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
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
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
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 order.