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SirPalomides

The Great Oneness Savior from Sorrow Scripture 太乙救苦護身妙經

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Below is my amateur translation of the Taiyi Jiuku Hushen Miao Jing (太乙救苦護身妙經) or Wonderful Scripture of the Protection of Great Oneness, Savior from Sorrow. My source text is here. According to that website it can be found on pages 513-515 of volume 10 of the Zhengtong Daoist Canon. Christine Mollier, whose summary was helpful for my translation, roughly dates the book to the mid-Tang dynasty. She bases this on the fact that it was known in the Song dynasty, and that it includes iconographic elements borrowed from images of Guan Yin that were not known in China until the Tang.  My interest in this scripture was sparked by @Zhongyongdaoist pointing out the importance of this deity. I noticed in my copy of Daoist Morning and Evening Altar Recitations that the evening section is centered around Taiyi Jiuku Tianzun, but the scriptures in there regarding him are a little esoteric. Doing some "research" (googling) I found that there was this primary scripture relating to the deity that had not been translated. As always, suggestions for improved accuracy by those with more competence in Chinese are welcomed and requested. I suspect that there are a few cosmological or alchemical terms that in my ignorance I mistranslated.  I hope Dao Bums and others find this helpful.

 
Taiyi Jiuku Hushen Miao Jing (太乙救苦護身妙經) or Wonderful Scripture of the Protection of Great Oneness, Savior from Sorrow

 

At that time, the Heavenly Worthy of the Primal Beginning, above the Mysterious Brightness, amid the Heaven of Pure Subtlety, ascended to the Seven-Jewel Throne in the Hall of Nine-colored Jade, and sent out a brilliant light to gather all the myriad spirits to partake of the heavenly discourse: Heavenly Worthies of the Ten Directions, the Lord of the Dao, Lord Lao, primal thearchs, elders and sages, and the numberless throng of immortals one and all came and took their seats, to hear the proclamation of the Wonderful Law. Thereupon the Brahma King named Shandishi sang a joyous song. The immortals' own music resounded, accompanied by rays of light.


Then the Supreme Lord Lao rose from his jade throne, treading upon lotus flowers with perfected ones attending to his left and right, and jade maidens upholding his robe. Arriving before the Heavenly Lord, he spoke this petition:


"Your minister awaits the Teacher's exhortation, having been received in the blessed Heavenly Hall, to perform boundless works of merit and kindnesses immeasurable. Your minister observes, amid the Three Realms, in the Sea of Misery, numberless beings harshly met with distress, entangled in nets of sin and swarms of various passions, from which escape and reform are hard. Your minister cannot abide in the Highest Purity, desiring rather to wield mighty light, manifest in the Three Realms, and rescue the impassioned multitude to the furthest reaches. But we look to Your Majesty to counsel compassion."


Thereupon the Heavenly Worthy of the Primal Beginning, descending in a Law Body, told Lord Lao: "Excellently have you left your jade throne to astonish the myriad heavens and rescue suffering beings. You need not wait to return to your throne to hear my pronouncement."


The Heavenly Worthy said: "The myriad beings I birth, the myriad spirits I transform, meeting sorrow and distress, needing salvation, need not your mighty incarnation to save them to the furthest reaches.


"In the Eastern World of Vast Delight there dwells someone great, compassionate, and humane: the Heavenly Worthy Great Oneness, Savior from Sorrow, taking as many forms as there are grains of sand, constantly heeding the cries of beings, whether dwelling in the Heavenly Palace, or descending to the human realm; as denizens of hell or in the assembly of the damned; or as immortal lads and jade maidens; or as emperors and sages; or as heavenly worthies and perfected ones; or as vajra kings; or as demon kings and mighty knights; or as Heavenly Masters and Daoist masters; or as royals and venerable lords; or as heavenly physicians and recorders of merits; or as boys and girls; or as civil and martial officials; or as commanders-in-chief; or as preceptors and meditation teachers; or as masters of wind and of rain- measureless magic power, limitless means of benefit, searching for cries to rescue from sorrow, answering beings where they find themselves. Today I proclaim it, that you may know."


Lord Lao continued his petition, saying, "This mighty god has measureless forms! What must be done to bring my Teacher before us?"


