Wandering About and Seeking Masters
The History of Wandering About and Visiting Lofty Daoists
Wandering About and Visiting Lofty Daoists are considered one form of the Daoist life of practice. Zhu Quan of the Ming dynasty wrote in the Supreme Clarity Jade Book of the Higher Dao of the Heavenly Emperor ( 《天皇至道太清玉冊》Tianhuang Zhidao Taiqing Yuce ) that when Daoists go on a tour to seek for Perfect Men and study Dao, this is called Wandering About, which, translated literally from the Chinese, means ' to wander like a cloud'. Indeed, the wanderers devote themselves to Heaven and take Heaven as the essence of their life, hence they are very close to it. Thus this sort of tour is called Wandering About Like a Cloud. There existed no custom of Wandering About when Daoism was first established. But by the time of the Wei and Jin Dynasties and the epoch of division between North and South, with the transmission of Daoism and the spreading of its scriptures, and the separation of different sects, some well-known lofty Daoists went wandering. For example, in order to search for Daoist books, the lofty Daoist Lu Xiujing of the Liu Song Dynasty sought for the traces of Immortals in all the famous mountains. Kou Qianzhi, another senior Daoist of the Northern Wei dynasty, originally lived in Changping of Shanggu, then moved to Wannian of Fengxiang (in today's Shanxi province). He cultivated and refined himself on Mt Hua and Mt Song and other famous mountains after his meeting with Immortals. However, no prescription was set about Wandering About in the Orthodox Oneness Tradition. Since the founding of the Complete Perfection Tradition, a system of Daoist temples was set up based on that of Buddhism. It eliminated possible problems that could be encountered by Daoists during their Wandering About. Therefore Wandering About and living in temples became one part of the Daoist life of the Complete Perfection Tradition. Daoists of the Complete Perfect Tradition throughout history have attached great importance to Wandering About and visiting lofty Daoists.
The Functions of Wandering About and Visiting Lofty Daoists
The Daoists had a hard time after they left their temple to Wannder About, as they had to travel long without sufficient food or definite lodging. The Daoists of both the Orthodox Oneness Tradition and the Complete Perfection Tradition regarded it as a special way to steel and discipline themselves by ascetic practice as well as a test of their religious belief and will. Zhang Yuchu in the Ming dynasty, the 43th Celestial Master, declared in the Ten Daoist Commandments: "Once a Daoist, one must get rid of all the emotions of this world, and return to Perfection by giving up all desires. He must take it his duty to explore his mind and nourish his spiritual essence. He must practice the Daoist commandments, and discipline himself by bearing loneliness accompanied only by a bamboo hat and a bamboo bowl. Sometimes when coming to a cave mansion in a famous mountain, he can settle down to visit a venerable Daoist so as to study Dao, the meaning of life, the source of spiritual essence, and the essence of virtue. Thus he is perfectly aware of Dao and meditates on the chaos of the universe without taking fame or wealth into consideration. He will not change his mind in spite of hardship, he will be resolute in spite of his poverty and humble situation, and polite and modest in spite of humiliation. Thus he can purify his spiritual essence, with a strong will as well as softness and mildness in his heart."
In order to survive during their Wandering About and in order to transmit the Dao, Daoists must be provided with the possibility of making a living outside of the temple. In the Supreme Clarity Jade Book of the Higher Dao of the Heavenly Emperor , it is stated: "A Daoist who goes Wandering About must know how to pray for a fine day or a rainy day. He must know how to drive out evil and save the victims of natural calamities. He must master the skill of judging geomantic omens and be good at astrology and predicting the future by observing the wind as well. Apart from what has been mentioned above, he must be able to read and write poems and be good at Chinese painting. Otherwise, he is no more than an ordinary person." More about Wandering About was narrated in poems written by the founders of the Complete Perfection Tradition. They require Daoists who are Wandering About to take with them clothing, cleaning necessities, and an alms bowl as well as a portable shovel, a bamboo hat, a straw rain cape, etc. By so doing, the wanderers can not only visit venerable Daoists, but also propagate the Dao.