Before the existence of mankind, the power of creating mankind was on Tao. After mankind appeared, the duty of human procreation was on mankind.
A human life is formed by combining the physical body with the soul. Souls come from Tao which means that it’s God’s will for souls to be the dominion on Earth.
Thus, we all have missions. Souls are confined in the Hou-tien, 10 which means that souls must be refined in order to escape from the Hou-tien.
At the beginning of Heaven and Earth
when mankind just descended,
souls were pure and perfect.
Only since Si Phase and Wu Phase has human intellect sprout, and mankind has begun to act as the dominion.
But the soul and the body were together for such a long time that the soul took on the habits of the body. The affinity to the material world caused souls to become dominated by emotions and desires, and their original attributes were lost. Mankind believed that the body was the self and believed in materialism.
Unknowingly the balance and harmony among men, animals, plants, and all things were disrupted. Men started to kill animals for food, thence caused catastrophes and brought about the six paths of reincarnation.
In order to let His lost children realize the mistakes and thus return to the right path, God descended Tien-Tao – His True Light (including True Fire and True Water) – onto capable Saints to establish a link – the unseen thread – between mankind and God.
These Saints spread words of God’s existence, love, and Tao, so that mankind would seek Tien-Tao, follow Tao, and return to God’s kingdom. They lighted up the world.
They maintained the bridge
between God and mankind.
They are the Patriarchs of Tao.
This bridge is called the Heritage of Tao.
The first Saint of mankind was Fu-xi Shi. He was born in China about seven thousand years ago. He observed the astrological signs and physical phenomena; by studying natural laws and orders, he attained Tao. He used Xian-tien Order of the trigrams* to disclose the essence of Heaven and Earth, and the Origin of mankind. This was the beginning of the descending of Tien-Tao.
Then, there was Shen-nong Shi who tasted all plants and herbs to identify medicines and the edible. The third Patriarch was the Yellow Emperor Xuan-yuan Shi, the first Emperor of China. Under his reign, houses were constructed, clothes fabricated, tools and containers made, Chinese characters invented, propriety defined, and musical notes standardized.
Furthermore, orders of the society, i.e., the very backbone of ethics and morality, were established. Rules, duties, and proprieties between rulers and subjects, parents and children, men and women, among siblings, etc., were all devised. Only then was the true social order for mankind established in China. After the Yellow Emperor, Shao-hao, Zuan-xu, Emperor Ku, Emperor Yao, and Emperor Sun five Saints continued the Heritage of Tao respectively.
Emperor Yao and Emperor Sun followed God’s will in governing China and created a harmonious society that satisfied all the people. At that time, Tao permeated throughout the society. Emperor Yao and Emperor Sun started to pass the essence of Tao from one Patriarch to another. Then King Yu, King Tang, King Wen, King Wu, and Duke Zhou five Saints continued the Heritage successively.
From Fu-xi Shi till Duke Zhou was the Green Yang Period.
It was the period that God descended Tien-Tao – the unseen thread to God’s kingdom – onto admirable rulers who governed the world with Tao according to God’s will. There were eighteen hundred and eighty-six (1886) years from the Yellow Emperor to Duke Zhou.
In the Zhou Dynasty (around 1000 B.C.), Chinese civilization reached a peak. Both material and intellectual developments flourished. However, as a decline would always follow a peak, the Zhou Dynasty started to deteriorate when King You inherited the throne. He was not upright and his orders could not be implemented throughout the country. The government became corrupted. Trickeries and robberies were common. God’s will had been distorted. Thus King You was not granted the Holy Mission.
After King You, the Red Yang Period began and the Heritage of Tao was carried on by the scholars.
Unlike emperors and kings, who could rule and lead subjects to follow God’s will, scholars did not have authority and could only use teachings based on the Truth to inspire people to bring out the goodness within themselves and seek for the lost origin.
