Friday, September 19, 2008

Buddhism in Taiwan

Buddhism is a major religion in Taiwan. More than 90 percent of Taiwan's people practice the Chinese folk religion which integrates Buddhist elements alongside a basically base . Of these, a smaller number identify more specifically with teachings and institutions, without necessarily divorcing themselves from the folk practices. One study proposes that 7 to 15 percent of Taiwanese are Buddhist in the strict sense. Vegetarianism is an important practice which distinguishes this "pure" form of Buddhism.

Government statistics insist on distinguishing Buddhism and Taoism, resulting in almost equal numbers for both . However, many of the self-declared "Buddhists" turn out to be merely applying the name "Buddhism" to the folk religion. Buddhism may also be confused with local syncretic faiths such as I-kuan Tao, since these tend to emphasize Buddhist figures like Guanyin or Maitreya, and also practice vegetarianism.

Four local Buddhist teachers, whose institutions are especially significant, are popularly likened to the "Four Heavenly Kings of Taiwanese Buddhism." They are:

:*North : Master Sheng-yen of Dharma Drum Mountain
:*South : Master Hsing Yun of Fo Guang Shan
:*East : Master Cheng Yen of the Tzu Chi Foundation
:*West : Master Wei Chueh of Chung Tai Shan

Several of these have been influenced by the Humanistic Buddhism of Master Yin Shun , a theological approach which has come to distinguish Taiwanese Buddhism. These institutions have branches all over the world and, in a reversal of the traditional relationship, have begun supporting the revival of Buddhism in China.


Buddhism was brought to Taiwan in the time of the Ming dynasty by settlers from Fukien and Kwangtung Provinces. It was discouraged by the Dutch colonial rulers who controlled Taiwan from 1624 until 1663, until Cheng Cheng-kung drove the Dutch from Taiwan in 1663. His son Cheng Ching established the first Buddhist temple in Taiwan.

When the Qing dynasty took control of Taiwan by defeating of Cheng Ching's son, Ching Ning, in 1683, large numbers of monks came from Fukien and Kwangtung provinces to establish temples, and a number of different Buddhist sects flourished. Monastic Buddhism, however, would not arrive until the 19th century.

During the Japanese period , most Taiwan Buddhist temples came to affiliate with one of three central temples:

:*North : Yueh-mei Mountain , founded by Master Shan-hui
:*Center : Fa-yun Temple , founded by Master Chueh-li
:*South : Kai-yuan Temple , also founded by Chueh-li

As a Japanese colony, Taiwan fell under the influence of Japanese Buddhism. Many temples experienced pressure to affiliate with Japanese lineages, including many whose status with respect to Buddhism or Taoism was unclear. Attempts were made to introduce a married priesthood . These failed to take root, as emphasis on vegetarianism and/or clerical celibacy became another means of anti-Japanese protest.

With Japan's defeat in World War II, Taiwan fell under the control of Chiang Kai-shek's government, resulting in contrary political pressures. In 1949, a number of mainland monks fled to Taiwan alongside Chiang's military forces, and received preferential treatment by the new regime. During this period, Buddhist institutions fell under the authority of the government-controlled Chinese Buddhist Association . Originally established in 1947 , it was dominated by "mainland" monks. Its authority began to decline in the 1960s, when independent Buddhist organizations began to be permitted; and especially since the 1987 lifting of martial law in Taiwan.

One of the first private networks of Buddhist centers was that of Hsing Yun, who first attained popularity through radio broadcasts in the 1950s. Another key figure was Cheng Yen, a nun who was ordained by the aforementioned Yin Shun and later founded Tzu Chi, Taiwan's most important charity organization. It is difficult to overestimate the impact of her personal example on the image of Taiwan's sangha. Tzu Chi runs several hospitals in Taiwan, and conducts worldwide relief work. A 1999 earthquake centered in Puli brought praise for Tzu Chi for its effective response, in contrast with that of the Taiwanese government.

During the 1980s, Buddhist leaders pressed Taiwan's Ministry of Education to relax various policies preventing the organization of a Buddhist university. The eventual result was that in the 1990s--flush with contributions made possible by Taiwan's ""--not one but half a dozen such schools emerged, each associated with a different Buddhist leader. Among them were Tzu Chi University, Hsuan-Chuang University, Huafan University, Fo Guang University, Nanhua University, and Dharma Drum Buddhist College. The regulations of Taiwan's Ministry of Education prohibit recognized colleges and universities from requiring religious belief or practice, and these institutions therefore appear little different from others of their rank.

In 2001, Master Hsin Tao of Ling Jiou Shan opened the Museum of World Religions in Taipei. In addition to exhibits on ten different world religions, the museum also features "Avatamsaka World," a model illustrating the Avatamsaka Sutra.

