Jun 012014

Nine Songs  Jiu Ge 九歌   屈原 by Qü Yüan (paraphrased interpretation)

 

1. King of the sky ( 东皇太一Dong Huang Tai Yi)”’

-Strike the Dark Strings

-Strike Strike, the dark strings;

-And reed & zither answer.

-Spirit moves, in splendid gear,

-And is the body’s wondrous shaman

-Through which a god may sing, and indeed does sing

-And strikes and strikes, that Darkest Bell

-Ah darkest bell, my body struck with love.

 

2. Lord of Cloud (..in the cloud, 云中君 Yun Zhong Jun)

-Flower-spirit, shaman-child, in blaze of brightness dancing!

-Endless as the earth, She dances round it

-As do sun, and mantic moon!

-In dragon-chariot of the sun, O endless flight!

-Part of me climbs to heaven, through the Four Seas & seasons,

-Longing for you!

 

3. Lord of Sun (.. in the East 東君 Dong Jun)

-Lord Sun, wheels in flight,

-Trailing his spirit-garment, high over the Nine Hills

-He rules Yin & Yang, female & male,

-Shade & sunshine, soul & body

-A Yin for every Yang, galloping into space,

-I pluck the lovely hemp flower; my age creeps on apace,

-Soon all will be over; soon all will be done, all made one,

- Our fate is fixed in the heart!

-Not to draw nearer, is to drift forever, further apart.

 

4. Lord of Xiang-river ( 湘君 Xiang Jun)

-I build a bride-room underwater,

-Roof thatched with lotus, courtyard paved with murex

-At dark dusk I cross to the Western bank

-Here it was she cast down her thin dress upon the shore!

-Over the white nut grass, my eyes wander,

-See only water swirl in the flood rains.

-Someone says my loved one sent for me!

- I gallop my horses over the lotus leaves,

-Toward where a dragon waits, an elk browses,

-On the Mountain of Nine Doubts

 

5. Lady Xiang ( 湘夫人 Xiang Fu Ren)

-She-shaman princess, in a stone boat

-In a winged dragon-boat, awning of fig-vine,

-Sweet Iris paddles, magnolia rudder

- I ride to that Island, to that Bright Island

- Abode of light, where she swings her mesmere lamp,

- Her incense burner on a gold chain.

- She drops her thumb-ring in the Sea, and turning, turning,

- Stretches her body burning, toward me,

- though she told me told me she was not free,

-And flying dragons sweep her far away from me!

- I gallop my horse in the morning, through the lowlands by the river   ”’

 

6. Master of Fate (大司命 Da Siming)

-A glow in the sky, and soon you’ll arise!

-Night pales, Day shines forth;

-You ride on thunder wheels, cloud banners trailing,

-Heave great sighs, look back yearning,

-For earth’s beauty burning!

-Look and linger, forget your way,

-I draw a long arrow, and shoot Heaven’s Wolf!

-Then summon down the Dipper, and plunge alone into the White Void!

 

7. Young Master of Fate ( 少司命 Shao Si Ming)

-Hall full of lovely ones, yet you had eyes for me alone!

-Riding a whirlwind, a cloud for a banner,

-Suddenly you came, and as suddenly departed!

-And only had eyes for me!

-I bathed with you, in the Pool of Heaven,

- In a sunny fold of the hill, I dried your hair.

-Now it is I who shout & sing with despair!

-Under a chariot-awning of peacock feathers & halcyon flags,

-You climb again to the Nine Heavens!

 

8. Spirit of the mountains ( 山鬼 Shan Gui)

- The Mountain Spirit left me alone, dark in a bamboo grove;

-Air dark with rain!

-Monkeys twitter again, cry all night again,

-And cry and cry all night again,

-Waiting for you!

-I wander and linger, turn, and turn, and turn again,

- And won’t turn back!  And won’t turn back!

 

9. Count of Rivers ( 河伯 He Bo)

-“Without my beloved

-With you I wandered down rivers and coasts,

-River God, in fish-scale boat,

-Drawn by dragons, with griffin oarsmen.

-With you I wander on the river islands,

-Go with you as far as the Southern Shore.

-Dark dusk falling, and I too sad to think of returning!

-Eyes only for that farthest shore,

- I lie awake yearning!

 

(Two poems omitted: Spirits of warriors, and the concluding ritual).

 

Share
May 212014

The Daoist Jiao Rite of Cosmic Renewal,   by Michael Saso

(revised, from the article submitted to the Journal of Daoist Studies)

The following analysis of Daoist jiao 醮liturgy is based on the oral teachings of Daoist masters in Hsinchu, Taiwan (1955-1976, 2008-2013), and Mainland China (1986-2013). The primary written sources for the rituals listed here were published in the 25-volume Zhuanglin Xu Daozang 庄林续道臧 (Taipei: Chengwen Press, 1972). A second volume, Dokyo Hiketsu Shusei道教秘诀集成 (Tokyo: Ryukei Press), containing the esoteric mijue oral teachings reserved for the use of Daoist masters, appeared in 1978. Audio and video productions of the entire jiao festival were made in 1969, 1972, and 1980. Readers may access them online, via YouTube, and the blogsite www.michaelsaso.org. Printed source materials are also available in CD and DVD format, making once overly expensive sources readily accessible. On-going field research, continuing to the present day, brings a much deeper understanding of the role of women Daoists in the meditative and liturgical traditions of mainland China. Men and women equally share, and perform the Daoist rituals described in this article

