Chinese ritual mastery traditions, also referred to as ritual teachings (Chinese: 法教; pinyin: fǎjiào, sometimes rendered as "Faism"), or Folk Taoism (Chinese: 民间道教; pinyin: Mínjiàn Dàojiào), or also Red Taoism (mostly in east China and Taiwan), constitute a large group of Chinese orders of ritual officers who operate within the Chinese folk religion but outside the institutions of official Taoism. The "masters of rites", the fashi (法師), are also known in east China as hongtou daoshi (紅頭道士), meaning "redhead" or "redhat" daoshi ("masters of the Tao"), contrasting with the wutou daoshi (烏頭道士), "blackhead" or "blackhat" priests, of Zhengyi Taoism who were historically ordained by the Celestial Master.
Zhengyi Taoism and Faism are often grouped together under the category of "daoshi and fashi ritual traditions" (道法二門道壇). Although the two types of priests have the same roles in Chinese society—in that they can marry and they perform rituals for communities' temples or private homes—Zhengyi daoshi emphasize their Taoist tradition, distinguished from the vernacular tradition of the fashi.
Ritual masters can be practitioners of tongji possession, healing, exorcism and jiao rituals (although historically they were excluded from performing the jiao liturgy). The only ones that are shamans (wu) are the fashi of the Lushan school.
The ritual masters (法師 fashi) are defined, in opposition to formally ordained Taoist priests, as:
Sarah Coakley (Cambridge University) distinguishes fashi as "kataphatic" (of filling character) in opposition to Taoists as "kenotic" (of emptying character), and links them to other Sino-Tibetan indigenous religions:
They are known by different names throughout China, other popular ones being "ritual officers" (faguan) as they at times call themselves, or "redhead" Taoist priests (紅頭道士 hongtou daoshi). There are also localised names, such as "orthodox lords" (duangong), "altar masters" (zhangtanshi), or "earth masters" (tulaoshi) in Guizhou.
The difference between ritual masters and gods' media is that instead of being subject to territorial gods like the media, the ritual masters can marshal the powers of local gods.
The Lushan (Mount Lu) school (Chinese: 閭山派; pinyin: Lǘshān pài, also Chinese: 閭山教; pinyin: Lǘshān jiào or Chinese: 閭山法教; pinyin: Lǘshān fǎjiào), also known as Sannai school (Chinese: 三奶教; pinyin: Sānnǎi jiào; literally: 'transmission of the Three Ladies'), is present in Fujian, southern Zhejiang and Taiwan. It is very active nowadays, and is related to the worship of the goddess 陈靖姑 Chénjìnggū ("Old Quiet Lady") the Waterside Dame (临水夫人 Línshuǐ Fūrén), who is very popular in the same area. It is also related to the cult of Wang Laomu, and competing with Maoshan Taoism.
The tradition shows similarities with Yao and Zhuang ritual traditions, and has incorporated elements of Tantra, such as the use of mudra and vajra. Lushan fashi perform rituals as the head of celestial troops while invoking the "Three Ladies" (sannai): Chen Jinggu and her two disciples, Lin Jiuniang and Li Sanniang. Although Lushan fashi are men, in performance they wear the ritual red skirt of Chen Jinggu and a crown or headdress with the words "Three Ladies" painted on it. Lushan fashi also practice a shamanic voyage rite called "crossing the roads and the passes" (guo luguan).
The Pu'an school (Chinese: 普唵派; pinyin: Pǔǎn pài) is present in west-central Fujian and southern Jiangxi. The historical figure of the monk Pu’an is worshipped by the practitioners as their "founding master" (zushi). Their texts, rituals and iconography incorporate Tantric themes adapted in a Taoist style, and have elements of the Zhengyi and Lushan traditions.
The concept of the Absolute, also known as The (Unconditioned) Ultimate, The Wholly Other, The Supreme Being, The Absolute/Ultimate Reality, The Ground of Being, Urgrund, The Absolute Principle, The Source/Fountain/Well/Center/Foundation of Reality, The Ultimate Oneness/Whole, The Absolute God of The Universe, and other names, titles, aliases, and epithets, is the thing, being, entity, power, force, reality, presence, law, principle, etc. that possesses maximal ontological status, existential ranking, existential greatness, or existentiality. In layman's terms, this is the entity that is the greatest, highest, or "truest" being, existence, or reality.
There are many conceptions of the Absolute in various fields and subjects, such as philosophy, religion, spiritual traditions, formal science (such as mathematics), and even natural science. The nature of these conceptions can range from "merely" encompassing all physical existence, nature, or reality, to being completely unconditioned existentially, transcending all concepts, notions, objects, entities, and types, kinds, and categories of being.
The Absolute is often thought of as generating manifestations that interact with lower or lesser types, kinds, and categories of being. This is either done passively, through emanations, or actively, through avatars and incarnations. These existential manifestations, which themselves can possess transcendent attributes, only contain minuscule or infinitesimal portions of the true essence of the Absolute.
The term itself was not in use in ancient or medieval philosophy, but closely related to the description of God as actus purus in scholasticism. It was introduced in modern philosophy, notably by Hegel, for "the sum of all being, actual and potential".