Since teachings were carried out by religions, it was a period of spreading Tao by religions. The first three great religions appeared in the world about three thousand years ago, and they were Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
Lao-tzu was born in China. He was the first scholar to maintain the Heritage of Tao. He taught that Wu-Wei 24 was the method of returning to nature – Tao. He conveyed the essence of Tao to Confucius before he went west. Once Confucius received the essence of Tao, he exclaimed:
“Lao-tzu is so mysterious and profound
as a dragon that can fly to Heaven and
hide in deep waters.”
A legend says that Lao-tzu traveled to the West and transmitted the essence of Tao to a prince. As he was passing through Fort Han-gu, the commissioner of the Fort, Guan Yin-zi, begged him to stay. So Lao-tzu wrote five thousand words down in Tao-teh Ching and proceeded westward. He was respected as the founder of Taoism.
After Confucius received the essence of Tao, he carried on the mission of spreading Tao. He traveled through many states to spread the Truth. He edited the Scriptures written down by ancient Saints, and
clearly stated that these Scriptures
are the everlasting Truth
and the unalterable principle
and guideline for human behavior (benevolence, justice, propriety,
wisdom, and faith).
“The Great Learning” left by Zeng-zi and “The Doctrine of the Mean” written by Zi-si embed the profundity and mysticism of Tao. Confucius was respected as the founder of Confucianism.
Confucius conveyed the essence of Tao to Zeng-zi. Zeng-zi conveyed It to Zi-si. Zi-si conveyed It to Mencius. By the time Mencius received the essence of Tao, China was in turmoil.
It was the Warring States in Chinese history. States were independent and constantly waged wars against the others. Human mind was unpredictable and heresies prevailed. There wasn’t anyone who could continue to carry on the mission of spreading Tao, and the Heritage of Tao ceased to continue in China.
Beginning with Fu-xi Shi and ended with Mencius, there were eighteen Saints who carried on the Heritage of Tao in China, and they were called the:
First Eighteen Patriarchs of Tao
in the East.
About three thousand years ago, an admirable prince was born in the West. He was Sakyamuni Buddha who forwent princedom to practice Tao in deep forest at a young age. At thirty-five, he was enlightened thus carried on the mission of spreading Tao. He was respected as the founder of Buddhism.
After lecturing for forty-nine (49) years, he passed on the essence of Tao to his first disciple Mahakasyapa, who became the first Patriarch of Tao in the West. Since then, Buddhism carried on the Heritage of Tao in the West until Patriarch Da-Muo Zu-Shi (Bodhidharma) came to China.
One thousand years after Lao-tzu, Confucius, and Sakyamuni Buddha, two more Saints appeared in the western world and took on the mission of spreading Tao. They were Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed. In accordance with the cultural backgrounds, time, and environment, they devised the most effective and the most acceptable methods of spreading God’s Truth in different regions and became the founders of Christianity and Islam.
As Jesus became a martyr of Tao, he left Gospels of God in The New Testament. After Prophet Mohammed returned to Heaven, he left the words of Allah in The Koran. However, after Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed, there wasn’t any Saint like them to receive the essence of Tao and carry on the missions of Christianity and Islam.
There were twenty-eight
Patriarchs of Tao in the West.
They were Mahakasyapa, Ananda, Sanavasa, Upagupta, Dhritaka, Michaka, Vasumitra, Buddhanandi, Buddhamitra, Parsva, Punyayasas, Asyaghosa, Kapimala, Nagarjuna, Kanadeva, Rahulata, Sanghanandi, Sanghayasas, Kumarata, Jayata, Vasubandhu, Manura, Haklenayasas, Sinha, Vasiastia, Punyamitra, Prajnatara, and Da-Muo Zu-Shi (Bodhidharma).
When Da-Muo Zu-Shi received the essence of Tao, India was in turmoil. There were numerous heresies, thus the essence of Tao couldn’t be passed on in India. Comprehending a bright purple light coming from the East in inspiration, Da-Muo Zu-Shi realized God’s message that the East was a harmonious place and he should seek for a successor there. Thus he traveled eastward and reached China when Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty (from 502 AD. to 550 AD.) was reigning the southern half of China.
Da-Muo Zu-Shi showed that he was with the True Tao by displaying the miracle of crossing a river using only a reed. He passed on the essence of Tao to Hui-ke and said:
“I bring no word with me from the West.
