Taoist Funeral & Buddhist Funeral: What’s The Difference?


Taoist Funeral & Buddhist Funeral: What's The Difference?

One of the most difficult decisions you’ll ever make is deciding the type of funeral for your loved one. In Japan and China, funerals are a somber affair that’s strictly separated into two different religious traditions, Taoist and Buddhist. Taoist Funeral & Buddhist Funeral might seem the same but have some differences. 


Differences Between Taoist Funerals & Buddhist Funerals

  • Influences & Philosophy

The way that a Taoist funeral is conducted and the philosophies held by its practitioners can be compared to Buddhist funeral services. For example, both traditions highly emphasize burning the body parts of the deceased and that it’s an opportunity for a person to become enlightened. However, Buddhism believes that one’s cellular structure cannot be destroyed, so they believe it’s important to preserve the body in some way. The Taoist belief is that your body becomes particles every time you breathe, so removing your body parts before cremation will ensure you’ll be reborn again as a new being.

  • Reincarnation Views

There are a lot of different views on reincarnation between Taoist and Buddhist funeral services. While Taoists believe the body can’t be destroyed, Buddhists believe that the human soul is eternal and will be reincarnated into another person. A common belief among many Buddhists is that when you die, you’ll be reborn with all of your experiences from your past life. There are many theories behind this belief, but essentially it is believed that one’s soul will continue to learn how to live as an entity until one reaches enlightenment.

  • Expressing Grief

A common belief between Taoists and Buddhists is that the body is a holy being. So, when an individual dies, family members should be respectful and treat their body with great care. Buddhists believe cremation is an opportunity to express how you feel about your loved one because you can’t truly show your emotions at their funeral. Instead, you must honour them in some way by preserving the body parts that hold your loved one’s essence. 

  • Scriptures & Chants

Taoist funerals are officiated by priests and can consist of chanting ceremonies, ritualistic acts, or Buddhist sutras. These rituals are a reflection of the beliefs that you’ve held since you were born. You can use your favourite prayers for your loved ones at the funeral or use any other type of prayer to help comfort their soul during this time. The most important thing you can do is let your prayers reflect what kind of person they were while alive.

The Buddhist funeral services in Singapore are very ritualistic, and Buddhist monks and other spiritual leaders conduct them. The ceremony varies from region to region, but it usually consists of chanting Buddhist sutras, burning incense, and conducting special ceremonies at the family’s home or temple. 

Similarities Of Taoist Funerals & Buddhist Funerals

Both Taoists and Buddhists believe in 49 days of mourning- During this time, you should avoid talking about the deceased person and your feelings for them. The funeral wake in Chinese during the 49 days period is viewed as a sacred time. The soul must prepare for its next life and will undergo trial by fire to become enlightened like a Buddhist sutra.

Respect for the deceased is the character of both Taoists and Buddhists- They believe that you should hold respect for the spirit of your loved one as it enters purgatory, and you should be quiet during this time of grief.

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