CHINESE TAOIST JOURNEY TO THE NEXT LIFE



The Chinese Taoists believe that after death, the soul crosses a bridge to the next life where it undergoes a process of judgment. Once on the other side of the bridge, judges in ten courts decide whether the deceased person has lived a good or bad life. If the person has lived a good life, the soul is allowed to pass through the courts and go to heaven. If the person was judged to have been bad, a punishment is ordered before the soul can go any further.

Following the burial of the coffin, paper models of houses, cars, and money are burned to assist the soul in the afterlife. It is believed that these items will help the deceased "pay his or her way" through the courts of judgment. The son of the deceased burns the most important and "influential" paper models.

Ten years after the burial, the coffin is then dug up. The remains, or the bones of the deceased are taken to be cleaned and then placed in a pot which is then sealed by a priest. The priest finds the "right place" to bury the pot in a special ceremony called feng-shui. They believed it important to bury the bones in a place where the dead person will be happy, or else his or her ghost might return to punish the family. Annually, the Chinese festival, Ching-Ming, is held to pay tribute to and honor the deceased.


SOURCES:

Mayled, John. Death Customs. Morristown, N.J.: Silver Burdett Press: 1987.



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