Buddhism and Daoism Face-off
Buddhism and Daoism Competed
Co-existence of Buddhism and Daoism anticipated
competition and intermingling between the two
Competition for supremacy led to denunciation of
Buddhist monks accused Daoist priests of stealing
their ideas and texts;
Daoist reacted with the same accusation
Each conceived and created its new scriptures,
known as apocrypha, which simultaneously show
the creation of new “gods” or “deities”, and/or
resurgent worships and practices
 The purposes of new scriptures are:
 to achieve “scriptural hegemony”
 to strength liturgical and evangelical monopolies
by integrating other’s favored rituals and practices
 Aims of New ritual and liturgical procedures:
 practical:
maintain the well-being of their practitioners/followers
 help them obtain healthy and long life
 offer protective treatment of disease
 teach them measures to exorcise the demons
help them attain salvation in this world and in the next
 Each also relied on existing/new liturgical
talismans, incantations, invocation of the
deity’s name, effigies, icons, diagrams,
registers, charts, texts of mysterious origin
 Each also adopted vocabulary used by its
 This had an ironic outcome
 two teachings were brought closer
 reconciliation of differences occured
 This also led to the following phenomena:
I. Reaffirmation of the powers of “talismans”
 “Talismans” were widely used in the Celestial
Master (Tianshi) School and the Numinous
Treasure (Lingbao) School of Daoism
 They were now adopted by Buddhist monks,
particularly by Tantric masters in Tang China, for
therapeutic and exorcistic purposes similar to
that of Celestial Master School of Daoism
II. Reaffirmation of the efficacy of the
utterance of “word”
 The invocation of the deity’s name is
reminiscent of what the Lotus Sutra
 the invocation of Guanyin’s name to free
oneself from peril
 Invocation of mantra, dhāraņīs
III. Reaffirmation of the exorcistic power of
images/icons/statues/sculptures/effigies the
IV. Reaffirmation of alimentary precepts such as
 grain-free diet recommended by Daoism
Vegetarianism recommended by Buddhism
 All of these were to fulfill the same salutary
purposes for both Buddhists and Daoists within
their fields of healing, life-saving, life-prolonging
In their competition, Buddhist monks
denounced Daoism, denigrating it as a
producer of heretical texts and false
 Zhen Luan wrote Laughing at the Dao (Xiaodao lun 笑道
論) denouncing the counterfeits of the Lotus Sutra forged
by the Daoists and accused them of stealing.
 Dao’an wrote On the Two Teachings (Erjiao lun 二教論),
charging Daoists plagiarizing Buddhist scriptures.
 Falin, wrote In Defense of What is Right (Bianzheng lun
辨正論) accusing Daoists of misappropriating Buddhist
scriptures to form Daoist Lingbao scriptures
Buddhist monks accused Daoist
priests of plagiarizing some Buddhist
scriptures to produce Daoist Scriptures.
Repaying the Profound Kindness of Parents,
Revealed by Lord Lao
 Adapted from Sutra on the Profound Kindness of
Parents, which is itself a Buddhist apocryphon
Scripture for Pacifying Houses, Revealed by
the Lord Lao
 Adapted from the Sutra for Pacifying Houses, also a
Buddhist apocryphal text
Scripture of the Eight Yang for Pacifying
Houses, Revealed by the Most High Lord Lao
Adapted from Sutra of Incantations of the Eight
Daoist priests also claimed that Buddhist monks
plagiarized their scriptures
Sutra of the Three Kitchens
Stolen from Daoist scripture titled Scripture of the
Five Kitchens,[Revealed by Laozi]
Sutra of the Divine Talismans of the
Seven Thousand Buddhas to Increase
the Account, Preached by the Buddha
Stolen from Daoist scripture titled
Marvelous Scripture for Prolonging life
and for Increasing the Account, Revealed
by the Most High Lord Lao
Other adaptation:
Daoist: The Marvelous Scripture for
Extending Longevity, Revealed by the
Most High Heavenly Venerable of the
Numinous Treasure
Extension of life is guaranteed by the “Venerable
of the Numinous Treasure Prologation-ofDestiny”
Buddhist: Sutra to Extend Destiny,
Preached by the Buddha
 the same extension is granted by the
“Bodhisattva Prolongation of Destiny”
Buddhism and Daoism
 Buddho-Daoist interaction resulted in the
transformation of Buddhism and Daoism
 Transformation due to fabrication/forgery of
scriptures produced by its opponent
 Fabrication/forgery involved “plagiarism” or stealing
of the opponent’s texts
 These texts are referred to as “Buddhist/Daoist
 A new apocryphon is likely to anticipate a
counter-apocryphon from each one’s opponent
Examples of Apocrypha
Daoist Scripture for Unbinding Curse, Revealed by
the Most High Lord Lao was a response to the
earlier Buddhist Sutra for the Conjuration of
Bewitchments, Preached by the Buddha
Buddhist Sutra on Prolonging Life through
Worship of the Seven Stars of Northern Dipper,
Preached by the Buddha, aka. Great Dipper Sutra,
was a response to Daoist Supreme Scripture of the
Great Dipper of Mysterious Power Guiding Destiny
and Prolonging Life
Buddhist: The Sutra of the Three Kitchens
 A Buddhist apocryphon based on Daoist
 Three kitchens refer to:
The spontaneous Kitchen of compassion and
consciousness of the self
