Monday, December 19, 2005

Daoist spiritual tales

After the Buddhist spiritual tale, time for something Daoist. The first story is about a slight humiliation for deviant practitioners and the second story is about a non believer who thought she knew better than her mother in spiritual matters.

Two senior disciples from a ‘Daoist’ temple decided to pay some respects at a genuine Daoist temple for immortals. In their own temple, they pray to deities of assorted religions with no thoughts for cultivation. Female disciples can be found swaying and dancing in the main prayer hall of their temple. Apparently they were put under a trance by the master and seemed to thoroughly enjoy their dancing, while the male disciples watch and gape at the swaying dancers. Fortunately such deviant practices are uncommon in the country.

When the dual arrived, they were met by an elder of the Daoist temple who ushered them into the main prayer hall. Upon reaching its entrance, both of them suddenly prostrated themselves and crawled on all fours towards a huge painting of the temple’s Daoist immortal. After several loud kowtows, they crawled backwards towards the entrance without once standing up in the main prayer hall. As they stood up and turned to leave, the elder asked them the reason why they paid such huge respects to the immortal?

Reluctantly they answered, “It was not us who wanted to do it. There seemed to be an immense unseen force that pinned us down to the floor. We had to crawl forwards and kowtow to ask for forgiveness from your Daoist immortal before we could stand up and leave.” With that, they left the Daoist temple in a hurry.

Comment: If students are innocent and misled by teachers, then perhaps it is a mistake that can be corrected. But if discerning students know or realize what they learn and still continue to learn are deviant practices, there is no one else to blame for any future mishap or humiliation. Daoist immortals assist the good and punish the evil in mysterious ways.

A young educated woman was getting annoyed with her mother for spending much time in cleaning the altar for Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) in the house making the altar ready for prayers. She has been admonishing her mother over some weeks for being superstitious; for wasting time and money to pray to a deity. Those who are well educated, she mentioned, do not believe in such things. There are no spirits (shen) and no ghosts (kuei) in this world, she continued, only those who have no or little education believe in such things.

Fed up with her endless remonstrations, the mother decided to ask her daughter to tell that to Guan Yin directly. The young woman was happy to do just that. She placed a chair and sat down right in front of the altar before making her harangues to the famous and revered Daoist deity. She would start early in the morning and end them each evening. These lengthy sessions went on for several days.

One day her mother woke up early to go to the wet market for shopping and found her daughter sitting in front of the altar as usual. Her daughter seemed to be a bit quiet this morning, she thought to herself in between offering prayers to Guan Yin and going off to the market to buy her grocery and things. After coming back from the market, she found that her daughter seemed to have dozed off in her chair. Come evening she decided to wake her daughter up to wash and get ready for dinner. Her daughter seemed to be in a deep slumber and no family members could wake her up, tried as they may.

Fearing something amiss, the mother went to her favorite Guan Yin temple to seek for spiritual advice. The medium in a trance told her that Guan Yin was teaching her daughter a lesson for her constant harangues and non beliefs. After the necessary prayers and offerings at the temple and at the home altar, she managed to wake up her daughter who was highly distressed by the entire event.

Comment: Even if we do not believe in a major religion or religions, there is no need to go to great lengths to disparage it or them. Each adult individual has the right to believe in a faith. The second story depicts what Laozi said about the lowest class of scholars who heard about Tao and laughed. If they do not laugh then it would not have been fit to be Tao (TTC 41).

If you ever go to a Daoist temple for a prediction of your annual fortune near the end of the year, you will be sent home empty and asked to return after the first few days of Chinese New Year. This is a reason why one suggested deferring your Yi consultation for an annual hexagram until then. The rest is entirely up to you.

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