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How to identify Daoist “Pai” 派 schools



Bai Yun Guan (“White Cloud”) Daoist temple in Beijing published an official list of 84 recognized Daoist Pai 派 or schools in their 1921 Gazeteer (zhi 志), each with an identifying poem;  the manual can be purchased for a nominal fee at the gateway to Baiyun Guan in Beijing 白雲觀志. It was also published in Japan, by Oyanagi Shigeta, where the cost is much higher (due to the fall in the value of the US dollar); but this edition also contains the Gazeteer of the Eastern Peak temple (東獄觀志), as well as other valuable references not found elsewhere. Each of the Pai  派 has an identifying poem; usually 40 characters; one of the characters is assigned to the Daoist’s official title each generation that it is passed on. (E.g., I received the 28th character of the 3 Mtn Alliance school – Mao Shan, Longhu Shan, Gezao Shan — Master Zhuang had the 27th, ie, 27 generations since the end of the Tang- beginning of the Song dynasty, 900-960, when the custom of using a poem to identify each Pai was begun). The Shenxiao and other heterodox orders do not always follow this rule, however, and advance one character each time a register/lu is passed on from master to disciple. When this is the case, the poem usually has 100 characters, vs 20 or 40.

When a Daoist comes to one of the 3 sacred mountains, Mao Shan, Longhu Shan, or Gezao shan for a license/register, an examination is given, to ascertain which (or how many) of the 5 traditional lu 籙 registers (Shangqing, Qingwei, Beidou, Zhengyi, Lingbao (Sanwu Dugong)上清、 清微北斗,正一盟威, 靈寶三五都攻) one knows. Grade One is given for the Shangqing  Datong Jinglu/aka Huangting Jing 上清大同黃庭經; Grade 2-3: qingwei wulei & Beidou lu 清微北斗; Grade 4-5: Zhengyi Mengwei jinglu 正一盟威經籙; grade 6-7: lingbao sanwu dugong lu 靈寶三五都攻籙。All of the registers from Grade 5 and above are given the title xianqing 仙卿;all of the titles from grade 6 and lower are given the titles 仙官 xianguan. A Daoist who practices lewd or immoral forms of “fangzhong” (“sexual hygiene” wrongly called in western book markets “the Dao of Sex”) may never advance above grade six, the ordination manual states. Grades 8 and nine are “incense bearer,” and “procession leader,” in Daoist liturgy. I hope to include below two texts as attachments from this manual; the various Lingbao and Zhengyi registers can be found in Vol. 28 of the recent Shanghai/ Shang Wu 36 volume Daoist Canon, entries 1205-1208, ie Vols 879-880 of the Taiwan/original Shanghai 1920’s edition.

The distinction between the Grade 5 pin and above, and the grade six and lower, depends on several important factors: Grade Five and above perform the Jiao rites of renewal, and inner alchemy meditation, as a way of “union with the Dao” (於道合真)for which see subsequent post.








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