In recent decades, Vajrayana Buddhism has greatly increased in popularity, with many Tibetan lamas from the four major Tibetan schools visiting Taiwan on a regular basis. The True Buddha School is the largest Vajrayana sect in Taiwan, although in recent times the group has been denounced as a cult.

Recent growth

Statistics provided by the Interior Ministry show that Taiwan's Buddhist population grew from 800,000 in 1983 to 4.9 million in 1995, a 600 percent increase against an overall population rise of about twelve percent. Additionally, in the same period the number of registered Buddhist temples increased from 1,157 to 4,020, and the number of monks and nuns was up 9,300 monks and nuns, up from 3,470 in 1983.14. This trend can be attributed to the activity of various charismatic teachers, such as those mentioned above.


*Chandler, Stuart. ''Establishing a Pure Land on Earth: The Foguang Buddhist Perspective on Modernization and Globalization.'' University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

*Government Information Office , '', 2002.

*Hsing, Lawrence Fu-Ch'uan. ''Taiwanese Buddhism & Buddhist Temples/'' Pacific Cultural Foundation: Taipei, 1983.

*Ho Erling, "" (article 2002.

*Jones, Charles Brewer. ''Buddhism in Taiwan: Religion and the State, 1660-1990.'' University of Hawaii Press, 1999.

*Madsen, Richard. ''Democracy's Dharma: Religious Renaissance and Political Development in Taiwan.'' University of California Press, 2007.

Buddhism in China

Chinese Buddhism refers collectively to the various schools of Buddhism that have flourished in China proper since ancient times. These schools integrated the ideas of Confucianism, Taoism and other indigenous philosophical systems so that what was initially a foreign religion came to be a natural part of Chinese civilization, albeit with a unique character. Buddhism has played an enormous role in shaping the mindset of the Chinese people, affecting their aesthetics, politics, , and .

At the peak of the Tang Dynasty's vitality, Chinese Buddhism produced numerous spiritual masters.

Early History of Buddhism in China

Arrival along the Silk Road

An 8th century Chinese mural in Dunhuang describes an Emperor Wu of Han worshiping the Golden Man statues; "golden men brought in 120 BC by a great Han general in his campaigns against the nomads". However, there is no such mention of Emperor Wu of Han worshiping the Buddha in Chinese historical literature.

The Hou Hanshu then records the visit of Yuezhi envoys to the Chinese capital in 2 BCE, who gave oral teachings on Buddhist sutras to a student, suggesting that some Yuezhi had already started to disseminate the Buddhist faith in eastern Asia during the 1st century BCE .

The Hou Hanshu describes the enquiry about Buddhism made around 70 CE by the Han :

This encounter is further described in a 6th-century account by Yang Xuanzhi:

These Chinese emissaries are said to have visited the country of the Yuezhi and to have brought back with them two missionaries, named Dharmaraksa and Kasyapa Matanga, together with sutras containing 600,000 Sanskrit words. The two missionaries wrote "" to provide guidance on the ideas of Buddhism and the conduct of monks. It is the first Buddhist text in the Chinese language, although its authenticity is a matter of debate.

Their arrival in 67 CE marks Buddhism's official introduction in China. Historians generally agree that by the middle of the 1st century, the religion had penetrated to areas north of the Huai River. Emperor Ming's brother Liu Ying the Prince of Chu was the first high-profile believer of Buddhism, although there is some evidence that Emperor Ming himself might have been as well.

The first documented translation of Buddhist scriptures into Chinese occurs in 148 CE with the arrival of the Parthian missionary An Shih Kao in China, probably on the heels of the Kushan expansion into the Tarim Basin. An Shi Kao established Buddhist temples in Loyang and organized the translation of Buddhist scriptures into Chinese, testifying to the beginning of a wave of Central Asian Buddhist proselytism that was to last several centuries. Traces of Buddhist iconography can also be seen in works of art from this period.

Mahayana Buddhism was first propagated into China by Kushan Lokaksema , the first translator of Mahayana sutras into Chinese.

By the end of the second century, a prosperous community had been settled at Pengcheng .

Relation to Confucianism and Taoism

Most of the Chinese gentry were indifferent to the Central Asian travelers and their religion. Not only was their religion unknown, but much of it seemed alien and amoral to Chinese sensibilities. Concepts such as monasticism and individual spiritual enlightenment directly contradicted the core Confucian principles of family and emperor. Confucianism promoted social stability, order, strong families, and practical living. Chinese officials questioned how a monk's personal attainment of nirvana benefited the empire. Buddhism was less antithetical to Taoism, the other major religion of China. Indeed, upon first encountering Buddhism, many Chinese scholars regarded it as merely a foreign branch of Taoism.

