Lineage of Tao
According to Qingjing Jing (清靜經), “The Great Tao has no bodily form, but it produces and nourishes heaven and earth.” Tao is the origin of the universe; it exists before the beginning of heaven and earth. Fu Xi observed the movement of the heaven and earth and composed “Earlier Heaven” Bagua (the eight symbols) to indicate the wonder of the universe. This is the beginning of Tao descending. Later Xuan Yuan received advice from Guangchengzi, the Great Tao started to clarify. The Great Tao later was continued by Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang, Wen, Wu, Duke of Zhou. In Zhou Dynasty, Laozi enhanced and glorified the Great Tao: he enlightened Confucius in the East; Confucius then enlightened Zengzi, Zisi and Mencius.
After Mencius, lineage of the Great Tao shifted to the West, the teaching without scripts was lost. Buddhism then continued the lineage. After enlightened with Tao, Shakyamuni transmitted the Dharma (Tao) to his disciple Mahākāśyapa who was the first Patriarch of Zen. The Dharma was transmitted from one Patriarch at a time for 28 generations until Bodhidharma. At the time of Emperor Wu of Liang, Bodhidharma came to China and brought the Great Tao with him, and that was so called “the venerable stream return to the tide pool”, meaning the Great Tao lineage returns to where it originally started. Since the arrival of Bodhidharma to China, the Great Tao continued to transmit one Patriarch at a time. First Patriarch was Bodhidharma, Shén Guāng was the second, Sēng Càn the third, Daoxin the fourth, Hongren the fifth and Huineng the sixth. After Huineng and before the ninth Patriarch, for about one thousand years period, only two Patriarchs (7th and 8th Patriarchs) exited. In the interim, the Great Tao was passing down by Zen Masters and xxxxx. Until Song Dynasty, Confucian scholars arose and Neo-Confucianism (Song-Ming rational idealism) became prominent. Therefore, even though the Tao lineage was interrupted, its spirit remained. Up until Ming Dynasty, religions such as Loh and Huangtiandao sprang up, promoting beliefs in “Wusheng Laomu” (Eternal Venerable Mother) and “Longhua Three forum”, advocating the essential of the Great Tao. They also laid the foundation to the salvation in the final era.