My practice purely emphasizes on
the heart and the True Self.
If one can transcend
the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth
only by reciting Sutras,
how would ancient Saints attain Tao
when there wasn’t any Sutra?
Therefore, I convey the essence of Tao to
you through the meeting of our hearts
and the passing of the
secret verbal message.”
Da-Muo Zu-Shi started to use the robe and the elm bowl as the insignia of The Patriarchate in China. Then, the essence of Tao was transmitted from Hui-ke to Sen-can, Dao-xin, Hong-ren, and Hui-neng in succession.
By the time Hui-neng became the Sixth Patriarch, the minds of the Buddhist monks had changed. Some were jealous of not being chosen to be the next Patriarch and intended to take insignia away from Hui-neng. Hui-neng had to leave the temple and hide among a group of hunters for fifteen years. He stopped the tradition of passing the insignia as instructed by the Fifth Patriarch Hong-ren.
He transmitted the essence of Tao to two secular devotees of Tao, Patriarchs Bai Yu-Chan and Ma Duan-yang, who together held the Seventh Patriarchate of Tao. Without the Patriarchate of Tao, Buddhism separated into two main streams of the North and the South in China. Unknown to all, the Heritage of Tao was carried on by secular devotees of Tao.
Although these secular devotees of Tao continued the mission of spreading Tao, they were all commoners and were not noticed by the public. Hence, there wasn’t any record of their lives and works.
After the Seventh Patriarchs, there were the Eighth Patriarch Luo Wei-Qun, the Ninth Patriarch Huang De-Hui, the Tenth Patriarch Wu Zi-Xiang, the Eleventh Patriarch He Liao-Ku, the Twelfth Patriarch Yuan Tui-An, the Thirteenth Patriarchs Xu Huan-Wu and Yang Huan-Xu, the Fourteenth Patriarch Yao He-Tien, the Fifteenth Patriarch Wang Jue-I, and the Sixteenth Patriarch Liu Hua-Pu.
By the time Patriarch Liu Hua-Pu 31 received Tien-Ming, 1 it was near the end of the Wu Phase and the Red Yang Period. When Patriarch Lu Zhong-I 32 received Tien-Ming, it was the beginning of the transition from the Red Yang Period to the White Yang Period.
The essence of Tao,
which had been
secretly passed among the Patriarchs
with great difficulties,
was made available to everyone.
It is time in this Cycle of Heaven and Earth that mankind must return to God’s kingdom. The Eighteenth Patriarchs Zhang Tien-Ran and Sun Hui-Min 33 were given the mission by God to transmit Tien-Tao to all souls in this world, and those in Qi-tien 9, 12 and in Hell.
For mankind, this is “the Final Judgment.” All religions must return to Tao. That is why the true essence of Tao is kept with secular devotees of Tao. That is God’s will and is not the work of any human being. These eighteen generations of Patriarchate are called the:
Last Eighteen Patriarchs of Tao
in the East.
This is a short introduction of how the generations of Saints, by carrying on the previous generations and inspiring the later generations so that the Heritage is continued, passed on the Heritage of Tao. As we can see, these Saints came to this world as kings, scholars, and commoners to fulfill their missions.
In the Green Yang Period (before Zhou Dynasty), rulers could lead people by God’s will, so the Saints descended as kings and emperors to carried on the Heritage of Tao.
In the Red Yang Period (beginning from Zhou Dynasty), rulers couldn’t lead people anymore, so the Saints descended as scholars to carry on the Heritage of Tao. As the influences of religions weakened, the Saints descended as secular devotees of Tao to maintain the Heritage of Tao.
Now that the Last Catastrophe of the White Yang Period is drawing near, ethics and morality deteriorated to extremity. As a result, many catastrophes have occurred and in order to save all souls, Tao is made available to all.
After one received Tien-Tao, he has the chance to attain Tao someday and become a Buddha after the Final Catastrophe of the White Yang Period.
*Xian-tien Order of trigram shows the Tao of Heaven. See Question 5.