The word jiao in pre-imperial China (before 221 BCE), meant the ritual offering of wine and incense to the invisible spiritual forces that govern nature (Karlgren 1923, #1065-66). When China was united under a single visible emperor, during the Qin-Han dynasties, concepts of the spirit world, internal cultivation, and “rites of passage,” were unified through the acceptance of Yin-Yang Five Phases陰陽五行 theory by the so-called New Text (Jinwen今文 ) school as governing the rites of passage (see Liji礼记, Yili义礼). The expression “three teachings, one culture” (sanjiao guiyi 三教歸一) was later used to describe this unifying of China into a single socio-cultural system. Confucian teachings (rujiao 儒教) codified ethics for human relationships. Buddhism (fojiao 佛教), imported from India and altered substantially in China, was successful only after it provided ritual for pacifying the souls of ancestors and other “daemon” spirits in the afterlife. Daoism (daojiao 道教) provided a ritual system to mediate changes in nature, and relations with the spirit world. Daoists, from the period of division (3rd – 6th c.) by imperial order were graded or classified into nine ranks of perfection, as were the grades given to officials in the Confucian mandarin system. Daoists of Grade Five and above (wupin 五品以上) were given higher grades because they were able to practice internal cultivation (neigong 內功) as a part of formal ritual observances (keyi 科仪). Daoists were not trained in neigong were given Grade Six (liupin 六品) or lower. The title of “Three-Five Surveyor of Merit” (sanwu dugong 三五度公) was, and still is, used to name Grade Six, and lower Daoists (Dokyo Hiketsu Shusei, p. 33b).

During the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), Daoists adopted jiao from Confucian liturgical sources and used it for a specific kind of “ritual of renewal.” Anna Seidel and various Japanese scholars, including Kubo Noritada, have attributed this phenomenon partially to the conversion of New Text scholars, rejected by the dominant “Old Text” (Guwen 古文) school of the Later Han dynasty to Zhengyi 正一or Orthodox Unity Daoism. The Hetu河圖 (River Chart) and Luoshu 洛書 (Writ of the Luo) texts of the apocrypha (gu weishu 古緯書) were among its original sources. They show a strong influence of the Yijing 易经 (Book of Changes) and the Laozi as well as their various apocryphal commentaries on (e.g., 有易,老子与已经) (see also Seidel 1983).

Three kinds of jiao rituals appear in today’s Daozang 道臧 (Daoist Canon): Golden Register Jiao (jinlu jiao 金籙醮) for village and temple renewal; Yellow Register Zhai (huanglu zhai 黃籙齋) for burials; and Jade Register Jiao (yulu jiao 玉籙醮) for imperial court and state rituals. Due to its colorful liturgies, Daoism was called the weft (wei 緯) and Confucianism the warp (jing 經), together forming the very fabric of Chinese society.

Confucianism, as the “warp” or vertical threads of Chinese society, provided the classical Chinese source for texts defining socio-political relationships. These texts were the basis for entrance by imperial examination into the upper strata of Chinese political bureaucracy. Daoism as the “weft” or horizontal threads of Chinese society provided rituals to keep people in harmony with cosmic changes and the seasons of nature. The four seasons, life cycles, and human connections with the invisible spiritual powers that affect us were the focus of Daoist ritual. Buddhism, imported from South Asia, provided subtle colors, painted on the surface of the Chinese social fabric, offering philosophical debates for the intellectual, and afterlife salvation for the masses. Thus, the phrase “three teachings one culture” defined China’s perennial culture.

The Daoist jiao ritual draws from all three of these Han-dynasty teaching systems to bless and renew Chinese family and village life, without any boundaries of social status, wealth, or political power. An analysis of the Jiao festival shows in fact a three-fold structure, which I term “A”, “B” and “C,” based on sources familiar to the people.

The Threefold Structure of the Jiao

“A” or Confucian shared rituals, derive from New Text models. They are used to purify the sacred ritual area, announce the coming of the Heavenly Emperor and his court, invite spirits to be present, present a memorial to the Heavenly Emperor, receive back an Imperial Rescript (shuwen 書文), thank the heavenly rulers, and send them off. Cooked, or ready to eat foods are used during the Jiao rituals, as offerings to the Heaven and Earth spirits, to be presented during their ritual presence.

“B” style chants, as also in Buddhist rituals, are called “texts of merit and litanies of repentance” (jingchan 经忏). They are used to free souls from the sufferings of an afterlife in hell or purgatory. As an aside, let me note here that, to the Chinese, only politicians stay eternally in hell; all others are released due to the prayers and merits of the living. Souls confined to the underworld receive raw, uncooked food, during the jiao, to be taken away, prepared in another place, after which they are “seen off” or freed to enter a Buddhist shared Pure Land.

“C” style rituals begin by acting out Laozi 42, “Dao brings forth the One; the One brings forth the Two; the Two bring forth the Three; and the Three give rise to the myriad creatures.” This ritual is called Dividing the Lamps (fendeng 分燈). Three lamps are lighted, one for each line of the 42nd chapter, thereby to celebrate the Dao’s gestation of all nature. Then, the Daoist master reverses this gestation process (huiyuan fangen回源反根). He or she proceeds from the “myriad creatures” of nature back to an audience with the transcendent Dao, by moving from nine, to five, three, two and one, from the immanent, gestating female Dao (youwei zhidao有为之道) to the eternal transcendent Dao (wuwei zhidao无为之道), which is neither “he” nor “she, without image or title.

To do this, the high priest begins by performing the ritual of the nine-stage magic square mandala of the Luoshu, called “Purifying the Altar” (jintan 禁坛). The rite closes the Gate of Demons in the northeast, and opens the Gate of Heaven in the northwest, applying imagery drawn from the Eight Trigrams of the Yijing.

Next, a five-stage circular mandala along the lines of the Hetu is physically and meditatively built in a ritual called Nocturnal Announcement (suqi 宿启) or Hall of Light (mingtang明堂). In this ritual, the five Lingbao Talismans are placed in five bushels of rice, while the Daoist master recites the Lingbao wu zhenwen 灵宝五真文 (Five True Writs of the Lingbao liturgy) and meditates on the five phases, thereby renewing the five inner organs of the human body and the entire cosmos. These rites are performed on the first day of the jiao.

