On January 3, 2023, at 9:00 AM, the Winter “Quanzhen Dragon Gate School Secret Ceremony for High Priest Appointment” was ceremoniously held at Wuhan Great Dao Temple on the Cuiyun Lawn.
At that moment, after a sudden rain stopped, auspicious signs appeared. All participants from the winter high priest music class at Wuhan Great Dao Temple successfully passed the secret court examination. Subsequently, in accordance with tradition, they conducted the ceremony with proper rituals, participating in the appointment ceremony.
The secret court examination is a Quanzhen tradition, reflecting the respect for teachers and the excellence of the tradition. The appointment, also known as “granting office” or “receiving office,” is a crucial ritual in the taoist tradition, symbolizing the responsibility and mission to inherit and promote Quanzhen teachings. Throughout the appointment ceremony, all disciples demonstrated a disciplined appearance and proper demeanor, showcasing the positive spirit and tradition of contemporary Taoists.
According to Ren Fajiu, a prominent Quanzhen master, having a position is essential for qualified high priests. Without a position, there is no affect. Due to the accomplished practice of Patriarch Qiu, who attained the status of a celestial being, all learners of Quanzhen advanced skills must receive the appointment under his name before heading the ceremony, carrying the responsibility of upholding Quanzhen teachings.
Following Quanzhen Taoist traditions, Wuhan Great Dao Temple invited renowned internal masters to rigorously assess the disciples’ proficiency in scriptures and music, Gang Dou and secret knowledge. Those who passed the examination will participate in the high priest appointment ceremony.
This appointment ceremony is presided over by Master Ren Zongquan, Vice Chairman of the Hubei Taoist Association, Vice Chairman of the Wuhan City Taoist Association, and the nationally renowned Master Ren Zongquan. The following roles have been respectfully assigned for the ceremony:
– Master Yang Chenglan is invited as the Appointment Ritual Master.
– Master Meng Chengliang is invited as the Appointment Registration Master.
– Master Yang Chengxiu is invited as the Appointment Degree Master.
– Master Wu Yuanming is invited as the Witnessing Alliance Master.
– Master Jie Gaohui is invited as the Recommending Master.
– Master Huang Chengxian is invited as the Ceremony Master.
– Master Lei Chengzhi is invited as the Supervising Master.
– Master Liang Chengshun is invited as the Guiding Position Master.
– Master Ren Chengzhi is invited as the Promotion Master.
– Master Chen Xinke is invited as the Rectification Master.
– Master Lu Chenglin is invited as the Conferring Position Master.
– Daoist Cheng Chengjin, Daoist Zheng Chengchan, Daoist Wang Chongdao, Daoist He Chengchen, Daoist Guo Chengduan, and Daoist Zhang Xinjin are invited as the Altar Guardians.
The “Quanzhen Rules” state: “Tao has its origin, and immortals have their methods. If the methods are unclear, the person is not genuine, and if the origin is not clear, the teaching is not correct.” “Gao Gong” is the exclusive title for the leader in charge of rituals and ceremonies in Taoist scriptures, serving as a model for spreading teachings and practicing virtues. Together with “Du Jiang” and “Jian Zhai,” they are collectively known as the Three Masters. High priest presides over major and minor ceremonies, presents petitions for all courtly deities, and follows classical principles, imposing regulations, and maintaining purity. The “Golden Catalog of Great Ceremonies” emphasizes that “Gao Gong” must be morally upright and well-mannered. Facing both heaven and earth, stepping through the dawn, carrying on the legacy, harmonizing with the three realms, respecting officials, walking through martial arts, communicating with humans and spirits, serving as a messenger for the divine, saving both humans and spirits.
At 9 AM, the official initiation of the high priest appointment ceremony begins. In the morning light, the scene at the Cuiyun Ping Altar of Great Dao Temple appears particularly solemn and dignified. Holy flags are raised at the ceremony site, and auspicious smoke fills the air, with enchanting celestial music, fully displaying the solemnity of Taoism. High priests, various scripture and music masters, and the appointed disciples are all present at the altar. The ceremony follows proper procedures, and the demeanor is particularly outstanding.
Achievements are for the present, benefits are for eternity. In recent years, the Wuhan Great Dao Temple’s high priest training program has made significant progress in promoting the inheritance of Taoist traditions, nurturing talents, and leading in teaching methods. Graduates from this program hold important positions nationwide. Through on-site teaching, they uphold the founder’s wish to benefit society, and further promote the profound teachings of the sect, hoping to revitalize the teachings. The organization of the “Gao Gong” appointment ceremony aims to elucidate the sect, uphold its pinnacle, promote the teachings, inherit and promote traditional Chinese culture, cultivate young talents in Taoism, elevate the religious standards of Taoist personnel, strengthen the construction of Taoist values, carry forward the excellent traditions of patriotism and religious love, comprehensively improve the quality of Taoist personnel, and promote the harmonious development of Taoism. It holds great significance.
May the Tao endure for a long time, and the teachings prosper.
Article by Zheng Chengchan , Da Dao Guan
Translated & edited by Fan Xin Rui