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There are 5 basic code of ethics or commandment that a Taoist must follow in any branches of Taoism.

Here I am listing these for others who are interested to follow and see if you can make it! It seems easy, but when I go into details, maybe alot of you will find it very fun and challenging!! First, I will list them in Chinese with the cantonese pronounciation, then I will explain them in English. Ng Gaai - The five commandments But Saat - no killing But Do - no stealing But Che Yum - no sexual misconduct But Mong Yue - no false speech But Do Gei - no jealousy If you want to go for this challenge, you can first memorize these in mind, and then try to see if you did anything wrong in your daily life according to these commandments. In Taoism trianing, every taoist will go through a ceremony to accept these commandments, so when they break these commandments, they get instant reaction, but here, I can just do my best to share it and so you can try to see if you get it in your daily life. Maybe you will find it very re-stricting. But in Taoism, you will first go through LOTs of stress and restriction because you have been polluted by your daily life bad habbits. Now you are going through this process to purify yourself. So after the period of stress and restriction, you will feel FREEDOM gained! fun!

Interesting these Ethical Injuctions are equivalent to the moral restraints (yama) of ashtanga yoga, the first step of yoga as described by Patanjali in his famous yoga sutras. Other schools of yoga include 5 others. The corresponding list is 1.Ahimsa -non-violence or non-harm which is broader in application than no killing 2.Asteya - non-stealing - same. 3. Brahmacharya - sometimes transilated as sexual continence or abstinence, though sometimes translated as sexual moderation/righteousness. if it is followed strictly as no sexual activity it is more restrictive than no sexual misconduct, unless no sexual misconduct implies no sex period. 4.Satya - truth - is interpreted as no lying whatsoever, and always speaking the truth and is relatively equivalent to no false speech or attitudes, no fakeness- doing what you say and following through 5. Aparigraha - means non-covetousness, non-possessiveness, non-attachment to things, non-greed, which would somewhat correspond to non-jealousy and in fact it is sometimes interpreted as such. Yogic injunction also includes the 5 niyama or the moral prescriptions 1.Santosha - Contentment - being contented with whatever one has 2.Svadhyaya -self-study - studying ones own mind - studying the scriptures to improve the quality of ones character. 3. Saucha - purity - being pure in thought word and deed. 4. Tapas - ascetism - practicing extreme self-discipline that often involves discomfort ie. practicing under harsh conditions of hot or cold. 5. Ishvarapranidhana - complete surrender to the divine, giving up ones egoic attachments to selfagrandisement in service of a greater purpose that transcends the self, offering of practice to benefit all beings. I wonder if these niyama exist in Taoism too. some scriptures of yoga, ie. the hatha yoga pradipika have 5 additional yama, moral restraints: 1. Kshama - patience with ones development and that of others 2. Dhriti - steadfastness to the task, eliminating obstacles of fear, doubt, frustration, finishing what is started. 3. Daya - compassion, generosity - being big hearted, eliminating ones own cruelty and insensitivity towards other beings. 4. Arjava - being direct and honest eliminating wrong-doing to oneself and others. 5. Mitihara - moderation of appetite - eating the perfect amount for the body, neither more nor less, avoiding eggs, fish, seafood, and meat.

Sometimes these rules can be broken unconsciously. Thanks very much for posting these ethics, if we truely want to progress, these are helpful tools to purify ourselves. I would appreciate more advice from you Mak Tin Si on how to implement them. What tips do you have?

