Definitions

Tz'u-hui Tang

Tz'u-hui Tang

Tz'u-hui Tang (慈惠堂, Ci Hui Tang, literally Compassion Society) is a religious group that is one of the Way of Former Heaven (Hsien-t'ien Tao) sects. The Way of Former Heaven sects are syncretic religious groups that aspire to unify Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and other religions.

The T'zu-hui Tang differs from the other Hsien-t'ien Tao sects, which were all originally based on the Chinese mainland, in that it originated in Taiwan in post-World War II years. Tz'u-hui Tang was founded in 1949 based upon the visionary revelation of a spirit medium in the East Coastal city of Hualien. The medium's vision centered on the revelation of the Taoist Deity the Queen Mother of the West (Xi Wang Mu), who issued a proclamation for errant humanity to return to the "way" by rectification of their conduct and behavior. The Society's most authoritative formulation of Mother mythology was not produced by the sect itself, but is a spirit-written work that dates back to the year 1880 ("The Golden Basin of Jade Dew"). Thus, the 1949 revelations in Hualien are a revival of the traditional Hsien-t'ien Tao soteriological and eschatological theme, which proved highly successful in the unsettled social and political conditions of the post-war years of Taiwan. A small temple to the Golden Mother was erected in the same year which eventually grew into the headquarters of a religious movement.

Members of the sect wear light blue uniforms, and practice a variety of ritual and practices including automatic writing of inspired scriptures, scripture chanting, trance induced bodily exercises called training (Shunlian), laying on of hands, spirit mediumship, and other forms of charismatic religious practice. The island has hundreds of branch temples with the mother temple based in Hualien. Each year members of these branch temples undertake a pilgrimage to the mother temple and "return home" to their divine mother. A variety of revealed scriptures and texts are shared at various Tzu Hui Temples. Tzu Hui T'ang has an apocalyptic vision that parallel's Buddhist eschatology. The current age is seen as the "third kalpa" which is fallen and corrupt and is leading to great crisis. Members belief aligning with the Queen Mother and her message is a way to return to an earlier state of peace and harmony. Tzu Hui T'ang temples are each autonomous, and are loosely organized by a central temple in Hualien.

The headquarters and main temple of the Compassion Society are located in the city of Hualien (northeastern Taiwan). The head of this mother temple chairs two administrative bodies, the Executive Committee and the Membership Representative Assembly, which are in charge of matters pertaining to the sect as a whole. Each branch temple, however, enjoys a great degree of autonomy, taking care of its own affairs without interference from the headquarters, so that the Compassion Society is really a loosely knit network of temples that recognise the spiritual authority of the Hualien centre, but are otherwise independent. In the end of 1970s there was about 200 branch temples and an estimated 1,000 branch temples by 1997.

See also

References

  • Overview of world religions. Division of Religion and Philosophy. Division of Religion and Philosophy, University of Cumbria

External links

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