In ancient times, the rule set by God is if one child attains Tao, nine generations of ancestors can transcend from the Underworld and the cycle of birth and death.
Initially, when Tien-Tao was made available to everyone, God would only permit Tien-Tao to be transmitted to the living, not the deceased.
Subsequently, San-guan Da-di (Deity Emperor of Heaven, Deity Emperor of Earth, and Deity Emperor of Water) and Di-zang Buddha (Ksitigarbha Buddha) begged for mercy, and God granted their request. After then both the living and the deceased can receive Tien-Tao.
From then on, the Lecture Hall of the Underworld was established for the souls of the deceased to listen to the lectures of Buddhas and to wait for the livings to bring Tien-Tao to them. Once the descendants of the deceased bring Tien-Tao to the deceased, the souls can ascend to the Monastery of Heaven and wait for a position.
If the descendants accumulate enough merits and achieve good virtues, the souls of the deceased are ranked in the upper echelon. If the descendants do not accumulate enough merits or do not have good virtues, the souls will be sent back to the mortal world and either be born again so they get a new chance to practice Tao or be born again to enjoy a good life.
Filial devotion can be divided into two categories.
- The first one is the filial devotion of the ordinary, and
- the second is the filial devotion of the Saint.
To serve one’s parents with propriety for as long as they live, to bury one’s parents with propriety upon their death, and to pay respects with propriety in remembrance ceremonies fulfills the filial responsibility of a descendant.
However, this type of filial devotion cannot redeem the sins committed by the parents and relieve them from the cycle of birth and death, so the parents will still be born again. Thus, this kind of filial devotion is minor.
For those who are sincere about filial devotion,
who would like to repay the parents
for their loves and nurtures,
and who would like to redeem their parents
from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth,
they must practice Tao.
It is also possible to bring peerage to ancestors. For every sixty-four (64) persons one initiates to receive Tien-Tao, one rank is added to ancestors and one generation of ancestors can be redeemed, starting from one’s deceased parents. A total of nine generations of ancestors can be redeemed.
If one wants to bring blessing to descendants, it is considered as a special grace, and one must have accumulated a lot of merits and must have achieved very good virtues.
In the year of Ja-Zi (1924), the rule was changed to a more lenient one. Whenever an entire family has received Tien-Tao and practices Tao, the deceased parents can be redeemed. If one wants to bring Tien-Tao to the grandparents, the original rule still applies and one must have initiated one-hundred-and-twenty-eight (128) persons to receive Tien-Tao.
In general, redeeming every generation of ancestor would take another sixty-four merit.
27. What are the evidences that salvation is brought to the soul of the deceased when they receive Tien-Tao?
Using Fu-luan, 23 the soul of the deceased can be brought down to God’s Altars and give written lectures one hundred days after receiving Tien-Tao.
In the lectures, the deceased can depict clearly how he suffered in Hell and the cycle of birth and death, how he transcended the cycle of birth and death when Tien-Tao is transmitted to him, how he reached the Monastery of Heaven, and how he enjoys the pleasure and peacefulness afterward.
Other items such as the unfinished businesses of the deceased while he was alive, or any will that was not expressed before death could also be described clearly in the lectures. Besides written lectures, the soul could use the body of a living person who enters a trance to lecture in speeches.
All these could be the evidences that the soul of the deceased who received Tien-Tao has truly gone to the Monastery of Heaven.
28. Once the souls of the deceased received Tien-Tao, where would they go?
Once the souls of the deceased receive Tien-Tao, their names are deleted from Hell and are registered in Heaven. They will go to the Hall of Self Improvement in the Monastery of Heaven. After practicing in there for a hundred days, the souls will be restored to full yang or full radiance.
At this time, God sends the San-guan Da-di to rank them according to the virtues of the souls while they were humans and the virtues and merits of their descendants.
This is why even though every soul can become an Immortal, a Buddha, a Saint, or a Sage, the peerage ordained is in accordance with his practices of Tao, his virtues, as well as his merits.