On the second day, the Daoist high priest reverses the Dao’s birthing process, refining “Three-Two-One,” i.e., qi, shen, jing 炁神精, back into primordial chaos (hundun 混沌) or the state of the Great Ultimate (taijji 太極), the visible female Dao that gives birth to nature. These rites are called “Morning Audience, Noon Audience, and Night Audience” (caochao早朝, wuchao午朝, wan chao晚朝). The text and music of all three rites are analogous, but the internal meditation of the Daoist used during each rite is quite different, and may not be shared with scholars or laity who are non-Daoist in belief or practice or who promote or even mention the “bedchamber arts” (fangzhong 房中), or other actions considered immoral. The Daoist ordination manual used at Longhu shan 龙虎山, Gezao shan 阁早山, and Maoshan 茅山 states specifically that only those “pure in heart and mind” may be taught the third, “C” level of Daoist internal meditation practice (p. 33).

 

Rites in Sequence

In the Daoist esoteric (mijue秘诀) or orally transmitted (koujue口诀) system, the blue-green wood of the east and the red fire of the south are refined into primordial qi, here written as wu 无 with the fire radical huo 火underneath. The aura, which can be seen by those who actually know how to practice the ritual, produced in the Daoist’s meditation, is a deep purple, descending from the pineal gland, and stored in the lower elixir field (xia dantian 下丹田), i.e., the actual physical center of the Daoist’s body.

The earth in the center, taken from the “spleen,” is refined in the alchemical fire of the belly into a bright gold, primordial spirit (shen 神) and stored in the belly during the Noon Audience.

The white metal of the west and the dark water of the north, finally, are refined into primordial essence (jing 精) during the Night Audience. The master stores them also in the belly. He envisions purple qi as a shell enfolding yellow spirit and bright white essence in the physical center of gravity. This is located between the kidneys and lined up with the fifth lumber vertebrae, three inches below the navel. These meditations are described in the Qing-dynasty works of Liu Yiming 刘一明 (Liu Peiyuan 刘陪元), and still taught today at the Yuan Xuan Hui Yuan 原玄会院 in Hong Kong, as well as on  Longhu shan, Maoshan., and by the nuns of Wudang shan 武当山道姑 and Qingcheng shan 青城山道姑.

On the third and last) day of the jiao, the Daoist master meets the transcendent Dao in an “audience” (daochang 道場), which takes place both with within the sacred Daoist altar area (tan 坛) and in his personal wisdom center, the lower elixir field in the abdomen, also the physical center of gravity. During this ritual, the master meditatively sees primordial qi, spirit, and essence refined into the hierophant, a ruddy infant, and from there into the Great Ultimate. In the final stages of the meditation, all Daoist images are seen to burn off: nothing is left, except the unnamed, unseen Dao with whom the Daoist now has an “awareness-of-presence” audience. After this, a shuwen Rescript from the Dao of Heaven, which answers the people’s prayers, is carried into the sacred altar area. Here it is presented to the Daoist high priest by the deacon (dujiang 督讲). Next, the high priest dances the sacred nine-stage Steps of Yu (Yubu 禹步), rejoicing that the people’s petitions have been granted and the cosmos undergone full renewal.

On the afternoon of the third day, the high priest and his assistants further perform the Requiem (pudu 普度) rite for freeing all souls from the underworld. An effigy of Horse head Guanyin 马头观音is used to protect humans from unrequited souls freed from hell. The image is afterwards burned, together with folded gold and silver paper money, as a way of sending off the prayers and merits of the living, which will free all souls, bless humans, and benefit all nature. All images must be burned off or eliminated completely; all merit must be given away. Nothing can be kept for the self, lest the jiao ritual cannot succeed.

The jiao ritual ends with a rite to thank the spirits of heaven, earth, and the underworld and see them off. It is interesting to note that, from the Tang through the end of the Ming dynasty, the head of the Confucian Board of Rites, an official appointed directly by the Emperor, was always a Daoist who had both passed the Jinshi doctorate of Confucian classical studies and received a high “Grade Five” rank Daoist ordination. This is because the Hall of Light court ritual, which had to be performed five times each year, and the Daoist Nocturnal Announcement ritual used in the jiao, were analogous, if not identical. Only Daoists of Grade Five and above, from the Orthodox Unity, Clear Subtlety (Qingwei 清微), or Highest Clarity (Shangqing 上请) traditions were deigned spiritually and liturgically able and trained well enough to perform the classical ritual. The manner of performing the five basic jiao rites of renewal, i.e., the Nocturnal Announcement plus the audiences of  Morning, Noon, Night and with the transcendent Dao, may not be fully explained to scholars or non-Daoists, foreign or Chinese, by order of strict Daoist precepts. The Daoist transmits the internal meditation aspects of these rituals only to one son or daughter plus to one disciple during the week before his passing. [1]

Jiao Rituals Used by all Daoist Schools and Ranks (Grades Nine through One)

Fabiao 发表 announce — Qingshen 请神invite spirits — Jintan 禁坛 purify altar — Wuhong 午洪Noon offering  — Songbiao 送表 send off a memorial to the Emperor of Heaven — Shuwen 疏文 receive back a rescript from Wuwei Dao, answering the petitions; Xieshen 谢神 thank the spirits — Songshen 送神 see the spirits off

 

Jiao and Zhai Rituals Modeled on Buddhist and Other Shared Rituals

 

Nian wei gongde念为功德chant scriptures of merit  — Songchan recite litanies of repentance, including lists of Daoist and “shared” spirits’ names  — Fang shuideng 防水灯 float lanterns in a nearby stream or the ocean to send ancestral and other local spirits off to “western” heavens  — Pudu菩度or Pushi菩饰 “feed” the hungry spirits with raw food, asking them to take  the offerings away and cook elsewhere

 

Daoist Rites with Internal Meditation, Performed by Daoists of Grade Five or Higher

 

Jintan 禁坛 purify the sacred area, using the Luoshu or Eight Trigrams in the posterior heaven arrangement, then changed into the Prior Heavens format — 先天河图八卦 meditatively sealing the Gate of Demons (gan 乾) in the northwest, using the Qingwei Thunder-Vajra mudra and mantra (wulei shouyin zhouwen 五雷手印,咒文 ), then opens the Gate of Heaven in the northwest — he then performs the  Suqi宿启 / Mingtang明堂 rite, implanting the five Lingbao talismans into five bushels of rice, positioned in the five directions of the sacred area — after this, the Zaochao早朝, Wuchao 午朝, & Wanchao 晚朝  rites refine the five phases into primordial qi, spirit, and essence, the three principles of gestation and renewal, are thus sent to the lower elixir field —finally, the  Daochang 道场 internal alchemy meditation is performed on the morning of the third day, refining Dao into the transcendent Wuwei level, made present within — at this point the Shuwen 疏文, a  rescript from transcendent Dao is sent into the world — while using the Yubu 禹步 Steps of Yu to show joy in Dao’s birthing and renewing the cosmos. Inner alchemy is thus combined with ritual in the Grade 5 and above Jiao festival.

