» Bản dịch của Nhân Tử Nguyễn Văn Thọ


The study of religious Taoism has recently become popular with research scholars, who have spent some time in the traditional Chinese communities of East and Southeast Asia. The colorful and popular rites of Taoist priests, who play an important role in the religious life of overseas Chinese communities, can hardly escape the attention of any scholar who lives but a short time in Asia. But after a more than superficial glance at the content and structure of the rituals, it becomes evident that Taoist religious practises are more complicated than the external performance of temple and household liturgies would suggest. Even the simplest of rites involves a knowledge of internal alchemy, breathing techniques, the summoning and envisioning of spirits, and prognostication methods which cross the boundaries of a single discipline to analyze and undertand. It would therefore seem useful to lay down some guidelines for the study of religious Taoism, thereby making a first beginning towards a methodology in a field where there are no precedents to guide the research scholar in the study of a difficult and elusive subject.

Before coming to the main body of my discussion, I would like to point out a number of pitfalls and hazards in the path towards an understanding of Taoism as a liturgical tradition. The first and most important warning is that Taoists, like most other men and women who practise a closed profession, are most reluctant to part with the information whereby they make their living. In this way they are not different from the Chinese herbologist, tailor, or bean curd maker, whose trade secrets are passed down from father to son, and are taught to the apprentice only after years of hard work with the master. The young and enthusiastic scholar who comes from graduate school into the field to study Taoism is not different from the elementary school drop out who attaches him or herself to a carpenter to learn the trade. A taoist usually begins learning his trade at the age of ten or eleven years, and is finally ordained at the age of 30, if he is truly ordained at all. It is therefore essential to approach the study of religious Taoism only after a careful preparation, which includes extensive reading in the Taoist Canon and the understanding of the rubrics involved in the performance of classical orthodox ritual. The obvious parallel with the liturgy of Catholicism comes to mind, that is, it would be like stepping into a church for the first time and studying the Catholic Mass, with no preparation for the complicated ritual enacted by the priest. The scholar who would study religios Taoism must be familiar with the great liturgical sections in the Taoist Canon, about which I shall speak in a moment, before approaching the study of religious Taoism in the field.

By way of a second word of warning, before beginning the main body of the discussion, I would like to point out that there are many sects, orders, and fraternities of Taoists throughout East and Southeast Asia. The research scholar who reports that Taoist ritual is performed in such and such a manner can be contradicted by the scholar in the next village, who saw a rite with the same name performed in a different manner. Thus there are some religious sects who perform a rite of ordination in which the ordinandi is made to ascend a ladder made of 36 swords, with the blade-side up. The same rite is considered to be highly heterodox by Taoists of the Cheng-I «Orthodox One» sect, and is used as a part of public dramatic ritual in front of a temple, rather as a diversion to entertain the crowds, by Taoists of other popular «red-head» sects. Orthodox ordination, on the other hand, is most stately, and follows a manual deriving from Lung-hu Shan, and still used in parts of Taiwan that follow the “orthodox” tradition. It is therefore essential that the research scholar identify the order of the Taoist, and not only describe the externals of the ritual, which are but a bare fraction of the whole, but the internal meditation which accompanies ritual performance and upon which the efficacy of the rite is judged.

Finally, it is necessary to say a word about the term «orthodoxy» as opposed to the opprobrious epithet «heterodox» applied to the rituals of a rival Taoist or sect. The word «orthodox» (Cheng) is applied in its proper sense to ritual which follows the classical rubrics of the Taoist Canon, the so called K’o-I rites and the dance steps, mudras, mantras, talismans, documents and seals which were transmitted from antiquity and still make up the core and essential part of Taoist liturgy. «Heterodoxy» (Hsieh) on the other hand refers to rituals which either (1) do not derive from a Taoist source but are used by Taoists in popular ritual performed for the sake of the popular religion, and (2) rites which bear the name K’o-I but difer in content from the canonical or traditional liturgies. Thus, Taoists of the Shen-hsiao orders perform rituals with classical names, (such as Tsao Ch’ao) but in fact the content of the rituals is quite different from the canonical text. In the first sense, rites such as climbing the 36 swords, or expelling the demons of pestilence are heterodox, because they were adopted from popular religious sources into Taoism. In the second sense, the rituals of the Shen-hsiao orders are heterodox because even though the names of the rites are identical with those of their orthodox brethren, the contents are quite different. The research scholar must know that the Taoist whom he studies with most likely performs both orthodox and heterodox rituals, and either does not know the difference, or uses the lowly heterodox practises because they are so popular with the common folk who profess belief in Chinese religion. That is, progessional and pecuniary interests supersede orthodox purity in the performance of many Taoist rituals. It is therefore necessary in a strictly scientific sense to lay down ruler for distinguishing the classical orthodox ritual from the popular, simply for the sake of classifying and studying the various rites which come in unending variety and succession before the bewildered eyes of the researcher.

