indeed summoned by Hell King. In this case, by praying to the city god, the chances of getting back one’s soul intact would be high naturally.

Another reason is that a city god temple has the responsibility to protect the well beings of living souls of an area, so the temple would also keep all lost souls found by the guards of city god. It is believed that if a rich person has lost his/her soul, then his/her soul would be sent back by the assistants of the city god. However, a poor person would need to visit the temple personally to ‘reclaim’ his/her own lost soul. The reason is that the city god is too busy to take care of each and every common folks, so if the person is poor, he/she is on his/her own!

In old days, Chinese generally believed when a person dies, his/her soul would be led to the temple of city god and that this poor soul would be tie onto the pillars of the temple awaiting the judgement of the Hell King. It was a custom in the Northern China that when one dies, his/her relative would go to the city god temple to ‘temple reporting’ (报庙). In this ‘reporting’, the person would hold a piece of paper with the deceased’s name on it and then approach the city god idol. In front of the deity, he/she would burn 3 pieces of joss stick and then exit the temple and closed the door.

The person would then kneel down in front of the door and then he/she would knock the door with a piece of stone followed by calling the name. When this is done, the person goes back with the paper to perform further funeral services.

It is described in “The Balance Of Customs” (礼俗权衡):

It was a custom in Hebei (河北) to have the custom of 'temple reporting': before a deceased is put into a coffin, his next of kin would need to go to the city god temple with some joss papers and a bucket of water. After the joss papers are burnt, the water is poured onto the floor of the temple. And then the next of kin would cry out loud and return home.

There are many records about the temple of city god throughout the history. For example in “New Words From Cutting Lanterns” (剪灯新话):

In Jiangshu, Huishan Province (江苏会山), one night before Qingming (清明) festival, local folks would hold a street procession on behalf of the city god (城隍巡街) which normally ended with a ritual known as “collecting table ritual” (收台仪).

Again, the ritual can be subdivided into “collecting yang-table” (收阳台) and “collecting ying-table” (收阴台). In the yang-table ritual, a sick person’s name is called a loud. When some kind of response is obtained, then a bunch of firecracker is lit and the person’s soul is trapped inside a large pail. While the ying-table ritual refers to the collection of human remains from the wilderness and the bones are then kept under the table of the city god.

The belief of city god is most popular in mainland China and Taiwan though some temples of city god existed overseas too. Perhaps the worship of city god is due to reasons of faith and an act of making up to own ancestors; which too are another form of filial.

Whether or not if you believe in city god, next time when you are not feeling yourself; please check up your local city god temple. Perhaps your soul has been summoned by the Hell King for some ‘free’ services!



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

He Who Employed By Hell (走无常)


No one can imagine that the underworld government will have ‘headcount’ shortage too as our mortal world. This is not a big problem to the King of Hell: he can always call living souls to his service and after the job is done, the soul is returned to its body intact. In case you wonder, such service is ‘voluntary’; i.e. this poor soul is treated as cheap labour and it is not ‘paid’ for his/her services. I am not sure if there is already a labour’s union in underworld now days though since most of such jobs are of temporary basis…


There are also differences in temporary position one would hold when he/she is in office. As the saying goes:


君子化为猿鹤,小人化为沙虫。

(A scholar turns into ape and crane, a common turns into worm.)


In another word, a scholar and person of status would become a judge (判官) but a common folk would have a job as messenger of hell. We shall just leave the gentlemen side for now and concentrate on the common folk.


Many classic literatures have talked about these messengers of hell, Mr. Luxun (鲁迅) has spent some length in explaining about these hell messengers in his work titled "Collecting Morning Flowers At Dusk” (朝花夕拾).


Although the descriptions of messenger from hell can be traced back to literature produced much earlier period, the phrase of ‘无常' (not permanent) only started to emerge during Northern Song (南宋) period.


The emergence of 'not permanent' started to flood Qing (清朝) ghost literatures and this is when the shape of this 'not permanent' has taken form amongst folk beliefs:


"He is wearing white linen robe ( 麻衣) and about 10 feet or so tall.”


After Song Dynasty however, folks believe the messenger of hell should be a pair: one wearing white linen robe and the other wearing black linen robe. Both of these ghostly brothers are wearing tall linen hats. The messenger in white is known as ‘the white not permanent’ (白无常) and the black one is known as the ‘black not permanent’ (黑无常). The later description is the black and white not permanents (黑白无常) that we are so familiar of today.