 

References

Saso, Michael. 2013. The Teachings of Daoist Master Zhuang, 3rd edition. Los Angeles: Oracle Bones Press.

Saso, Michael. 2014. Mystic, Shaman, Oracle, Priest. Los Angeles: Oracle Bones Press, fall publication).

Seidel, Anna. 1983. “Imperial Treasures and Taoist Sacraments: Taoist Roots in the Apocrypha.” In Tantric and Taoist Studies, edited by Michel Strickmann, 291-371. Brussels: Institut Belge des Hautes Etudes Chinoises.

 



 

Share
Mar 252014

Daoism, as taught by Daoists in China

 

(taken from MYSTIC, SHAMAN, ORACLE, PRIEST, (“MYSHOP”), CH. 3. Oracle Bones Press, copyright, Michael Saso, 2013)

 

Wisdom is like water. It resides in the lower meditation field, the belly. The head is for thinking; the heart for willing and desiring. The belly is the place for wisdom and contemplation. We “return” to Dao’s gestating presence, from the ‘inner womb’ of intuitive awareness. (Daoist Master Chuang, 3rd edition, 2012).

 

The history of Daoism in China is traditionally divided into four parts, or “four seasons,” spring (3000-221 BCE), summer (221 BCE – 906), autumn (906-1644) , and winter (1640-..until today).

 

During the “Spring” of Daoist history, what we call “Daoism” (Daojiao 道教)was seven separate streams of spiritual practice,  called Daojia, 道家 (schools of Daoism) which became a powerful river (Daojiao)– combining inner cultivation + ritual, during the summer of Daoist history. The seven separate streams of  Daoist “Spring” are:

 

Spring, 3000 BC to 221 BC, before the forming of Daojiao; see the” 道教源流“:

1. Apophatic or Wu-wei 无为meditation, based on the books of Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu.

2. Yinyang Five Element cosmology,  阴阳五行的人生观, a Yu-wei  “visible Dao”

有为 (kataphatic), image filled system describing cyclical change in nature.

3. Neidan, 内丹inner alchemy, or meditation, uniting seasonal changes, colors, and

   unseen forces as visualized spirits within the interior organs of the meditator’s body.

4. Li Yi, 礼仪Ritual meditation, used to celebrate “Rites of Passage” and annual

change in nature. The founder of Celestial Master Daoism, Zhang Daoling, (ca. 145 CE),

based early Daoist rituals on the Monthly Commands (Yueling月令) chapter of the Confucian

Book of Rites (Li Ji 礼记), and the “Ancient Weft” writings (古纬书).

5. Fangshi方士, the ancient healers and ritual experts of fang rural villages and suburban

villages, and cities. Fangshi became Daoshi 道士or Daoists in the Han Dynasty.

6. Wushu, 武术 Martial Arts; the Taiping 太平 Great Peace Martial forms of Daoism,

evolved during the Han dynasty into multiple non Daoist physical formats, until today.

7. Yijing, 已经the Book of Changes, the earliest source of apophatic and

kataphatic prayer images, it is used in all later Daoist rituals and meditations.

 

These many sources became a great river called “Daoism” (Daojiao道教) of inner cultivation and festive rites of passage, during the summer of Daoism, from the Later Han through the Tang dynasties (145-906 CE), proliferated during the “Autumn” — Song through Ming dynasties (960-1640 CE), and hibernate in the “Winter” of Daoism, 1640 on:

 

-“Summer,” Han dynasty to the end of the Tang dynasty, 220 BCE-906 CE. The unification of 5 Daoist schools into a unified, hierarchical system: Zhengyi, Lingbao, and Shangqing (正一,靈寶,上清), then the later Pole Star and Thunder-vajra 北斗 - 雷法 ritual schools.

The first Celestial Master, Zhang Daoling, 张道陵天师received the Zhengyi Mengwei 正一盟威 经录 texts and registers (lists of spirits’ names, summons, and appearances) in the hills between Heming shan and Qingcheng Shan, Szechuan between 145-165; the school later moved to Longhu Shan in Jiangxi, where it remains until today.

 

The Lingbao 灵宝school, based at Gezao Shan in Jiangxi drew its registers and texts from the ancient Gu Wei Shu 古纬书writings, especially the Hotu and Luoshu chapters 灵宝派的科仪经录本与古纬书的先天河图,后天落书.The basic texts of the Lingbao tradition use the Hotu, ie the Xiantian prior heavens arrangement of the 8 trigrams, to renew Yinyang & the 5 element, in the macro-micro cosmos, by ritual and meditative “implanting” the Lingbao 5 Talismans and the Lingbao 5 True writs 灵宝五符,灵宝五真文 in the corresponding 5 directions in 5 bushels of rice, and the 5 inner organs. (1)

The Shangqing school, founded by a woman mystic Wei Hua Cun in revealed texts, was established at Mao Shan in Jiangsu province, commented on and expanded between 236 to 510 by male scholars and mystics  茅山 上请派本与女道师魏化存,黄庭内径,黄庭外经,上请经,等. The Shangqing tradition was summarized by the N-S period scholar Tao Hongjing in the early 6th century, preserved in the Zhengtong (Ming dyn.) Daoist Canon.

