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The Path of Enlightenment, or the True Path, and known in Kozakura as the Way of Enlightenment, was the state religion of both Shou Lung and Wa and a popular one in Kozakura and other Kara-Turan countries.[3][4][1][5][6][7] It was a major religion of much of Kara-Tur and the Hordelands.[8]

DogmaEdit

The Path of Enlightenment was based on a written code of behavior and beliefs believed to have been created by the Celestial Emperor[4] in order that the mortal world and the Celestial Heaven mirror one another in the process of attaining perfection.[1] They admonished people to:

  • "Honor that which has gone before you. For the past is eternal."[3]
  • "Honor and respect your Elders and the Ancestors. Show honor in word, thought, action, and deed."[3]
  • "Speak not false words, nor engage in false deeds, for these are not li."[3]
  • "Do honor to he who rules you, for the Earth is the Mirror of Heaven, and the Son of Heaven is the mirror of the Celestial One. Be obedient to your lord."[3]
  • "Engage in no base thing, nor commit murder, for to strike another in the name of anger is not li."[3]
  • "Do honor to those you must rule, for under the eye of Heaven, they are your equals. Be fair to those you rule."[3]
  • "Know that all things are One under Heaven, even the lowliest of creatures."[3]

In these commandments, li was a term meaning "rightness under heaven".[3] Nine cardinal virtues were also emphasized by the Path: in alphabetical order, these were Artistry, Compassion, Courage, Fidelity, Honor, Karma, Love, Respect for Tradition, and Scholarship.[1]

In summary, the Path encouraged people to obey their superiors; to owe fealty to their lords; and to venerate the past, ancestors, former emperors, and the priests who taught and preserved the Path. Past generations were treated as guardians of the Path. Rather conveniently for those in power, it was an easy way for ruling dynasties to gain people's loyalty. It especially benefited the imperial families of Shou Lung, making the Shou emperor as important as the Celestial Emperor himself. By the Path, the Emperor of Shou Lung was deified after death and granted a new secret name (typically that of an animal).[3][9]

The Celestial Emperor ordered the Nine Immortals of the Celestial Empire to each take responsibility for one of the nine cardinal virtues of the Path, and to go among mortals to teach these virtues through example.[1][2] According to legend, the Celestial Emperor also inscribed the teachings on the Cliffs of Tanghai, so the people would be reminded of his will for all time.[1][3]

The Path was exemplified by a number of sages.[8] The great spirit Monkey was believed to provide insight to these sages on occasions.[10]

SectsEdit

Despite this single origin and a doctrine literally set in stone, countless interpretations were made of these rules and there were innumerable directions to follow on the Path. It was said that the way of a monk on the Path was narrow, yet contained many branches before coming to its destination. The differing interpretations provoked dissension and heated debate among the priests, who frequently mustered temple armies of monks and sohei to wipe out those they claimed to be heretics of the faith, leading to bloody fights in the streets of many cities of Shou Lung.[3][11]

Thus there were over two hundred orders or sects of the Path of Enlightenment, with each insisting it was the so-called True Way. The Shou Lung government recognized around two dozen as "approved" or "official" sects, and the bureaucracy granted these land, money, and imperial support, and in turn the sects sent advisors to the imperial court (and thence engaged in politics, religious feuding, and vice).[3][11] The imperial family itself had its own official form of the Path of Enlightenment, which was in turn the official faith of the empire.[9]

NamesEdit

The priests of the Path of Enlightenment, that is, those who guard and teach it, were called "Receivers of Guidance", or, in the Shou language, the "Shou-ling Tao". Over the years, this term was simplified to "Shou-ling".[3]

In Kozakura, the Path of Enlightenment was called the "Way of Enlightenment", causing mutual embarrassment back in Shou Lung between the two faiths.[12][13]

OrganizationEdit

The Shou-ling Tao were the most well-organized religion in Shou Lung. They were also the richest, and welcomed the favor of the Emperor.[3]

Abbots, lamas, priests, and monks followed the Path.[8]

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HistoryEdit

In legendEdit

When humankind first arose from the dust of the Red Earth—the land of Kara-Tur—they were savage, argumentative, and belligerent. The Celestial Emperor disapproved, and wished for their lives to be a reflection of Heaven, to follow his Path of Enlightenment. To this end, he sent to the Red Earth his emissaries, the Nine Immortals, who would each teach one aspect of the Path and serve as the first emperors of Shou Lung.[1][2]