Kang-nam Oh frames the mutual influential dialogue of Buddhism and Taoism within China and mentions Kumarajiva:

Local interpretation of Indian texts

To thrive in China, Buddhism had to transform itself into a system that could exist within the Chinese way of life. Thus highly regarded Indian sutras that advocated filial piety became core texts in China. Buddhism was made compatible with ancestor worship and participation in China's hierarchical system. Works were written arguing that the salvation of an individual was a benefit to that individual's society and family and monks thus contributed to the greater good.

It is conjectured that the shocking collapse of the Han Dynasty in 220 and the resulting period of social upheaval and political unrest known as the Three Kingdoms period may have helped the spread of Buddhism. Buddhism was a minor force, however, compared with Taoism which was directly associated with efforts to defy the emperor . The Taoist Zhang family self-governed the Hanzhong Commandry for nearly 20 years until invasion by the renowned Chinese warlord Cao Cao.

A reason for the lack of interest mostly stemmed from the ruling entity and gentry. All the rulers were Han Chinese and had simply never heard of or knew too little of the religion. The Nine-grade controller system, by which prominent individuals in each local administrative area were given the authority to rank local families and individuals in nine grades according to their potential for government service, further consolidated the importance of Confucianism. Taoism also remained a strong force among the population and philosophers.

Buddhism gains political traction in the north

Subsequent chaotic periods of Sixteen Kingdoms and Southern and Northern Dynasties changed the situation, resulting in state support of Buddhism. Most rulers of the Wu, Hu, and the Northern dynasties originated from more than ten distinct ethnic groups including either non-Han Chinese "barbarians", or Han Chinese after generations of "barbarian" influence. They did not propagate nor trust the combined philosophical concept of Confucianism and Taoism as zealously as their rivals in the south. Official support of Buddhism would eventually mould a new Chinese populace with a common ideology out of the diversely ethnic population, which would in turn consolidate these dynasties.

It is instructive that Buddhism propagated faster in northern China than in the south. Social upheaval in northern China worked to break down cultural barriers between the elite ruling families and the general populace, in contrast to the south where elite clans and royal families firmly monopolized politics. Taoist and Confucian political ideology had long consolidated the political status of elite clans in the south. Support of another religion would have unknown and possibly adverse effects, for which these clans would not risk their privileges. Furthermore pro-Buddhist policy would not be backed by the bureaucracy, which had been staffed by members of the clans. Southern rulers were in weaker positions to strive for their legitimacy - some were even installed by the clans. It was not until the reign of Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty that saw the official support of Buddhism. Rebellion of Hou Jing near the end of Emperor Wu's reign wreaked havoc on the political and social privileges of the elite clans, which indirectly assisted the spread of Buddhism. But Buddhism spread pretty well in the peasant populace, both in the north and the south.

Monks and rulers join forces

Arrivals of several prestigious monks in the early 5th century also contributed to the propagation of the religion and were welcomed by rulers of the Sixteen Kingdoms and . Fo Tu Cheng was entrusted by the tyrant Shi Hu of Later Chao. Kumarajiva was invited by Lü Guang, the founder of Later Liang, and later by Yao Xing, second ruler of Later Qin. Biographies of these monks, among others, were the subject of the ''Memoirs of Eminent Monks''.

The direct experiential impact of contact with practicing monks should not be underestimated. Confucianism had no equivalent to holy men – the archetypical best and brightest was a wise government minister, not a saint. Taoist priests were more immediate, but given to relativism. It is notable that when another "foreign " religion, Nestorianism, sought to extol the virtues of one of its main benefactors they claimed he was so moral that "...even among the most pure and self-denying of the Buddhists, such excellence was never heard of;" . Through the actions and example of monks, Buddhists successfully laid claim to the high moral ground in society.

In this way Buddhism grew to become a major religion in China. By the beginning of the 6th century, Buddhism had grown in popularity to rival Taoism. We know they were successful because the monks were soon accused of falling into extravagance and their lands and properties confiscated by Emperor Wu of the dynasty and Wuzong of the Tang Dynasty.

During the early Tang dynasty the monk Xuanzang journeyed to Nalanda in India and other important sites to bring back scriptures. He sought to expand influence of Mahayana over Theravada, though the Yogacara school he preferred differs significantly from the later Chinese Mahayana schools that developed such as Pure Land .

The Kaiyuan's Three Great Enlightened Masters, Subhakarasimha, Vajrabodhi, and Amoghavajra, established Esoteric Buddhism in China from AD 716 to 720 during the reign of emperor Tang Xuanzong .

