The Process of The Creation of the World
Universal Cycles, or Kalpas ( 劫 Jie )
The notion of Universal Cycles is an important concept in Daoist Cosmogony. A single universal Cycle is said to last from Cosmogony till its destruction. The concept of Universal Cycles originated in India. The universe is an endless process of repeating Cycles; each Cycle has a beginning and an end. After the end of a Cycle, the universe falls into darkness and everything in the universe is destroyed. Only the most accomplished of the Immortals ( 神仙 Shenxian ) are able to survive the end-of-cycle apocalypse. At that point, a new Cycle will begin. Major universal Cycles are themselves made up of minor cyles. The major universal Cycles are named 'Dragon Han' ( 龍漢 Longhan ), 'Extended Well-Being' ( 延康 Yankang ), 'Crimson Light' ( 赤明 Chiming ), etc. ; these Cycles have followed each other in succession since aeons ago. We cannot know how many Cycles there have been in the past.
The Appearing of the Crimson Light
After the end of a Cycle, the universe plunges into a period of darkness, in which the mighty Diamond Wind ( 金剛風 Jingangfeng ) blows through a world of chaos, a space of infinite emptiness and absolute darkness in which no light, no form, no image is to be found. Even the Vital Breaths of Dao ( 道氣 Daoqi ) are shrouded in complete darkness. It is then time for the new birth and growth of nature, and the new cycle of Crimson Light will begin. The stage is set for the new life of the universe. This is called "The Appearing of the Crimson Light". The space-time in which we presently live is part of the cycle of Crimson Light.
The Root of the World: The Crimson and Jade Characters
At this point, the Vital Breaths of Dao gather together, and an octagonal Book suddenly appears out of the void. Each character in the Book is about 12 feet long, with rays of light streaming forth from the eight corners of the Book. When these rays are seen by the Primeval Lord of Heaven ( 元始天尊 Yuanshi Tianzun ), He knows the time has come to inaugurate a new Cycle. At this point, He places the Jade Characters into the Forges of Heaven, until they begin to emit crimson rays of light. Thus they are called the Crimson Characters. The Crimson and Jade Characters ( 赤書玉字 Chishu Yuzi ) are the source of the Heavens, and are called the 'Original Matrix' ( 元綱 Yuangang ). The Crimson Characters are in fact the Root of the world. Thus the Book of Salvation ( 度人經 Durenjing ) says: "The Crimson Characters of the Grotto of Chaos ( 混洞 Hundong ) are the Word of Essential Truth arising from the Absolute Void. At the very beginning of the Cycle, it forms the Cosmos and makes the Sun, the Moon and the Stars send forth their light. It is the origin of the Heavens. It has no ancestor; its essence is of Dao."
The Emergence of the Thirty-Two Heavens ( 三十二天 Sanshier Tian ) out of the Original Matrix
The Heavenly Matrix formed out of the Crimson Book of Jade Characters, is called the Original Matrix. It weaves itself in all directions, forming thirty-two heavens. The World is hence created, and a new Cycle has begun. Taking note, the Primeval Lord of Heaven opens the Perfect Script of the Five Divine Tablets ( 五篇神書真文 Wupian Shenshu Zhenwen ), leading to the formation of the various spirits. At the same time, the Lord exercises His power to ensure the long life of the heavens of the new Cycle. Thirty-two heavens are thus created and maintained; if we add the Three Pristine Heavens ( 三清 Sanqing ), there are a total of thirty-five Vital Breaths of Dao. These Energies are derived from the Vital Breath of the Highest Origin ( 上元之氣 Shangyuan Zhi Qi ).
Salvation by the inauguration of a new Cycle
At the beginning of each Cycle, the Primeval Lord of Heaven reveals Scriptures and teaches the Way, disseminating scriptures on Dao, saving all the people under heaven. Individuals who, owing to spiritual affinity, attain salvation, may join the ranks of the Immortals. These are able to survive the apocalypse at the end of the Cycle, and enjoy eternal life. The Scriptures revealed from within a Sacred Pearl by the Primeval Lord of Heaven at the beginning of the Cycle, are the most mysterious of all Dao Scriptures.