Three Pure Ones

Last updated
Three Pure Ones
Taoist Triad.jpg
The Three Pure Ones
Chinese 三清

The Three Pure Ones (Chinese :三清; pinyin :Sānqīng), also translated as the Three Pure Pellucid Ones, the Three Pristine Ones, the Three Divine Teachers, the Three Clarities, or the Three Purities, are the Taoist Trinity, the three highest Gods in the Taoist pantheon. They are regarded as pure manifestation of the Tao and the origin of all sentient beings.

Contents

The "Three" in Taoism

From the Taoist classic Tao Te Ching , it was held that "The Tao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three produced All things." It is generally agreed by Taoist scholars that Tao produced One means Wuji produced Taiji, and One produced Two means Taiji produced Yin and Yang [or Liangyi (兩儀) in scholastic term]. However, the subject of how Two produced Three has remained a popular debate among Taoist Scholars. Most scholars believe that it refers to the Interaction between Yin and Yang, with the presence of Chi, or life force. [1]

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

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

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

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

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

Yuanshi Tianzun

Yuanshi Tianzun YuanshiTianzun.jpg
Yuanshi Tianzun

Yuanshi Tianzun (Chinese :元始天尊; pinyin :Yuánshǐ Tiānzūn, "Lord of Primordial Beginning") is also known as the "Jade Pure One" (Chinese :玉清; pinyin :Yùqīng) or "Honoured Lord of the Origin".

For more information, see Yuanshi Tianzun .

Lingbao Tianzun

Lingbao Tianzun LingbaoTianzun.jpg
Lingbao Tianzun

Lingbao Tianzun (靈寶天尊, "Lord of the Numinous Treasure") is also known as the "Supreme Pure One" (Chinese :上清; pinyin :Shàngqīng) or "The Universally Honoured One of Divinities and Treasures".

In terms of worldview, the emergence of the Shàngqīng revelations signifies a major expansion of Taoism. Where the celestial masters had added the pure gods of the Tao to the popular pantheon, Shàngqīng enlarged this to include an entirely new layer of existence between the original, creative force of the Tao, represented by the deity "yuan shi tian wang" (heavenly king of primordial beginning), and created world as we know it. This celestial layer consisted of several different regions, located both in the far reaches of the world and in the stars, and imagined along the lines of the ancient paradises Penglai and Kunlun. It was populated by various divine figures: pure gods of the Tao who were emanations of original cosmic qi; immortals who had attained celestial status through effort and the proper elixir... [2]

Lingbao Tianzun is associated with yin and yang and was responsible as the custodian of the sacred book. Lingbao Tianzun also calculates time and divides it into different epochs.

Daode Tianzun

Daode Tianzun (道德天尊, "Lord of the Way and its Virtue" or "Honoured Lord of the Tao and the Virtue"), also known as the "Grand Pure One" (Chinese :太清; pinyin :Tàiqīng) or the "Highest Elder Lord" (太上老君, Taishang Laojun).

It is believed that Daode Tianzun manifested himself in the form of Laozi. Daode Tianzun is also the treasurer of spirits, known as the Lord of Man who is the founder of Taoism. He is the most eminent, aged ruler, which is why he is the only Pure One depicted with pure white hair and beard.

There seem to have been a number of stages in the process of Laozi's eventual deification. First, the legendary figure began as a teacher and writer whose image eventually blended with that of the Yellow Emperor when Laozi came to be identified as a confidant of royalty. Traditional accounts, such as the life-story summarized earlier, transformed him into a cultural hero whose mother conceived him virginally. By the mid-second century C.E., Laozi had become the deity who delivered to Zhang Daoling the revelation of a new religious faith, giving rise to the Celestial Master's school. His image was still not complete. Next, perhaps also around the second or third century CE, Laozi seems to have been identified as a creator god who also enters the world to rescue humanity from tribulation. Laozi was now capable of incarnating himself, almost like Buddhist bodhisattvas. Not long thereafter he joined the triad of the Three Pure Ones, and finally Laozi emerged as the chief divine person. We have here one of the more interesting examples of apotheosis, or deification, in the history of religion.[ citation needed ]

According to Daozang, Daode Tianzun had manifested many various incarnations to teach living beings, and Laozi is one of his incarnations.

See also

Related Research Articles

Taoism Religious or philosophical tradition of Chinese culture

Taoism, or Daoism, is a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasises living in harmony with the Tao. The Tao is a fundamental idea in most Chinese philosophical schools; in Taoism, however, it denotes the principle that is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Taoism differs from Confucianism by not emphasising rigid rituals and social order, but is similar in the sense that it is a teaching about the various disciplines for achieving "perfection" by becoming one with the unplanned rhythms of the universe called "the way" or "tao". Taoist ethics vary depending on the particular school, but in general tend to emphasise wu wei, "naturalness", simplicity, spontaneity, and the Three Treasures: 慈 "compassion", 儉 "frugality", and 不敢為天下先 "humility".