They came to Daxing Shansi, Great Propagating Goodness Temple, which was the predecessor of Temple of the Great Enlightener MahaVairocana. Daxing Shansi was established in the ancient capital Chang'an, today's Xi'an, and became one of the four great centers of scripture translation supported by the imperial court. They had translated many Buddhist scriptures, sutra and tantra, from Sanskrit to Chinese. They had also assimilated the prevailing teachings of China, Taoism and Confucianism, with Buddhism, and had further evolved the practice of The Esoteric School.

The Tang capital of Chang'an became an important center for Buddhist thought. From there Buddhism spread to Korea, and Japanese embassies of Kentoshi helped gain footholds in Japan.

The popularization of Buddhism in this period is evident in the many scripture-filled caves and structures surviving from this period. The Mogao Caves near Dunhuang in Gansu province, the Longmen Grottoes near Luoyang in Henan and the Yungang Grottoes near Datong in Shanxi are the most renowned examples from the , and . The Leshan Giant Buddha, carved out of a hillside in the 8th century during the Tang Dynasty and looking down on the confluence of three rivers, is still the largest stone Buddha statue in the world.

They brought to the Chinese a mysterious, dynamic, and magical teaching, which included mantra formulae and rituals to protect a person or an empire, to affect a person’s fate after death, and, particularly popular, to bring rain in times of drought. It is not surprising, then, that all three masters were well received by the emperor Tang Xuanzong, and their teachings were quickly taken up at the Tang court and among the elite. Mantrayana altars were installed in temples in the capital, and by the time of emperor Tang Taizong its influence among the upper classes outstripped that of Taoism. Relations between Amoghavajra and Taizong were especially good. In life the emperor favored Amoghavajra with titles and gifts, and when the master died in 774, he honored his memory with a stupa, or funeral monument.

Subhakarasimha , an eminent Indian Tantric master, arrived in the capital Chang’an in 716 and translated the Vairocanabhi-Sambodhi-Tantra, better known as the MahaVairocana-Sutra, or Great Sun Buddha Scripture. Four years later another master, Vajrabodhi , and his pupil Amoghavajra , arrived, and proceeded to translate other scriptures, thus establishing a second, though not rival, Mantrayana lineage.

Vajrabodhi , an Indian Buddhist master, and a graduate of the Nālandā Monastery, received complete empowerment and transmission from Nagabodhi, who in turn received from Nagarjuna. He was born of a South Indian Brahmin family, and his father was a priest for the royal house. Vajrabodhi probably converted to Buddhism at the age of sixteen, although some accounts place him at Nālandā at the age of ten.

He studied all varieties of Buddhism and was said to have studied for a time under the famous Buddhist logician Dharmakīrti. Under Santijnana, Vajrabodhi studied Vajrayāna teachings and was duly initiated into yoga. Leaving India, Vajrabodhi traveled to Sri Lanka and Srivijaya , where he apparently was taught a Vajrayāna tradition distinct from that taught at Nālandā. From Srivijaya he sailed to China via the escort of thirty-five Persian merchant-vessels and by AD 720 was ensconced in the Jian’fu Temple at the Chinese capital, Chang'an . Accompanying him was his soon-to-be-famous disciple, Amoghavajra.

When Vajrabodhi arrived in Chang'an, Subhakarasimha had already been there for four years. Subhakarasimha was eighty some years old. Vajrabodhi was about thirty something, and Amoghavajra a teenager. Subhakarasimha and Vajrabodhi met and debated. Afterward, they bowed to each other as each other's teacher.

Like Subhakarasimha, who preceded him by four years, Vajrabodhi spent most of his time in ritual activity, in translating texts from Sanskrit to Chinese, and in the production of Esoteric art. Particularly important was his partial translation of the Sarva-Tathāgata-Tattva-Samgraha between the years 723 and 724. This Yoga Tantra, along with the Mahāvairocana Sutra translated by Subhakarasimha the same year, provides the foundation of the Chen-Yen school in China and the Shingon and Esoteric branch of the Tendai schools in Japan.

Like Subhakarasinha, Vajrabodhi had ties to high court circles and enjoyed the patronage of imperial princesses. He also taught Korean monk Hyecho, who went on to travel India. Vajrabodhi died in 732 and was buried south of the Longmen Grottoes. He was posthumously awarded the title Guoshi, 'National Master'.

Amoghavajra , a Singhalese, was the most famous Yogacharya of his time. He was a prolific translator who became one of the most politically powerful Buddhist monks in Chinese history, acknowledged as one of the eight patriarchs of the doctrine in Shingon lineage.

Born in Samarkand of an Indian father and Sogdian mother, he went to China at age 10 after his father's death. In 719, he was ordained into the Sangha by Vajrabodhi and became his disciple. He also became Subhakarasimha’s disciple a few years later. Both Subhakarasimha, the holder of the Garbhadhatu Womb Realm teachings, and Vajrabodhi, the holder of the Vajradhatu Thunderbolt Realm teachings transmitted the Dharma Lineage to Amoghavajra, who began the Not-Two Dharma Teachings of Garbhadhatu and Vajradhatu. The Tang emperor granted Dharma instruments to Amoghavajra to setup the first Abhiseka-Bodhi-Mandala at Daxing Shansi, thus began the Chinese Esoteric School.