According to legend, it was also believed that the Celestial Emperor caused red-hued lighting to rain from the heavens and blast the words of the Path into the face of the Cliffs of Tanghai in Shou Year 440 (−810 DR), in order that mortals be reminded of his will for all time.[11][7][14] Old histories recorded that the firestorm was visible across Kara-Tur and the skies seemed alight, even to bubble like boiling blood, but no people or plants beside the Hungtse River were harmed.[7][14] For example, Wei Tsao Te's Shichi Hsi, a collection of history, legend, and official history, spoke of flaming words appearing in the sky.[2] Revealed in the aftermath were the teachings of the Path of Enlightenment. However, contemporary emperors initially denied these teachings.[7][14] Other faiths tried to downplay the scale of the event recorded in the histories, or even its divine origin.[7] Nevertheless, this was where the teachings of the Path of Enlightenment were first revealed.[9]

In historyEdit

In Shou Year 580 (−670 DR), having no heirs, the final Emperor Chin of the Li Dynasty of Shou Lung defied his ancestors and left the throne to his advisor, a wu jen and follower of the Path. This advisor became the first Emperor Chin of the Ho Dynasty.[7][15] The following year, Shou Year 581 (−669 DR), he proclaimed the so-called Organization of Thought, an effort to make the Path of Enlightenment the one and only faith of Shou Lung. No other faith could be promoted, and the monks and priests of many other faiths were banished from Shou Lung. This triggered the Time of Contentions, in which rival faiths feuded and struggled against one another, among the people and the bureaucracy. Finally, temple militias waged small civil wars.[7][15]

Ultimately, both the first Emperor Chin and his son died mysteriously in Shou Year 630 (−620 DR). The grandson, now the second Emperor Chin, ended the Time of Contentions by decreeing the Time of Sharing Meals, outlawing temple militias but encouraging religious freedoms once more. Although this effort was less effective in the south, other faiths were accepted again, yet the Path remained the official religion of the empire. Over the next millennium, it grew to become the foremost faith of Kara-Tur.[7][15]

In Shou Year 1761 (511 DR), the sixteenth Emperor Chin of the Kao Dynasty decreed The Revealing of Scrolls, which encouraged intellectual discussion and the founding of many rival schools. As a part of this, missionary priests of the Path of Enlightenment were sent out to far-flung lands such as Kozakura to establish shrines.[12][13] However, the Path of Enlightenment—or the Way of Enlightenment as it was known—had already been introduced to Shinkoku in Kozakura by Shou priests in Shou Year 1638 (388 DR), during the reign of Emperor Shotoken.[16][17]

BasesEdit

RegionsEdit

Shou LungEdit

The Path of Enlightenment was one of the three primary religions of Shou Lung, together with the Way and the Faith of the Nine Travelers.[3][9] However, it was the Path that was the official, state religion of the empire, thanks in large part to its great influence in the imperial court and its well-prepared temple militias.[3] It was the most organized and richest of the three faiths.[9] Folk of Shou Lung, at all levels of society, followed all faiths available to them as circumstances required; they would burn incense to one of the Nine Immortals when they needed aided within that Immortal's purview.[18]

The majority of temples in Shou Lung were dedicated to the Path, but fell into two categories. The first were official temples, with their activities, land grants, and support given to the imperial family monitored by Department of Celestial Supervision. The second were unsanctioned temples, embodying a wide variety of other views; these were smaller but firmly independent.[9]

Other landsEdit

In Kozakura, it was one of the two major faiths. The Way of Enlightenment, as it was there known, was considered to be nearly identical to the Path as it was understood in Shou Lung. It was well organized and drew from the life and speeches of its great teacher to create lessons designed to lead followers to spiritual perfection. It was divided into three main schools: Toro-dai, Kanchai, and Konjo.[16]

In Wa, the Path of Enlightenment was the only faith to be formally sanctioned by the government, which otherwise had no state religion. However, the shogunate followed a radical interpretation created by Baiyosho Degi, who held that it was not a spiritual or philosophical pursuit, but a scheme for social order. Degi saw it as advocating a social hierarchy, with the submission of son to father as a fundamental principle of the universe. The great majority of temples and shrines were dedicated to the Path.[6]

In Malatra, the Path of Enlightenment was most commonly followed by the Seng people of the north, who had the most contact with Shou outlanders. The Ku Nien school was dominant here.[19]

On the Plain of Horses, several of the more sophisticated tribes like the Fankiang followed the Path, albeit with regional variations. The faith here was led by lamas.[20]

In Khazari, the Path of Enlightenment was followed by the majority of monks, namely by the powerful Yellow Mountain Sect.[21][22]

The monastery of Punakha Dzong on the Katakoro Plateau was corrupted and the monks there worshiped evil gods, particularly Cyric.[23]

