Thursday, 30 March 2017
The 36 Heavens in Taoism Context
In Taoism, since the Far-away Era, Taoists & Chinese had been believing in the 36 Heavens System and till now, in most Major Taoist Rituals/Ceremonies, the Official Taoist Priests will still perform the Reporting to the 36 Heavens before the starting of the Rituals/Ceremonies. These 36 Heavens are being divided into 9 Levels, each Level with 4 Heavens.
Due to different Eras and different Records, since after Song Dynasty, there are a few sets of 36 Heavens being recorded.
In here, in-order to retain the Oldest Set of 36 Heavens, I will share with you all the 36 Heavens that being recorded by Grand Master Zhang Jun Fang (張君房) in Yun Ji Qi Qian (雲笈七簽), the Oldest Taoist Encyclopedia (compilation of All Ancient Taoist Articles & Scriptures):
（一）太皇黄曾天 Tai Huang Huang Zeng Tian
（二）太明玉完天 Tai Ming Yu Wan Tian
（三）清明何童天 Qing Ming He Tong Tian
（四）玄胎平育天 Xuan Tai Ping Yu Tian
（五）元明文舉天 Yuan Ming Wen Ju Tian
（六）七曜摩夷天 Qi Yao Mo Yi Tian
此六天合稱爲欲界。 These 6 Heavens are known as Yu Heavens (Translated as Realm of Thoughts of Sharing).
（七）虚無越衡天 Xu Wu Yue Hen Tian
（八）太極蒙翳天 Tai Ji Meng Yi Tian
（九）赤明和陽天 Chi Ming He Yang Tian
（十）玄明恭華天 Xuan Ming Gong Hua Tian
（十一）耀明宗飘天 Yao Ming Zong Piao Tian
（十二）竺落皇笳天 Zhu Luo Huang Qie Tian
（十三）虚明堂曜天 Xu Ming Tang Yao Tian
（十四）觀明端靖天 Guan Ming Rui Jing Tian
（十五）玄明恭慶天 Xuan Ming Gong Qing Tian
（十六）太焕極瑶天 Tai Huan Ji Yao Tian
（十七）元載孔昇天 Yuan Zhai Kong Sheng Tian
（十八）太安皇崖天 Tai An Huang Yan Tian
（十九）顯定極風天 Xian Ding Ji Feng Tian
（二十）始黄孝芒天 Shi Huang Xiao Mang Tian
（二十一）太黄翁重天 Tai Huang Weng Chong Tian
（二十二）無思江由天 Wu Si Jiang You Tian
（二十三）上牒阮樂天 Shang Die Ruan Le Tian
（二十四）無極曇誓天 Wu Ji Tan Shi Tian
此十八天合稱爲色界。These 18 Heavens are known as Se Heaven (Translated as Realm of Happiness & Giving).
（二十五）皓庭霄度天 Hao Ting Xiao Du Tian
（二十六）渊通元洞天 Yuan Tong Yuan Dong Tian
（二十七）翰寵妙成天 Han Chong Miao Cheng Tian
（二十八）秀樂禁上天 Xiu Le Jin Shang Tian
此四天合稱無色界。These 4 Heavens are known as Wu Se Heaven (Translated as Realm of Natural).All the above 28 Heavens are known as Taoist 3 Realms (道教三界天).
（二十九）無上常融天 Wu Shang Chang Rong Tian
（三十）玉隆騰勝天 Yu Long Teng Sheng Tian
（三十一）龍變梵度天 Long Bian Fan Du Tian
（三十二）平育賈奕天 Ping Yu Jia Yi Tian
三界天之上有民天。These 4 Heavens (located above the Taoist 3 Realms) are known as Min Heaven (Translated as Realm of Everything).
（三十三）太清境大赤天 Tai Qing Jing Da Chi Tian
（三十四）上清境禹余天 Shang Qing Jing Yu Yu Tian
（三十五）玉清境清微天 Yu Qing Jing Qing Wei Tian
此三天合稱三清天。These 3 Heavens are known as San Qing Heaven, these are the Heavens where The Three Pure Ones being Manifested.
（三十六）太虛空境大羅天 Tai Xu Kong Jing Da Luo Tian
This Da Luo Tian is the Highest among All the Heavens. This is where the Whole Universe or Null being Manifested. This is the Heaven where Yuan Shi Tian Wang (元始天王) being Manifested. According to Taoist Records, San Qing Heaven also located in this Da Luo Tian, just that San Qing Heaven had their own allocation area in it.
Today in the Taoist Society, due to some Taoist Priests wanted to cut down the Duration & Work on performing certain Taoist Rituals, they tend to cut down the Making of Reports to the 36 Heavens Ritual (the Ritual Title is known as Qi Gu Shang Zou San Shi Liu Tian Ke Yi 啟鼓三十六天科儀 or Qi Gu Jin Tian Cao Ke 啟鼓進天曹科) in many Major Rituals/Ceremonies. And due to such ignorant actions, the Practice of this Ritual was not being pass-down. This is indeed a Sad thing to know about.