After Vajrabodhi's death in 732, and at his wish, Amoghavajra went on a pilgrimage in search of esoteric or tantric writings, visiting Ceylon, Southeast Asia and India. During this voyage, he apparently met Nagabodhi, master of Vajrabodhi, and studied the Tattvasamgraha system at length. He returned to China in 746 with some five hundred volumes, and baptized the Emperor Tang Xuanzong. He was especially noted for rainmaking and stilling storms. In 749 he received permission to return home, but was stopped by imperial orders when in the south of China.

In 750, he left the court to join the military governorship of Geshu Han, for whom he conducted large-scale tantric initiations at field headquarters. In 754, he translated the first portion of the Tattvasamgraha, the central text of Esoteric Buddhism, which became one of his most significant accomplishments. He regarded its teachings as the most effective method for attaining enlightenment yet devised, and incorporated its basic schema in a number of writings.

In 756, under emperor Suzong, Amoghavajra was recalled to the capital. He was captured in general An Lushan's rebellion but in 757 was freed by loyalist forces, whereupon he performed rites to purify the capital and consolidate the security of the Tang state. Two years later, he initiated the emperor Suzong as a cakravartin.

In 765, Amoghavajra used his new rendition of the Scripture for Humane Kings in an elaborate ritual to counter the advance of a 200,000-strong army of Tibetans and Uyghurs, which was poised to invade Chang’an. Its leader, Pugu Huaien, dropped dead in camp and his forces dispersed.

The opulent Jin’ge Temple on Mt. Wutai was completed in 767, a pet project of Amoghavajra's, and one of his many efforts to promote the Bodhisattva Ma?ju?rī as the protector of China. Amoghavajra continued to perform rites to avert disaster at the request of the emperor Tang Taizong. His time until 771 was spent translating and editing tantric books in 120 volumes, and the Yogachara rose to its peak of prosperity.

He died greatly honored at 70 years of age, in 774, the twelfth year of Taizong, the third emperor under whom he had served. On his death, three days of mourning were officially declared, and he posthumously received various exalted titles. He was given the title of the Thesaurus of Wisdom, Amogha Tripikata and the posthumous rank and title of a Minister of State.
The Chinese monks Huilang, Huiguo and Huilin were among his most prominent successors. Seventy-seven texts were translated by Amoghavajra according to his own account, though many more, including original compositions, are ascribed to him in the Chinese canons.

Making duplications of Buddhist texts was considered to bring meritorious karma. Printing from individually carved wooden blocks and from clay or metal movable type proved much more efficient and eventually eclipsed hand copying. The ''Diamond Sutra'' of 868 CE, a Buddhist scripture discovered in 1907 inside the Mogao Caves, is the first dated example of block printing.

Huiguo was the most well-known disciple of Amoghavajra. Both Amoghavajra and Huiguo were emperors' guru, in other words, they were National Masters. Huiguo's main residence was the Qinglong Temple.

Emperor Tang Wuzong, fearful of the popularity and the magical abilities of the practice, banned the teaching.

There were several components that lead to opposition of Buddhism. One factor is the foreign origins of Buddhism, unlike Taoism and Confucianism. Han Yu wrote, ''"Buddha was a man of the barbarians who did not speak the language of China and wore clothes of a different fashion. His sayings did not concern the ways of our ancient kings, nor did his manner of dress conform to their laws. He understood neither the duties that bind sovereign and subject, nor the affections of father and son."''

Other components included the Buddhists' withdrawal from society, since the Chinese believed that Chinese people should be involved with family life. Wealth and power of the Buddhist temples and monasteries also annoyed many critics.

As mentioned earlier, persecution came during the reign of Emperor Wuzong in the Tang Dynasty. Wuzong was said to hate the sight of Buddhist monks. In 845, he ordered the destruction of 4,600 Buddhist monasteries and 40,000 temples. Another 250,000 Buddhist monks and nuns had to give up their Buddhist lives. Wuzong cited that Buddhism was an alien religion, which is the reason he also persecuted the Christians in China. Ancient Chinese Buddhism never fully recovered from the persecution.

Buddhism after Forfeiture of 845

Song dynasty

Buddhist ideology began to merge with Confucianism and Taoism, due in part to the use of existing Chinese philosophical terms in the translation of Buddhist scriptures. Various Confucian scholars of the Song dynasty, including Zhu Xi , sought to redefine Confucianism as Neo-Confucianism.