The term has since also been adopted in perennial philosophy.Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion (Chinese popular religion or traditional Chinese religion) or Han folk religion or Shenism is the religious tradition of the Han Chinese, including veneration of forces of nature and ancestors, exorcism of harmful forces, and a belief in the rational order of nature which can be influenced by human beings and their rulers as well as spirits and gods. Worship is devoted to a multiplicity of gods and immortals (神 shén), who can be deities of phenomena, of human behaviour, or progenitors of lineages. Stories regarding some of these gods are collected into the body of Chinese mythology. By the 11th century (Song period), these practices had been blended with Buddhist ideas of karma (one's own doing) and rebirth, and Taoist teachings about hierarchies of gods, to form the popular religious system which has lasted in many ways until the present day.Chinese religions have a variety of sources, local forms, founder backgrounds, and ritual and philosophical traditions. Despite this diversity, there is a common core that can be summarised as four theological, cosmological, and moral concepts: Tian (天), Heaven, the transcendent source of moral meaning; qi (氣), the breath or energy that animates the universe; jingzu (敬祖), the veneration of ancestors; and bao ying (報應), moral reciprocity; together with two traditional concepts of fate and meaning: ming yun (命運), the personal destiny or burgeoning; and yuan fen (緣分), "fateful coincidence", good and bad chances and potential relationships.Yin and yang (陰陽) is the polarity that describes the order of the universe, held in balance by the interaction of principles of growth (shen) and principles of waning (gui), with yang ("act") usually preferred over yin ("receptiveness") in common religion. Ling (靈), "numen" or "sacred", is the "medium" of the two states and the inchoate order of creation.Both the present day government of China and the imperial dynasties of the Ming and Qing tolerated village popular religious cults if they bolstered social stability but suppressed or persecuted those that they feared would undermine it. After the fall of the empire in 1911, governments and elites opposed or attempted to eradicate folk religion in order to promote "modern" values, and many condemned "feudal superstition". These conceptions of folk religion began to change in Taiwan in the late 20th century and in mainland China in the 21st. Many scholars now view folk religion in a positive light. In recent times Chinese folk religions are experiencing a revival in both mainland China and Taiwan. Some forms have received official understanding or recognition as a preservation of traditional Chinese culture, such as Mazuism and the Sanyi teaching in Fujian, Huangdi worship, and other forms of local worship, for example the Longwang, Pangu or Caishen worship.Chinese shamanism
Chinese shamanism, alternatively called Wuism (Chinese: 巫教; pinyin: wū jiào; literally: 'wu religion, shamanism, witchcraft'; alternatively 巫觋宗教 wū xí zōngjiào), refers to the shamanic religious tradition of China. Its features are especially connected to the ancient Neolithic cultures such as the Hongshan culture. Chinese shamanic traditions are intrinsic to Chinese folk religion, an overarching term for all the indigenous religions of China. Wu masters remain important in contemporary Chinese culture.
Various ritual traditions are rooted in original Chinese shamanism: contemporary Chinese ritual masters are sometimes identified as wu by outsiders, though most orders don't self-identify as such. Also Taoism has some of its origins from Chinese shamanism: it developed around the pursuit of long life (shou 壽/寿), or the status of a xian (仙, "mountain man", "holy man").Faist
Faist may refer to:
Chinese ritual mastery traditions, sometimes rendered as "Faism"
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While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a
[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.Nuo folk religion
Nuo folk religion, or extendedly Chinese popular exorcistic religion, is a variant of Chinese folk religion with its own system of temples, rituals, orders of priests and gods, which is interethnic and practiced across central and southern China but is also intimately connected to the Tujia people. It arose as an exorcistic religious movement, which is the original meaning of nuó (simplified Chinese: 傩; traditional Chinese: 儺), and it spread even outside the boundaries of China exporting such practices in Japan and Korea. It has strong influences from Taoism.One of the most distinguishing characters of Nuo folk religion is its iconographic style, which represents the gods as wooden masks or heads. This is related to its own mythology, which traces the origin of Nuo to the two very first humans, who were unjustly killed by beheading and are since then worshipped as responsive divine ancestors. Nuo rituals began as efficacious methods to worship them, Lord Nuo and Lady Nuo. Since the 1980s Nuo folk religion has undergone a revitalisation in China, and today is a folk religion endorsed by the central government. Nuo priests are classified as 巫 wu (shamans) and their historical precursors were the 方相氏 fangxiangshi ("masters who assist the (astral) square").Religion in China
The government of the People's Republic of China officially espouses state atheism, though Chinese civilization has historically long been a cradle and host to a variety of the most enduring religio-philosophical traditions of the world. Confucianism and Taoism, later joined by Buddhism, constitute the "three teachings" that have shaped Chinese culture. There are no clear boundaries between these intertwined religious systems, which do not claim to be exclusive, and elements of each enrich popular or folk religion. The emperors of China claimed the Mandate of Heaven and participated in Chinese religious practices. In the early 20th century, reform-minded officials and intellectuals attacked all religions as "superstitious", and since 1949, China has been governed by the Communist Party of China, an atheist institution that prohibits party members from practicing religion while in office. In the culmination of a series of atheistic and anti-religious campaigns already underway since the late 19th century, the Cultural Revolution against old habits, ideas, customs and culture, lasting from 1966 to 1976, destroyed or forced them underground. Under following leaders, religious organisations were given more autonomy. The government formally recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam (though the Chinese Catholic Church is independent of the Catholic Church in Rome). In the early twenty-first century there has been increasing official recognition of Confucianism and Chinese folk religion as part of China's cultural inheritance.
