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Kongming

Some questions

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A few related questions on two broad topics:

 

1.) What is Daoism's (especially authentic Quanzhen/Zhengyi, etc.) view on the gods? Who are the most important gods overall and what is their typical function? Are the gods made use of in praxis such as deities are worked with in Hinduism and Buddhism? Whats the relationship, if any, between gods and 仙 immortals/ 真人 "true men"?

 

2.) How does Daoism view the divinization of the body? It is known that Daoism views the body as a microcosm, as an alchemic crucible, as being of the substance of qi, etc. and that Daoists refine the body in its subtle and energetic forms as part of the path, the so called cultivation of 命 ming/life-destiny. So what is the final end of the body in Daoism? What exactly is the immortal body or 身外身 "body outside of the body" discussed in neidan literature? 

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In Religious Daoism the Primary Gods are the Three Pure Ones, this section from the Wikipedia article is a satisfactory overview:

 

Quote

In religious Taoism, the theory of how Tao produces One, Two, and Three is also explained. In Tao produces One—Wuji produces Taiji, it represents the Great Tao, embodied by Hùndùn Wújí Yuánshǐ Tiānwáng (混沌無極元始天王, "Heavenly King of the Chaotic Never-ending Primordial Beginning") at a time of pre-Creation when the Universe was still null and the cosmos was in disorder; manifesting into the first of the Taoist Trinity, Yuánshǐ Tiānzūn. Yuánshǐ Tiānzūn oversees the earliest phase of Creation of the Universe, and is henceforth known as Dàobǎo (道寶) "Treasure of the Tao". In One produces Two—Taiji produces Yin Yang, Yuanshi Tianzun manifests into Lingbao Tianzun who separated the Yang from the Yin, the clear from the murky, and classified the elements into their rightful groups. Therefore, he is also known as Jīngbǎo (經寶) "Treasure of the Law/Scripture". While Jīng in popular understanding means "scriptures", in this context it also mean "passing through" [the phase of Creation] and the Laws of Nature of how things are meant to be. In the final phase of Creation, Daode Tianzun is manifested from Língbăo Tiānzūn to bring civilization and preach the Law to all living beings. Therefore, He is also known as Shībǎo (師寶) "Treasure of the Master".

 

Each of the Three Pure Ones represents both a deity and a heaven. Yuanshi tianzun rules the first heaven, Yu-Qing, which is found in the Jade Mountain. The entrance to this heaven is named the Golden Door. "He is the source of all truth, as the sun is the source of all light". Lingbao Tianzun rules over the heaven of Shang-Qing. Daode Tianzun rules over the heaven of Tai-Qing. The Three Pure Ones are often depicted as throned elders.

 

Schools of Taoist thought developed around each of these deities. Taoist Alchemy was a large part of these schools, as each of the Three Pure Ones represented one of the three essential fields of the body: jing, qi and shen. The congregation of all three Pure Ones resulted in the return to Tao.

 

The first Pure One is universal or heavenly chi. The second Pure One is human plane chi, and the third Pure One is earth chi. Heavenly chi includes the chi or energy of all the planets, stars and constellations as well as the energy of God (the force of creation and universal love). Human plane chi is the energy that exists on the surface of our planet and sustains human life, and the earth force includes all of the forces inside the planet as well as the five elemental forces.

 

As the Three Pure Ones are manifestation of Primordial Celestial Energy, they are formless. But to illustrate their role in Creation, they are often portrayed as elderly deities robed in the three basic colours from which all colours originated: Red, Blue and Yellow (or Green) depending on personal interpretation of colour origins by additive or subtractive means. Each of them holds onto a divine object associated with their task. Yuánshǐ Tiānzūn is usually depicted holding the Pearl of Creation, signifying his role in creating the Universe from void and chaos. The Ruyi held by Lingbao Tianzun represents authority: the second phase of Creation where the Yang was separated from the Yin and the Law of Things was ordered in place. Lingbao Tianzun then took his seat on the left of Yuanshi Tianzun. Later, when all was complete, Daode Tianzun took his place on the right, with the fan symbolizing the completion of Creation, and the act of fanning representing the spreading of Tao to all Mankind. (Wikipedia article on the Three Pure Ones)

 

After that it gets significantly more complicated.  This is because the Pantheon is a synthesis of Heavenly Master, Shangqing and Lingbao systems, but in terms of the important ritual practices, those related to self-cultivation and internal alchemy it revolves around The Pure Ones and what I like to call The Five Virtuous Emperors, the Emperors who rule the five elements, direction, planets, yin organs and more.  These are the principle officers of the Daoist Ritual Dan or Altar and are also part of the Daoist internal practices where the Five Emperors are manifest in the Five Organs and the Three Pure Ones in the Three Dantians.  In the body, along with other less important spirits they are meditated upon and dealt with through ritual practices that are both interesting and diverse.  Obviously this is a very complex issue and one not easily dealt with in a discussion like this, but insofar as I have time, I will try to explain more.  Specific questions could give me some idea of where to go with this, but I cannot guarantee a speedy answer.

 

ZYD

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