The earliest record of messenger of hell can be traced to a work titled “搜神记"(In Search Of Gods) from Jin Dynasty (晋朝):


The incident happened during the 3 Kingdoms (三国) period in Zhejiang (浙江).


The wife of Mr. Mashi (马势) would fall into deep sleep whenever people in her village were terminally ill. Not until these folks died that this lady could awaken from her long slumber. When she awoke from her sleep, she would tell people around her that it was her working that has caused the death of those people. At first no one believes her, but after this lady described in detailed of what has happened to the household of the deceased that the villagers started to believe her.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Soul Cries Before Death (身未死魂先泣)


In Irish folklore, before a VIP dies; a Banshee would make shrieking wield at night.

 

However, in old Chinese ghost culture, one’s soul would do the own crying before the death of the person. A story taken from Tang Dynasty (唐朝) literature titled “Connecting Spiritual World” (通幽録):

 

This story is about the wife of a military officer in the county of Qinghe (清河县).

 

At that time an old lady in the village went to visit a Zen master in some temple. When the old lady passed through a piece of wilderness, she suddenly noticed a beautiful lady clad in white gown also strolling amongst the woods. The lady in white was crying mournfully and sorrowfully. Gradually the lady in white approached a small hill and she begun to encircle the hill while continue to cry. After a while, the said lady would squat down and then as if she was tempering with something.

 

The old lady felt very strange, so she tried to approach the lady in white; but as she was approaching the weeping lady, the weeping lady suddenly moved away from this old lady. No choice, the old lady had to leave the crying lady alone. But as soon as this old lady has turned her head; this strange sorrowful lady returned to the same place and repeat her action.

 

After a few rounds, the old lady realised that the weeping lady may be out of this mortal world. So, she turned her back and continued with her journey.

 

A month lapsed; the obituary of the military officer’s wife reached this old lady. Coincidentally, the small hill was where the deceased was buried!

 

The strangest thing is that some souls weep one year before their bodies die. Such situation is described by a famous poet Su Dongpo (苏东坡):

 

"未死神已泣"

“Soul weeps before dying”

 

A writer named Zhang Shizheng (张师正) from Song Dynasty (宋朝) in his work “Collection Of Strange Tales” (刮异记):

 

In the year 1074AD, in the city of Chengdu (成都), soldiers who patrolled at night often heard mournful crying sounds came from tens spots. But after investigation, there were no one found.

 

After one or two years later, severe draught occurred in the city and famine ensued. Many people died of hunger and dead bodies lied in the streets unattended. Worse still, epidemic started to spread in town. And that too killed about 60~70% of the remaining population. It was up to a stage that no one harvest the ripen crops of that time.

 

I guessed that the most intriguing and pitiful story is described in “The Sequel Of Spirtual Cave” (洞灵续志):

 

The time is 1900AD and this incident happened in Beijing.

 

Starting from summer, first it was the Boxer (义和团), and then it was the invasion of 8 countries (八国联军). Such unrests have caused the lives of many innocent folks.

 

There were already some bizarre telltale signs in early spring of that year.

 

At that time, sand storm besieged Beijing unceasingly for days.

 

An official, Mr. Wong from national archiving department rode his carriage to his friend’s house outside of Xuanwu Gate (宣武门) for a drinking session at night. The celebration continued until 4am and when Mr. Wong’s carriage reached the market area, he saw flames and commotions coming from a far as if there was a great congregation.

 

When Mr. Wong’s carriage approaching the area where noises and flames come from, suddenly a gust of strong wind blew towards the carriage. This wind has extinguished the carriage’s candle lights too. The horses panicked and neighed, the groom collapsed onto the ground.

 

Mr. Wong peeped from his window curtain seams and saw there were uncountable numbers of black shadows of unspeakable shapes moving up and down as a flock of crows. And finally a giant measuring about 10 feet or so suddenly leaped across the coach and moved towards the west and the crowd of shadows also followed this giant figure.

 

As soon as the strange happening started, the ending also as quick too; immediately the wind subsided and the surrounding went back to normal. Mr. Wong subsequently managed to wake up the groom. On the way home, the groom told Mr. Wong that he has seen a group of crippled human figures with broken arms, legs or even without heads. And it was due to extreme fear that he has fainted.

 

In case you are not aware, the market place was a place of execution. Perhaps what the groom saw were the souls of yet to be executed prisoners of wall in a few months’ time!