Folk or popular religion, the most widespread system of beliefs and practices, has evolved and adapted since at least the Shang and Zhou dynasties in the second millennium BCE. Fundamental elements of a theology and spiritual explanation for the nature of the universe harken back to this period and were further elaborated in the Axial Age. Basically, Chinese religion involves allegiance to the shen, often translated as "spirits", defining a variety of gods and immortals. These may be deities of the natural environment or ancestral principles of human groups, concepts of civility, culture heroes, many of whom feature in Chinese mythology and history. Confucian philosophy and religious practice began their long evolution during the later Zhou; Taoist institutionalized religions developed by the Han dynasty; Chinese Buddhism became widely popular by the Tang dynasty, and in response Confucian thinkers developed Neo-Confucian philosophies; and popular movements of salvation and local cults thrived.
Christianity and Islam arrived in China in the 7th century. Christianity did not take root until it was reintroduced in the 16th century by Jesuit missionaries. In the early 20th century Christian communities grew, but after 1949, foreign missionaries were expelled, and churches brought under government-controlled institutions. After the late 1970s, religious freedoms for Christians improved and new Chinese groups emerged.. Islam has been practiced in Chinese society for 1,400 years. Currently, Muslims are a minority group in China, representing between 0.45% to 1.8% of the total population according to the latest estimates. Though Hui Muslims are the most numerous group, the greatest concentration of Muslims is in Xinjiang, with a significant Uyghur population. China is also often considered a home to humanist and secularist, this-worldly thought beginning in the time of Confucius.
Because many, perhaps most, Han Chinese do not consider their spiritual beliefs and practices to be a "religion" and in any case do not feel that they must practise any one of them exclusively, it is difficult to gather clear and reliable statistics. According to scholarly opinion, "the great majority of China's population of 1.4 billion" takes part in Chinese cosmological religion, its rituals and festivals of the lunar calendar, without belonging to any institutional teaching. National surveys conducted in the early 21st century estimated that some 80% of the population of China, which is more than a billion people, practise some kind of Chinese folk religion; 10–16% are Buddhists; 10% are Taoist; 2.53% are Christians; and 0.4% are Muslims. Folk religious movements of salvation constitute 2–3% to 13% of the population, while many in the intellectual class adhere to Confucianism as a religious identity. In addition, ethnic minority groups practise distinctive religions, including Tibetan Buddhism, and Islam among the Hui and Uyghur peoples.Taoism
Taoism (, ), or Daoism (), is a philosophical or religious tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao (Chinese: 道; pinyin: Dào; literally: 'the Way', also romanized as Dao). The Tao is a fundamental idea in most Chinese philosophical schools; in Taoism, however, it denotes the principle that is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Taoism differs from Confucianism by not emphasizing rigid rituals and social order, but is similar in the sense that it is a teaching about the various disciplines for achieving "perfection" by becoming one with the unplanned rhythms of the universe called "the way" or "dao". Taoist ethics vary depending on the particular school, but in general tend to emphasize wu wei (action without intention), "naturalness", simplicity, spontaneity, and the Three Treasures: 慈 "compassion", 儉 "frugality", and 不敢為天下先 "humility".
The roots of Taoism go back at least to the 4th century BCE. Early Taoism drew its cosmological notions from the School of Yinyang (Naturalists), and was deeply influenced by one of the oldest texts of Chinese culture, the I Ching, which expounds a philosophical system about how to keep human behavior in accordance with the alternating cycles of nature. The "Legalist" Shen Buhai (c. 400 – c. 337 BCE) may also have been a major influence, expounding a realpolitik of wu wei. The Tao Te Ching, a compact book containing teachings attributed to Laozi (Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ; Wade–Giles: Lao³ Tzŭ³), is widely considered the keystone work of the Taoist tradition, together with the later writings of Zhuangzi.
Taoism has had a profound influence on Chinese culture in the course of the centuries, and Taoists (Chinese: 道士; pinyin: dàoshi, "masters of the Tao"), a title traditionally attributed only to the clergy and not to their lay followers, usually take care to note distinction between their ritual tradition and the practices of Chinese folk religion and non-Taoist vernacular ritual orders, which are often mistakenly identified as pertaining to Taoism. Chinese alchemy (especially neidan), Chinese astrology, Chan (Zen) Buddhism, several martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history. Beyond China, Taoism also had influence on surrounding societies in Asia.
Today, the Taoist tradition is one of the five religious doctrines officially recognized in the People's Republic of China (PRC) as well as the Republic of China (ROC), and although it does not travel readily from its East Asian roots, it claims adherents in a number of societies, in particular in Hong Kong, Macau, and in Southeast Asia.