Esoteric School

Unknown in history, Amoghavajra's last disciple, Huisu, who received all the religious instruments and dharma transmission, became the Dharma Lineage Holder. Since then, The Esoteric School has been underground for over twelve centuries. The Dharma Lineage has been passed on through one master per generation.

Ming dynasty

"By the period the preeminence of had been so firmly established that almost the entire Buddhist clergy were affiliated with either its Lin-chi or lineages, both of which claimed descent from Bodhidharma."

Modern Chinese Buddhism

Today the most popular form of Buddhism in both mainland China and Taiwan is a mix of the and schools. The central scripture of Pure Land Buddhism, Amitabha Sutra was first brought to China by , circa 147, however the school did not become popular until later. Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch is the most important sutra for and this is the only scripture written by ethnic Chinese which is named Sutra. Theravada Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism exist mainly among ethnic minorities in the southwest and north, respectively.

Further reading

* Huai-Chin, Nan ; ''The Story of Chinese Zen''. Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1995.


The Xishengjing is a late 5th century CE Daoist text with provenance at the Louguan 樓觀 "Tiered Abbey" of the The Northern Celestial Masters. According to Daoist tradition, Louguan was near where the legendary Laozi 老子 transmitted the ''Daodejing'' to the Guardian of the Pass Yin Xi 尹喜. The ''Xishengjing'' allegedly records the Daoist principles that Laozi taught Yin Xi before he departed west to India.

The Daozang "Daoist Canon" contains two Song Dynasty editions , the ''Xishengjing jizhu'' 西昇經集注 "Collected Commentaries to the Scripture of Western Ascension" by Chen Jingyuan 陳景元 , and the ''Xishengjing'' by Emperor Huizong 徽宗 . The original date of the ''Xishengjing'' is uncertain, and is estimated at "late 5th century" or "6th century" .

The ''Xishengjing'' is also known under two variant titles. ''Laojun xishengjing'' 老君西昇經 "Lord Lao's Scripture of Western Ascension" includes the supposed author's name. ''Xishengji'' 西升記 "Record of Western Ascension" uses the usual Chinese character ''sheng'' 升 "rise; hoist; ascend" instead of its variant ''sheng'' 昇 and replaces ''jing'' "classic" with ''ji'' "record; remember; note".

The ''Xishengjing'' is textually affiliated with the ''Huahujing'' "Classic on Converting the Barbarians", which purportedly records Laozi's travels into India where he founded Buddhism. Chinese Buddhists strongly debated this claim that Laozi became Gautama Buddha and argued that both texts were forgeries.

The received ''Xishengjing'' text has 39 sections in 5 parts, described by Livia Kohn.
First, it establishes the general setting, narrates the background story, outlines Yin Xi's practice, and discusses some fundamental problems of talking about the ineffable and transmitting the mysterious. Next, the inherence of the Dao in the world is described together with an outline of the way in which the adept can make this inherence practically useful to himself or herself. A more concrete explanation of the theory and practice, including meditation instruction, is given in the third part. The fourth part deals with the results of the practice and with the way of living a sagely life in the world. The fifth and last part is about "returning" ; it describes the ultimate return of everything to its origin, and explains the death of the physical body as a recovery of a more subtle form of participation in the Dao.

For example, the first part of the ''Xisheng jing'' begins,
1. Western Ascension Laozi ascended to the west to open up the Dao in India. He was called Master Gu; skilled at entering nonaction, Without beginning or end, he exists continuously. Thus steadily ascending, he followed his way and reached the frontier. The guardian of the Pass, Yin Xi, saw his ''qi''. He purified himself and waited upon the guest, who in turn transmitted Dao and virtue to him. He arranged it in two sections. : I'll tell you the essentials of the Dao: Dao is naturalness. Who practices can attain . Who hears can speak . Who knows does not speak; who speaks does not know. Language is formed when sounds are exchanged. Thus in conversation, words make sense. When one does not know the Dao, words create confusion. Therefore I don't hear, don't speak; I don't know why things are. It can be compared to the knowledge of musical sound. One becomes conscious of it by plucking a string. Thought the mind may know the appropriate sounds, yet the mouth is unable to formulate them. Similarly Dao is deep, subtle, wondrous; who knows it does not speak. On the other hand, one may be conscious of musical sounds, sad melodies. One then dampens the sounds to consider them within. Then when the mind makes the mouth speak, one speaks but does not know.

This "Master Gu" translates Gu Xiansheng 古先生 "Old Master", which is the literal meaning of Laozi.

TCM model of the body

The model of the body in traditional Chinese medicine has the following elements:
* the Fundamental Substances;
* Qi, Blood, , Shen that nourish and protect the ;
* and the which connect and unify the body.