 

Do you think the above story is horrible enough?

 

There is yet another story taken from “Strange Tales After Drunk With Tea” (醉茶志怪):

 

A person called Mr. Shen went were playing card games with 3 good friends in a government office at night. After the game, he returned to his bedroom for the night. But his room was locked, so he peeped through the door seam and saw a headless woman put her head on the table to com her hair.

 

Mr. Shen panicked and rushed back to the place he played card games.

 

His three pals were still sitting below the candle light and indulged in card games.

 

Mr. Shen hastily approached his pals and spoke in trembling voice and told them what he has just seen.

 

After hearing what Mr. Shen has to say, all his three pals giggled and said:

 

“There is nothing too strange about what you have seen… we also can do that!”

 

As soon the three pals has finished, they unplugged their heads and put the heads on the table.

 

That had really shocked out the living daylight of Mr. Shen and he immediately rushed out of the office backdoor and hid in someone’s house for a night.

 

In the morning, the government office was under attack by some thugs and everyone in the office was killed!

 

Now, if the above story is true, I would like to ask… if all of them had gone to bed after the card game; who are those folks who sat under the candle light to continue the game?

 

Our Restless Souls (不安定的魂)


Our souls are restless even when we are still alive. There are a few ways they can travel out of our body:

 

·         When we are dreaming

·         Through meditation

·         Before one dies

·         Under extreme shock

·         After a bad fall

·         When we are overly indulged in an affair: overslept, too worry etc.

 

When we are dreaming

 

This is perhaps the most peaceful form of soul travelling out of our body. Although not every dream indicates a soul travels out of body, people believes dreams do give us indications of future events although I doubt what are said in Buddhist, Taoist and other dream interpretation books have any truth in it, if at all.

 

Through meditation

 

Our souls can be trained to travel out of our body through certain practices such as meditation and ritual. When a soul travels out through meditation, it is called “出神 this is the first step of becoming an immortal. Well, to tell you the truth, not many people are qualified to experience this type of soul travelling though.

 

Before one dies

 

There are many stories told about the soul went out of body before the dying of a person. Below is one story taken from “Skimming Over Cottage Notebook” (微阅草堂笔记):

 

The daughter of Cang State (沧州) has fallen seriously ill in bed; her family members passed through their home garden at night and suddenly saw the sick lady stood under a flowering plant. They thought they had seen an evil spirit so they released their guard dogs to charge at the apparition, the apparition vanished suddenly. After a while, the sick lady said from her sick bed: “Just now I dreamed of enjoying flowers in the garden, suddenly some fierce dogs charged at me and made me panic and sweat.”

 

On hearing that sentence, only then the family members realised what they seen was the raw soul (生魂) of the sick lady. When her physician heard the incident, he shook his head and lamented: “The lady’s soul and her body has separated, no doctor in this world can save her now.”

 

Indeed, not long after that, the sick lady died.

 

Under extreme shock

 

There is a Chinese sentence that goes:

 

吓得魂飞魄散"

(He scared until his soul disperses.)

 

There are many such stories in Chinese ghost stories. The most extreme case is someone being carried to a beheading stand, and when he saw the machete that was held by the executioner; and he knows that in a while the machete is to be used to chop off his head. I can assure you that such a fright is enough to cause one’s soul to expel from his body!

 

There was a eunuch (太监) sentenced to death by Ming Emperor on the charge of “improper sweeping and cleaning” after this unfortunate eunuch has startled the emperor while the emperor was thinking of some kind of strategy.

 

Without much hesitation, the emperor’s imperial guard immediately tied up the eunuch and dragged him to city square prepare to beheading him.

 

As the executioner was swinging his machete and adjusting his posture, the emperor’s order arrived and the eunuch was pardoned.

 

At this point, when the executioner was about to untie the eunuch; the eunuch suddenly vanished in to thin air… apparently it was the soul of the eunuch scared out of his living daylight!

 

After a bad fall

 

Someone can also lose his soul after a bad fall; not only he had become a walking dead, his soul also lost his way back. Below is a story from Qing Dynasty, taken from “A Casual Night Chat” (夜谈随笔):

 

A person named Erye was having archery training on horse at the east door of his town but he accidentally fell down from his horse and fainted. When his friends sent him home, although he has not suffered from serious physical injuries, he looked numb and couldn’t talk or smile.

