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The Way was a faith dominant in Shou Lung and other lands of Kara-Tur. It espoused a philosophy that there were no separate forces of good, evil, chaos, and law, but only interconnected and interrelated forces that followers of the Way could shape. Its followers were divided into a Dark Way and a Light Way.[2][3][1][4]

DogmaEdit

Adherents of the Way held that all things in the universe were influenced by all other things, and in turn influenced all others. They maintained that there was no good or evil, no chaos or law as in western philosophy, that these were only labels applied by outsiders to fundamental forces of the universe. A follower of the Way endeavored to understand the best way to use and manipulate these forces.[2][1][4] Theoretically, this meant the Way should be a wholly neutral faith, yet in practice it was split into two opposing sects: the Dark Way and the Light Way, who conflicted over the best way to use the power to shape these forces. The Dark Way asserted that a superior being was obligated to shape the universe for their own purposes. The Light Way argued that there were no superior beings, only enlightened beings, and thought that preserving the natural balance of the world and events was the proper Way.[3][1]

The concept of Yin and Yang, the concept of the interconnection of opposing forces and that two opposing forces were partially composed of the other, was central to the Way, and was the symbol of the faith.[1]

It also depended on the principles of action and non-action.[5]

Although described as an elaborate religious philosophy,[4] the Way was less of a religion and more of a philosophy of metaphysics. Followers believed that the nature of the Way was actually unknowable, and that true faith was found in the world, not in books.[2][3][1] Uncovering the deeper mysteries of the Way allowed its followers to gain a kind of sorcerous control over the material world and its forces.[3] The spellcaster Fargh Choi of T'u Lung, a follower of the Way, taught that the universe was like a sheet of cloth, and that if one pulled on a thread, it would have an effect somewhere else, even in the celestial realms. One who was untrained or clumsy could make dangerous changes or tears to this cloth that unleashed demons and evil spirits, while a "superior man" could restore harmony to the sheet.[6][note 1]

Nevertheless, priests of the Way in T'u Lung considered the spirits of nature to be "Nature Gods".[7]

NamesEdit

Those who followed the Way were called "Guides of the Way", or, in the Shou language, as Chung Tao[1] or Ch'eng Tao.[3] Those of the Light Way were called White Chung Tao and those of the Dark Way were called Black Chung Tao,[3][1] or simply "Black Ones".[8][9] Priests of the Way were called Chung Hsiang Tao.[3] Some outsiders called followers of the Way simply "tao", such as in "tao of the Way".[10][note 2]

ClassesEdit

Owing to the philosophy of the faith and its command of natural forces, priests of the Way were just as likely to wield arcane magic as wu jen as they were to command divine magic as shukenja (known in Shou Lung as dang-ki[11] or dang-kai[4]). In their habits, they were more similar to wizards than clerics, monks, or scholars. Indeed, wu jen, mages, and sorcerers were more likely to hold the highest positions in the faith, and the greatest wu jen of Kara-Turan history were also Chung Hsiang Tao. This duality caused no problems for the faith.[2][3][1]

Priests of the Way were, by and large, often aloof in contemplation of their mysteries and potent with magic.[11]

There were a number of great sages of the Way.[7]

ActivitiesEdit

Priests of the Way were often lone wanderers who journeyed in search of knowledge through an understanding of nature.[3] In Shou Lung, some taught reading and writing and the classic books to any wished it.[12] A great deal of Kara-Turan knowledge of magic and science came from the research of followers of the Way.[2]

Broadly, those of the Light Way employed their powers to help others, while those of the Dark Way used them to help themselves.[3] The two sects waged a secret conflict for control of the empire of Shou Lung, to gain favor in court and achieve ascendancy over the other, with the White Chung Tao subtly influencing events, preserving balance, and opposing the works of the Black Chung Tao, who used illusion, assassination, and demons. Through the empire, they hoped to control the material world.[1]

TextsEdit

Two classic books associated with the Way were the Book of Change by the sage Hsin Fu Chan.[13] and Hsao Chronicles by Hu Ling Do.[14][15]