To begin with, then, one must distinguish the various orders of Taoists and the respective traditions of each order, as passed down from antiquity to the present. There are at present, in East and Southeast Asia, Taoists of the following orders which have thus far entered into the scope of my own research:

1) The Cheng-I – Heavenly Master sect, from Lung-hu Shan, Kiangsi Province.

2) The Mao-Shan sect, with two varieties of ritual i.e., strict monastic ritual meditation based on the Yellow Court Canon, and military Nin-jitsu like ritual based on the Ch’i men Tun-chia.

3) The T’ai’chi sect from Wu-tang Shan in Hupei, with two styles of liturgy, i.e., military style exorcisms performed with sword, halberd axe, and spear, and meditations of internal alchemy after the tradition of Chang San-feng.

4) The Ch’uan-chen sect, influencing laymen who practise Taoist mediation and interior alchemy in the privacy of their own homes.

5) The Shen-hsiao order which includes Taoists who call themselves by many names and titles; thus Taoists of the Ling-pao sect, Heavenly Master sect, Lord Lao sect and in general Taoists who derive their ancestry from Chang-chou prefecture in Amoy province, practise ritual deriving from the Shen-hsiao tradition.

6) The Lu Shan order, or the Lu-shan order which can be identified because its adherents wrap a red cloth around the head, blow on a buffalo horn, and ring the Three forked bell deriving from Shingon Buddhism, during their liturgy.

Since there are some 86 orders listed officially with the gazeteers, and the government sponsored Taoist association, my list of six orders or rather six styles of ritual performances is indeed minimal, especially when one considers the number of unofficial sects, local variations, and family traditions which indeed do more than rival Buddhist schools, protestant sects, and religious orders within Roman Catholicism. The point which I wish to make clear here is that no matter what the sect, the persuasion, or the manner of performing liturgy be, there are certain basic notes and observations which the field researcher must be aware of, a knowledge of which vastly simplifies the study of religious Taoism, and puts some order into the proliferation of sects and religious practises to be found in religious Taoism today. The basic principles which formulate and guide Taoism ritual are as far as I can see adequately expressed in the styles of the few orders named above. I shall therefore speak briefly of the rituals of three of the above orders, namely the Cheng-I sect, the Mao Shan sect, and the Shen Hsiao orders, thereby suggesting a model for future research into religious Taoism.

By far the most important order in south China, that is, China south of the Yang-tze river, was from the Sung dynasty until the 20th century the Cheng-I orthodox, one order of Lung-hu Shan in Kiangsi Province. The overwhelming influence of the order in and after the Sung period was due to a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the attempt of the Imperial Court to control religions in China; Taoists were strongly advised to receive a document or license of ordination from the Heavenly Master at Lung-hu Shan, which served both as prestige for the Taoist master sand a control over the Taoist orders themselves. As of the Ming dynasty, Taoists were given ranks and grades after the manner of mandarins, that is, a series of nine P’in or grades of excellence were given to the Taoists who came to Lung-hu Shan for ordination. Now the important point to remember is that all taoists, no matter what the order or sect, provided that they resided in southern China, were advised to receive their license of ordination from the Heavenly Master. Thus the head of Cheng-I Taoism at Lung-hu Shan had the power to grant licenses in Mao Shan, Wu-tang Shan, Ch’uan-chen, and Shen-hsiao ritual, as well as in hs own Cheng-I brand of Taoism. The ordination manual of the Heavenly Master demonstrates the fact very clearly, listing nine titles of quite different nature for each order. No was it a very difficult matter to know the various rituals of the famous Taoist mountain tops and their monastic fraternities of Taoist brethren. The Taoists traveled freely from monastery to monastery, and established schools of their own sect in each of the famous monastic centers.

