The Tàipíng Jīng (太平絳, Thanks, interrobang) is part of the Tao-Tsang, the Taoist canon. It comprises 748-755 of the Cave of spirits. A summarized version of the TPJ, the Tàipíng Jīng Chao comprises fascicles 746-747. The TPJ (Which I do not believe has been translated into English from the Chinese) is fascinating to examine as philosophy, as religion, and as instructions for establishing a utopian society. I highly recommend reading the referred article discussing it if you have interest.
The TPJ and triads
The T'ai-p'ing Ching has a fascinating pattern of association between different triads. The principle ones presented are Yin, Yang, and chung-ho (central harmony); Tao, Te, and Jen; Heaven, Earth, Man; sun, moon, stars; mountains, rivers, plains; father, mother, child; prince, minister, and people. Note the triad Tao, Te, and Jen, in contrast with the single entity Tao which is the principle subject of the Tao Te Ching.
Recall the Radiohead motif, "Everything... In it's right place." This is precisely the idea behind the ideology of the TPC. The legend begins by saying that in a time past, the "Breath of T'ai-p'ing" was in the world, because the rulers and the people were both in there proper place and lived according to balance. As usual, greed and strife broke out after a while, and the whole thing got f*cked up. I guess they didn't drink their Ovaltao, or something.
The goal of the teachings of the TPJ is to restore this balance through harmony among the people, the priesthood, and the government (prince, priest, people). One of the ways this is accomplished is by promoting open exchange of religious ideas and wisdom among the people; as well as between the people and the government and priesthood, entailing a system of rewards for good contribution and promoting peace and harmony, and the flow of information. (Sounds like the internet without porn, spam, or webcomics. Any takers?)
The TPJ and rules
Of course, no religious system would be complete without rules. The TPJ does not place as much emphasis on the following of rules, because they are implicit in the act of seeking balance between the triads; none the less, they are worth mentioning. The 'rules' essentially mark the following as very bad things to do:
- Accumulate Tao and refuse to share
- Accumulate Te and refuse to share
- Accumulate riches (Jen) and refuse to share
- To have knowledge of the Tao, but refuse to use it
- To have knowledge of Te, but refuse to practice it
- To have a good physical body (sort of Jen), and refuse to put it to use
Well, shit. I think I can live with that. Oh, speaking of shit, there are a few other general rules that don't apply as much to the big picture as to personal matters:
- Be nice
- Have kids
- Don't eat shit
- Don't beg
I think I can live with all of those, especially if everyone else does too. Any T'ai-p'ing ladies wanting to reproduce and make use of my physical body will get a whole, healthy helping of Tao
from me. (Wink, wink) But wait, there are a few last things:
- No alcohol
- Don't kill little girls
- There have to be enough women for each man to have two wives
- Don't abstain
That last set may throw some people, but you can't please everyone. Hell, even I
have been known to occasionally drink and kill children while not having sex with two women. We all have our vices.
The TPJ and long life
The TPJ (Apparently there is such a pattern throughout Taoist texts) promotes a certain recipe of practices for obtaining long or even eternal bodily life. These are:
- Live morally and modestly - Don't overeat, etc.
- Visualize pretty colors in order to ward off sickness (I don't get it.)
- Practice good hygien in order to promote clear bowels. This can range from eating very little to eating nothing and "living on air". (They're not talking about Peeps and whipped cream, either.) This also involves good respiration technique.
- Eat medicinal crazy spirit plants (You tell me)
- Eat 'talismans', which I believe are in this case similar to fortune cookies with no cookie.
- Moxa, acupuncture, and pulse
- Music, specifically of the variety where each of five notes is associated with a direction and an internal organ
This is where the TPJ starts to lose me. But if they want me to listen to "Liver in E flat" with needles sticking in me, smoking weed, eating paper and seeing pretty colors - sure, count me in.
"The Ideology Of the T'ai-p'ing Ching", by Max Kaltenmark, from Facets of Taoism (Essays in Chinese religion), ed. by Holmes Welch and Anna Seidel, Yale University Press, 1979