Introduction This paper discusses the ethical principles of Taoism based on Livia Kohns book, Cosmos & Community; The Ethical Dimension of Daoism.Throughout this paper, Taoism will be spelled with a T instead of a D since Taoism is the spelling most commonly used in scholarly books and articles. The discussion will include the relationship between the individual and the community, and the relationship between the community and the celestial realms. These relationships are based on adherence to ethical principles that form the basis of these relationships. Taoism places great importance on ethical thinking, speaking and doing. When the individual behaves in an ethical manner, the entire community benefits. The basis of Taoism as the natural way of being is discussed, and the Ten Precepts of Taoism are examined. Similarities and differences between Taoisms Ten Precepts and Judaisms Ten Commandments are explored. Additionally, Eastern and Western ethics relating to religion are reviewed. The individuals intentions and motivations for living an ethical life are discussed, and the Tao Te Ching is cited to offer clarity concerning lifes meaning and purpose. The divine nature of the Tao is reviewed, since everything begins and ends with the Tao. The most important themes in Taoism are identified, and the necessary human characteristics for attaining the Tao are explored. The issue of whether Taoism is a religion or a philosophy of ethics is also discussed. Conclusions are offered to summarize Kohns claims about the nature of Taoist ethics, and their effe cts on the Taoist community. Commentary In Cosmos and Community; The Ethical Dimension of Daoism by Livia Kohn, the author summarizes the ethical principles of Taoism and the Taoist community. She explains that from childhood, the Taoist learns societal norms in accordance with specific morals, values, behaviors, disciplines, and responsibilities to those in the community (Kohn, 2004, p. 13). The individual, as part of the community, believes that all things exist in harmony with nature. If things go wrong for the individual or the community, it is because of an imbalance between the energies of Yin-Yang. To restore balance, the Taoist must stop trying to control nature. Consequently, all blockages in the natural flow of life are restored when nature is allowed to regain its equilibrium.

When the Taoist tries dominating nature, his selfish desires are at work. The consequences of selfish desires may be disastrous to the individual and the community. According to Taoist ethics, all of nature is a manifestation of the Tao, and is therefore sacred. If the Taoist defies these ethical understandings, the community and nature will suffer, and there will be setbacks ( p. 13). Fortunately, these set-backs are temporary, and nature will triumph in the end. However, in the short term, much damage can occur when man forces his will upon nature. On an individual level, the Taoist treats the other as he wishes to be treated. If the other treats the Taoist unjustly, he responds with goodness and compassion. This is the way of the Tao. The most important ethical principle in Taoism is the concept of WuWei, which is defined as either acting naturally or as non-action (Renard, 2002, p. 377). Wu Wei is not laziness or indifference; it is being itself in the flow of the Tao. The ethical belief underlying Wu Wei, is the Taoist principle that people act for the greater good at all times. They believe in acting spontaneously (not impulsively), without struggling or trying to force events to occur. By behaving in this way, they are not reacting to societal or governmental regulations. They are maintaining the highest standards of ethics and moral leadership without allowing outside influences to affect them. The Taoist believes that by acting selflessly, he is carrying out the principle of Wu Wei. Subsequently, he is in harmony with nature, and living life according to the Tao (The Path or The Way). Taoisms approach to ethics is not designed to preach morality or virtue to others. Taoists do not tell others how to live their lives. However, they believe that each person must stop seeing themselves as separate, and become of one mind with the community (Kohn, 2004, p.103). This attitude requires directing ones attention away from self, and focusing on the welfare of the community. The harmony of the community is of primary importance, because the Taoist believes the community is a microcosm of the cosmos. If the cosmos is unified and balanced, the community should be a reflection of the cosmos. This concept corresponds to the Hermetic axiom - as above, so below. It underlines the Taoists belief in an essential unity between the macrocosm and the microcosm. To achieve unity between cosmos and community, Kohn emphasizes the importance of having good intentions. Such intentions are spoken of inRules and Precepts for Worshipping the Tao (Kohn, 2004, p. 103). She quotes Wayne Teasdale (author of The Mystic Heart), while comparing the Taoist concept of good intentions to the Christian view on this subject. Teasdale posits that [Good intentions require] the development of an attitude that is concentrated and contemplative (p.103). Although the Taoist is contemplative at times, he understands that ethical behavior is actively

