Temple Regulations

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The Sources of the Monastic Rules of Temples

The Monastic Rules of Daoist temples refer to all the regulations and rules made for temples on the basis of Daoist religious discipline and commandments. Such monastic rules and regulations provide the ways, methods, and degrees of punishment if the Daoists living in temples committed offences. There were no such rules initially. Those in existence were mostly formulated in the large temples of the Complete Perfection Tradition.

The Chief Monastic Rules in Existence

Nowadays there exist chiefly the monastic rules of Zhang Liang Temple in Sanxi province, promulgated in the 22d year of Daoguang in the Qing Dynasty (1842), and the List of Monastic Rules ( 清規榜 Qinggui Bang ) of the White Cloud Temple in Beijing, promulgated in the 6th year of Xianfeng (1856). Both of them are derivations and developments of the Monastic Rules of the Complete Perfection Tradition and of the List of Punishments of Imperial Sovereign Chongyang as the Founder of the Complete Perfection Tradition, except that they are more concrete and specific. What is more, they have more varieties and distinctions as far as the methods and the degree of seriousness were concerned. In addition to those prescribed in the Monastic Rules of the Complete Perfection Tradition, there are more rules and regulations for Daoists. In the monastic rules of the White Cloud Temple, there were such severe measures as being burned to death in public. It was thought that if one broke laws, raped women, stole, or insulted Daoism, he should be punished. In the monastic rules of Zhang Liang Temple, offenders could have their eyebrows burned off, their collar taken away, or they could be beaten severely, which were common local measures of punishment. It was said that those violating laws or committing adultery, robbery or killing would be beaten 40 times and forced out of the temple after having their eyebrows burned off. Most Daoist temples today have resumed all kinds of monastic rules to strengthen their system of administration. But their form and content have become habitual conventions for Daoists today. Besides, they should pass through democratic discussion by all the Daoists in temples before they are carried out.