The Pure Brightness Tradition

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The Pure Brightness sect was directly linked to the cult of a Perfect Man named Xu Xun. In the Tang dynasty, stories about Xu Xun started to become so popular that he was deified. That in turn led to increased worship for him. During the reigns of emperor Gaozong and empress Wu Zetian in the Tang dynasty, Hu Huichao, who was also known as the Gentleman of Pervasive Perfection, rebuilt Yuwei Temple on West Mountain, a memorial for Xu Xun. He also wrote books praising Xu Xun's filial piety, which paved the way for the Pure Brightness sect that would come into being in the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). Even as early as the Northern Song dynasty, Xu Xun had become well known for his filial piety because of encouragement from the government. The increased worship for him in the lower classes in turn laid a foundation for the Pure Brightness sect. In fact the emergence of the Pure Brightness sect in the Southern Song dynasty was a result of the worship for Xu Xun, who was also regarded as founder of the sect. According to the Preface to the Secret Skills for Subduing Demons from the Nine Elders' Newly-Carved Magical Seals of the Pure Brightness of the Numinous Treasure by He Shouchen of the Southern Song dynasty, the Perfect Man Xu Xun descended to West Mountain at the end of the Southern Song dynasty, teaching people basic ethics as well as the Secret Skills of the Pure Brightness of the Numinous Treasure. In fact, the real founder of the Pure Brightness sect was He Shouchen himself who was known as He Zhengong inside the sect. He ordained more than five hundred disciples and stressed loyalty and filial piety, whereas the previous worship for Xu Xun in the Tang dynasty emphasized only filial piety. Originally, the Pure Brightness sect was related to the Numinous Treasure sect. Some scholars consider that it actually originated in The Numinous Treasure Sect.