The Heavenly Worthy told Lord Lao, "You may raise your voice, crying the name of Great Oneness, and let the immortal officials raise your cry in unison, and he will surely answer, transforming and manifesting."


Thereupon Lord Lao and the numerous ranks of immortals, honoring his teaching and decree, together cried out and sang the name of the Heavenly Worthy Great Oneness, Savior from Sorrow.


Suddenly amid the throng of thearchs appeared a boy, treading upon lotus flowers, who bowed to the Heavenly Worthy until the latter, introducing him, said, "My minister known as Great Oneness, enlighten and expound the Law, as though you were my teacher. The ministers are assembled to witness and hear the wonderful tidings, one joyous moment in heaven to set in motion the scriptures on earth for myriad kalpas. Amid the Three Worlds the multitude of beings suffer sorrow, loudly crying out, Sorrow! Sorrow!, in procession around the Heavenly Worthies, worshiping and prostrating, begging beneath the Gate of Heaven."


Thereupon the assembled immortals saw the boy present a petition in answer; shedding tears upon his robe, between sobs and sighs, he said: "In Heaven there is joy; on earth, calamity, cycles of rebirth and retribution while the pure are idle!"
 

The Heavenly Worthy said to Great Oneness: "As you desire mercy, so all suffering beings may depend on your wish to manifest and save them.”

 

The boy was pleased and smiled, bowing twice and withdrawing. The multitude of immortals then beheld the boy transform into a heavenly worthy, his feet treading on lotus flowers, a halo radiating from his head, and his hands holding a willow branch and a jar of pure water. Nine-headed lions followed at his left and right. He mounted the air and left. 


Again behold, the Heavenly Worthy appeared as a thearch, feet treading lotus flowers, hands grasping a ruyi, a halo radiating from his head. Nine-headed lions followed at his left and right. He mounted the air and left.


Again, behold, the thearch appeared as a perfected one, feet treading lotus flowers, holding a divine light that penetrated the nine heavens above and nine earths below. Nine-headed lions followed at his left and right. He mounted the air and left.


Again, behold, the perfected one appeared as a girl, clothed in fiery brocade, her hair loose, treading barefoot on lotus flowers, golden sword in hand, and a halo radiating from her head. Nine-headed lions spat flames that encircled her figure. She mounted the air and left.


Lord Lao spoke his petitionto the Heavenly Worthy: “This sage’s mighty virtue transforms to save beings. Whence and for how many kalpas did he cultivate, to adapt to conditions at a mere wish? Declare it for the assembly.”

 

The Heavenly Worthy said, “This Sage is called, in Heaven, Great Oneness God of Fortune, in the world he is called the Great Benevolent One, in the prison of hell he is called Sunshine Thearch, among the diabolic heretics he is called Brilliant Lion King, and in the Water Realm he is the Thearch of the Abyss. He is my breath, I am his root. He knows what I know- he is the Nine-Yang Essence. So very potent! The secrets of his power are too numerous to tell."

 

Then the Lord Lao, hearing the  Heavenly Worthy’s speech, closed his eyes, concentrated his attention, and in a snap of the fingers prostrated and spoke the incantation:

 

"Ancestral qi of the Primal One, wonderful transformation Nine-Yang Essence, mighty virtue pervading nine directions, so subtle appears his perfection! Three and nine winds blow out, hovering out of the inaugural green, reverently birthing the jade fluid, offered to relieve hunger and thirst. Myriad spirits, trusting in the rite- the eight sorrows cannot pursue them! Amassing means to support and admonish, guide them surely by hand to the Jade Metropolis."

 

At that time the Heavenly Worthy again addressed Lord Lao and the various immortals, saying,

 

"Should any of the myriad beings at any time encounter disease or lingering ailments, they may burn incense, remember this Sage's name, and recite this scripture, and disease shall retreat and scatter, conquered by tranquility.

 

"Should any of the myriad beings, petitioning the government for a post, be assailed by treachery, flattery, and deceit, yet remember this Sage's name, and recite this scripture, then jealousies shall not arise, and they shall be promoted to a prosperous rank.

 

"Should any of the myriad beings, drifting or wading through rivers or seas, alarmed by waves or hunted by fish or dragons, collect their thoughts and call this Sage's name, they shall then reach the shore unharmed.

