Monday, November 19, 2007

A Young Man & his Coffin

The Dhammapada says:
"As with force the cowherds drive their cattle out to graze,
in the same way do decay and death drive the life out from all sentient beings."
There is a report in Zaobao on Friday (16.11.07) about a 22 yr old man, Bai Zhixiang, who had been sleeping in a coffin in his room for the past 4 yrs. Apparently, he is a young medium for 2 deities of Hades, "Tua Di Ya Peh" or Black and White Wuchang. According to Taoist belief, these 2 deities are captains of King Yama, the Lord of Death, and are in charge of bringing departed souls of bad people to the nether realm.
Bai is one of the guardians of Lian Tian Gong temple in Woodlands, and had been "chosen" by the deities when he was 13 to become their medium. Since then, he became a disciple of one of the senior masters and started to learn the rituals of mediumship. 4 years ago, under the request of the deities, a temple devotee offered a Chinese coffin to him. He placed the coffin in his bedroom and used it as an alternative bed at times. Macabre as it seemed to ordinary people, the ironic thing is that his girlfriend of 2 yrs split up with him not because of the coffin, but because she was shocked by what he did during one of the deity possession rituals - having 10 steel pikes poked into his back!
Self-mutilation is actually quite normal during Taoist or Hindu religious ceremonies, but for the uninitiated, one can imagine how scary it would be for them to see it in real life. Despite the emotional setback, Bai have to continue as a medium as he has an irresistible karmic connection with the Hades deities.
Who are these 2 deities? There are many versions of their origins, but the popular one in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan is that during ancient times there were 2 sworn brothers by the names of Xie Bi-an (White Wuchang) and Fan Wujiu (Black Wuchang). Once they arranged to meet at a bridge over a river but it started to rain, so Xie went home to get an umbrella. Unfortunately the rain became very heavy and flood waters swelled, sweeping the faithfully waiting Fan into the river to his death. When Xie came back and found out what happened, he was so sorrowful that he hung himself at the bridge (thus he is always portrayed with a long tongue sticking out) to follow his sworn brother to the nether realm. In the hall of King Yama, he was so impressed with their loyalty towards each other that he made them his captains, entrusted with the task of bringing bad people to Hades to be judged. And so they had been doing their jobs ever since. Besides their normal routine, these 2 deities also visit the human realm when they are free to reward the good and punish the evil. As such, they are held in high esteem by many Chinese folks until today. The term Wuchang in Chinese means Impermanence, or Anicca in Pali. These 2 deities personify the law of impermanence, which all of us, whether young or old, rich or poor, noble or lowly must come face to face with at any time in our lives. Yet most people do not see this truth, and continue to live their lives heedlessly, driven by their craving and aversion towards all things. When their time on Earth is up and the Wuchang deities appear before them, it would be too late for them to regret their own deeds. They can cry all they want, but it wouldn't stop the deities from dragging them to Hades to be judged by Yama and his judges. In reality the the Wuchang deities are a reflection of the mind going through the death process, much like the Bardo deities described in Tibetan Buddhism. If your negative karma outweighs the positive, you will see the deities appear in the form that you are culturally conditioned to perceive, ready to take you down to Hades. If it is vice versa, then you will see Devas or Angels coming to receive you instead. Yet whether heaven or hell the tainted mind is still not freed from the ever turning wheel of samsara. Only those Noble Ones who have purified their own minds will see their true self at the dissolution of their bodies, entering Parinibbana there and then, in the footsteps of the Buddhas. This is the goal that all wise men should aim for.

3 comments:

Jia Hao said...

Hey wayne, your articles posted in this blog has encouraged and educated me more on buddhism! Continue to widespread the words of buddhism and blog! May peace be with you. Namo Sakyamuni Buddha!

Torchlight said...

I am a member of Lian Tian Gong Temple and a personal close friend of the kii-tong better known as a taoist medium.

Based on the facts on ur blog, i find the following facts misleading and distorted:

1.) He is a medium for many Gods and Deities from both realms of heaven and hell. The hell deity who is his "boss" is Tua Ya Pek only.

2.) He does not sleep in the coffin. Who in the right state mind would wana sleep IN the coffin. The coffin is only kept in his room. Therefore, he sleeps WITH it and definatly not IN it. It is not an alternative bed for him. As what you can see in the picture which you grabbed from Jiabao, i'm sure that you might have enough common sense to see for yourself that the coffin in his room is much smaller than him. How would he be able to fit into it?

Do not Lie

To refrain from telling lies is to show respect for the truth. No good can come from telling lies, be it out of fun or malice. When a Buddhist observes the fourth precept, he refrains from telling lies or half-truths that exaggerate or understate, and instead cultivates the virtue of truthfulness. Once people uphold the respect for truth, there will be fewer quarrels and misunderstanding and fewer cases of false accusations in the courts of justice. Society will then become more peaceful and orderly.

Anonymous said...

Torchlight, you sound so angry...