Thus it is clear from the gazettes as well as from the dynastic histories, that Military Taoists from Wu-tang Shan, and Shang-ch’ing sect from Mao Shan, and the Ch’uan-chen sect from north China, each had at various times monastic enclaves in Lung-hu Shan, and in the other famous Taoist centers throughout south China. Furthermore, a Taoist could by traveling from center to center, learn the rites of various sects and orders. It was also possible to leave the monastery and set up a T’an or Taoist altar in a village or city, and derive a good profit from the practise of Taoist liturgy. Furthermore the “Fire-dwelling” (Huo-chu or hearthside Taoist) who married and lived as the common man, vastly improved his professional techniques by spending some years in a monastery, or even by journeying to Lung-hu Shan and obtaining a license of ordination from the Heavenly Master.

Therefore, though the sects and orders were many, there was in fact one unifying principle that brought Taoists together, that in fact made a fraternity of otherwise competing factions. That one factor was and still is the classical orthodox liturgy, called K’o-I, contained in the Wei-I liturgical sections of the Taoist Canon. No matter what the grade, sect, or persuasion of the Taoist, it was and still is necessary to learn the rubrics of K’o-I liturgies, which according to tradition had come down from the time of Chang Tao-ling at the end of the Han dynasty, had been formulated into a liturgical format by Lu Hsiu-ching and other Taoist masters of the North-south period, and are still considered to be the summit of Taoist liturgical perfection.

It is, however, extremely difficult to piece together the rubrical dicrections for K’o-I liturgy simply from reading the canon, making a trip to the field essential. There are some exceptions, as for instance the rubrical directions for the Su Ch’i rite in vol. 281 Ch. 16 of the Conon, or the Chin t’an ceremony described in immense detail in Vol. 985 of the Canon. Though it is next to impossible to convince a Taoist master to explain the interior meditations which he performs while exercising the exterior movements of the liturgy, the task becomes much more feasible when the scholar shows a familiarity with the rubrics learned from his own reading of the canon. The Taoist usually refuses to speak of the mudras, mantras, talismans, and meditations, both from professional secrecy associated with the transmission of the rituals, and from the gross expectation for pecuniary remuneration, not uncommon with men who make a proffession of performing religious ritual. Thus the field researcher can spend years of fruitless effort waiting for the Yü-chüeh or rubrical secrets to be revealed, only to find that fafter much expense and waiting, the secrets revealed by the Taoist turn out to be aken from the Shen-hsiao manuals, for which there are no special taboos against divulsion, rather than from the orthodox Cheng-I registers for performing ritual. The research scholar must therefore know enough of the canon to distinguish between orthodox classical ritual, and the later Shen-hsiao liturgies which seem to have flourished during the Sung dynasty and thereafter. He must also come to the field with a good knowledge of the rubrical passages that are clearly written out in the canon, in order to facilitate the task of the Taoist Master he chooses to study with. It is forbidden, by Taoist custom to speak of the “secrets” with the unworthy, the outsider, or a rival order. But it is not in the least forbidden to discuss the rubrics, the manner of writing talismans, the meditations, and so forth, with the scholar who comes to the Taoist Master with a good command of the Canon.

Orthodox ritual is based primarily on the lists of spritits names known as «registers» that are to be found in the Canon in

Vol. 877, the T’ai-shang San-wu Cheng-I Meng-wei Lu

Vol. 878, the T’ai-shang Cheng-I Meng-wei Fa-lu and

Vol. 878, the Cheng-I Fa-wen Shih Lu Chao Yi

The last mentioned list or “register” is the basis for a grade, (Ch’i-p’in) ordination, and the title San-wu Tu-kung which the Taoist uses when signing his name. The second named list is the basis for a Grade Six ordination (Liu-p’in) and the first list for a Grade Five (Wu-p’in) and a Grade Four (Ssu-p’in) rank Taoist. The lists are to be found in a private manual which each Taoist master possesses called the Wen-chien, which contains besides the lists of spirits names, the formulae for the various documents used during rituals to communicate with the heavens, and other information which varies according to the practises of individual Taoist families. The Taoist Master is usually unwilling to speak of the spirits, but is quite agreeable to show his Wen-chien manual to the research scholar who asks directly to see it.