Holy SitesEdit

The Cliffs of Tanghai in the Hungtse River provinces were thought to be the holiest site of the Path of Enlightenment in all Shou Lung. It was here, legend said, that the words of the Path were violently drawn by red lightning on the sheer granite of the cliffs by the Celestial Emperor himself, serving as proof of the existence of the Celestial Heaven.[11] The inscriptions remained intact and clearly visible by Shou Year 2607 (1357 DR).[11][7] Many pilgrims journeyed there to read them.[7]

The biggest and most important hermitage of the Path was at the Caves of a Thousand Gods, in the Kora Shan mountain range in the Endless Wastes. It was a place of tranquility and isolation where lamas and monks could meditate in peace and seek enlightenment.[8]

AppendixEdit

BackgroundEdit

The Path of Enlightenment appears to be based on Confucianism in its doctrine, but with many of the trappings and concepts of Buddhism, with its many variations and monastic orders.

The faith was first introduced in the 1986 module Swords of the Daimyo as the Way of Enlightenment in Kozakura. Although only briefly described, it appears to have been inspired by Buddhism. The following year, Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior introduced the Path of Enlightenment, a religion inspired by Confucianism and as detailed above. The module equates the two, declaring that the Path of Enlightenment is known as the Way of Enlightenment in Kozakura. Later that year, Blood of the Yakuza reused the Path of Enlightenment in Wa. In 1988, the Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms campaign setting fleshed out the Path of Enlightenment with Confucian doctrine with some Buddhist elements.

AmbiguitiesEdit

The Way of Enlightenment in Kozakura, as briefly described in Swords of the Daimyo, shares some similarities with the later Padhran religion of the Hordelands, developed in The Horde and Storm Riders in 1990: the Way of Enlightenment also follows the life and lessons of a "great teacher" (a title of the Padhra) to achieve "spiritual perfection". This seems to be only a coincidence, as both are inspired by Buddhism. It may therefore be possible that the Way of Enlightenment is another name for the Padhran faith. However, Blood of the Yakuza introduces the Great Teacher Saizu as the founder of the Path of Enlightenment in Wa, suggesting he is also the founder or inspiration for the Way of Enlightenment in neighboring Kozakura. Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms goes further and declares the Way of Enlightenment is almost identical to the Path of Enlightenment. This wiki therefore treats them as the same religion. Nevertheless, the actual doctrine of the Kozakuran Way of Enlightenment remains little-known.

In addition, although Storm Riders presents the Padhran religion as a Buddhism-inspired faith dominant in Ra-Khati, The Horde merges the Padhran religion with the Path of Enlightenment, and even says that Ra-Khati follows "a version of the Path of Enlightenment". It refers to "the Great Teacher, founder of the Path", in events strongly reminiscent of the Padhra's quest for enlightenment, but the Path was already specifically established as the creation of the Celestial Emperor in a very different way. Furthermore, The Horde equates the padhrasattvas with the sages of the Path and the Celestial Empire (these sages are also known as buddas, boddas, or boddhas, which are taken more directly from Buddhism), but these are also created in a very different way. Both Storm Riders and The Horde were published in 1990, so it is not clear which source is retconning or contradicting which. This merger or confusion of the Path and the Padhran faith (and perhaps the Way of Enlightenment) may be in error, be due to a misunderstanding of the Path, or be for in-universe syncretism (a merger or correlation of religions). Therefore, references to the Path of Enlightenment in The Horde and Hordelands sources should be treated as ambiguous.

In any case, the Padhran religion presented in Storm Riders is very different in nature and origin from the Path of Enlightenment presented in Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, so this wiki treats them as separate and distinct religions for clarity, and divides ambiguous references to either faith among these as appropriate. This wiki assumes they are to the standard Path of Enlightenment where possible, but some instances can be much more closely linked to the Padhran religion.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 24. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 31. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 27–28. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 16. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  5. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 145. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 176. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 Jeff Grubb (1987). Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior. (TSR, Inc), p. 3. ISBN 0-88038-393-3.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 30. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Jeff Grubb (1987). Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior. (TSR, Inc), p. 5. ISBN 0-88038-393-3.
  10. David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 32. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 4–5. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Jeff Grubb (1987). Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior. (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-88038-393-3.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 41, 42. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), pp. 144–145. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  17. David "Zeb" Cook (1986). Swords of the Daimyo. (TSR, Inc), p. 16. ISBN 0-88038-273-2.
  18. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 26. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  19. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 105. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  20. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 84–85. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  21. David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 46. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  22. David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), pp. 46, 69. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  23. David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 95. ISBN 978-0880388689.

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