Taoism: Reincarnation And Return Of The Soul In Taoism. Taoism is a philosophical view of life and nature, whose religious facet is characterized by methods of life, health and meditation. According to Taoism, the Tao is a supreme principle that permeates the entire universe, and therefore its nature is immortal and eternal. Let’s try to find out what’s the concept of reincarnation in Taoism.
Taoism and Reincarnation
Death is a natural transition between the end of this life and a new stage of existence. After death the soul continues its path, being reborn in a new condition. Instead of reincarnation, Taoists use the term transmigration since the rebirth can occur in the human realm or other higher or lower.
Reincarnation in Taoism exists because nothing dies, everything is flowing through life within the Tao. Unlike Buddhists, the Taoist seeks not to end or stop the cycle of reincarnations, but to follow the path of Tao whose culmination is to become one with the Tao, and therefore achieve immortality.
Chinese Taoism openly teaches reincarnation. In an important passage of Taoism, Zhuang Zhou says:
“Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting-point. Existence without limitation is Space. Continuity without a starting-point is Time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in. That through which one passes in and out without seeing its form, that is the Portal of God.”
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Taoism: Reincarnation Theory in the Tao
Taoists believe that the existential universe is the sum of three worlds, and that there are six ways (deities, demons, men, animals, famished souls and earthly prisons). Transmigration means to go through one of the six ways and after physical death, move up or down according to the spiritual development of the soul, continuing with its path in the world. This could be understood as the “Taoist reincarnation”. We will learn more about this in the next paragraphs.
Transmigration according to the Tao
– “Master, how can we return to our Origin and Source? How can we reach the other side, leaving the Transmigration cycle?”
– “A cluttered mind is the very seed of transmigration. Depending on the karma being planted, we harvest the corresponding transmigration; he who feels corresponds; he who is the cause, becomes the effect. This is the Law of Tao. No man is able to antagonize it. Those who wish to free themselves from Transmigration cycle should become the Tao itself.”
- Master Ma Hoo Yang, Patriarch Master of the West School of Taoist Alchemy
Transmigration cycle (Lun Hue). The literal translation of the term Lun Hue is Return Cycle (Lun: wheel or cycle. Hue: return).
The Lun Hue should not be confused with the concepts of “Reincarnation” (one who believes in successive returns of the soul as humans) or “Spiritual Evolution” (one who believes in reincarnation as an evolutionary process).
In Taoism, the Universe Existential as One-All is a sum of three worlds:
1) World of Desire (Yu Jie);
2) World of Form (see Jie);
3) World of Formlessness (see Wu Jie).
In the World of Desire all things are motivated and conditioned by the sensory effects.
In the World of Form all things are prisoners of concrete and abstract shapes.
In the World of Formlessness existence is a very deep ecstasy, it has no desire or form.
Within the three worlds there are six “ways”:
1) Way of Heaven;
2) Way of Demons;
3) Way of Man;
4) Way of Animals;
5) Way of the Famished Soul;
6) Way of Hell.
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Through the Way of Heaven, beings reach the realms of the Luminous Deities.
Through the Way of Demons, beings reach the realms of the Obscure Deities .
Through the Way of Man, beings reach the World of Human Beings.
Through the Way of Animals, beings reach the World of Animals.
Through the Way of the Famished Soul, beings reach the worlds of souls obsessed by sensual desires.
Through the Way of Hell, beings reach the prison of suffering and illusion.
The Animal, Famished Soul and Prison Ways are Infernal paths of darkness.
The Heaven and the Demon Ways are the Yin and Yang paths of the heavenly realms.
The Human Way is the Learning Path, as it has the characteristics of all the other worlds.
In the World of Desires we find all six paths.
Inside the World of Form there are only the ways of Heaven and Demons.
And in the World of the Formlessness there is only the Way of Heaven.
All beings in the three worlds and the six paths are subject to the Transmigration Law and that means both beings of higher hierarchy (for example, a Luminous Divinity) and the bottom (eg, an animal) are unobstructed before an absolutely dynamic fate: all beings are transformed, that is why the Taoist Lun Hue is not reincarnationism or evolutionism.
All beings of the three worlds are prisoners of the Transmigration cycle.
In Taoism, to break free from this prison it is necessary to achieve the state of “awareness of the Union and the Infinite Life,” and he who reaches it is called “Immortal” (Shien).
Video: Reincarnation from Taoist Perspective
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This concludes our article on Taoism and reincarnation. Share it with your contacts if you found it useful. Keep reading this blog to learn more about reincarnation and the afterlife.