contributing to the well-being of the community. He places a high value on communal and social norms, and the importance of individual moral behavior. Here are Taoisms Ten Precepts which the individual is expected to uphold: Do not kill but always be mindful of the host of living beings. Do not be lascivious or think depraved thoughts. Do not steal or receive unrighteous wealth. Do not cheat or misrepresent good and evil. Do not get intoxicated but always think of pure conduct. I will maintain harmony with my ancestors and family and never disregard my kin. When I see someone do a good deed, I will support him with joy and delight. When I see someone unfortunate, I will support him with dignity to recover good fortune. When someone comes to do me harm, I will not harbor thoughts of revenge. As long as all beings have not attained the Tao, I will not expect to do so myself. (Kohn, 2004, p. 184) According to Kohn, these Ten Precepts are classical rules for the Taoist seeking to attain the rank of Disciple of Pure Faith (2004, p. 184). However, there are also 180 precepts of Lord Lao which provide a comprehensive source of rules for living a good life within the community (p. 184). Interestingly, many of the Ten Precepts are found in other religions. Looking to the West, we can find similarities between the Ten Precepts and the Ten Commandments. They both include ethical principles such as, not killing, not stealing, honoring parents or family and not lying. However, there are also differences between the Ten Precepts and the Ten Commandments. These include Taoist ethics such as, not having depraved thoughts, refraining from intoxication, supporting another who is less fortunate, supporting another who has done a good deed, not seeking revenge, and understanding that all beings must attain the Tao together. The Ten Commandments, however, speak of three other rules relating to human behavior toward the Hebrew God. These include, having no other gods before me, having no graven images, and not taking Gods name in vain. Additionally, there are another three commandments not found in the Ten Precepts of T aoism. These are, honoring the

Sabbath, refraining from adultery, and not coveting neighbors possessions. This comparison supports the notion that Taoism is more concerned with ethical behavior of the individual, than with the individuals attitude toward their gods. Conversely, the Judaic emphasis is on upholding monotheism, and worshipping the divine nature of The Godhead. Although there are four precepts paralleling four commandments, the other six principles point-out the differences between Eastern and Western thought. For example, the second precept warns against having thoughts of depravity. However, this concept is subjective, and Eastern and Western religions interpret depravity differently (even the three Western religions hold different views on this subject). Depravity is defined differently by families, races, societies, cultures, countries and religions. Therefore, this type of ethical principle is wide open to interpretation. In Judaism, polytheism could be considered a depraved thought, while in Taoism the worship of multiple gods such as Ma Zu, Shou Lao, Shou Xing (and dozens of lesser gods), are acceptable to the Taoist (Renard, 2002, p. 376). Therefore, in Taoism, polytheism is not a depraved thought. The fifth Taoist precept speaks of thinking of pure conduct. For example, Taoism teaches that pure conduct includes balancing the food energies of Yin and Yang (Lorenz, 2007). However, in Judaism, eating kosher food is considered pure conduct, as it relates to the manner in which an animal is killed. For the Taoist, the manner in which an animal is killed is not an ethical consideration (as long as the animal is not tortured). As another example, in Judaism, eating pork is prohibited, and adhering to this principle is considered pure conduct by religious Jews (Rich, 1995). Conversely, Taoism has no restrictions about eating pork, and is therefore, considered proper conduct (even though vegetarianism is favored). The seventh precept speaks of supporting the other with joy and delight. This Taoist ethic prohibits jealousy and contempt for the other. It encourages support of the community and celebrates the accomplishments of each member. As each member of the community is supporting the other, the community itself is acting as one unit. Together, all members of the community progress forward toward attaining the Tao. This precept (number seven) also relates to the tenth precept which says, As long as all beings have not attained the Tao, I will not expect to do so myself (Kohn, 2004, p. 185). Therefore, all living beings must support each other in every aspect of life. Both of these precepts help the Taoist focus on the importance of community, and both help him avoid suffering and the struggle for salvation. He realizes he cannot attain the Tao by himself, so his efforts are directed toward lifting the consciousness of the community. The Ten Commandments, however, do not speak of encouraging others or supporting the community. The only hint of this ethic is found in the Tenth Commandment which

