Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Hanging Up Life (吊命)
The so-called ‘hanging up life’ ritual is a way to prolong the life of a terminally ill person for one or two days so that the love ones from a long distance can return in time to see the dying person for the last time.
My friend, Lee was working in US suddenly received an emergency call from his sister that his father was terminally ill and he was wanted to return home as soon as possible. In the hope to see his father for the last time, Lee immediately dropped everything he was doing and made arrangements to return to Penang. It took two days to reach his home and many relatives were already beside his dying father’s sickbed.
Lee’s pa looked at Lee for the last time and said: “Finally I can see you for the last time! I can at least rest in peace.”
After saying the last words, the old man passed away peacefully.
The doctor immediately checked the pulses and heart beats of Lee’s father and then pulled out a piece of talisman tightly grasped in his father’s hand; and passed it to Lee. The doc said: “It is perhaps this talisman that has kept your pa continue to live until now. I didn’t know your old man was a master magician after knowing him for so long!”
Other than using the ‘fu’ (符箓) or talisman, traditionally Taoists would use ghosts to prevent a dying person from giving out the last puff. People believe that when a person is dying, those ghosts would stay around the dying to inhaling his/her remaining life force. When a dying person is seen gasping for air, it is in fact that ghosts are sucking his/her life force and preventing the person’s soul from leaving the body. Because once the dead soul left its body, the ghosts have no more life force to feed on. So, those ghosts would try all available means to prevent the person’s soul from leaving; hence in directly prolonged the life of the dying for a day or two.
If you ever wonder what good is it to keep a person from dying peacefully? The answer can be significant: if a person must stay alive awaiting for a love one to arrive and sign a will or some document; then an additional one day of death deferment would have a great significant in legal matters or in the court of law. Of course, once the required job is done, then the ghosts would be exorcised so that the person can finally rest-in-peace.
Once I was visiting another friend’s dying old pa who was panting for air and as he looked quite painful, my pal’s uncle who was a practising Taoist then asked the dying if he wanted to go a little more peacefully. The old man nodded. So his uncle drew some characters on the old man’s body and right after the completion of the ritual, my pal’s father passed away peacefully. His uncle then explained that the old man had infect died, it is actually that his soul was prevented from leaving by those energy sucking ghosts.
Unless it is necessary, this hanging up life ritual should not be carried out as this could cause sufferings to the dying as his/her soul cannot depart peacefully. In Tibetan Buddhism, any delay in the process of dying may cause the dead soul to miss its opportunity to see the clear light; hence missing its opportunity to be liberated too.