Taoist Scripture – Theory behind Taoist scriptures
The Gong [Skill] from Reciting Daoist Scriptures
The Daoist Morning and Evening Gong – Liturgy Scriptures – make up one form of cultivation practice for Daoists residing in temples and monasteries. ‘Liturgy’ denotes the subject of recitation and chanting. The Morning and Evening Scripture are each recited daily, one in the morning and one in the evening. One must enter the main temple hall for chanting these must-read scripture texts.
The content of the Morning and Evening Scriptures of each Daoist sect is roughly identical, since the priority is placed on the scriptures, declarations, incantations and so on. There are slight divergencies between different sects and schools as well as between different locations and areas. But all of them start with 《the Hymn for Opening the Scripture》or 《the Fragrance Eulogy》and close with 《the Twelve Vows》and 《the Three Refuges》:
The Morning Scripture encompasses three parts:
(1) Scripture Incantations (such as 《the Purification of the Heart-Mind Spirit Incantation》)
(2) Scripture Classics (such as 《the Scripture of Purity and Tranquility Revealed by the Supreme High Sovereign Lao 》)
(3) Declaration Chapters (such as 《the Jade Clarity Treasured Declaration》)
The Evening Scripture contains two main parts:
(1) Scriptures (such as 《the Profound Scripture of the Supreme Venerable’s Mysterious Cavern Numinous Treasure of Salvation from Bitterness in the Ten Directions》)
(2) Declarations (such as 《the Treasured Declaration of the Mother of the Big Dipper》)
The aim of holding daily ceremonies for the Morning and Evening Scriptures in Daoist temples and monasteries is to cultivate and grasp-hold of the “Self” and become one with the truth in emulation of the sages. Another objective is to cultivate longevity or a prolonged lifespan.
In the preface of the Scripture it is declared that:
“The Golden Book and the Jade Satchel are the gate for entering the Dao,
the Treasured Declarations of the Alchemy Scripture are therefore the road to cultivating immortality.
After reaching this gate one is able to return to the source of one’s nature of true knowledge.
Via this road one has the ability to refine an un-decaying body,
that is why the ‘Feather Scholars’ [Daoists] live in monasteries in the dense forests,
respectfully offering fragrant flames [incense].
Three thousand Chinese miles of travelling and persevering in cultivation,
in the twelve watches reciting liturgies ,
bells at dawn, drums at dusk,
from morning to evening paying tribute to the rites and rituals,
day and night in reverence and sincerity. “
The ancient people said:
“If one is not diligently maintaining the practice of recitation,
how could one employ sincerity to commune with higher truths,
how could one protect and foster the Primordial Harmony? “
The Daoist Morning Scripture is mostly chanted in the hour of ‘Mao’ (4th Earthly Branch; 5-7am). At this time the Original Yang initiates its rise and Yin Qi has not yet stirred. Food and fluids have not yet entered (the body), while Qi and Blood are not yet in disarray. With a concentrated Spirit (Shen) contemplate the Upright. Through the Morning Scripture one will reach a harmonious and smooth-flowing state of Qi and Blood, consequently the vessels, arteries and veins will connect with the orifices with beneficial effects for the health.
The time-period for chanting the Evening Scripture is mainly in the hour of ‘You’ (10th Earthly Branch; 5-7pm). At this time people’s fatigue builds up, Yang Qi wanes, Yin Qi gradually flourishes and Evil Qi drifts and meanders around. Through the Evening Scripture one is able to dispel tiredness, settle restlessness, as well as calm the Ethereal Soul (Hun) and the Corporeal Soul (Po). Furthermore, it is beneficial for the quality of sleep.
Recitation of the scriptures, sitting meditation, and the practice of Gong during these special times possess special powers that enter the human body; they capable to assist our body, Heart, and divine spirit to elevate. The scriptures contain praises for the Spirit Immortals and Sages of Heaven and Earth. Furthermore their content includes hand symbols, rituals, incantations, talismans, prohibitions, Qi and arts, using and applying people’s cultivation, communication methods with Heavenly and Earthly deities, and channel mediums. This is capable of increasing the energetic field of our own body and of purifying the body, mind and divine spirit.
The vibrational frequencies of the sound waves of the scripture recitation are capable of cleansing our Five Zang-Organs and Six Fu-Viscera, our Qi and Blood, meridians and channels, as well as our cells. It can heighten our energetic fields’ vibrational frequencies. Therefore the masters of the past all placed utmost emphasis on the recitation of the scriptures. When reciting the scriptures, we must take a deep breath, in order to recite and chant the scriptures as long as possible to the best of our ability. It both increases the lung functions and amplifies the lung capacity. Through kneeling during recitation, we are able to temper the post-heavenly formed two kneecaps and to increase the strength of our knees, as well as to foster the robustness of the True Qi of the Gate of Life. Kow-towing and prostrating in reverence enable us to refine the post-heaven cranium’s fontanel and the pineal gland. Moreover it is beneficial to the circulation of Qi and Blood in our body and to opening our wisdom. Wholeheartedly reciting and chanting the scriptures of sagely appellation enable us to obtain the mercy of high-dimensional Realized Ones and sages, eliminating our own body’s karmic afflictions, far distancing ourselves from negative energetic fields. Reciting the scriptures has fartoo many benefits for our body, thus only a short introduction can be given here.
If one is able to pledge one’s devotion in utmost sincerity for twenty-four hours a day and is able to forge ahead full of vigor and valor towards progress without ever retreating, as a result one will be able to transcend beyond the Three Realms in this lifetime and to possess a physical body in the mortal world. Despite living in the dust, the ‘Self’ will be able to leave the dust behind:
“Exiting and entering the void of nothingness;
Carefree wandering in the whole universe;
Non-action and unrestrained;
The Heart being un-contaminated and un-tainted;
Merging into One with the Dao;
Truly transcending the Three Realms. “
One will be able to dispose of even a single thought of the ‘Self-Heart’, which is the root of the dust,
and tread on the path of the Great Dao of universal long life. Moreover one will be warding off calamities and eliminating disasters. When one prays for good fortune, it will arrive.
“Without seeking you shall not find!
If there are perceptions,
all communication channels will be thoroughly open.”
Theory behind Taoist scriptures such as Dao De Jing and select books of the Zao Wan Gong Ke (Morning and Evening Rites) are expounded upon in lecture style classes from Li Shi Fu. All lectures are translated from Chinese to English by Senior Instructors who are fluent in Mandarin and have spent many years listening to the teachings. The ceremony, singing, chanting and percussion of the scriptures is also taught on selected courses.
• Dao De Jing – scripture of the way and virtue
• Yin Fu Jing – scripture of the hidden talismans
• Gong Ke Jing – morning and evening scripture
• Huang Ting Jing – yellow court scripture
• Huang Di Nei Jing – yellow emperor inner classics
• Qing Jing Jing – scripture of purity and stillness
• Xin Jing – heart sutra
• Zuo Wan Lun – sitting in oblivion
• Lü Zu Bai Zi Bei – hundred character stone tablet
• Chong Yang Li Jiao Shi wu Lun – Wang Chun Yang 15 discourses.
• And more…
Mount Wudang, White Horse Mountain, Five Immortals Temple
On an auspicious day