The Beidou Pole Star School, and the Qingwei Thunder-Vajra school 北斗经录,清微雷法经录 of esoteric nature, became a part of the Daoist Inner Alchemy Meditation, and liturgical tradition, during this time. The Thunder-Vajra system, revealed to the woman Daoist Zu Shu in the late Tang dnasty, was included in the Daoist Canon during the “Autumn” – ie, the beginning of the Song dynastic era.

 

-“Autumn,” Song thru Ming dynasties, 906-1644 CE; the “religious reformation” of China; emphasis on laity, local adaptation, and multiple “new” schools, such as Shenxiao, Lü Shan, 神霄,閭山,and monastic, as well as laity “Quanzhen” 全真七派 (7 schools) Daoism. The great Daoist master of south China, Bai Yuchan 白玉羼 helped to “rectify” and formally distinguish the later Shenxiao and earlier Qingwei schools in his canonical writings.

 

-“Winter,” Qing dynasty, and modern times, 1644 until today. Daoists were less involved in State affairs during the Qing dynasty and early 1911-1945 Republic, and then were made to withdraw from public life, after 1949. Daoist texts were burned, or hidden, due to official state disapproval. However, the 3rd millennium is witnessing a rebirth of Daoism throughout China and the overseas Diaspora. The ancient texts are being restored to their places of origin, and the use of “inner alchemy” contemplative prayer, with its outer expression in Daoist ritual, is once again being authentically practiced and taught by Daoist Masters.

 

The use of the inner, contemplative tradition with its outer expression in orthodox ritual, is more fully explained in The Teachings of Daoist Master Zhuang  (Saso, Oracle Bones Press: 2012), chapters 5 and 6, and Mystic Shaman Oracle Priest (Saso: 2013), for which see this blogsite, www.michaelsaso.org  (WordPress website).

 

(Footnote: orthodox Daoist rituals, which follow the meditative “return to the Wuwei Dao of Gestation” (回源反根) are listed and described in Ch 3 of Mystic, Shaman, Oracle, Priest, i.e., as a progression from the Luoshu Jintan  nine stage mandala (8 trigrams with Dao in the Center), through the Hotu 5 Stage Suqi rite in which the 5 talismans are planted in the macro and microcosm, the 3 “morning, noon, and night Audiences” in which Qi, shen, and jing are refined respectively in the 3 cinnabar fields (shang, zhong, xia dantian), and finally Union with the Dao is achieved in the Daochang Zhengjiao, on the last morning of the Jiao ritual).禁坛 - 后天八卦,宿启-先天八卦(按灵宝五真文), 早朝炼气,午朝炼神,晚朝炼精(直觉),道场正醮炼无为之道-与道合真。This process must be learned from a Daoist Master (women equally with men), of Grade 5 ordination or above 授五品经录以上。The ordination manual of the 3 Mountain schools state specifically that Grade 5 and above can only be given to those who are pure in mind, heart, and body, i.e., do not practice “fangzhong” (芳中),celibate if a monk or nun, and loyal to one spouse, if married and living as “fireside” (home dwelling) with children. “Dao for dollars”, ie making profit from teaching Daoist registers and internal liturgical practices, is also strictly forbidden.

Self declared “Daoists” who charge money to “transmit their teachings” (as much as $800 a lesson by one self deluded “master”) are neither Daoist, nor spiritually/meditatively competent. Famous “masters” who teach the “Dao of Sex” (fangzhong), are rejected by all authentic Daoist Mountains and Schools of China. The mere mention or approval of actual, physical sexual practices means that Daoist and tantric Buddhist masters may not impart or teach any of the Zhengyi, Beidou, Qingwei, or Shangqing , as well as Tantric Buddhist inner meditations, summoning of spirits, or liturgies, to the person who “likes” or promotes “fangzhong.” Both Daoist and tantric Buddhist mijue manuals, as well as living, practicing masters (men and women), are very clear on this point; there are no exceptions. “True inner meditation and liturgical practices require celibacy of a monk or nun, and loyalty to one spouse if married.”  The western “hang-up” on sex, derived from the Neo-Platonic “body is evil” school, pervades all of Western Europe and the United States. It is precisely in these contexts that books of “sexual hygiene” sell so well.

Svaha.               (Heu me miserum,” to quote Virgil)

 

 

Share
Dec 142013

COURSE OF STUDIES & CHAIR IN COMPARATIVE SPIRITUALITY

            A Chair and course of studies dedicated to Comparative Spirituality, presented in outline form here, draws its inspiration from the plan crafted by the first Jesuits to enter China, Frs. Ruggieri, Valignano, and Mateo Ricci, used in St Paul’s and St Joseph’s university in Macao, between 1580-1762.  Updated in the 20th century by Fr Yves Raguin SJ, who founded the Ricci Institute, with branches in Taipei, Paris, Univ. of San Francisco, and Macao, the model was expanded to include Buddhist, Daoist, Islamic Sufi, Judaic Kabala, and Christian “mysticism,” defined as the experience of apophasis leading to the prayer of “union.” In the proposed curriculum of studies, the spiritual practices of these traditions are examined, and analyzed for analogous occurrence of apophasis, after contemplating sacred images, as a part of a process leading to “unity” or awareness of Transcendent Presence. The model is then used to analyze a widely chosen range of prayer models.

The Comparative Spirituality course is structured on St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, that is, the four steps or “weeks,” which Ignatius named the “Via Purgativa” (Purgative Way, or purification), “Via Illuminativa (the illuminative way, i.e., the kataphatic contemplating of sacred images), “Via Apophatica”  (emptying the mind of all images, even the most sacred, and the will of all desires, even for sanctity), and the final “Via Unitiva” or Unitive Way, leading to awareness of an Absolute, non-verbal, Transcendent presence.