Taiji (philosophy) principle of supreme potential in Chinese philosophy

Taiji is a Chinese cosmological term for the "Supreme Ultimate" state of undifferentiated absolute and infinite potential, the oneness before duality, from which Yin and Yang originate, can be compared with the old Wuji.

The Three Treasures or Three Jewels are basic virtues in Taoism. Although the Tao Te Ching originally used sanbao to mean "compassion", "frugality", and "humility", the term was later used to translate the Three Jewels in Chinese Buddhism, and to mean the Three Treasures in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Daozang, meaning "Taoist Canon", consists of around 1,400 texts that were collected c. 400. They were collected by Taoist monks of the period in an attempt to bring together all of the teachings of Taoism, including all the commentaries and expositions of the various masters from the original teachings found in the Tao Te Ching and Zhuangzi. It was split into Three Grottoes, which mirrors the Buddhist Tripitaka division. These three divisions were based on the main focus of Taoism in Southern China during the time it was made, namely; meditation, ritual, and exorcism.

Lingbao School Daoist school that emerged in China in between the Jin Dynasty and the Liu Song Dynasty in the early fifth century CE; lasted for about two hundred years until it was absorbed into the Shangqing and Zhengyi currents during the Tang Dynasty

The Lingbao School, also known as the School of the Sacred Jewel or the School of Numinous Treasure, was an important Daoist school that emerged in China in between the Jin Dynasty and the Liu Song Dynasty in the early fifth century CE. It lasted for about two hundred years until it was absorbed into the Shangqing and Zhengyi currents during the Tang Dynasty. The Lingbao School is a synthesis of religious ideas based on Shangqing texts, the rituals of the Celestial Masters, and Buddhist practices.

Yuanshi Tianzun Taoist deity

Yuanshi Tianzun, the Celestial Venerable of the Primordial Beginning or the Primeval Lord of Heaven, is one of the highest deities of religious Taoism. He is one of the Three Pure Ones, and is also known as the Jade Pure One. He resides in the Heaven of Jade Purity. It is believed that he came into being at the beginning of the universe as a result of the merging of pure breaths. He then created Heaven and Earth.

The Huahujing is a Taoist work, traditionally attributed to Laozi.

The Shangqing School (Chinese:上清) or Supreme Clarity is a Daoist movement that began during the aristocracy of the Western Jin dynasty. Shangqing can be translated as either 'Supreme Clarity' or 'Highest Clarity.' The first leader of the school was a woman, Wei Huacun (251-334). According to her Shangqing hagiographers, her devotion to Daoist cultivation so impressed a number of immortals that she received revelations from them 31 volumes of Daoist scriptures which would become the foundation of Shangqing Daoism. Later, Tao Hongjing (456-536) structured the theory and practice and compiled the canon. He greatly contributed to the development of the school that took place near the end of the 5th century. The mountain near Nanjing where Tao Hongjing had his retreat, Maoshan (茅山), today remains the principal seat of the school.

Guangchengzi

Guangchengzi is a character featured within the classic Chinese novel Fengshen Yanyi.

The Northern Celestial Masters Daoist movement existed in the north of China during the Southern and Northern Dynasties

The Northern Celestial Masters type of the Way of the Celestial Master Daoist movement existed in the north of China during the Southern and Northern Dynasties. The Northern Celestial Masters were a continuation of the Way of the Celestial Masters as it had been practiced in Sichuan province by Zhang Lu and his followers. After the community was forced to relocate in 215 CE, a group of Celestial Masters established themselves in Northern China. Kou Qianzhi, from a family who followed the Celestial Master, brought a new version of Celestial Master Daoism to the Northern Wei. The Northern Wei government embraced his form of Daoism and established it as the state religion, thereby creating a new Daoist theocracy that lasted until 450 CE. The arrival of Buddhism had great influence on the Northern Celestial Masters, bringing monasticism and influencing the diet of practitioners. Art produced in areas dominated by the Northern Celestial Masters also began to show Buddhist influence. When the theocracy collapsed, many Daoists fled to Louguan, which quickly became an important religious center. The Northern Celestial Masters survived as a distinct school at Louguan until the late 7th century CE, when they became integrated into the wider Daoist movement.

