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The taoism is an indigenous religion, the religion of  the « deep China », which appeals to the beliefs of a very ancient tradition, affecting the most popular lays of society. The term Taoism comes from the Chinese word Dao which means the « way ».

The taoism is based on many texts, including Lao Tzu’s « The Classic Book of The Way And Virtue » and Tchouang-Tseu’s « Classic of the Perfect Void ».

The death and the life represent a passage from one condition to another, like the four seasons of the year. That represents a spontaneous movement, which happens in harmony with the laws of nature. From life to death or from death to life, it is not a one-way, but a two-way lane (Tao).

The Taoist school is based on a natural attitude: the death or the life are orchestrated by the heaven, and the death represents a time of rest. Another way of becoming immortal is to not consider the death as a loss of live: indeed, the body is dead, but the life remains forever.

In the physical world, the life and the death are temporary states inside an infinity of changes and transformations. 

If we want to free ourselves from suffering and pain, we need to focus on the spiritual world.

Taoist god

During the vigil, a Taoist monk sings verses from the scriptures. According to the traditional beliefs, the soul faces trials and tortures in order to purify itself from the sins of its earthly life. In the same way as other religions, the prayers and the sacred songs help the soul of the deceased in its passage toward the afterlife.

They place a Bi above the head of the deceased, a disk pierced by a circular central orifice, which evokes an opening towards the eternal life. This disc is made in jade, the stone of immortality, the «celestial» symbol, which accompanies the deceased in the beyond.

The funeral rites are organized according to the age of the deceased, the cause of his  death, his social and marital status.

The soul according to the Taoists

The chinese culture prefers the burial to the cremation of the deceased. In the tomb the head is facing north. The body is cleaned, covered with talcum powder, dressed from head to toe. The deceased must not be dressed in red, because he may turn into a ghost.

The woman’s body wears makeup. The nails and the hair are put in the coffin. The most common flowers brought at funerals are white or yellow chrysanthemums, the symbols of mourning and lamentation. 

The families are dressed in white. The vigil lasts three days.

All clothes worn on the day of burial are cremated because otherwise they can bring bad luck. The family observes a severe fast and performs a minimal toilet the first three days. Then, every month for three years period, after ten days of purification, the children make an offering in front of the tomb of the deceased.

In the past, throughout the mourning period, the family dressed in thick canvas clothing, a headband and a hemp belt.

The grieving period for family members lasts 100 days.

Statue of Lao Tzu

Lao Tseu citation: « The life is a departure and the death a return »

Sources:

Zhan Wang et Changli Wu, La mort dans la tradition chinoise selon le taoïsme, le bouddhisme et le confucianisme :des conceptions complémentaires

(https://journals.openedition.org)

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Spiritualité Autochtone