As a Taoist disciple, you should never forget to cultivate your “TE” 德 which is the virtue as a Taoist.
Cultivating the Tao – you get from the Tao, the lineage, and the masters. The Tao gives you the wisdom and powers, the lineage protects you and give you the ground to learn and be together, the masters teaches you and give you the care to help you whenever you need.
Cultivating the Te – you give back the Tao, the lineage and the masters so that the cycle can keep going on and on.
Giving back the Tao
Giving back to the Tao is by showing your determination, trust, and faith to the gods. It starts from the heart, with your truthfulness, respect, and commitment. Then it starts from your mouth, how you say and tell to praise the god’s power. Then it goes to your body, the action, such as how you would burn incense daily, actually spending your time with the gods, and also giving offerings to the gods such as your food offerings or other sorts.
Giving back the Lineage
The lineage is what allows the whole group of people to be together in one place, it’s like our home as a family. The lineage needs to sustain and even grow, in order to outreach to more people and help more people too. Therefore, by supporting the lineage with money, physical help that is needed, and whatever ways that the lineage need and likes will work. Usually the minimal is to give some money to support, because the lineage also need the money to pay bills and such to keep the business running.
Giving back to the Master
Your master (Si Gung and Sifu(s)), they are going all out to teach and care for the disciples, and this is not even a paid job with a fixed salary. Your Si Gung(s) are full time working for the lineage and the Tao, giving their life and energy to every disciple they can. As a disciple, it is very important to cherish this relationship and give back to them by monthly doing an offering on patron. It’s like inviting your master to dinner and treating them to show respect and gratitude. Don’t forget that give back is not limited to just giving money, but also your heart and mouth as well. The main point is to give back to support and make your master happy, and so that they will want and love to keep teaching you!
Without the master, you have no one teaching you things. Without the lineage, you cannot find the Tao at all. Without the Tao you have nothing left and not even a chance. It is very important to keep the 3 relationships healthy. You also need to constantly think about how to improve these 3 relationships too.
Virtues Cancelled Out
A common misunderstanding is that some disciples think they have “bought” some FUs, ceremonies, classes, or products. How could they be not supporting and giving back already? Maybe this is a thing that the western side really don’t teach or don’t know. If you are getting something in exchange, you are NOT giving back. Buying things or joining class is you are paying for what you want, you get something in return and so it is not a form of support, it is an exchange!
True support and virtue of giving back is JUST purely giving back, nothing to be exchanged or taken back at all. Like you gift someone things, you don’t ask for something back. The mindset must be correct when giving, or else you are not doing it right.
Default Common Practice
Every end of the month, we called that the “concluding time”, which is when you have received a whole month of guidance, teachings and care. It is time to give back and conclude the month.
Disciples will give offerings of $ through patron to give back to the masters, like treating them to a good meal to thank them for teaching and care. This amount would also include their give back to the lineage too, so that the lineage gets supported to keep going.
To show the gods your give-back, disciples would keep up with their disciplined practice and make sure they do their ceremonies on the 1st and 15th of each lunar month, and also to give food offerings and all sorts at their altar.
Read more on this topic in our post on paying back the debt of gratitude.