The Chinese believe that human life exists with the two factors of consciousness and warmth. Dying therefore is a gradual process where the person's consciousness separates from the body. Death occurs when the body experiences a complete loss of awareness and body temperature. Americans believe in the body and the soul, and the two are separated once death occurs. A person is said to be dying when bodily functions fail and begin to cease. Those who have achieved higher states of being no longer go through transmigration. However, they may undergo rebirth if they so choose son that they may further their enlightenment towards the Buddhist path or to help sentient individuals follow the path. Upon death, people of exceptional goodness go to Buddha's Pure Land through Buddha's blessing. Very bad individuals immediately proceed to the hells. The Chinese Buddhists believe that the soul would experience a state of limbo for an indefinite period, which would not exceed forty-nine days. During this period, the consciousness would experience a floating sequence of scenes and it would not have the power to choose. This state of limbo ends when the Karma pulls the consciousness and is reborn in any of the six realms. Thus, the Chinese Buddhists believe that death is like a gate from which a person departs one life to begin its journey into a new one. Since there are people who are revived after losing all vital signs, death is also considered as a revolving door which one can also re-enter. The spot which retains warmth after the rest of the body has become cold is considered as the point where the consciousness leaves and separates from the body. The relative position of this point on the body is believed to indicate in which realm the consciousness would go to (Lin 1995).
Chinese beliefs after death
Chinese Buddhists believe in reincarnation wherein the spirit undergoes a continuous cycle of rebirth and death until ultimate enlightenment is attained. In contrast, Christian tradition holds that the soul is given judgment on whether it is saved and proceeds to heaven or receive eternal damnation and sent to hell. As the soul passes from one stage of life to another, it also becomes mindful of thoughts and emotions. Buddhists believe that one can be born in any of six realms which are outside humanity. These realms are the hells, animal kingdom, human world, world of jealous gods, and the heavens. Karma determines a person's next life. Karma can be compared to a record of the good and bad things a person has done and it follows one throughout his existence. If a person has lived a life devoid of right thought and action, his rebirth would be into a world of lesser existence. According to the teachings of Buddha: "Impure acts defile a person; stinginess defiles an offering; so evil acts defile not only this life but also the following lives." (The Teaching of Buddha by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, 1996 Kosaido Printing Co. Tokyo, Japan). However, a person has the ability to remove his bad Karma and move into a higher state of existence. The Chinese Buddhists believe that hell is not a state of suffering for all eternity, unlike what is believed in the West. It is a temporary place which one passes through and can leave once bad Karma is removed and a