prohibits coveting of thy neighbors possessions or anything of thy neighbors. So, in a sense, the Tenth Commandment is attempting to stop the individual from feeling envy and jealousy toward others (and hopefully support thy neighbor). By assuming that lack of envy will lead to supporting other members of the community, the Tenth Commandment partially corresponds to the seventh precept, When I see someone do a good deed, I will support him with joy and delight (p. 185). It is interesting to note that the seventh precept uses language in a positive manner to reinforce ethical conduct, while the Tenth Commandment uses language in a negative manner to deter others from acting unethically: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbors. (Exodus 20:17) In both the seventh precept and the Tenth Commandment, each culture is trying to eliminate competitive behavior between the individual and the other. Each culture understands the harmful effects of envy and jealously in a community, and each culture delivers the message of curbing this behavior in different ways. The seventh precept uses uplifting language with a positive tone, while the Tenth Commandment uses authoritarian language with a negative tone. Therefore, Taoism and Judaism use different psychological strategies and linguistic approaches for conveying ethical standards to their communities. The ninth precept is at greatest variance with the teachings of the Hebrew Bible. This precept says, When someone comes to do me harm, I will not harbor thoughts of revenge (Kohn, 2002, p. 184). The message is similar to Christs philosophy of turning the other cheek and loving your enemy. Gandhi teaches a similar ideology of refraining from action in response to the harmful actions of another. Conversely, the Mosaic doctrine teaches the familiar axiom of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (Ex. 21:23). This is another example of the differences between Taoist and Judaic ethics. In Taoist thought, the Mosaic doctrine is viewed as an unethical principle, because the natural flow of events are being disrupted. The individual seeking revenge is continuing a karmic chain of actions which cause chaos, destruction, and sometimes death. Most Shakespearian tragedies rely on this formula. If Shakespeares characters did not react impulsively or violently, the karmic forces propelling the drama would be eliminated (and no tragedies would occur). On a larger scale, if Jews, Christians, and Moslems accepted the Taoist principle of non-action (Wu-Wei), the concept of war

would be eliminated. Even the Prophet Isaiah from the Hebrew Bible tries preaching a version of Wu-Wei when he says, And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isa 2:4). Isaiah is attempting to create a new ethic for the Jewish people after many years of war. His statement is in direct contradiction to Mosaic Law, and he is trying to raise the consciousness of the Jewish people. After 700 years of following the eye for an eye philosophy, Isaiah realizes this unethical precept is no longer working for the Jewish people. As the Assyrian army invades Israel and destroys it, Isaiah declares that a new ethic of non-action and restraint, is more effective than an impulsive act of war. Unfortunately, for Western countries and Western religions, the eye for an eye principle is still being followed today. Taoist ethics could be adopted by the West (especially since Christ taught many of them), but there is a question concerning the relationship between Taoist ethics and Taoist spiritual beliefs. According to Mason, Taoist ethics are inseparable from Taoist spirituality (2008). Taoists tend to refrain from action, but will act when they have a moral duty to do so. The Taoist ethic is to wait for events to unfold before taking action. The goal for the individual is to avoid making decisions based on the immediacy of passions and desires. The Taoist is determined to overcome compulsions and promote moral behavior for self-improvement. Most importantly, he wants to improve the quality of life within his community. In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu offers ethical and spiritual teachings concerning the development of virtue: Cultivate the Tao within oneself; and ones virtue will be perfected. Cultivate it within the household, and ones virtue will be abundant. Cultivate it within the neighborhood, and ones virtue will be enduring. Cultivate it within the nation, and ones virtue will be overflowing. Cultivate it within the entire world, and ones virtue will be universal. (Tao Te Ching, 54). Kohn writes about the connection between virtue, the community and the cosmos. She explains that the Taoist is concerned with resolving inner conflicts; creating good karma, and encountering sages and divine beings (2004, p. 109). The final goal is to travel to the heavens and feel the bliss of being in the presence of the gods (p. 109). Taoism speaks of thirty-six heavens which can be experienced through visualization

