- News and Events
- Researcher Directory
- DLC Funded Research
- DLC Projects
Digitization of Qing Spirit Medium Medical Texts
A number of texts were provided to the David Lam Centre for preservation in digitized form. These materials represent a body of work at the intersection of local medical practices and southern Chinese traditions of “spirit-writing” (Cantonese fu-gei 扶乩).
These materials have been digitized and made available for scholars conducting research in related fields.
The David Lam Centre thanks Mr. Yim Tse and Mrs. Jenny Tse for their generous donations of these Qing Spirit Medium Medical Texts.
Preface by donor Mrs. Jenny Tse
Divine Enlightenment Introduction - Chinese Version
廣東佛山於清光緒二十五年己亥（一八九九年）疫症流行，人多感染時疫，無法救治，疫症死亡者，不計其數，悲慘之情，難以描述。當時佛山人信奉一位人稱綏靖伯之神靈，全鎮人以至誠之心設壇祈求綏靖伯降臨挽救性命，終於感動神靈，兩月內疫症消除，人民逐漸恢復正常生活。佛山人感荷隆恩，建廟宇供奉綏靖伯之神靈，又設乩壇求綏靖伯降臨訓示。綏靖伯原為宋朝人，在世官至校尉，為官公正清廉，為人恭敬孝善。綏靖伯歸道山後，天上玉帝嘉許其威服邪魔之功德，賜封為“玉封威服綏靖伯，朝廷亦敕封為綏靖伯爵。綏靖伯廟之乩壇雖設，而扶乩求訓示，非任何人能勝任，須有合緣之乩手，方能邀請神靈降臨。當時佛山有商人名陳麗泉，陳公於公餘之暇，偶經其鄰近之綏靖伯廟，見人在廟內扶乩，好奇而試之, 豈料乩隨手動, 似有宿緣，人皆奇之，是以紛紛化稟求問, 而陳公扶乩所批之事,悉皆效驗, 陳公自身亦難以置信, 惟陳公素以扶乩爲迷信，因乃謝絕留任乩手之請。時光轉瞬十三載，陳公鄰舍梁某之子，忽染重病, 屢醫罔效, 遂懇請陳公念多年坊鄰之誼, 盼能同往綏靖伯廟扶乩求賜批示。陳公扶乩即蒙綏靖伯賜方施治, 梁某之子病即痊愈。 陳公始感事之奇, 於是誠心求問數事，所獲批示均有效驗，顯示綏靖伯洞悉陳公其人其事。陳公之信心日漸堅定，遂棄商習道，集綏靖伯弟子多人，築“念誠思過草堂”，扶乩救世。蒙綏靖伯降壇批示，來求醫者，先為治病，以堅其信仰，再示訓言，令其改悔。而訓示多孝善之篇，發人深省。陳公復從批示中知悉自身原為天上之洞府神魂，入道後蒙綏靖伯收錄為弟子，賜道名陳洞生，堂中眾弟子尊為道長，於是益自勉勵，發願爲世人多做有益之事，藉以勸善而改變人心及社會風氣。綏靖伯自清宣統二年庚戌五月（一九一零年），降臨“念誠思過草堂”乩壇，乩文積累成帙，遂由堂中弟子恭錄付梓，蒙批示賜名《神明儆世錄》，集合訓諭、醫科與雜事各篇，都為十集，於一九一一年刊行，派送各信仰者。
西門大學海港分校林思齊國際交流中心主任高保羅教授（Dr. Paul Crowe)，對道教素有研究，以偶然之機緣，余與高教授談及家藏之《神明儆世錄》，高教授甚感興趣，余遂將存放家中，塵封已久之線裝書籍攜至林思齊中心。高教授認為此乃極有價值之道教文獻，囑余為文介紹。林思齊中心擬將《神明儆世錄》轉為數字化，存放國際網站，供人閱覽。余甚喜此一系列之道教典籍，竟然有此再被珍視而重見天日之機緣，真乃人有命運，書亦有命運。書中弘揚孝善之訓諭及治療各種疾病之良方，均為近代佛山人所親歷天人交流感應之真實記錄。若視扶乩為迷信，而不詳細研讀乩文之內容及其中蘊藏之道教信息，實難以理解當地人之思想信仰與價值觀念。儒道佛三家思想為中華文化之主流，惟道教資料，特別有關扶乩之記錄，徵之於歷史及民間信息，均較為缺乏。佛山作為宗教文化名城，當地道堂“念誠思過草堂”，後易名“至善堂”所存大量扶乩之翔實文字記錄，望不致散佚不存。如今此一系列幸存於海外之《神明儆世錄》重現於世，當可成為研究道教之重要歷史文獻。謹向高保羅教授致以萬分感謝！本文又蒙王健教授譯為英文，同此致謝！
Divine Enlightenment Introduction - English Version
Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment
Respectfully composed in memory of my late grandmother Madame Si Dang Sau-ying, whose Taoist monastic name was Fun-chi
Confucius said: "How great is the beneficent virtue of the spirits!" (<<The Golden Mean>>). The great virtue of the spirits is manifest in all things and everywhere. Zi Lu asked about how to serve the spirits, and Confucius replied: "We are not even able to serve humanity, so how could we be of service to the spirits!" When asked about death, he replied: "We don't even understand life, so how could we know about death!" (<<The Analects,>> "First Priorities" chapter). It appears that Confucius only talked about the living and avoided discussing the spirits, but in fact that was not the case. In his <<New Interpretation of The Analects>>, Professor Qian Mu explained, "If we have nothing to be ashamed of in our life, then death will be a cosmic experience. The cosmic existence of spirits today derives from their having done nothing shameful when they were alive long ago. If we are able to understand the principles of being alive, and extend them into the post-mortem spiritual world, then from the organic unity of living and deceased people and spirits, we can deduce the organic unity of Nature and humanity." Mister Qian also said, "While it would appear that Confucius intended not to answer Zi Lu's question, this was in fact his way of giving him a profoundly meaningful answer." Thus the spiritual and human realms are bound by a common cause: the wish to advise humanity to accrue blessings by performing charitable deeds. In recent times people's moral standards are steadily declining. Deceitful and treacherous mindsets are sinking to depths that are so far beyond reach that even prayers to heaven can't rescue them. Actually, the two paths of good and evil are initially separated by a single line, and good or evil behavior can emerge from a single thought; therefore we see that good and evil behavior both may arise from a single thought. When a person is first moved by an intention, no one else may know, but the spirits know. Therefore we hope to alert everyone to be cautious and fearful of the consequences before they make mistaken decisions, to be scrupulously honest even when there is no one around to witness. This way we may be able to transform society and change social behavior in favor of beneficence. In the <<Preface to Cautionary Words of Devine Enlightenment, Series II>> we read: "Thus we know that among all the meritorious spiritual efforts to achieve salvation, none is greater than enlightening the world."
