Sunday, August 31, 2014

The In Between Realm (浅谈阴阳界)

When a soul passes through the River of No Return, it is said to be in the Realm of Underworld. Hence, it is said to be 'dead' . However, If it manages to return before passing through the river, then the person will survive and continue to live for another day.
One year before my late pa passed away, he was suffering from cancer. I used to pray for his well beings then. One day he suddenly told me that he had a strange dream. In that dream, he was forcefully being dragged out from our house by two men in black. In the midst of pushing and pulling, they came to a stream. There is a very narrow wooden bridge that can only let one person pass through at one time. So, the man in black who led the way walked first, my pa was in between and the second man in black was at pa’s back. While they were in the middle of the bridge, the bridge suddenly collapsed and all of them fell into the river. My pa finally found his way back home.


I think the stream my pa was about to pass through was known as the ‘river of no return’ (冥河), and that wooden bridge is known as the ‘bridge of no return’.


According to Chinese belief, when a person dies, his soul will travel out of his body and continue to walk straight until he reaches the bridge of no return. If the soul passes through the bridge; then it will reach the realm of underworld. However, if the soul managed to return, then the person will recover and live for a period of time. This bridge is what is called the ‘realm of in between’.


Folks believe, dead souls will live freely in the realm of in between. Before passing the bridge, the soul suffers considerably. However, once the soul gone into the underworld, the suffering will be gone. This is because a dead soul is a fragile body; it fears sunlight, rain, wind and also the thunder.


These dead souls will remain in the underworld until it is time for them to be reborn again.


There is a saying that goes:


“Once reborn, no one wants to die; after death, no one wants to be reborn.”


The saying refers to the situation when a person dies, he will suffer tremendously. It is conversely true that when a ghost in the underworld wanted to be reborn, it also suffers tremendously too.


In the ritual that leads to underworld travels, the human relatives can only wait at the edge of in between to wait for the deceased love ones to come and meet them. It is said that anyone who pass through the bridge of no return will not be able to come be to human realm.


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