Similar lists to the Wen-chien, manuals, but shortened for use in specific rituals are to be found in the K’o-I manuals used during liturgical performances. Thus the various K’o-I rituals, such as are used in Chiao liturgy of renewal and Chai liturgy of burial all follow a pattern, one of the steps in which is the summoning of the special heavenly spirits whom the Taoist alone knows the titles of, and to whom he directs the particular ritual. Thus each of the K’o-I rituals has its own list of spirits which are summoned by the Taoist, and its own liaison officials used to cary the petitions, documents, and so forth to the heavens. The research scholar can easily determine the order, the rank, and the orthodoxy of the Taoist master by comparing the lists in his ritual manuals with those in the Taoist canon.

In the above paragraph it was pointed out that K’o-I rituals follow a common pattern, one step of which is the summoning of a series of spirits to attend the liturgical performance. The format for orthodox liturgy seems to be of very ancient origin, such works as the Wu-shang Pi-yao, and the Wu-shang Huang-lu Ta-chai Li-ch’eng Yi the former from the North-south period, and the latter from the T’ang, already showing clearly the stages in K’o-I ritual still in use today. In general, orthodox ritual follows the pattern listed below:

1) Entrance into the T’an (sacred temple area) from the mediation room in solemn procession.

2) Pu Hsu meditative hymn, accompanied by the Yu Pu pace of Yü establishing the Lo Shu or the 8 trigrams of Wen Wang around the area where the Taoist will perform the liturgy, and Jao-t’an walking around the altar a total of 5 times while summoning the vapors of the five elements.

3) Ch’i Pai, a slow chanting of the names of each spirit invited to the ritual. The Taoist must envision each spirit as he or she is called.

4) Ju-I or reading of the official document to be sent off during the ritual. The documents are Shu-wen, Piao, Tieh, Chang, Kuan, and so forth, depending upon the rank of the spirit or the kind of ritual.

5) Ts’un Nien Ju Fa; while the Taosit kneels in the center of the temple, and contemplates, reciting incantations and forming mudras with his left hand, the hymn Wu Hsing Lieh Chao is sung.

6) «Sound the Drum of the Law (Tao) 24 times» while the great drum is struck 3x8 times, the Taosit meditates according to the rubrical directions found in his Yü Chüeh manual.

7) Fa Lu. The recitation of the text “Wu-shang San T’ien, Hsuan, Yuan, Shih San Ch’i…» during which time the High Priest performs a mediation taken from the discipline of internal alchemy. The Taoist spirits of the Prior Heavens are summoned by secret mudras and mantras, and the Mandala of the Taoist heavens is constructed in a contemplative meditation accompanied by the circulation of breath. Directions for the meditation are found in the Yü Chüeh or Mi Chüeh manual, and in various places in the canon.

8) The ritual proper begins at this time; thus, whether in burial, or ritual of renewal, whatever rite is proper to the day or the occasion is performed at this juncture: e.g., the Su ch’i, implanting the Five Talismans, the Cheng Chiao worshipping the three ure ones, and so forth.

9) Worship of the Ten Directions.

10) Chung Ch’eng Fa Wei. A re-initiation of the ceremony, in which the document sent off to the heavens is received back in the form of a rescript. Intricate ritual dance steps occur at this point, where most of the variations between the sects and orders are to observed.

11) Renewal of the ten vows.

12) Putting out the incense and lamps. Concluding ceremonies.