There are many excellent sources for studying the comparative aspects of world religions, including the pioneering work of Huston Smith, and more recent studies of Karen Armstrong. Dr. Armstrong shows, for instance, that all religions share compassion as an essential element in spiritual practice. The University of Hawai’i Manoa Campus Religion Department has developed an undergraduate level program, leading to an M.A., that allows for equal and objective study of all major religions, with specialization in one or another preferred system, at the upper division (3rd-4th year), and M.A. levels. The Comparative Spirituality course proposed here requires the use of written source materials and extensive field participation in actual practice, to write a thesis, and receive the M.A. and Ph.D. a degrees.

A text book, entitled Mystic, Shaman, Oracle, Priest (Saso: Los Angeles: 2014) has been prepared for guidance or classroom use during the Third Year upper division level. The course in Comparative Mysticism is offered after finishing first and second year level studies in the Sacred Scriptures, and spiritual practices of the major and less known world religions. The 3rd year course examines specifically whether apophasis or kenosis is experienced in the process leading to “union.” 4thyear, M.A. and Ph.D. studies include textual analysis with actual field experience.

A 5,000 book library of spirituality and sacred art, including Asian, Native American, and Middle East spirituality, is offered to the University or graduate studies program, which accepts and implements the Comparative Spirituality program. For library resources, and sites which can be used for field study and practice, see www.michaelsaso.orgMichael_saso@yahoo.com phone number (213) 595 5650 – office: 1433 James M Wood Blvd, LA, CA 90015

A practical outline for the program follows:

First Year course: “World Religions.”

Second Year courses: Sacred Scripture(s); Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Islam, Judaism, Shaman/Medium experience, other chosen religions/topics.

Third Year courses: the book Mystic, Shaman, Oracle, Priest; and other Comparative Mysticism / Comparative Spirituality texts.

Fourth Year courses: a scholarly analysis of the texts (in original languages where possible) of the 2nd and 3rd year courses; e.g., Zen & Tantric Buddhism, Daoist ritual texts based on internal alchemy meditation; Islamic Sufi poet Farid ud din Attar’s Conference of the birds; Dan Matt’s works on The Zohar (Kabala texts); the works of Teresa de Avila, Juan de la Cruz, and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola; and other related textual sources.

M.A level thesis: choice of a specific text to analyze and practice, with extensive fieldwork, in consultation with an expert in the field, to explain the chosen meditation method.

PhD thesis, and oral examination; the choice of a topic in Tantric Buddhist, Ritual and Meditative Daoism, Sufism, Kabalah practice, Christian monastic or Hermetic traditions, or other selected discipline, with three PhD advisors, (one from outside the PhD granting university), completed after extensive field research and practice, and defended as a published or able-to-be accepted for publication PhD thesis (i.e., using the London University/European model).

Proposed by Michael R Saso, PhD

michael_saso@yahoo.com         www.michaelsaso.org

(001) 213 595 5650

1433 James M. Wood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

suggestions welcomed!  On line courses, a physical location or locations, additions, corrections.

 

Share
Dec 142013

One of the most amazing parts of the Guadalupe festival here at Immaculate Conception parish, downtown LA. are the number of children who came to take part from as 4-5 am, 8:30 am (the entire school), and 7:00 PM! Click on this link Aztec Danza to see a video of the Aztec Dance performances by these amazing children.

Share
Oct 092013
 there are 3 kinds of orthodox, Zhengyi Daoist rituals, to be learned by those who hope to serve all others by 1) rites of blessing, healing,2) funeral (praying for the deceased黃籙齋), and 3) cosmic renewal, ie village temple festival, 金籙醮。All three must be leaerned with a master from China or Taiwan, in Chinese language, that is, require a fluent knowledge of spoken and written Chinese. Once learned, they can be used in other languages, but the basic means of summoning the spirits, giving blessings, and doing the rites themselves require a knowledge of Chinese language. Here are some of the basic rites in each of the 3 genre:
1) 發表,請神,(等)禁壇,午洪,送表,收梳文,謝神,送神;
2)念經,誦懺,放水燈,普渡(瑜珈焰口)
3)(大)禁壇,宿啟 (靈寶五真文,五符)“分燈”,早朝,午朝,晚朝,道場正醮。
the basic outline of these rites can be seen on Youtube, Daoist Master Zhuang’s Jiao rite of renewal, and “Daoist Master Zhuang” (3rd edition), “Daoism and the Rite f C osmic renewal.”
Share
Jul 192013

Sanqing copy(taken from MYSTIC, SHAMAN, ORACLE, PRIEST, (“MYSHOP”), CH. 3. Oracle Bones Press, copyright, Michael Saso, 2013)

Wisdom is like water. It resides in the lower meditation field, the belly. The head is for thinking; the heart for willing and desiring. The belly is the place for wisdom and contemplation. We “return” to Dao’s gestating presence, from the ‘inner womb’ of intuitive awareness. (Daoist Master Chuang, 3rd edition, 2012).

The history of Daoism in China is divided into four parts, or “four seasons,” spring (3000-221 BCE), summer (221 BCE – 906), autumn (906-1644) , and winter (1640-..until today).

During the “Spring” of Daoist history, what we call “Daoism” (Daojiao 道教)was seven separate streams of spiritual practice,  called Daojia, 道家 (schools of Daoism) which became a powerful river (Daojiao)– combining inner cultivation + ritual, during the summer of Daoist history. The seven separate streams of  Daoist “Spring” are:

Spring, 3000 BC to 221 BC, before the forming of Daojiao; see the” 道教源流“:
1. Apophatic or Wu-wei 无为meditation, based on the books of Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu.
2. Yinyang Five Element cosmology,  阴阳五行的人生观, a Yu-wei  “visible Dao” 有为 (kataphatic), image filled system describing cyclical change in nature.
3. Neidan, 内丹inner alchemy, or meditation, uniting seasonal changes, colors, and unseen forces as visualized spirits within the interior organs of the meditator’s body.
4. Li Yi, 礼仪Ritual meditation, used to celebrate “Rites of Passage” and annual change in nature. The founder of Celestial Master Daoism, Zhang Daoling, (ca. 145 CE), based early Daoist rituals on the Monthly Commands (Yueling月令) chapter of the Confucian Book of Rites (Li Ji 礼记), and the “Ancient Weft” writings (古纬书).
5. Fangshi方士, the ancient healers and ritual experts of fang rural villages and suburban villages, and cities. Fangshi became Daoshi 道士or Daoists in the Han Dynasty.
6. Wushu, 武术 Martial Arts; the Taiping 太平 Great Peace Martial forms of Daoism, evolved during the Han dynasty into multiple non Daoist physical formats, until today.
7. Yijing, 已经the Book of Changes, the earliest source of apophatic and kataphatic prayer images, it is used in all later Daoist rituals and meditations.