Every diagnosis is a "Pattern of disharmony" that affects one or more organs, such as "Spleen Qi Deficiency" or "Liver Fire Blazing" or "Invasion of the Stomach by Cold", and every treatment is centered on correcting the disharmony.

The traditional Chinese model is concerned with function. Thus, the TCM Spleen is not a specific piece of flesh, but an aspect of function related to transformation and transportation within the body, and of the mental functions of thinking and studying. Indeed, the San Jiao or Triple Burner has no anatomical correspondent at all, and is said to be completely a functional entity.

TCM model of the body

This article is part of the philosophy of CAM and series of articles.


Souyuan in the Taoist eschatology is equivalent to the Judgment Day. ''Sou'' means collect, ''Yuan'' a cycle, to round off or complete, taken together Souyuan can be translated as to reclaim, to complete the circle or cycle, or to absolve and judge. Souyuan as in 收原 literally means to reclaim the ''Yuanlings'' or primordial souls. The process is also called ''Pudu '' or ''Mojie'' .

Souyuan is to induct the yuanling from the realms of the living and hell back to heaven.

Stages of Souyuan

Two previous Souyuan had been decreed by heaven, the first one around the time of Fuxi and Yellow Emperor called the ''First Souyuan'' or ''Qingyangqi'' corresponding to the Spring of absolution, it was sometimes called ''Longhan'' . Nine instruments of armageddon or disasters accompanied that event in which some 200 million yuanling were reclaimed.

The ''Second Souyuan'' was called the ''Hongyangchi'' , also ''Chiming'' corresponding to the summer stage of judgment around the time of Laozi in his last incarnate up till the time of Mencius, some eighteen instruments of armageddon descended on earth, and another 200 million yuanlings reverted to heaven.

The current stage of Souyuan is called the Third Souyuan , called ''Baiyangqi'' or the autumn of Souyuan. It started at the end of the nineteen century, well over a hundred years in running, and still counting. In all some eighty-one instruments of Armageddon, i.e. calamities disasters were and would be deployed to shake up the two realms, that of the living and hell.

The Third Souyuan was approved by the Jade Emperor Guan Shengdi and initiated by ''Wuji Shengmu'' who has sympathy on the remaining yuanling on earth and in hell, the process was documented in full in the book ''The Feast of Immortal Peaches'' .

Qingjing Jing

The Qingjing Jing is an anonymous 9th century Daoist classic that combines philosophical themes from the ''Daode jing'' with Chinese Buddhist meditative practices from the ''Heart Sutra''. It emphasizes using Daoist ''guan'' 觀 "observation; insight meditation" to cultivate spiritual ''qing'' 清 "clarity; purity" and ''jing'' 靜 "tranquility; quiescence; stillness".


The ''Qingjing jing'' is a short, mostly-versified text comprising some 390 Chinese characters in 90 verses. It is widely read and has numerous commentaries.

Although the first ''Qingjing jing'' line quotes the legendary Laozi, with the Taishang Laozhun 太上老君 "The Most High Lord Lao" , scholars believe the received text dates from around the middle Tang Dynasty .

The oldest extant commentary is by Du Guangting 杜光庭 , a prolific editor of Daoist texts during the late Tang and Five Dynasties period. Du says prior to being written down by Ge Xuan , the ''Qingjing jing'' was orally transmitted for generations, supposedly going back to the mythical Queen Mother of the West.

The ''Daozang'' "Daoist Canon" includes eight editions of the ''Qingjing jing'' with variant titles. The ''Qingjing miaojing'' 清靜妙經 "Wondrous Scripture of Clarity and Quiescence", or ''Taishang Laojun shuo chang qingjing miaojing'' 太上老君說常清靜妙經 "Wondrous Scripture of Constant Clarity and Quiescence, as Spoken by the Most High Lord Lao", is the basic text . Commentaries include those entitled ''Qingjing jingzhu'' 清靜經注 and ''Qingjing jing songzhu'' 清靜經頌注 .

A slightly longer version of approximately 600 characters is the ''Qingjing xinjing'' 清靜心經 "Heart Scripture of Clarity and Quiescence", or ''Taishang Laojun qingjing xinjing'' 太上老君清靜心經 "Heart Scripture of Clarity and Quiescence, as Spoken by the Most High Lord Lao" .

During the Song Dynasty , the ''Qingjing jing'' became popular within the Southern Lineage "Complete Perfection" or Quanzhen School and was interpreted in context with ''neidan'' Chinese internal alchemy. Modern Quanzhen Daoists consider the ''Qingjing jing'' a central scripture and regularly chant it in ''songjing'' 誦經 "reciting scriptural passages; ritual recitation". Kohn explains.
The text serves to inspire the active practitioner and believer. It provides an easy handle on the realization of the Tao within the religious life. It is an exhortation to purity and meditation, a warning against bad thoughts and deviant desires. Pious Taoists know this short and rhythmic text by heart.