The kitchen of the four steps towards the
enlightenment of a pratyekabuddha (a selfrealized buddha” and the non conceptualization
of the auditors
The spontaneous kitchen of being, non-being,
and non-divine
 The sutra emphasizes Buddhist origin,
representing the Buddha’s words, but traces of
Daoist phraseology can be detected
Buddhist phraseology is used to lend a perfect
Buddhist coloration: Three Jewels, Six pāramitā,
Amitābha, Sukhāvatī
Daoist phraseology lurks beneath them: five phases,
broth of jade (yujiang, saliva), eating jujubes, great
granary, mobile kitchen;
The structure of the text attests to its Daoist
origin: Daoist correlation theory, synergy between
one’s body and environment
 Main themes:
Stresses the importance of reciting the “Method of
Three Kitchens” to be free from hunger, to attain
clarity and limpidity
Stresses the importance of reciting the gathas
everyday so that on has no need of nourishment
for a period of one hundred days or longer
 eliminates three poisons, take refuge in the Three
Jewels, concentrate upon Amitābha….to gain merits
Performs meditation, drinks only cow’s milk and
eats only jujubes or broth
Recites the names of the divinities of the
Recites the Buddha’s “dhārani to invite the
three meals of the Kitchens”
All in all, recitations of incantations, invocations
of deities, and meditation to harmonize the
physical and the mental are the main
components of the Method of the Sutra
Assimilated Daoist “Method of the Kitchens”
to the practices of qi for perfecting the self
a technique for rejuvenation
A means leading to attainment of wisdom and
to meeting Amitābha, and even to
Adopted Daoist dietary theory
Eat genuinely transcendent diet composed of
“celestial aliments and beverages”
Daoist: The Scripture of the Five Kitchens
Full name: Miracle of the Disfigurement of
The Scripture of the Five Kitchens, Revealed
by Laozi
Possibly a reworked version of earlier
scriptures such as the Scripture of the
Traveling Kitchen and Scripture of the
Kitchen Food of the Sun and the Moon
Supposedly produced in mid-eighth century
as evidenced by later Daoist literature
Composed of twenty verse lines of five
characters each, concerning the cosmic pneuma
(qi)within the five viscera
Based on legendary Daoist methods of “Heavenly
Kitchens,” a term derived from Buddhism which
refers to “food of superior quality”
Quotes the Laozi and the Zhuangzi extensively
 One commentary says that the goal is:
harmonizing primordial qi with “supreme
harmony” to attain to the Dao, while in
 Three Daoist traditions come into play
Theory of correlation between five phases and five
Theory of “abstinence from cereals/grains”
Alchemy and immortality techniques
 Teaches the following:
the procedure to abstain from nourishment to
become invisible to spirits and demons
Absorption of the yellow breath and replacement of
refined breaths produced by nutrition with the pure
and subtle breaths generated alchemically in the
practitioner’s body
 Practitioners are required to
recite the Five Kitchens poem
Know how to manipulate different types of
qi in one’s body
Effects of the above practices, according
the Fundamental Treatise for the
Absorption of Pneuma:
Rejuvenation after three years of practice
Strong vitality and clairvoyance after six years
 invulnerability and perfect control over the
gods and spirits after nine years
Become the “perfected man” zhenren 真人
Attributes of the Daoist
“Perfected Man”
Health: Never harmed by fire or
water; never suffers from hunger or
thirst, heat or cold
Longevity: Eternal youth and long life
Immortality: one never dies
Competition in combating evils
 Sorcerers, witchcraft, shamans are
considered evils, sources of human illness
Methods for Confronting these evils
developed in both Buddhsim and Daoism
 Scriptures were created to deal with
Buddhist: The Sutra for the Conjuration of
Bewitchments, Preached by the Buddha
Daoist: The Scripture for Unbinding Curses, Revealed
by the Most High Lord Lao
While Daoist text emerged as a response to
Buddhist text, Buddhist text had drawn some
of its materials from still earlier medieval
Daoist sources
It is more ideological than ritual text
The Sutra for the Conjuration of
Bewitchments, Preached by the Buddha
The sutra aims to destroy the sorcerer, who
was a woman, to free the faithful from
torments conjured up by curses and to help
the faithful attain happiness of paradise
Antidote to sorcery:
Dhāranis, murderous incantations, exorcism
 evocations of bodhisattvas and other
Paradoxical in its “use of evil against evil”
It was produced in keeping with Buddhist
notion of mofa (the Latter Days of the
Dharma, or the Decline of the Dharma) that
had been discussed in earlier apocryphal
and genuine sutras:
Apocryphal: Sutra of Consecration (Guanding
Genuine: The Lotus Sutra
“If you are a victim of curses and poisons
On the part of a being wishes to harm you
Invoke the power of Guanyin
And [the harm] will return to its instigator”
The Content of the Sutra
 An old woman prepared bewitchment
by burning animal fat in the middle of
the night under the star
Made straw dolls, human effigies, talismans
...imprecations and curses Used pins,
needles, clods of yellow earth..