These many sources became a great river called “Daoism” (Daojiao道教) of inner cultivation and festive rites of passage, during the summer of Daoism, from the Later Han through the Tang dynasties (145-906 CE), proliferated during the “Autumn” — Song through Ming dynasties (960-1640 CE), and hibernate in the “Winter” of Daoism, 1640 on:

“Summer,” Han dynasty to the end of the Tang dynasty, 220 BCE-906 CE. The unification of 5 Daoist schools into a unified, hierarchical system: Zhengyi, Lingbao, and Shangqing (正一,靈寶,上清), then the later Pole Star and Thunder-vajra 北斗 - 雷法 ritual schools.

The first Celestial Master, Zhang Daoling, 张道陵天师received the Zhengyi Mengwei 正一盟威 经录 texts and registers (lists of spirits’ names, summons, and appearances) in the hills between Heming shan and Qingcheng Shan, Szechuan between 145-165; the school later moved to Longhu Shan in Jiangxi, where it remains until today.

The Lingbao 灵宝school, based at Gezao Shan in Jiangxi drew its registers and texts from the ancient Gu Wei Shu 古纬书writings, especially the Hotu and Luoshu chapters 灵宝派的科仪经录本与古纬书的先天河图,后天落书.The basic texts of the Lingbao tradition use the Hotu (ie the Xiantian prior heavens arrangement of the 8 trigrams, to renew Yinyang & the 5 element, in the macro-micro cosmos, by ritual and meditative “implanting” the Lingbao 5 Talismans and the Lingbao 5 True writs 灵宝五符,灵宝五真文.(1)

The Shangqing school, founded by a woman mystic Wei Hua Cun in revealed texts, was established at Mao Shan in Jiangsu province, commented on and expanded between 236 to 510 by male scholars and mystics  茅山 上请派本与女道师魏化存,黄庭内径,黄庭外经,上请经,等. The Shangqing tradition was summarized by the N-S period scholar Tao Hongjing in the early 6th century, preserved in the Zhengtong (Ming dyn.) Daoist Canon.

The Beidou Pole Star School, and the Qingwei Thunder-Vajra school 北斗经录,清微雷法经录 of esoteric nature, became a part of the Daoist Inner Alchemy Meditation, and liturgical tradition, during this time. The Thunder-Vajra system, revealed to the woman Daoist Zu Shu, was included in the Daoist Canon during the “Autumn” period.

-“Autumn,” Song thru Ming dynasties, 906-1644 CE; the “religious reformation” of China; emphasis on laity, local adaptation, and multiple “new” schools, such as Shenxiao, Lü Shan, 神霄,閭山,and monastic, as well as laity “Quanzhen” 全真七派 (7 schools) Daoism. The great Daoist master of south China, Bai Yuchan 白玉羼 helped to “rectify” and formally distinguish the later Shenxiao and earlier Qingwei schools in his canonical writings.

-“Winter,” Qing dynasty, and modern times, 1644 until today. Daoists were less involved in State affairs during the Qing dynasty and early 1911-1945 Republic, and then were made to withdraw from public life, after 1949. Daoist texts were burned, or hidden, due to official state disapproval. However, the 3rd millennium is witnessing a rebirth of Daoism throughout China and the overseas Diaspora. The ancient texts are being restored to their places of origin, and the use of “inner alchemy” contemplative prayer, with its outer expression in Daoist ritual, is once again being authentically practiced and taught by Daoist Masters.

The use of the inner, contemplative tradition with its outer expression in orthodox ritual, is more fully explained in The Teachings of Daoist Master Zhuang  (Saso, Oracle Bones Press: 2012), and Mystic Shaman Oracle Priest (Saso: 2013), for which see this blogsite, www.michaelsaso.org  (WordPress website).

(Footnote: orthodox Daoist rituals, which follow the meditative “return to the Wuwei Dao of Gestation” (回源反根) are listed and described in Ch 3 of Mystic, Shaman, Oracle, Priest, i.e., as a progression from the Luoshu Jintan  nine stage mandala (8 trigrams with Dao in the Center), through the Hotu 5 Stage Suqi rite in which the 5 talismans are planted in the macro and microcosm, the 3 “morning, noon, and night Audiences” in which Qi, shen, and jing are refined respectively in the 3 cinnabar fields (shang, zhong, xia dantian), and finally Union with the Dao is achieved in the Daochang Zhengjiao, on the last morning of the Jiao ritual).禁坛 - 后天八卦,宿启-先天八卦(按灵宝五真文), 早朝炼气,午朝炼神,晚朝炼精(直觉),道场正醮炼无为之道-与道合真。This process must be learned from a Daoist Master (women equally with men), of Grade 5 ordination or above 授五品经录以上。The ordination manual of the 3 Mountain schools state specifically that Grade 5 and above can only be given to those who are pure in mind, heart, and body, i.e., do not practice “fangzhong” (芳中),celibate of a monk or nun, and loyal to one spouse, if married and living as “fireside” (home dwelling) with children. “Dao for dollars”, ie making profit from teaching Daoist registers and internal liturgical practices, is also strictly forbidden.

