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March 31, 2016 nathanbrine

Si and Wang: Taoist perspective on death

The modern Chinese word for death is siwang (死亡). This word is actually made up of two classical Chinese words: si and wang. In Taoist practice these two words have different meanings.

 死- body but spirit (shén) is gone; or spirit but body is gone (and everything in-between)

wáng 亡- both body and spirit are gone

Wang is what would normally be thought of as dead. Si is an in-between state. A person in a coma has a body but their spirit has left, therefore they are si. A ghost has a spirit but their body is gone, they are also si. 

However, if we have a body and just some of our spirit leaves then we are not fully alive.

In Taoist cultivation spirit is a high frequency of energy called shén 神.

Shen leaves our body through any of the upper seven openings in our head: eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. This happens throughout our normal daily life as we use our senses to focus away from our body. For example if we go online our shen leaves our body through our eyes into the screen. The more our shen leaves our body the less alive we are. We also become more yin. The room in a home where a computer is used is often very yin. An example of an extremely yin being is a ghost. The more our shen leaves our physical body the less alive and more ghost-like we become. Taoist meditation seeks to reverse this process by bringing back our shen to accumulate in our bodies, making us more yang and more alive.

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