Soliloquized in a state of trance
Bewitched the cows, sheep, horses,
chickens,, dogs, and pigs and bound their
proprietors with curses...
The Buddha invites/calls upon the following
divinities to come and devour the sorcerer:
divine kings of the Green Emperor of the East
the divine kings of the Red Eemperor of the South
divine kings of the White emperor of the West
divine kings of the Black emperor of the North
divine kings of the Yellow emperor of the Center
The Buddha also calls upon Celestial
kings and other divinities to expel and
cause evil spell to return against
 devas of the four heavens (head)
 a Brahman
 the nāgarājas (dragon kings) of the four
Bull-head Abang (Guardian of Hell)
The Buddha also calls upon these
Bodhisattva Universal Virtue
Bodhisattva Changing Light
Bodhisattva Great Knowledge
Bodhisattva Delicate light
Bodhisattva Great Light
Bodhisattva Variegated Light
Bodhisattva Moon Light
Bodhisattva Drangon Light
 Bodhisattva Venus
 Bodhisattva Thousand Yang
The Buddha also calls the following to devour the
Giant beast of the east (bodies)
Millipede and centipede of the south (eyes)
White elephants of the west (heads)
Black birds of the north (hearts)
Dragon-king of the Yellow Emperor of the center
The text indicates that the Buddha knows their
names, want them disappear, annihilated, their
heads split into seven pieces..
It stresses the merits of recitation of the sutra,
accumulation of good deeds and the fields of merit,
incantations, and a six-syllable mantra
Daoism’s Attitude towards Sorcery
Why didn’t Daoists devote as much attention to it as
Buddhism and produce scriptures earlier than
They didn’t believe that demonical possession or
illness was due to curses of a few evildoers like
shamans and sorcerers
Demons spread as a result of “blood sacrifices” rituals
performed by masters of nameless, illicit, and
perverse religions or cults
Or people’s belief in “heterodox” gods and the efficacy
of the baleful spells taught by ritual masters
representing these gods.
The Scripture for Unbinding Curses,
Revealed by the Most High Lord Lao
This scripture aims to get rid of the scourge of
witchcraft, which was, in Daoist view, instigated
by “Barbarians of the West.” It is to help the
faithful free from misfortune, attain harmony
and health, happiness and longevity…
 Daoist eschatology, which copied Buddhist
mofa theory, underpinned the themes of the
Combating sorcerers has to be done exclusively
by rites and by writing, not by other means
The Content of the Scripture
The harmony of High Antiquity have given way to
the moral decadence of the end of the world
People of “intermediate age” propagated the
practices of sorcery and did harm to good people
Victims of these bewitchments must install an alter
and invite a Daoist of the Three Grottoes to recite
this sutra to generate some merit and cure their
To chase away evil spells and assure well-being
and longevity, one must recite a special rhymed
incantation: (see page78)
Lord Lao calls upon these divinities to
The Generals of the Three and the Five
The Emissaries of the Eight Winds
The Vassal Lord of the Nine Regions
Ten thousand general and tens of millions
of troops
Stresses the recitation of the scripture for
curing illnesses, and dissipating
misfortunes and calamties
Lord Lao, in the text, says that he traveled
to India and transmitted his teaching to
people there.
