China’s Corpse Guiders

Chinese character 鬼 (ghost) is traditionally used to describe two types of sentient beings: one is the beings living in the yin world (opposed to this yang world) which is predominantly formed by yin qi (opposed to this world that is chiefly nourished by yang qi), and another is the beings wandering in darkness in this world.

A corpse guilder in action

Historical Chinese corpse guiders in action in West Hunan Province in southern China

Yin world is more or less a mirror world (not a parallel world though) to the human world and is manifested by the spirits who desire to mimic their way of existence when they were humans. Yet without enough yang qi, the yin world is a very much downgraded version, like a black & white movie created based on some “real” events occurred in the past.

Will all deceased live as a ghost in the yin world? The answer is no. You will only live there when you believe you will live there after death.

Your soul is a portion of your stained consciousness. When this stained portion expresses itself exclusively, it becomes a spirit. But the spirit is a highly volatile form of existence supported by momentary concentration, thus it needs to find a solid shelter to dwell. The shelter could be anything in any world as long as the spirit can afford to fit in according to its karmic balance – such as the form of a human, an insect, a ghost, an aging tree …..

For most people, after the solid shelter (body) damaged beyond the use, their spirits are forced to leave. However, without being firmly held together by a solid confinement, the particular portion of the soul keeps dispersing and blemishing with other stained parts of the consciousness. By the time, the consciousness find another form to express itself, the portion entered the shelter is often more or less different from the previous one, which is why you are unique in each incarnation and it is, often than not, a lie when someone claims he is the exact reincarnation of so and so. Unless, of course, it is an earthly expression of an unstained full consciousness. But such expression will never be publicly announced as long as it remains in this world (so you know what the so-called Living Buddhas really are).

As for the second type of the ghosts lurking in this world, they are solely sustained by the residue of their yang qi. It often happens to those who died in anguish or with unfulfilled craving; in these cases, the mental concentration of the deceased is so firm which is strong enough to keep a portion of spirit in shattered shelter or even without a shelter.

This is how the corpse transportation business worked.

Traditionally, one of the China dreams for most Chinese is to be buried in family grave after death. Yet Chinese men might die in battlefields and in workplaces far away from their home villages. So the families of the deceased would pay for professional corpse guider to bring the dead home.

The corpse guiders would cover the mouth, the nose and the eyes, as well as seven major occupants on the body of the deceased with red written talisman to prevent the remaining yang qi to disperse from the rundown shelter, which enabled the deceased in a semi-conscious state to direct the body to perform some simple physic actions, such as stand up, walking and turn around in the audio command of the corpse guilder.

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