Although brief, the ''Qingjing jing'' is philosophically complex. It synthesizes Daoist and Buddhist theories of psychology, cosmology, ontology, and teleology.

The ''Qingjing jing'' is described by Komjathy.
An anonymous text probably dating from the 9th century, this is one of a group of Tang-dynasty works that could be labeled "Clarity-and-Stillness" literature. Emerging under the influence of Buddhist insight meditation and expressing a form of wisdom based on the practice of observation , the text combines the worldview of the ''Daode jing'' 道德經 with the practice of Daoist observation and the structure of the Buddhist ''Panruo xinjing'' 般若心經 . It emphasizes the dual cultivation of clarity/purity and "stillness/tranquility" .

These Daoist keywords are ''guan'' "scrutiny; careful observation; insight meditation; contemplation", ''qing'' "clarity; purity; cleanliness", and ''jing'' "stillness; quiet; calm; tranquility". The ''Daodejing'' is the locus classicus for ''qingjing'': "Bustling about vanquishes cold, Standing still vanquishes heat. Pure and still, one can put things right everywhere under heaven."

Kohn summarizes the ''Qingjing jing''.
The text first describes the nature of the Dao as divided into Yin and Yang, clear and turbid , moving and quiescent , and stresses the importance of the mind in the creation of desires and worldly entanglements. It recommends the practice of observation to counteract this, i.e., the observation of other beings, the self, and the mind, which results in the realization that none of these really exists. The practitioner has reached the observation of emptiness . The latter part of the work reverses direction and outlines the decline from pure spirit to falling into hell: spirit develops consciousness or mind , and mind develops greed and attachment toward the myriad beings. Greed then leads to involvement, illusory imagining, and erroneous ways, which trap beings in the chain of rebirth and, and they sink deeper into the quagmire of desire, causes them to fall into hell.


The ''Qingjing jing'' has been translated into English by Balfour , Legge , and Kohn . Wong translated the Shuijingzi 水精子 commentary.

Comparing translations of the first two sections illustrates how Daoist studies have advanced in a century.
''The Words of Lao Chün''. Although the Great Principle of Nature – TAO – has no form, it brought forth and nourishes Heaven and Earth; though it has no passions, it causes the Sun and Moon to revolve; though it has no name, it produces the growth and nurture of all things. As I do not know its name, I am compelled to call it simply TAO.

Now this Principle includes the pure and the turbid, the active and the motionless. For instance, Heaven is pure and Earth turbid; Heaven moves and the Earth is still. The Masculine is pure, the feminine turbid; the Masculine is active and the Feminine at rest. Emerging from its source and flowing on to all its developments, it produced the visible creation. The pure is the origin of the turbid, and the active of the motionless. If a man is able to remain permanently pure and motionless, Heaven and Earth will both at once come and dwell in him.

Ch. 1. 1. L?o the Master 1 said, The Great T?o has no bodily form, but It produced and nourishes heaven and earth. The Great T?o has no passions, but It causes the sun and moon to revolve as they do. The Great T?o has no name, but It effects the growth and maintenance of all things. I do not know its name, but I make an effort, and call It the T?o.

2. Now, the T?o ; the Pure and the Turbid, and has Motion and Rest. Heaven is pure and earth is turbid; heaven moves and earth is at rest. The masculine is pure and the feminine is turbid; the masculine moves and the feminine is still. The radical descended, and the issue flowed abroad; and thus all things were produced. The pure is the source of the turbid, and motion is the foundation of rest. If man could always be pure and still, heaven and earth would both revert .

The Great Tao has no form; It brings forth and raises heaven and earth. The Great Tao has no feelings; It regulates the course of the sun and the moon. The Great Tao has no name; It raises and nourishes the myriad beings. I do not know its name – So I call it Tao.

The Tao can be pure or turbid; moving or tranquil. Heaven is pure, earth is turbid; Heaven is moving, earth is tranquil. The male is moving, the female is tranquil. Descending from the origin, Flowing toward the end, The myriad beings are being born. Purity – the source of turbidity, Movement – the root of tranquility. Always be pure and tranquil; Heaven and earth Return to the primordial.

Power position

Power position is a concept from Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of studying one's position within one's surroundings.

In Feng Shui, the Power Position or "Dragon Seat" is the physical position in the room for a business meeting, which supposedly has the most power. The person in this position can see all entrances to the room, and they are seated against a wall or other structure, so that no activity occurs behind them. This makes them the focus of attention to all persons present.

It is believed that the individual in the power position has a significant advantage in negotiations and other business activity in such a meeting.