and meditation. They believe in a spiritual hierarchy where divine beings exist at various levels of spiritual development. The teaching of a spiritual hierarchy is also found in other religions in the forms of angels, archangels, demons, rishis, elementals, and deities. The Taoist believes that by perfecting virtue, he and the entire community, will be lifted-up to higher levels of existence. Therefore, each member of the community becomes a cosmic being, living without the struggles and suffering of daily life. This concept of ending suffering is similar to the central goal of two other Eastern religions: Buddhism and Confucianism. Kohn speaks about a connection between Taoism and Confucianism, They [Taoists] integrated Confucian virtues and demands of social cooperation; popular concepts of reciprocity, karmic retribution and the perfection of virtue (2004, p.116). She also quotes Kant on the subject of being morally good, One should be good for its own sake, behaving morally should be the rational thing to do, and morally should not need an exterior motive (p. 116). Additionally, Kohn discusses the Buddhist influence on Taoism and the Ten Precepts, Buddhist ethics have been identified as an ethics of intention, as a form of moral determinism, and -especially in its Mahayana form as a system that promotes altruism over all other considerations (p. 118). Taoism contains a strong Buddhist influence. Taoists and Buddhists believe that karma will either reward or punish people according to their deeds. However, Taoism more than Buddhism, places an emphasis on intention, as well as the action itself (p. 118). Kohn concludes that there are two central themes in Taoism: 1) control over ones fate along with transcendental freedom and; 2) achieving oneness with heaven and earth (2004, p. 119). She posits that by following the ethical principles of the Tao, the individual avoids all types of unhappy events, sickness and disease, trouble with the law, encounters with demons, and natural disasters (p. 119). Living by the Ten Precepts, the individual is striving to become one with the Tao. The Taoists goal is to rise above selfish desires by adopting an attitude of moderation, detachment, humility, and patience. Kohn contends that these modes of ethical behavior are the forces behind self-transformation and spiritual realization. Conclusion In Cosmos and Community; The Ethical Dimension of Taoism, the author presents the ethical foundations of Taoism. She discusses human behavior, moral rules, controlling impulses, progressing toward goodness, and the relationship between the community and the heavens. Kohns book places an emphasis on the innate goodness of the cosmos which the Taoist community wants to emulate in the community. Kohn is

making an important point by stating that the Tao is inherently good, and has naturally good attributes such as truth, virtue, compassion, justice, harmony, and balance. By taking the position that the Tao has positive attributes, Kohn is saying that the universe has a divine purpose. Her interpretation agrees with the philosophies of Plato, Plotinus, Locke, Voltaire, Aquinas, Emerson, and almost all the writings of the worlds major religions. However, there also other philosophies such as atheism, nihilism, existentialism, and Marxism which take the opposing view of a universe that has no divine purpose, and therefore, is not inherently good. Therefore, Taoism provides hope, clarity, meaning, and purpose for its followers, while some modern philosophies do not. Kohn establishes that Taoism is an ethical instruction-manual for those wanting to live a moral life. She speaks about Buddhisms influence on Taoism, but does not explain that these influences took place hundreds of years after the establishment of Buddhism. Taoism is at least one hundred years older than Buddhism, so there are no influences from Buddhism in the early days of this religion. Additionally, Kohn does not give enough credit to Lao Tzu for writing the Tao Te Ching, and its possible influence on the development of Buddhism. There is even a possibility that Siddhartha may have read the Tao Te Ching before becoming the Buddha! Since the Tao Te Ching is considered the Bible of Taoism, it is surprising that Kohn is not quoting it more often, and using it more effectively. The lack of quotations from the Tao Te Ching diminishes the importance of ancient Taoism, which many scholars acknowledge as the authentic Taoism of Lao Tzu. Although Kohn stresses the importance of achieving transcendence, and experiencing oneness with the Godhead, she does not discuss the benefits of mysticism in Taoism. This is a not a major issue, since the thrust of her book is explaining ethics and morals in Taoism. However, she opens the door to discussing mysticism, when she speaks about the relationship between the cosmos and the community. By bringing cosmology into the discussion, Kohn is implying that there is an essential relationship between the mortal and the divine. Consequently, she cannot avoid acknowledging the role of mysticism, transcendence and self-realization as an important aspect of Taoist life. Additionally, once mysticism enters the discussion, a problem arises as to the relationship between the pragmatism (and rationalism) of Taoist ethics, and the metaphysical (and irrational) nature of Taoist mystical practices. In the chapter on Community Application (and moral rules), Kohn provides details from the 180 Precepts of Lord Lao of the Celestial Masters, and outlines the dos and donts for ethical living. She concentrates on explaining the Ten Precepts, and lists the remaining 170 precepts in the translation section in the second half of the book. This