 Wherever the sutra is recited, people will
gain longevity, be protected by thousand
transcendent beings (immortals), and free
themselves from diseases
Their happiness in this life is assured; their
bodies are strong as gold and stone…
Recurrent themes in both texts
Use of the exorcistic formula “May their heads
be broken in seven pieces!”
“May [three (earth’s) beams and six (sky’] pillars
turn back against their instigators
 invocation of exorcistic divinities such the
Emperors of the Five Directions (found earlier
in Daoist text)
Cloning Daoist Scripture
 The Sutra to Increase the [Life] Account, or
the Yisuan jing 益算經, produced by Chinese
Buddhist monks, is an appropriation or even
an outright copy of a Daoist scripture
The aim is to assure the health and welfare
of the faithful so that they can reach the full
term of existence—120 years, through
invocation of the General of the Six jia (liujia
A life span of 120 years is known as
“celestial longevity (tianshou 天壽) and
one’s “life-capital” can be increased
to reach this longevity or decreased
to die prematurely
Directors of Destiny (siming 司命)
survey one’s merits and demerits to
decide one’s life span
The calculation of merits or demerits is based on
Daoist system of justice that seeks balance
between reward and punishment
Accumulation of good deeds is rewarded with
prosperity, fortune and felicity for one’s whole
Faults that exceed a certain quota bring about ill
effects such as severe disease, bankruptcy, or even
the death of the guilty party and the extinction of
his family line
There are a number of different versions
of Buddhist Yisuan Jing that bear
different titles.
There are also two different Daoist
Yisuan jing
Daoist Yisuan jing
Convention: respect the sutra
Addition/creation of new divinities:
Various celestial officers
Lords of the Five Peaks
Divinities of Six jia governing the account
generals of the five peaks
Creation of new talismans:
the Most High Divine Talismans (or Divine
Talismans of the Six Jia)
Divine Talismans of the Great Dao
Buddhist Yisuanjing jing:
New divinities: "seven thousand Buddhas"
added to the title
Slapdash adjustments and noticeable substitution
of Vocabulary used in the Daoist ogriginal:
Buddha replaced immortals
Bodhisattva for perfected man
way of the buddha replaced "orthodox way“
The Seven thousand buddhas for the Six
Talismans were now called talismans for the
thousand Buddhas.
Method to increase life-capital
wear talismans
recite scripture
offering incense
respect three jewels and the precepts
 The text is supposed to be used orally for
 part of it chanted
 ritual components: Invocations of the
Generals of the Six jia, the names of the
seven stars of the Northern Dipper, the
Three Terraces, and the Five Stars
Further Influence on Buddhism
The Cult of the Great Dipper (Beidou 北
Expressed in the Daoist scripture called
Supreme Scripture of the Great Dipper of
Mysterious Power [Guiding Original]
Destiny and Prolonging Life, or the
Scripture of the Great Dipper (Beidou jing)
The core teaching of the scripture:
A family possessing the Scripture of the
Great Dipper will be blessed its destiny,
and its house will enjoy peace
Members of the family are required to
worship the scripture and recite the
incantations and vows that constitute the
core of the teaching
The cult of the Great Dipper expressed in the
text derives from Secret Instructions of the
Seven Principles, which teaches honoring the
Great Dipper to obtain longevity by:
Cereal offerings
Burning of the sacrificial paper money
Nightly cult of the stars of the Dipper
The rite of “personal destiny” (benming)
“Lying down in the Dipper” (on a map of the
constellation and pronouncing “incantation of
Also expressed in Shangqing Daoist writings
such as Shangqing Golden Scripture with Jade
Characters, which teaches adepts how to
recline on the diagram of the constellation to
 escape death after nine years of this practice
 reach immortality afte eighteen years of this
Complementary instructions are expounded in
several other texts including illustrated
“Registers”, which conceived the Great
Dipper’s divinities
 each bearing the title of “lord” and is said to
have “allure of Perfected Man”
Based on the same teaching,
Buddhists monks created the
Sutra on Prolonging Life
through Worship of the Seven
Stars of the Northern Dipper,
Preached by the Buddha, or
Great Dipper Sutra
First expressed in the treatise
and liturgical text composed
by Tantric Buddhist monks,
for instance Yixing and
Vajrabodhi, in early Tang
times (7th -8th century).
Later incorporated in the Buddhist Great Dipper
Sutra produced in the Yuan Dynasty (13th -14
The Daoist sources used in these works include
Method of Sir Immortal Ge [Xuan] for Honoring
the Great Dipper, which shows two popular and
complimentary Daoist cults:
the Great Dipper
Original Spirits
 Divinities in Daoist registers are replicated in
Buddhist Great Dipper Sutra