In the 25th year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1899), an epidemic broke out in Foshan, Guangdong Province. Many fell victim to it, and because there was no effective treatment for it, countless people died and the misery caused by this was indescribable. The people of Foshan at that time believed in a diety called Duke Mollify. All the townspeople whole-heartedly set up an altar to pray for the great Duke Mollify to come and rescue them from this tragedy, and in the end the diety was moved and the epidemic was dispelled within two months. The townspeople were so grateful for this divine intervention that they built a temple to enshrine and worship Duke Mollify, and in it they set up a spirit writing altar to invite him to come to instruct and guide them.
Duke Mollify was originally a man who lived during the Song Dynasty in the 13th century. He rose to the rank of Field Officer in the military, and as an official he was known to be honest and upright, and his behavior was always respectful and devoted. Later, after Duke Mollify had passed on to Taoist paradise, the Jade Emperor was impressed by his achievements in overpowering demonic spirits, and bestowed upon him the celestial title of "Imperially Conferred Awesome Duke Mollify", and the Imperial Court conferred upon him the title of Duke Mollify. Although the temple's spirit writing altar was constructed, the actual spirit writing could not be performed by just anyone, but required the hand of one who is destined to invite a spiritual presence. At that time there happened to be a merchant named Chan Lai-chuen who visited the nearby Duke Mollify Temple in his spare time. When he saw someone in the temple engaging in spirit writing, he tried it himself out of curiosity. Surprisingly the spirit wrote through his moving hand as though he was destined for this role. Everyone marvelled at this and came to him in droves to request his service, and through him the spirit's recommendations all turned out to be effective. Even Mr. Chan himself found this hard to believe, for he had always considered spirit writing to be a form of superstition, and therefore he declined the invitation to retain such a position in the temple.
Thirteen years passed by in no time, then suddenly the son of Mr. Chan's neighboring Leung family became seriously ill, and after repeated medical treatments proved futile, they begged Mr. Chan as an act of neighborly good will to seek instruction through spirit writing in Duke Mollify's Temple. After applying the treatment prescribed by Duke Mollify through Mr. Chan's spirit writing, the Leung family's son quickly recovered. At this point Mr. Chan finally realized how marvellous his ability was, and wholeheartedly sought spiritual advice on many matters, and the instructions he received were all effective, revealing that Duke Mollify felt quite at ease communicating through Mr. Chan. His confidence gradually increased to the point where Mr. Chan abandoned his business for Daoist practice and attracted many followers of Duke Mollify. He built the Cottage of Sincerity and Repentance to perform charitable spirit writing. At first, those who would receive instruction from Duke Mollify at the spirit writing altar came in search of medical advice, which he gave to strengthen their faith. Then he started giving other advice for people to repent and improve themselves, until many pages had accumulated, exhorting people to become more benevolent and making them think more profoundly.