With the exception of a few elaborations according to the kind of ritual performed by the Taoist. K’o-I orthodox liturgy in general follows the above pattern. It must not be concluded, however, that all Taoist ritual follows, the K’o-I pattern. On the contrary, most of the rites which the devout believers in Chinese religion witness are of an entirely different nature, that is, the rtuals performed for the sake of the people also include the reading of Ching canonical texts of merit and repentance, and Fa Shih or Taoist magical rites meant to cure sickness, expel demons, and offer worship in local temples. It would be a great mistake, however, to lay too much emphasis on the Ching, or the Hsiao Fa «little rites», even if these latter two forms of ritual or more frequently seen and popularly called for. The Ching canons of merit and repentance are obvious imitations of Buddhist scriptures, and like their Buddhist counterparts, are used to fill the hours of monastic living with prayerful intonations, as well as to satisfy the need of the common folk for acts of merit and repentance, thought useful to win heaven’s blessing, free souls from hell, or cleanse from impurity. The K’o-I rituals are hidden from the people, performed behind the locked doors of the temple, or if done in public the mudras are discreetly hidden by holding the long sleevers over the hands, and the mantric conjurations are mumbled in a low voice. They are, nevertheless the core and essence of Taoist ritual, and the field worker must be aware that the «secrets» for their performance are contained in the Yü Chüeh or Mi Chüeh manuals of the Taoist master.

If K’o-I ritual follows the above outline, as a general rule, its proper performance can also be used as a criterion for orthodoxy. Ritual is therefore an accurate guide to the order, sect, and grade that the Taosit actually belongs to no matter what he claims to be. The closer a Taoist is to orthodoxy, the nearer his text will be to the versions in the Canon, and the closer his performance will follow the outline. The popular Shen-hsiao orders, it was noted above, use similar titles and even similar divisions to the same 12 listed above. But the content is different, and especially the explanations and rubrics in the Yü Chüeh manuals are faulty or lackng. It is therefore most important to have read the Wei-I sections of the Canon, and whatever texts possible which contain rubrical explanations, such as are to be found in the Shang-ch’ing Ling-pao Ta-fa of the Sung dynasty Taoist Chin Yü-chung, the Tao-men T’ung-chiao Pi Yung Chi of Lü T’ai-ku, also of the Sung period.

It was also stated under point #10 in the outline of orthodox ritual that fthe «sending off of the document» step is crucial to identifying the order of the Taoist, and the tradition to which he in fact belongs. Taoists from the Yü-ching sects, that is monastic orders deriving from Mao Shan or Hua Shan, perform most beautiful series of ritual dances before sending off the Piao or Shu-wen by burning. A Taoist playing the role of Tu-chiang or Chief Cantor first carries the document into the center of the T’an area, using a dance step based on the Lo-shu or the 8 trigrams of King Wen. He presents the document to the Taoist High Priest, who then performs another series of dance steps based upon the Ho-tu, that is, the 8 trigrams of Fu Hsi. The dance is repeated 12 times, that is, one time beginning from each of the 12 earthly stems arranged in a circle about the center of the temple. While doing the dance steps he performs a most complicated series of meditations, deriving from the interior alchemy school of Mao Shan, in which the various trigrams are «opened» or «sealed», allowing benevolent spirits into the center of the temple (the microcosm) and keeping evil spirits away from the sacred area. The dance was made a part of the ritual repertoire of the Heavenly Master at Lung-hu Shan, and orthodox Taoists ordained there during the Ch’ing period brought the tradition with them to many parts of East and Southeast Asia.

