3 The Chinese Taoist View of the "Soul"
According to Chinese tradition, there are two related concepts concerning the human spirit: what may be called his "soul" (魂) and his "soul manifestations" (魄). Per the explanation of Chan's Book of Li (陳氏禮記), the soul is the spirit of yang or sun or the positive (陽之靈) and the highest expression of Chi (氣之英). "Chi" (氣) according to the Taoist is the principle of life because life is conceived of as the result of the concentration or the accumulation of Chi to a point (生, 氣之聚) and "soul manifestation" (魄) is the spirit of the Yin or the negative (陰之靈) and the essence of the body (體之精). According to Sung scholar Wang Min Chai (黃勉齋), the "soul" is concerned with actively guiding and operating, the "soul manifestation" is concerned with passively receiving (魂主經營, 魄玄受納). Therefore, each human being only has one "soul" and its expression or manifestation in the body.
But according to a Northern Sung (北宋) Taoist text "Yun Ka Chi Chen"( 雲笈七籤 ) Vol. 54 edited by Chang Chun Fang (張君房) a book consisting of a total of 122 volumes of all important Taoist texts written prior to 1017 in about 1.7 million words and forming a part of the Taoist Collection (道藏), a man has 3 "souls" and 7 "soul manifestations" (三魂七魄). The three "souls" are called respectively "the light of the embryo" (胎光), supposed to be the chi of the primordial yang or the sun (太清陽和之氣) "the crisp spirit" (爽靈), supposed to be the variation of the chi of the yin or the dark (陰氣之變) and "essence of the dark" (幽精), supposed to be the leftovers or mixes of various types of chi of the yin or the dark (陰氣之雜). . The seven "soul manifestations" are respective called 1. dog corpse (屍狗) 2. lurking arrow (伏矢) 3. yin of the bird (雀陰) 4. swallowed thief (吞賊) 5. negative toxin (非毒) 6. eliminating dirt (除穢) 7. stinking lungs (臭肺) and are considered to the spirit of dirt or pollution in the human body. According to Taoist Religious theory, it is believed that after a person dies, then he would lose of these 7 "soul manifestation" each week so that after 49 days or 7 weeks, all his "soul manifestations" will be gone or completely dissipated. When he dies, one of man's soul will stay in hell (hall of the earth) ( 地府) , one of his souls will stay at the tomb (墓地) or grave and one will stay at the ancestral tablet. (祖先牌位). Thus whilst the "soul" will exist forever, the "soul manifestation(s)" is/are tied to the human body and will come and go with it.
However, according to 許衡山, a contemporary, the three "souls" are 1. "spiritual soul" (靈魂)
or heavenly soul (天魂) or "master soul" (主魂), the seat of "conscience" 2. "conscious soul" ( 覺魂)
or "earthly soul) (地魂) or "seeing soul" (視魂) which he thinks of as the monitor of the "master soul" normally involved in right and wrong and 3. "life soul" (生魂)
or "human soul" (人魂) or "phenomenal soul" (象魂) and the seven "soul manifestations are respectively: 1. joy(喜) 2. anger (怒), 3 sorrow (哀) 4. fear or anxiety (懼 )5 affection or love (愛) 6. hatred or disgust or distaste (惡) 7. desire or longing (慾). Therefore the three "souls" are concerned with the human spirit whilst the seven "soul manifestations" are concerned with the matter and the human body.and when a man dies, his "heavenly soul" will report to heaven, his "earthly soul" will report to the hall of the dead or hell because that's where it will be decided if a man will go to heaven or will return to earth according to Buddhist theory of the samsara and his "human soul" will return to his grave and his ancestral tablet because a man got his body from his ancestors.
Who is right? Who is wrong? Which version is true? Which version is false? Does it matter?
(To be cont'd)