Share
Jul 112013

The word Jiao, 醮 in pre Imperial China (before 221 BCE), meant the ritual offering of wine and incense to the invisible spiritual forces that govern nature. When China was united under a single visible emperor, during the Qin-Han dynasties (221 BCE onward), concepts of the spirit world, philosophy, “inner cultivation” and “rites of passage”, were unified as well, by accepting the Yin Yang 5 Element 陰陽五行 theory of nature. The term “Three teachings, One Culture” San jiao gui yi 三教歸一 was used to describe this unifying of China into a single socio-cultural system. Confucian Teachings (Ru jiao 儒教) codified ethics for human relationships. Buddhism (Fuo jiao 佛教), imported from India and altered substantially in China, provided ritual for pacifying the souls of ancestors and other “daemon” spirits in the afterlife. Daoism (Taoism, Dao Jiao 道教) provided a ritual system to unify humans with changes in nature, and the spirit world, through spiritual cultivation. During the Han dynasty (220 BCE – 220) Jiao 醮 became a word used for a very specific kind of Daoist ritual.

Three kinds of Jiao rituals are found in today’s Daoist Canon (Dao zang 道臧): “Gold Register Jiao” (Jin lu Jiao 金籙醮) for village and temple renewal; “Yellow Register Zhai” (Huang lu Zhai 黃籙齋) for burial; and “Jade Register Jiao” (Yü lu Jiao 玉籙醮) for imperial court and State rituals. Through its colorful liturgies, Daoism was called the weft (wei 緯) and Confucianism the warp (jing 經), of the very fabric of Chinese society.

Confucianism, as the “warp” 經 or vertical threads of Chinese society, provided texts in classical literary Chinese, to define the rules for socio-political relationships. These texts became the basis for entrance by imperial examination into the upper strata of Chinese political bureaucracy. Daoism as the “weft” 緯 or horizontal threads of Chinese society, provided an explanations of the cosmos in terms of human relations to the world of nature, its seasonal changes, life cycles, and the invisible spiritual powers that effect us. Buddhism, imported from South Asia, provided subtle colors, painted on the surface of the Chinese social fabric, offering philosophical debates for the intellectual, and afterlife salvation for the masses. Thus “three teachings one culture” (三教歸一) define China’s perennial culture.

The Daoist Jiao 醮 ritual draws from all three of these Han dynasty unified systems to bless and renew Chinese family and village life, within the boundaries of social status, wealth, and political power. An analysis of the Jiao festival shows in fact a 3-fold structure and very specific content, that draws from all 3 systems.

“A” or Confucian based rituals purify the sacred ritual area, announce the coming of the Heavenly Emperor and his court, invite spirits to be present, present a memorial, receive back a “Shuwen” imperial rescript order, then thank the heavenly rulers, and send them off.

“B” Buddhist style chant, called “canons of merit and litanies of repentance,” are used to free all souls from the sufferings of an afterlife hell/-purgatory. Souls confined to the underworld are offered, raw, uncooked food, to be taken away, prepared in another place, after which they are “see off” or freed to enter a Buddhist Pure Land paradise.

“C” style Ritual acts out the Laozi Ch. 42, “Dao births One, Two, Three, Myriad creatures,” then reverse this process, proceeding from the “myriad creatures” of nature back to an audience with the Wu Wei Transcendent Dao, (by moving from 9, to 5, 3,2,1, to the Transcendent, eternally gestating Wuwei Dao). To do this, the Daoist High priest first performs the 9 stage Loshu 落书 (square) mandala, in a ritual called “jintan” 禁坛, to close the Gate of Demons in the NE, and open the Gate of Heaven in the NW; then a 5 stage circular Hotu mandala, 河图,aka 宿启,明堂 is offered, to renew the five elements, and the five inner organs of the human body; these rites are performed on the first day of the Jiao. On the second day, the Daoist high priest refine “3-2-1”, ie, Qi, shen, jing 炁神精) into hundun 混沌 or Taijji 太極,the visible female Dao that gives birth to nature. Then on the 3rd day the Daoist master has “audience” (Daochang 道場) with the Transcendent Dao, within the Tan 坛 sacred Daoist altar area, as well as in one’s own wisdom center, the human belly (i.e., the xiadantian,下丹田 lower cinnabar field, the body’s physical center of gravity). After audience with the Dao, a Shuwen 疏文 rescript from the Dao of Heaven is carried into the sacred Tan area, and presented to the Daoist High priest by the Dujiang Deacon, after which the High Priest dances the sacred nine stage “Steps of Yu the Great” Yü Bu 禹步 rejoicing that the people’s petitions have been granted, and the cosmos renewed.

On the afternoon of the 3rd day, the Daoist high priest and his assistants perform the “Pudu” 普度 rite for freeing all souls from the hell-purgatory underworld. An effigy of 马头观音 Matou Guanyin is used to protect humans from unrequited souls freed from hell, which is afterwards burned, with folded gold and silver paper money, as a way of sending off the prayers and merits of the living, to bless all humans and all of nature. All images must be eliminated, and all merit given away, nothing kept for the self, for the Jiao ritual to succeed.

The three ritual ends with a rite to thank and see off the spirits of heaven, earth, and the underworld. It is interesting to note that the head of the Confucian Board of Rites, from the Tang through the end of the Ming dynasty, was always appointed by the Emperor to a Daoist who had both passed the Jinshi doctorate of Confucian classical studies, as well as having a high rank Daoist Lu register ordination; this is because the Mingtang court ritual which had to be performed 5 times a year, and the Daoist Suqi ritual used in the Jiao, were analogous, if not identical. The manner of performing the 5 basic Jiao rites of renewal, ie the Suqi, Morning, Noon, and Night audiences, and the Daochang 宿启,早朝,午朝,晚朝,道场正醮,may not be explained to scholars or non-Daoists, foreign or Chinese, by strict Daoist jie 戒 vow or rule. The Daoist passes on the inner meditation or neigong aspects of these rituals to only one son, and one disciple, the week before his passing (death).

(Daoist Master Zhuang, M Saso, Oracle Bones Press, 2012) (Mystic, Shaman, Oracle Priest, 2013)

Share
Mar 202013

Daoist Neja shrine, NE of Sao Paolo church

Share
Feb 212013

Share