Three Pure Ones
to the gods of Taoism, we find that the triad or trinity, already noted as
forming the head of that hierarchy, consists of three Supreme Gods, each in his
own Heaven. These three Heavens, the San Ch’ing, ‘Three Pure Ones’
(this name being also applied to the sovereigns ruling in them), were formed
from the three airs, which are subdivisions of the one primordial air.
first Heaven is Yü Ch’ing. In it reigns the first member of the Taoist triad.
He inhabits the Jade Mountain. The entrance to his palace is named the Golden
Door. He is the source of all truth, as the sun is the source of all light.
authorities give his name differently—Yüan-shih T’ien-tsun, or Lo Ching
Hsin, and call him T’ien Pao, ‘the Treasure of Heaven,’ Some state that
the name of the ruler of this first Heaven is Yü Huang, and in the popular mind
he it is who occupies this supreme position. The Three Pure Ones are above him
in rank, but to him, the Pearly Emperor, is entrusted the superintendence of the
world. He has all the power of Heaven and earth in his hands. He is the
correlative of Heaven, or rather Heaven itself.
second Heaven, Shang Ch’ing, is ruled by the second person of the triad, named
Ling-pao T’ien-tsun, or Tao Chün. No information is given as to his origin.
He is the custodian of the sacred books. He has existed from the beginning of
the world. He calculates time, dividing it into different epochs. He occupies
the upper pole of the world, and determines the movements and interaction, or
regulates the relations of the yin and the yang, the two great
principles of nature.
the third Heaven, T’ai Ch’ing, the Taoists place Lao Page
125Tzŭ, the promulgator of the true
doctrine drawn up by Ling-pao T’ien-tsun. He is alternatively called Shên
Pao, ‘the Treasure of the Spirits,’ and T’ai-shang Lao-chûn, ‘the Most
Eminent Aged Ruler.’ Under various assumed names he has appeared as the
teacher of kings and emperors, the reformer of successive generations.
three-storied Taoist Heaven, or three Heavens, is the result of the wish of the
Taoists not to be out-rivalled by the Buddhists. For Buddha, the Law, and the
Priesthood they substitute the Tao, or Reason, the Classics, and the Priesthood.
regards the organization of the Taoist Heavens, Yü Huang has on his register
the name of eight hundred Taoist divinities and a multitude of Immortals. These
are all divided into three categories: Saints (Shêng-jên), Heroes (Chên-jên),
and Immortals (Hsien-jên), occupying the three Heavens respectively in that