The history of Taoism stretches throughout Chinese history. Originating in prehistoric China, it has exerted a powerful influence over Chinese culture throughout the ages. Taoism evolved in response to changing times, with its doctrine and associated practices being revised and refined. The acceptance of Taoism by the ruling class has waxed and waned, alternately enjoying periods of favor and rejection. Most recently, Taoism has emerged from a period of suppression and is undergoing a revival in China.

Tianzun (天尊), literally the Lord of Heaven may refer to:

Wuji (philosophy)

Wújí originally meant "ultimate" but came to mean the "primordial universe" prior to the Taiji 太極 "Supreme Ultimate" in Song Dynasty Neo-Confucianist cosmology. Wuji is also a proper noun in Modern Standard Chinese usage; for instance, Wuji County in Hebei.

Daode Tianzun (道德天尊) is the official title for Tàiqīng (太清): the Grand Pure One, which is one of the Three Pure Ones. He is commonly known as Taishang Laojun (太上老君) "The Grand Supreme Elderly Lord". His other names include Daode Zhizun 道德至尊 "The Universally Honoured Virtuous One", Daojiao Zhizu (道教之祖), the Taoist Ancestor. Laozi is regarded to be a manifestation of Daode Tianzun who authored the classic Tao Te Ching.

Primordial qigong is a form of qigong purportedly developed by the Taoist sage Chang San Feng.

Taoist meditation associated with the Chinese philosophy and religion of Taoism

Taoist meditation, also spelled "Daoist" refers to the traditional meditative practices associated with the Chinese philosophy and religion of Taoism, including concentration, mindfulness, contemplation, and visualization. The earliest Chinese references to meditation date from the Warring States period. Techniques of Daoist meditation are historically interrelated with Buddhist meditation, for instance, 6th-century Daoists developed guan 觀 "observation" insight meditation from Tiantai Buddhist anapanasati "mindfulness of breath" practices.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Taoism:

Chinese theology Chinese concept

Chinese theology, which comes in different interpretations according to the classic texts and the common religion, and specifically Confucian, Taoist and other philosophical formulations, is fundamentally monistic, that is to say it sees the world and the gods of its phenomena as an organic whole, or cosmos, which continuously emerges from a simple principle. This is expressed by the concept that "all things have one and the same principle". This principle is commonly referred to as Tiān 天, a concept generally translated as "Heaven", referring to the northern culmen and starry vault of the skies and its natural laws which regulate earthly phenomena and generate beings as their progenitors. Ancestors are therefore regarded as the equivalent of Heaven within human society, and therefore as the means connecting back to Heaven which is the "utmost ancestral father". Chinese theology may be also called Tiānxué 天學, a term already in use in the 17th and 18th century.

[In contrast to the God of Western religions who is outside space and time] the God of Fuxi, Xuanyuan and Wang Yangming is in our space and time. ... To Chinese thought, ancestor is creator.

Xuandu Temple

The Xuandu Temple is a Taoist temple located on the hillside of Mount Heng, in Hengshan County, Hunan, China. It is the site of Hunan Taoist Association.

Taoist philosophy

Taoist philosophy also known as Taology refers to the various philosophical currents of Taoism, a tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao. The Tao is a mysterious and deep principle that is the source, pattern and substance of the entire universe.

References

Citations

  1. Yang, Chaoping (December 1, 2007). 道德經第四十二章‧「道生一,一生二,二生三,三生萬物。」 (in Chinese).
  2. Kohn, Livia (2001). Daoism and Chinese Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Three Times Press. p. 89.

Sources

  • Barrow, Terrence; Williams, Charles Alfred Speed (2006). Chinese Symbolism and Art Motifs. Singapore: Tuttle Publishing. p. 372.
  • Ching, Julie (2000). The Religious Thought of Chu His. Oxford: Oxford University Press US. pp. 168–169.
  • Fowler, Jeaneane (2005). An introduction to the Philosophy and Religion of Taoism. Brighton; Portland: Sussex Academic Press. pp. 202–205.
  • Dobbins, Frank Stockton; Williams, Samuel Wells; Halls, Isaac Hollister (1883). Errors Chains. California: Standard Publishing House. p. 224.
  • "Yu Di". Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Microsoft. 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-04-28.
  • "Yuan Shi". Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Microsoft. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-10-07.
  • Morgan, Harry T. (1972). Chinese Symbols and Superstitions. Detroit: Gale Research Company. p. 148.
  • Werner, E. T. C. (2003). Myths and Legends of China. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 124–126.
  • Whiting, Roger (1991). Religions for Today. Cheltemham: Nelson Thorne. p. 14.
  • "The Taoist Deities". Yang Style Tai Chi. 25 May 2001. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  • Yudelove, Eric (1997). 100 Days to Better Health, Good Sex and Long Life. Saint Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Worldwide. p. 114.