RitualsEdit

An important aspect of Chung Tao magic was the use of trigrams as a means of divination, as described in the Book of Change. Its use was common to all levels of Shou Lung society, however.[13]

Base of OperationsEdit

There were very few temples dedicated to the Way, and these were designed as large, ornate monasteries and schools that taught all manner of subjects. It did have a number of shrines, but there were more similar to hermitages.[2][1]

The Way was one of the three primary religions of Shou Lung, together with the Path of Enlightenment and the faith of the Nine Travellers.[16] Folk of Shou Lung, at all levels of society, followed all faiths available to them as circumstances required; they were apt to invoke the great sages of Chung Tao when they were astounded or afraid.[7] The Emperor's Wu Jen, a key magical advisor and aide to the Emperor, was often a follower of the Way, as they were thought to be the most powerful spellcasters in Shou Lung.[8] Bureaucratic positions covered science or mysticism were invariably given to followers of the Way.[2]

There were only occasionally temples of the Way in Shou Lung;[2] around 1357 DR, there was great Chung Tao shrine to Kwan Ying, goddess of compassion and joy in the city of Mi'Shan[17] and a deserted Chung Tao temple outside the city of Liao Pei, which was occupied by the Southern Star School of martial arts.[18]

In the south, the breakaway empire of T'u Lung also enjoyed a strong following of the Way.[7][15][note 3]

In the far northeast, there were some itinerant Chung Hsiang Tao in Koryo, such as Korax of Manchar.[19]

RelationsEdit

The conflict between the White Chung Tao and the Black Chung Tao sects was of course central to the faith.[3][1] As they both sought positions and ascendancy in the Shou court, the Chung Hsiang Tao also fell into petty disputes with the Shou-ling of the Path of Enlightenment,[16] a rival faith in Shou Lung.[20][21]

Incidentally, in Kozakura, the Path of Enlightenment was called the "Way of Enlightenment", causing mutual embarrassment back in Shou Lung between the two faiths.[20][21] In Wa, meanwhile, the Winter Sect of the Path of Enlightenment merged teachings of the Path and the Way, developing the principles of action and non-action into a state of acting without acting, or reacting without thought.[5]

SymbolEdit

The symbol of the Way was based on the concept of Yin and Yang. It was a circle, with one half white and one half black. In the center of the white half was a black dot and in the center of the black half was a white dot. This symbol was worn on the chest and sewn into clothing. Naturally, the White Chung Tao wore theirs aligned horizontally with the white half above while the Black Chung Tao had the black side above.[1]

HistoryEdit

Early in the history of Shou Lung, the debate over how best to wield power caused the once-unified faith of the Way to split into two opposing sects, the White Chung Tao and the Black Chung Tao.[1]

Since around the 7th century before Dalereckoning, the White Chung Tao and the Black Chung Tao waged a covert war for control of Shou Lung and through it, the material word. With each imperial dynasty, the Black or the White would gain or lose favor in court. The Black Chung Tao sometimes overthrew dynasties that had brought them low.[1]

Both were brought low in Shou Year 581 (−669 DR) when the first Emperor Chin of the Ho Dynasty—formerly a wu jen of the Path—proclaimed the so-called Organization of Thought, an effort to make the Path of Enlightenment the one and only faith of Shou Lung. Chung Hsiang Tao were banished from Shou Lung, as were monks and priests of many other faiths. 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. Hui Ying of the Way attempted to rally the Order of Nga Han Nuak to his cause and gather a 5000-strong army to fight and win the Jade Throne of Shou Lung. 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. The Way and other faiths were accepted again, yet the Path remained the official religion of the empire.[22][10]

In Shou Year 935 (−315 DR), Hu Ling Do of southern Shou Lung, the lands that became T'u Lung, wrote Hsao Chronicles. These prompted a strong following of the Way in these lands.[23][15]