Through his spirit writing, Mr. Chan also learned that he himself had the soul of a Daoist priest in the heavens above, and after he entered the priesthood he was received by Duke Mollify as a disciple and given the Daoist name of Chan Dung-sang, and all other disciples revered him as a Daoist master, whereupon he increased his efforts, vowing to bring about greater benefits to the world at large. Thus he sought to improve people's hearts, minds and social conduct by doing good deeds. Since the fifth month of 1910, Duke Mollify had been coming to the spirit writing altar of the Cottage of Sincerity and Repentance, and his writings accumulated until they were filling boxes. Therefore the disciples respectfully copied them and submitted them to the press for publication, having received authorization to entitle it <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>>. They compiled his various instructions, from medical advice to miscellaneous affairs, amounting to ten volumes, which were published in 1911 and given to his followers.
In his later years, Daoist Master Chan Dung-sang applied himself even more assiduously to spirit writing and repeatedly worked wonders, having received effective prescriptions from the spirit, and cured many serious illnesses. On the ninth day of the ninth month of 1926, which was Duke Mollify's birthday, Master Chan received enlightening lines like the following: "Decrees issued by Imperial grace, the True Way of the mighty spirits, the Yin-Yang Principle distinguishing good from evil, duties performed with careful consideration, return to the cave when the time comes, the reputation of this office will be known far and wide." (cf. <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment, Series II>> Preface) Thus we know that Daoist Master Chan had been privileged to enter celestial nobility even before he was born, being given the celestial vocation of lofty office "Imperially Conferred Mighty Spirit Controlling Officer of Investigation of the True Way, Good and Evil of Yin and Yang". Master Chan passed away in 1932 at the age of sixty-one, with titles conferred by the Jade Emperor, raising him to the ranks of the dieties.
After Master Chan had passed away and been given the title of Officer in Charge of Investigations, the responsibility for the planchette altar at the Cottage of Sincerity and Repentance were assumed by the Daoist Kwan's son, Kwan Sang-sam (both of whom were disciples of Duke Mollify), but Kwan Sang-sam was unable to make the spirit writing brush move, even after many repeated efforts.
Then suddenly it occurred to the Daoist Kwan that the reason might be because he had no official authorization to communicate with the higher realm. Therefore he motivated the temple disciples to write a joint petition, respectfully requesting the Officer in Charge of Investigations (Master Chan) to kindly descend to the spirit writing altar. Following this petition, the next time Sang-sam attempted spirit writing, the brush was able to move slowly, and the characters for Officer in Charge of Investigations appeared faintly, much to everyone's joy.
Afterwards, following instructions to practice, he worked on producing graphics of things like the Eight Treasure Long-handled Sword, then after some time he moved from objects to words, then from words to sentences. Sang-sam received more instructions telling him that the predestined moment had not yet arrived, and that he should just wait rather than randomly using the spirit writing brush, so as to avoid interference by evil spirits. So he waited for another while before daring to make inquiry. Later, people with questions grew in number, so he sincerely asked to accept more disciples and be favored with more messages, upon which he received notice to change the name of the hall to the Hall of Peak Benevolence.
Over the years, the instructions received by the Hall of Peak Benevolence were all extremely effective. Each illness was treated by pointing out the source, describing the heart of the problem, and recommending the right medicine to cure the illness. Thus he became well known and widely praised, eulogized by everyone as divinely enlightened, and gradually his notes and prescriptions accumulated to the point where his disciples compiled them into a publication, which they were divinely instructed to call <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment, Series II>> to show that it derived from the same source as the original <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>>.
The disciples in the Hall of Peak Benevolence had long wanted to publish Series II, but the country was facing hard times back then, and their financial power was limited and their wish was unfulfilled until the female disciple Dang Fun-chi (my late grandmother) put up the capital, and everyone worked as a team to finish the compiling and submitted it for publication in 1948. We hope that in future each collection can be published in succession so as to acknowledge the painstaking contributions of the Officer in Charge of Investigations, as well as the persistent efforts of Mr. Kwan Sang-sam in spirit writing. I hope that those who love the Dao will offer their hands to work energetically to spread the knowledge far and wide as an act of boundless beneficence.
