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195 Tiandi jiao The Daoist Connection JU KEYI & LÜ XIANLONG1 In June 2006, Harvard University held a conference titled ‚Between the Eternal and the Contemporary: Daoism and Its Reinvention in the Twentieth Century.‛ David Palmer presented a paper entitled ‚Tao and Nation : Lee Yujie’s (1901-1994) Reinvention of Huashan Daoism,‛ in which he pointed out that research on contemporary Daoism, aside from focusing on temple systems and school lineages, should also pay attention to how charismatic leaders inherit and develop its traditional elements. He traced Master Lee’s successive involvement in Tiande 天德 and Tianren jiao 天人教 which culminated in his founding of Tiandi jiao 天帝教. However, his paper neither specified what exactly Master Lee inherited from Huashan Daoism, nor did it tell how he reinvented Daoism in terms of thought, ritual, or cultivation. Tiandi jiao thinks of itself as a religion that has existed timelessly in the cosmos. Due to the 1980 crisis of imminent nuclear warfare between the United States and the Soviet Union, Master Lee in his capacity as prelate of Tianren jiao offered prayers to Tiandi, the Lord of Heaven, saying that nobody in the human realm had moral credibility to save the world from the coming cataclysm. He thus had no choice but to resign from his leadership over Tianren jiao and plead with the Lord of Heaven to bring the Lord’s own religion once more into the human realm. The Lord of 1 Translated from the Chinese by Denis Mair. 196 / Journal of Daoist Studies 7 (2014) Heaven himself should be the central authority while Master Lee would hold his mandate and become his chief emissary. He then wrote A New Realm (1990; 1994) as a teaching text for the new religion and widely propagated original quiet sitting, a practice he had developed on Mount Hua, to attract believers to join the effort of praying for world peace. Because the content of Tiandi jiao is founded upon Master Lee’s intellectual attainments and his cultivation experiences , the course of his life is essential to understanding the religion. Master Lee’s thought draws from a confluence of Confucian, Buddhist , and Daoist teachings. Since he lived in an era when China’s traditional thought was subjected to major impacts from Western currents of science and philosophy, he also included Western concepts, such as the idea of ‚particles‛ in his book. Thereby he not only explained the phenomena of the boundless material world, but also explored the endless ethereal realm of spirit, opening new angles to the traditional Chinese inquiry into the relationship of Heaven and humanity. To clarify the objectives of such study, Master Lee’s first son Lee Tseyi would later give it the new name ‚humanity-Heaven pragmatics.‛ Considering that the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics was given to research on quantum effects, Master Lee’s thought can be appreciated for being well ahead of its time. Still, Daoist philosophy and religious culture played an important role in the course of Master Lee’s life. Daoist Thought on Transcendence Human beings have an innate destiny to reach the transcendent plane. In traditional China, not only Daoism but also Confucianism and Buddhism advocate transcendence. Confucians emphasize ‚making one’s own virtue consistent with Heaven‛ as a way to the ‚union of Heaven and humanity.‛ Buddhists emphasize ‚being enlightened to self-nature‛ as a way of reaching ‚true suchness of nirvana.‛ Daoist thinkers emphasize Ju & Lü, ‚Tiandi jiao‛ / 197 ‚naturalness and nonaction,‛ leading to the ‚attainment of union with Dao on an unseen plane.‛ Transcendence is thus a very high ideal and aim of Chinese philosophy of life. Laozi held that to gain transcendent life, one should engage in stepby -step self-cultivation, developing one’s mind to extend into emptiness while grounded in stillness and opening toward broader connectedness. As Wang Bangxiong points out, Laozi’s metaphysics works through subjective realization and proceeds to physical, objective unfolding. Thus this is not metaphysics in a mode of actual existence; rather, it is metaphysics pertaining to a realm of attainment. Such a mode of attainment is like rising water that buoys up a boat: as the mind grows more luminous, the realm of attainment it manifests becomes more expansive (Wang...


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pp. 195-212
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