 

"Should any of the myriad beings be startled by thunderbolts, wind, and rain, yet collect their thoughts and call this Sage's name, a holy breeze shall clear the air, the hun and po souls unshaken.

 

"Should any of the myriad beings' parents, teachers, or six relations be discordant, or brothers rebellious and lax, yet they collect their thoughts and call this Sage's name and recite this scripture, harmony will surely arise among the six relations, fathers benevolent, sons filial, elder brothers friendly and younger brothers respectful.

 

"Should the emperor's court be rife with treacherous ministers, rebellious armies, and intractable storms, the myriad people tormented and crying against Heaven, yet he should fast and recite this scripture, the winds and rains shall accord with the season, treasonous ministers shall be exposed, and the nation shall exalt, the people tranquil.


"Should any of the myriad beings come to harm from evil forces and demon-bandits, yet they collect their thoughts and call this Sage's name, devilish curses shall dissipate and demon-bandits be extinguished.

 

"Should any of the myriad beings, passing through mountains and forests, be hunted and attacked by insects, snakes, birds, and beasts, yet they collect their thoughts and call this Sage's name, beasts and insects will flee, not daring to draw near and attack.

 

"Should there be pregnant women facing a hard childbirth, yet they collect their thoughts and call this Sage's name, a holy qi shall bless them and, with neither pain nor harm, they shall then bear wise sons or dutiful daughters, the six roots intact, mother and child harmonious.

 

"Should there be men or women who long for the Dao and seek immortality, remaining or leaving home, who cultivate and nourish life, yet they collect their thoughts, call this Sage's name, and recite this scripture, they shall then merit and achieve perfection, ascending to Heaven in broad daylight.

 

"Should any of the myriad beings be continually fettered in prisons, groaning anguished laments, yet they collect their thoughts and call this Sage's name, they shall then be unchained and depart from their prisons.

 

"Should any of the myriad beings have ancestors to the seventh or ninth generation, or students or classmates, or husbands or wives, men or women, who at the body's death descend to freezing hells without the hope of rebirth, yet they collect their thoughts and call this Sage's name, they shall thereby depart the lands of shadow, then be born in Heaven.

"Should any of the myriad beings be in bondage to enemies, continually entrapped and entangled, yet they collect their thoughts and call this Sage's name, their enemies shall relent and their bonds break and disperse."

 

Thereupon the Heavenly Worthy said unto Lord Lao, "This Sage, most honored and noble, most holy and efficacious, on the third and ninth of every month descends to the human realm. At those times ever burn incense and worship him in the pure chamber, offering a willow branch, pure water, and seasonal flowers, healing herbs and grain sprouts, as are lawful to offer. Thereby your longevity shall extend a hundred twenty years, the five kinds of happiness shall ever arrive, the eight disasters keep far away. Shun stove ashes and pomegranates, for these are unclean and unlawful to touch."  

 

Thus the Heavenly Worthy spoke the scripture completely. Suddenly amid the great assembly, crowds of immortals sang of benevolence. Lions could speak and phoenixes talk, fish and dragons became human. The long dead lived again. Crawling things became sentient. Happiness and wealth pervaded everywhere, majestic and magnificent, and all ascended to immortality.  

 

Thereupon the Lord of the Dao, Lord Lao, and limitless myriads of perfected ones, together raised their voices to praise the wonderful tidings heard today, obtaining great benefits. They made a parting reverence and withdrew.  

 

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Edited by SirPalomides
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One thing that raised a question for me in this text is the prohibition on offering pomegranates and stove ashes. What's wrong with pomegranates? Who would offer stove ashes?

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Looking more into this pomegranate thing I’m seeing some travel guides to Wudang saying pomegranates are verboten along with other no-no offerings like meat. Still can’t find an explanation but evidently this is not unique to Taiyi Jiuku’s cult. Maybe @Walkerknows about this.

Edited by SirPalomides

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I've heard it discussed, but scraping my mind I can't remember the reason. I think it might be one of those things where the original meaning is lost to time, but don't quote me on that. Googling 道教忌諱石榴 brings up a lot of stuff, but I didn't see an explanation other than that they are "not pure."

 

That must have taken a lot of time to translate. Nice contribution!

Edited by Walker
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