Such was the sequence of events that lead to the editing and publication of the 10 volumes of <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>> and << Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment, Series II>>. The former being spirit writings from the Song Dynasty Field Officer with the conferred earthly title Duke Mollify, and the celestially conferred title "Awesome Duke Mollify", being the collected instructions, medical and general advice with the goal of fostering piety and kindness, compiled and published in 1911 by the disciples of the Cottage of Sincerity and Repentance. The <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenent, Series II>> came through the Republican Period merchant Chan Lai-chuen, who later became a disciple of Duke Mollify and given the Daoist name Chan Dung-sang.
After Daoist Master Chan Dung-sang passed away, he received the celestial title of Officer in Charge of Investigations, and after several years his spirit writings were compiled by the disciples in the Cottage of Sincerity and Repentance and published as <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment, Series II>> with the goal of encouraging piety and kindness. Additionally, there was also <<Cautionary Words of Medical Advice from Duke Mollify's Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>> in four volumes. These four volumes have no Preface, nor is the date of publication known, but judging from the dates of the spirit writing notes, they appear to be from 1910 to 1913. Each volume contains details of the name of the requester, the symptoms of the illness, Duke Mollify's diagnosis, and the prescription and instructions received for treatment.
Illnesses are classified as ordinary illnesses or dangerously protracted illnesses. Prescriptions may be classified as: affection by summer heat; gynecological; debilitated digestive organs with poor blood circulation; and moist-sluggish common cold with seasonal vomiting. The illnesses suffered by the patients, the prescriptions issued and the medicaments used would surely be worth studying for the field of Chinese medicine.
The <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>> as well as the <<Cautionary Words of Medical Advice from Duke Mollify's Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>> from Duke Mollify and the Officer in Charge of Investigations are both true records of revelations from spirit writings of Duke Molify and the Officer in Charge of Investigations from 1910 to 1948 in the Cottage of Sincerity and Repentance, later renamed the Hall of Peak Benevolence in Foshan. At the time, the Hall of Peak Benevolence hoped to publish the revelations successively year after year, but due to major political upheaval on the mainland in 1949, my late grandmother and my late father (Daoist name Si Gun-sang) and my mother moved from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, and fortunately the <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>> in ten volumes, <<Cautionary Words of Devine Enlightenment, Series II>> and the <<Cautionary Words of Medical Advice from Duke Mollify's Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>> in four volumes were all preserved in Hong Kong.
Later, when I immigrated to Vancouver, Canada, I brought them along and kept them with me at home. They may be the only such Daoist documents kept overseas. I only hope that the masses of spirit writing documents and prescriptions for salvation held in the Foshan Hall of Peak Benevolence, these precious Daoist folk documents, may be preserved in China.
Dr. Paul Crowe, Director of the David Lam Centre for International Communication in Simon Fraser University's Harbour Centre campus, is a veteran researcher into Daoist religion, and it was my good fortune to have discussed the <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>> with him. Since he seemed to be interested in the subject, I brought this set of thread-bound books from home to the Lam Centre. Professor Crowe believes that they are valuable Daoist documents, and urged me to compose an introduction to the works.
The David Lam Centre is prepared to digitize these old thread-bound books and store them on an internet website for anyone to read. I am so happy that this series of shabby classical records is actually being cherished and given a chance to be brought to light again. Truly, people and books both have their destinies. The instructions for promoting piety and charity, and the effective prescriptions for treating all sorts of illness in this collection are all true records of personal experience through interaction between man and the otherworld by people of Foshan in recent historical times. If we view spirit writing as mere superstition and fail to make detailed investigation into their contents and the information about Daoism contained in them, it will be hard to understand the thoughts, beliefs and value systems of its local adherents.
The three philosophies of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism are the mainstream of Chinese culture, but there seems to be a shortage of materials on Daoist religion, especially on the records of spirit writing, its history and folk information. Foshan is famed as a city of religious culture, and one would hope that the masses of full and accurate spirit writing documents preserved in their local Cottage of Sincerity and Repentance, later renamed Hall of Peak Benevolence, will not be scattered and lost to posterity.
Now that this series of <<Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>> has reappeared in public, it should become an important historical document for the study of Daoist religion. I hereby express my deepest gratitude to Professor Paul Crowe, Director of the David Lam Centre at Simon Fraser University for his support, and my thanks to Professor Jan Walls for the English translation of this document. The entire text comes from the <<Cottage of Sincerity and Repentance First Collection Preface>>, the <<Cottage of Sincerity and Repentance Historical Table>>, and the <<Second Preface to Cautionary Words of Divine Enlightenment>>.
Written by Jenny Tse (Daoist name Sau-yin) in Vancouver, Canada
March 25, 2015 (32nd year of the Sexagenary Cycle, at Qingming Festival time)
F T I