 

Apparently he has left his soul beside the town wall, and that his soul has lost its way back and it has no idea of where its home is. This unfortunate lost soul could only wander on site waiting for someone to fetch it back to unite with the body.

 

But the person’s relatives only thought of consulting the physician regarding the person’s physical injuries and they didn’t think of lost soul matters.

 

Luckily a hung ghost named Wang Lauxi saw Erye’s lost soul, it immediately understood that Erye’s soul has lost his way. Since Erye has helped Wang a lot when he was still alive, this hung ghost immediately rush to Erye’s house and possessed Erye’s mother and passed out a message.

 

After hearing what the hung ghost had to say, Erye’s family member immediately propped Erye’s body to the spot when Erye has fallen down from his horse and start yelling out Erye’s name.

 

After some name calling, Erye finally regained consciousness.

Well, that was half a month after the accident.

 

Other reasons

 

One story told from a work “After Recods Of Search Of Gods” (搜神后记) from Jin Dynasty (晋朝):

 

A person suddenly awakens and rose hastily from his bed, his soul would be trapped in his bed too. In that case, if the person’s soul is not called back into the body; this person would become mad.

 

Other reasons such as lack of concentration would also explain how a soul can wonder out. For example when a drunkard stops drinking for 3 days, he would feel not himself and cannot concentrate in any work one works. This can also be explained how one’s soul can wander out due to lack of concentration and self control. In this case, the person would not be able to recall what he has done 10 minutes ago.
 

Possible Soul Locations In Our Body (魂归何处?)


In Chinese ghost stories, there are not many distinctions between a living soul (生魂) and a ghost as one leaves a body temporary due to some reasons; and yet another leaves its body permanently. So, let us still explore on our soul a little more…

 

According to the West, there are only two possible soul locations in our body: one possible location is in our heart, the other is in our head. In many classical Chinese ghost stories, the soul emerges from the top of one’s head.

 

Let’s go over some of the stories:

 

·         From “The Vast Of Strange Stories” (广异记) from Tang Dynasty:

o   “It is from the head one’s soul is pulled out from his head…”

·         From “The Streams Of The Wild” (夷坚支癸) from Southern Song Dynasty:

o   “At the initial stage of dying, one felt the soul exit from the brain…”

·         From “The Addendum From I Kept Silent” (续子不语):

o   “… I felt the soul went in and out from my head that caused severe pain. When the soul re-entered the body, my whole body felt relaxed and tired; soon I felt asleep.”

 

There is another story that indicated that one’s soul resides in his/her heart:

 

·         From “A Talk Of Strange Happenings” (聊斋志异):

o   “… Suddenly I saw a small person measuring half foot tall emerged from my heart…”

 

However, there is other story that mentioned that one’s soul leaves the body from his/her ears:

 

·         From “The Strange Talk” (述异记) from Liang Dynasty:

o   “… Two ghosts entered his ears and then pushed out his soul; and his soul dropped onto his shoe…”

 

In another case, another story said that the soul exit from one’s nose:

 

·         From “The Year Of Gengsi” (庚巳编) from Ming Dynasty:

o   “… The soul exit from his nose and turned into a small snake…”

 

A record from Tsong Dynasty:

 

·         From “Ghost Management” (鬼董)

o   “… The soul exit from his navel …”

 

Yet a story from “I Keep Silent” (子不语) told of the soul of a convict that came out from his asshole:

 

·         A notorious robber was arrested and sentenced to death. He told his friend: “I would be beheaded on the 1st day of July, please come and pay my last respect.” When the time comes, his friend came as promised. The friend saw the robber’s hands were tied at his back readied for beheading. Suddenly a small kid came out from his pants and talked in the robber’s accent: “See how they kill me! See how they kill me!” The apparition disappeared as soon as the robber’s head dropped onto the floor.

 

Just a side note that in Tibetan Buddhism, the place from where a soul leaves would indicate where a soul would be reborn:

 

·         A soul would be reborn as a deva when it came out from the head.

·         A soul would be reborn as an asaru if it came out from the throat.

·         A soul would be reborn as a human if it came out from the heart.

·         A soul would be reborn as an animal if it came out from the navel.

·         A soul would be reborn as a hungry ghost if it came out from asshole.

·         A soul would be reborn in hell if it came out from any of the foot.

 

I am not sure if the Chinese view has any connections to the Tibetan Buddhism, or it is probably just another coincidence.