How is Tien-Tao transmitted to souls of the deceased ancestors?
In ancient times, the rule set by God is if one child attains Tao, nine generations
of ancestors can transcend from the underworld and the cycle of birth and death.
Initially, when Tien-Tao was made available to everyone, God would only permit
Tien-Tao be transmitted to the living, not the deceased. Subsequently, San-guan
Da-di (Deity Emperor of Heaven, Deity Emperor of Earth, and Deity Emperor
of Water) and Di-zang Buddha (Ksitigarbha Buddha) begged for mercy, and
God granted their request. After then both the living and the deceased can
receive Tien-Tao. From then on, the Lecture Hall of the Underworld was
established for the souls of the deceased to listen to the lectures of Buddhas
and to wait for the livings to bring Tien-Tao to them. Once the descendants
of the deceased bring Tien-Tao to the deceased, the souls can ascend to the
Monastery of Heaven and wait for a position. If the descendants accumulate
enough merits and achieve good virtues, the souls of the deceased are ranked
in the upper echelon. If the descendants do not accumulate enough merits or
do not have good virtues, the souls will be sent back to the mortal world and
either be born again so they get a new chance to practice Tao or be born
again to enjoy a good life.
Filial devotion can be divided into two categories. The first one is the filial
devotion of the ordinary, and the second is the filial devotion of the Saint.
To serve one’s parents with propriety for as long as they live, to bury one’s
parents with propriety upon their death, and to pay respects with propriety
in remembrance ceremonies fulfills the filial responsibility of a descendant.
However, this type of filial devotion cannot redeem the sins committed by
the parents and relieve them from the cycle of birth and death, so the parents
will still be born again. Thus, this kind of filial devotion is minor. For those
who are sincere about filial devotion, who would like to repay the parents for
their loves and nurtures, and who would like to redeem their parents from the
ycle of birth, death, and rebirth, they must practice Tao. It is also possible to
bring peerage to ancestors. For every sixty-four persons one initiates to receive
Tien-Tao, one rank is added to ancestors and one generation of ancestors can
be redeemed, starting from one’s deceased parents. A total of nine generations
of ancestors can be redeemed. If one wants to bring blessing to descendants, it
is considered as a special grace, and one must have accumulated a lot of merits
and must have achieved very good virtues. In the year of Ja-Zi (1924), the rule
was changed to a more lenient one. Whenever an entire family has received
Tien-Tao and practices Tao, the deceased parents can be redeemed. If one
wants to bring Tien-Tao to the grandparents, the original rule still apply and
one must have initiated one hundred and twenty-eight persons to receive Tao.
In general, redeeming every generation of ancestor would take another