The Shen-hsiao Taoists, on the other hand, even if they received a document of ordination from the Heavenly Master, do not perform the Mao Shan dance at the end of their K’o-I ritual. Instead, a series of other dance steps are substituted, and other dramatic forms of entertainment are used in replacement. Thus the «Thunder magic tablet» a block of wood made from a date or a peach tree, about which I shall speak in a moment, is freely substituted. A long black cloth is hung from north to south in the temple, symbolizing the joining of heaven and earth, and so forth, before sending off the memorial by burning. The Shen-hsiao ritualts are typified by the free use or insertion of dramatic rituals, which serve to edify and instruct the populace, but which in fact have little bearing on the ends of orthodox ritual, or the meditative use of interior alchemy in liturgy. There is no question but that the rites of the Shen-hsiao taoists are both entertaining and most easy to appreciate by the populace. Thus the Taoists who includes these rites in his repertoire will increase the public demand for his services in temple and family ritual. Among such popular rituals are the climbing of 36 swords, the dipping of a hot iron into a bowl of vinegar, after which the worshippers are allowed to pass through the acrid fumes as purification, the use of blood from a chicken’s comb and duck’s bill for purification, burning the effigies of the demons of pestilence, and so forth. It is my opinion that some of these rites can be traced to aboriginal practises adopted by the expanding Han people in heir push into south China, and others were inspired by the rituals of popular Shingon and T’ien-tai Buddhism. Others again can simply be ascribed to the inventiveness of the Taoists throughout a long history of serving the believers in China’ss popular religion. Such rituals must of course be recorded and accounted for by the research scholar, but must not be mistaken for orthodox Taoist practises. Furthermore, there are no taboos against teaching Shen-hsiao style rituals to the foreign scholar; thus the research scholar my spend many months in the field, regaled with the feats of a Shen-hsiao version of the liturgy, oonly to find that the orthodox Yu-chueh secrets were in the not revealed, or kept carefully hidden from his perusal.

Having spoken of some orthodox forms of Taoist ritual, and mentioned only briefly the dramatic quality of Shen-hsiao services, I would like to return to the orther orders which I mentioned in the beginning of the distussion, that is the Ch’uan-chen sect, the Mao Shan order, and a type of military Taosim associated both with Mao Shan and Wu-tang Shan in Hupei province. The Ch’uan-chen sect did not have a great influence in Taiwan, nor as far as I have thus far seen in most of Southeast Asia. There were Taoist is Taiwan, however, who were ordained as Ch’uan-chen monks, and there are laymen who practise meditation according to a variety of monastic patterns. But since it does not enter directly into the discussion. I would simply like to point out that Ch’uan-chen Taoists do also perform Chiao liturgy of renewal, and do bury the dead, as do heir other Taoist brethren. But their influence was unquestionably stronger in north China where indeed they were far more powerful than the Cheng-I Taoist master. The names Mao Shan and T’ai-chi or Wu-tang Shan Taoist do however frequently occur, along with the highly respected “Five Thunder Method”, about which the field worker should be familiar. To my knowledge there is very little written about these orders in western languages.

The Mao Shan sect, also called the Shang-ch’ing or the Yü ching order, has had significant influence on the Taoism practised in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. The influence of the order is seen in two quite distinct types of liturgy. The first and basic rites and meditations of the order are associated with the Yellow Court Canon and the Ta-tung Chen-ching. Taoists who use these texts are to be found in Taiwan, especcially in the northern part of the island, where the population is predominantly from Ch’uan-chou in Fukien province. The second kind of liturgy ascribed to Mao Shan is more properly “popular” in nature, that is, concerned with cures, exorcisms, and a tpe of Jen-shu (Ninjitsu in Japanese) about which I am at present preparing a monograph with detailed explanations of the method. In general, the ritual associaed with the Jen-shu method is based on the use of the Pole Star constellation (Ursa Major) and the spirits associated with the seven stars in the dipper. The power to summon the pole star spirits, and the «Six Chia Six Ting» gods to effect cures, and to subdue one’s enemies, is claimed by many Taoists to derive from Mao Shan. In fact, the 8th master of Mao Shan, T’ao Hung-ching writes of the method in the Liang dynasty work, T’ai-shang Ch’ih-wen Tung-shen San Lu as distinct from the Yellow Court-Canon tradition, proper to the Mao Shan method.

Closely associated with the Jen-shu mititary techniques in Taoist ritual is the Wu-tang Shan order from Hupei province. The influence of this order too is to be seen throughout southeast Asia, and like the Mao Shan order its methods can be divided into the meditative rites for personal perfection, and the popular rites of exorcism used in public ritual. The meditations of the order are said to have been developed by Chang San-feng, based on breath control, the taking of herbal medicines and the infamous Fang-chung techniques of sexual hygiene. The popular rituals of exorcism, on the other hand, are similar to the Mao Shan Jen-shu techniques mentioned in the above paragraph, with a larger list of spirits, to be found in the T’ai-shang Pei-chi Fu-muo Shen-chou Sha-kuei Lu and other works in the canon associated with Hsuan-t’ien Shang-ti the spirit patron of the order. Furthemore, the geomancers or Feng-shui experts, fortune tellers, and the masters of physical exercise techniques of T’ai-chi Ch’uan, etc., are often given ranks in the order. The Taoists who claim membership in this order call them selves T’ai-chi or Pei-chi Taoist Masters.