complex moral code is similar to the 613 Mitzvoth in Orthodox Judaism which are designed to regulate every aspect of Jewish life. However, non-orthodox Jews - like most people have enough difficulty keeping-up with the Ten Commandments - let alone 603 additional ones! The same situation probably holds true in Taoism. Kohn explains that within the 180 precepts, many are duplications, redundancies, out-dated rules, and ancient superstitious. Her explanation of the cosmology of the Great Plan is especially intere sting because it offers a set of Eight Precepts that connect the cosmos with the community. The Great Plan provides a look at original Taoist thought without the inclusion of other influences from various religions. Although the Great Plan does not f ocus primarily on Taoist ethics, it establishes the importance of a divine connection between the Tao and the community. Since the Tao is the ideal of spiritual perfection, the Taoist must be a reflection of goodness, truth, compassion and selflessness that the Tao symbolizes. By following the Great Plan and the precepts, the Taoist lives an ethical and moral life, and helps his community become one with the Tao. This is the ultimate ethical and spiritual goal for the Taoist and his community.
According to The Ultra Supreme Elder Lord's Scripture of Precepts , the five basic precepts are:

The first precept: No Murdering; The second precept: No Stealing; The third precept: No Sexual Misconduct; The fourth precept: No False Speech; The fifth precept: No Taking of Intoxicants.

Their definitions can be found in an excerpt of The Ultra Supreme Elder Lord's Scripture of Precepts :

The Elder Lord said: "The precept against killing is: All living beings, including all kinds of animals, and those as small as insects, worms, and so forth, are containers of the uncreated energy, thus one should not kill any of them." The Elder Lord said: "The precept against stealing is: One should not take anything that he does not own and is not given to him, whether it belongs to someone or not." The Elder Lord said: "The precept against sexual misconduct is: If a sexual conduct happens, but it is not between a man and a woman who are married to each other, it is a Sexual Misconduct. As for a monk or nun, he or she should never marry or practice sexual intercourse with anyone."* The Elder Lord said: "The precept against false speech is: If one did not hear, see, or feel something, or if something is not realized by his Heart, but he tells it to others, this constitutes False Speech."

The Elder Lord said: "The precept against taking of intoxicants is: One should not take any alcoholic drinks, unless he has to take some to cure his illness."** The Elder Lord had said: "These five precepts are the fundamentals for keeping one's body in purity, and are the roots of the upholding of the holy teachings. For those virtuous men and virtuous women who enjoy the virtuous teachings, if they can accept and keep these precepts, and never violate any of them till the end of their lifetimes, they are recognized as those with pure faith, they will gain the Way to Tao, will gain the holy principles, and will forever achieve Tao -- the Reality."