In Shou Year 2312 (1062 DR), the seventh Emperor Chin of the La Dynasty died, failing to name either of his twin sons Shin Lu and Shin Ginsen as an heir, whom were supported by rival factions.[24] Ultimately, Lu and Ginsen fought, with Ginsen prevailing and running his sword through Lu's chest, before retreating with his followers and burning the castle and capital. However, Shin Lu did not die: his wu jen, a White Chung Tao, used his sorcerous powers to heal his body, but not his soul. Shin Lu was consumed by a dark desire for vengeance against his brother.[25] Ultimately, they would clash in the battle of Battle of the Crimson Wheat in Shou Year 2315 (1065 DR), leading to the empire splitting into Shou Lung and T'u Lung.[24][25]

Around Shou Year 2607 (1357 DR), the White Chung Tao were in ascendancy in Shou Lung and had the favor of the Emperor and family.[1][9] The Emperor's Wu Jen at the time was Kao Shan Ten of the White Chung Tao, who had defended the emperor from illusion and hostile spells since childhood.[8][26] However, some whispered that the Black Chung Tao were scheming to challenge their power and trigger religious strife.[1][9] There were agents of the Black Chung amongst the Shou-ling priests of the Path of Enlightenment[9] and the Path's own High Priest, Kung Pu Mok, permitted Black Chung spies and sorcerers to disguise themselves as Shou-ling monks and infiltrate the imperial court. He plotted to use them to win the love of Princess Pai and turn the empire into a theocracy of the Path.[8] Meanwhile, in the town of Cham Fau, the Black Chung wu jen Zo Chung Kao used illusions to bring the White Tiger Monastery and the Kwan Ying Temple into conflict, so he could the White Tiger Order would be expelled and he could seize control of the monastery. However, the hermit shukenja Tao Lan was guardian of Cham Fau.[17]

Notable followersEdit

See also: Followers of the Way.

AppendixEdit

BackgroundEdit

The Way is based heavily on the faith of Taoism, or Daoism—indeed, the Chinese word tao means "way". Taoism also uses the concept of Yin and Yang, the related taijitu symbol, and a similar system of divination from the I Ching, and the two share some elements of philosophy.

NotesEdit

  1. This may be referring to the Weave of magic.
  2. Priests of the Path of Enlightenment, meanwhile, are called "Shou-ling Tao", meaning "Receivers of Guidance", implying that "tao" means "guides" or "guidance" and "chung" means "way" in the Shou language.
  3. Although not specific, mentions of the Way in T'u Lung are redolent of the Dark Way: the Way work Hsao Chronicles (quotes from which appear in the T'u Lung chapter of Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms) written in T'u Lung and the T'u Lung spellcaster Fargh Choi, a follower of the Way, both refer to the "superior man" of Dark Way philosophy. However, their arguments appear to be more Light Way–oriented.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 28. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Jeff Grubb (1987). Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior. (TSR, Inc), p. 5. ISBN 0-88038-393-3.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 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.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Eytan Bernstein (2007-05-09). Eastern Classes. Class Chronicles. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2016-05-21.
  5. 5.0 5.1 David "Zeb" Cook (1987). Blood of the Yakuza. (TSR, Inc), p. 22. ISBN 0-88038-401-8.
  6. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 53. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 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.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 7. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 33. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  10. 10.0 10.1 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.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  12. 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.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 19. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  14. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 52. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  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), p. 49. 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 I). (TSR, Inc), p. 27. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 39, 42. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  18. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 21. 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. 121. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Jeff Grubb (1987). Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior. (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-88038-393-3.
  21. 21.0 21.1 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.
  22. Jeff Grubb (1987). Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior. (TSR, Inc), p. 3. ISBN 0-88038-393-3.
  23. Jeff Grubb (1988). Mad Monkey vs the Dragon Claw. (TSR, Inc), p. 5. ISBN 0-88038-624-X.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 32. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  26. Curtis Smith and Rick Swan (1990). Ronin Challenge. (TSR, Inc), p. 26. ISBN 0-88038-749-1.

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