In fact, there are very few Taoists who belong exclusively to one or the other of the above two orders. Rather the Taoists of East and Southeast Asia learn the various methods, rituals, and magic from each other, and include in their lengthy titles the grades and styles of liturgy that they have learned. Thus a Taoist will sign himself as being knowledgable in Mao Shan, Wu-tang Shan, and Cheng-I orthodox Taoist methods. It is up to the field researcher to determine, by knowing the corresponding sections in the Taoist canon, as to whether or not the claims of the Taoist are true. It is, furthermore, quite within the Taoist tradition to make such inquiries, and in fact to act as Taoist master oneself, once the familiarity with the registers and rituals in the Taoist Canon has been attained.

A final case in point is the famous “Five Thunder Method” a form of Taoist ritual deriving from most ancient sources, and highly prized amongst Taoist masters even today. The Five Thunder Methods are considered the most secret and precious rituals in the Taoist’s possession, and he is least willing to speak of them among all the various treasures in his professional storehouse of secrets. But as in the above cases, the Taoist Canon provides a very complete list of the Thunder Method registers, rituals, and so forth in the Tao-fa Hueiyüan Vols. 884-941 in the Canon. Many Taoists claim to be expert in the Thunder Magic methods, and freely use the Wu-lei-p’ai a small wooden block made of peach wood, essential to the system, in their ritual. But in fact the research scholar must be especially cautious in accepting the Taoist’s word, and come well prepared with a knowledge of the canon, before attempting to study this and other forms of Taoist ritual. In the majority of cases that I have seen, the Taoist master claimed far more than he was really able to perform, and in fact due to over caution in passing on the secrets of Thunder Magic, the traditions have for the greater part been lost, of diluted in the syncretistic practises now found throughout Southeast Asia. The tradition has, however been carefully preserved by the Cheng-I T’zu-t’an in north Taiwan, the manuals of which I have recently brought to the Ch’eng-wen press in Taipei for publication.

The scholar who would study «Taoism in the field», therefore, must come to his subject well prepared, and ready to deal with the Taoist masters as equal, rather than as disciple. Though traditional scholarship has tended to distinguish between monastic and popular Taoism, in fact both traditions are to be seen functioning in the rituals of the Taoists in parts of East and Southeast Asia. The preparation for ordination that the Taoist disciple must go through include the meditations of interior alchemy, breath control, sexual hygiene, and the consuming of herbal medicines for longevity. Feng-shui techniques of geomancy, prognostication, and Yin-yang philosophy are all an essential part of the training of a true Taoist master. The scholar who would make meaningful study of religious Taoism as it is practised in Asia today can save himself years of frustrating labor by being aware of the above points, and coming to his topic of field research familiar with the liturgical and meditative sections of the canon.

I would therefore propose that in studying religious Taoism, the styles of liturgy be accounted for as either orthodox, that is, deriving from the classical Wei-I sections of the Canon, or popular (let us reserve the term «heterodox» as a value word, used to speak of a rival group rather than a scientific label for liturgy) that is, deriving from a source other than classical ritual. Most of the rituals that are commonly performed in the temples and private households of East and Southeast Asia belong to this latter category. The scholar must indentify the order of the Taoist, and the kind of ritual he sees according to meditative content as well as exterior performance of rubrics. Many popular rites. Such as the casting out of the demons of pestilence in a boat, can be found in the catholic Philippines, in the villages of Okinawa, and other parts of Asia, which no known connection to orthodox religious Taoism. The rituals must nevertheless be accounted for, and the task of recording their deltails, a colorful and interesting study, is almost untouched in the annals of contemporary sinological studies.

[1] Nguyên tác tiếng Anh của Michael Saso, in lại trên tạp chí Phương Đông số 24 tháng 6-1973 với chủ đề: Bộ mặt Tôn giáo ngày nay bên phương Đông.