Rites and Ceremonies

Written by: Julia Hardy The Taoist festival calendar represents an amalgamation of various sources, and varies according to sect, region, and temple. Major festivals last for days, from two or three up to seven or more. A two-day service may involve fifteen different rites corresponding to distinct texts, each rite lasting from one to several hours. Typically each of these rites consists of these stages: purification, invocation of the deities, prayers, consecration and offerings, hymns, dances, and perambulations. There are two main types of ritual: 1) funeral rites or periodic rites on behalf of ancestors, which are performed only by some sects, sometimes in tandem with Buddhist priests; and 2) rites on behalf of local communities. Both types include rites to install the ritual space, rites of fasting, rites of communion or offering, and rites to disperse the ritual space. Rituals on behalf of the community may involve tens or even hundreds of villages, and occur every three, five, or twelve years. They can be extraordinarily expensive, and are paid for by household donations and community leaders. Aside from the rituals themselves, there will also be plays, processions, military parades, and communal meals. As for the performance of the rituals themselves, no mistakes can be made; no step or recitation must falter. ApprenticedTaoshi serve as musicians; more advanced trainees assist by lighting incense and reciting certain passages. The heart of the ritual is conducted by five Taoshi: a Great Master and his four assistants. One of these assistants heads the intricate and complex processions and dances, and is responsible for knowing the entire sequence of rites that make up the full ritual. Another prepares in advance every communication with the celestial bureaucracy that is used during the course of the entire

ritual, and recites all of the invocations and consecrations, the texts of purification, elevation, and confession. During much of the activities, the Great Master is preparing for his role, quietly murmuring secret formulas and doingmudras with his hands inside his sleeves. At times he picks up the incense burner and holds it as he breathes in and out, facing different directions, or he burns talismanic symbols or initials documents. Primarily, he enacts internally the actions spoken by the texts that are being recited by his assistant. At a certain point, he rises and performs the "dance of the stars," the step of Yu or Taiyi. Then he falls prostrate, in a fetal position with arms and legs under his body, face in hands, as he internally journeys to the Heavenly Assembly, locus of the Heavenly Worthies, accompanied by divine escorts (all described in the recitation that accompanies these acts). In this sense, the master is the mountain, just as the incense burner and the altar are also the mountain. In ancient times, the altar was built upon a series of graduated steps, so that the master actually ascended the steps at this point in the ritual, but these days the ascent is entirely internal. There he presents the memorial that is the heart of the ritual texts. The memorial is a petition to the gods, written in literary language, stating the name and purpose of the ritual, its date and location, the names and addresses of the participants, and a vow that is a request and a pledge on behalf of all the participants. Standing again, the master burns the memorial and scatters the ashes, gathers his escorts, and returns. Afterward, there is more chanting and more music, but the main portion of the ritual has occurred. In breaking down the ritual space, all talismans, writs, and other markers of the ritual space are burned. Afterward there is a communal banquet, with plenty of food available for the orphan souls who cannot becomeancestors. Taoist rituals are colorful, filled with music, incense, and stylized movements. Much of Chinese drama is influenced by Taoist ritual. Puppet theatre especially has roots in Taoist ritual, and continues to mimic it in many important ways, including the consecration of the participants before the show begins, the construction of the stage with four corners, and the appropriate talismanic symbols. The master puppeteer is located at the center, just as is the Taoist master who presides over a ritual. Some puppet plays are so fearsome in their spiritual power that ordinary people avoid watching them, just as they avoid watching Taoist rituals. Some forms of ritual involve mediumship, trance, and the exorcism of demons. These usually occur during festivals, and are regarded as being of a lower order than the rituals of the Taoshi. The "barefoot masters" walk beds of hot coals, climb ladders of swords, or pierce themselves with sharp objects. In ritual spaces far less defined than those of the Taoshi, they will call on the powers of local spirit generals and spirit armies and, in the course of dramatic performances, invoke their power for aid and protection on behalf of the community. To communicate with the dead, a miniature sedan chair carried by two people may become the seat of a deity who will, through the movement of the chair, dictate a response to settle a conflict between dead and living family members.

Both mediums and puppets can also undertake expeditions against demons who have caused problems for a person or community. The barefoot masters, like the Taoshi, have their ritual texts, long epics that describe voyages to spirit realms. They often paint their faces in elaborate masks, like those of Chinese opera characters. They might enact a battle against the demons, with swords and military music, and strike themselves with their weapons, drawing blood. The blood is regarded as protection against evil, and the act, a form of expiation for the sins of all. Tissues are applied to the wounds to soak up a bit of blood, and then taken home and stuck on doorframes to ward off evil.