The investiture of gods, Fung Sun 封神 (Saamlawnese: Fong Sin), is to assign a special duty to the gods. It is a common practice among all Taoism sects, which might be done differently. Many other religions also have the same practice, which gives birth to their exclusive system of gods. In this article, we will explain how it works in our lineage.
The concept of the investiture of gods is very blurry and vague in ordinary people’s eyes. There were a few TV shows and fiction novels on this called “The Investiture of Gods” 封神榜. It talks about the adventure of a Taoist becoming the strategist for a country and fighting their way to overthrow the bad ruler in the Shang Dynasty, which gave birth to the Chow Dynasty later. The leader of the Chow Dynasty is the famous creator of I-Ching, which most people can relate to. After all the exciting battles and epic wars, what is the actual “investiture” about?
I bet most people would not be able to answer this question. It seems like people who have fought in the battles to bring the world back to peace have earned some good credit in the gods’ book, then they can also become a god later. Then how did those gods above be the judge come to their position and become a god in the first place? What is so great about being a god, and why would someone want to become one? If the gods above are so powerful, why don’t they go to the human realm and solve the problem instead? All it takes might be a flick of their horsetail whisk, and everything would have to be exploded or changed according to their desire, if according to the movie. Many of you might also come to the same point of confusion, so I wrote this article! I am here to bring you clarity and wisdom, so you can truly understand how it works! The first step is to ignore all the movies and fiction, be open-minded and read carefully.
The Real Gods
There are different types of gods. Some are like real beings in another world, like “aliens” in modern people’s minds. Some are created based on a profile and cultivated to become a god, such as how people worship the statue of General Guan (Guan Yu) as a god of wealth. There are not enough words in English to describe things in this subject, or maybe I am not good enough with my vocabulary. I will introduce and explain the Chinese terms in detail to avoid confusion. The word in the bracket is the Saamlawnese pinyin.
Sun Juen 神尊 (Sin Juan) is the kind of God that is a real being in another world, or they are described as the God of God. For example, my teacher in Daai Law Tin is a god in this category. However, we do not worship these gods like those on the altar with a statue. Most disciples will not be in contact with any of these gods, but they need to know that they exist.
Tin Juen 天尊 (Tian Juan) are created gods residing in the Celestial Court. The Sun Juen or humans can both create gods and cultivate them. After the Sun Juen cultivated their gods, they can put them into the Celestial Court to help us and allow us to continue the cultivation on our end. These Tin Juen will never come down to the human world; they stay in the celestial court as the source and can clone themselves into multiple copies to help needy people.
Boon Juen 本尊 (Baan Juan) is the original one. For example, we say Saam Law is the Boon Juen, and it transforms into millions of other bodies. Saam Law Jo Si is the original god; it changes into many other forms to create new gods for us.
Sun Ming 神明 (Sin Miong) refers to all the gods in the celestial court (Tin Ting) and highest court (Sun Ting). They do not stay in the human world but sometimes will come to visit your altar! These can be the cloned version of the Tin Juen or themselves.
Sun Ling 神靈 (Sin Nieong) refers to all the gods in the postheaven world, such as the local deities; landlord, door guard, washroom, kitchen and bedside deities. These gods are all in the human realm and are governed by the gods in the celestial court.
Besides the Sun Juen, all the gods are created, but they are not purely “energies.” These gods are like us; they have feelings and emotions, with the power to think and communicate with us by thoughts. They are like other living being who stay in their world.
All these gods are real. The gods we use in magic and communicate with are mostly the Sun Ming in the celestial court and the local Sun Ling.
The Concept of Investiture
Every god is created with a name and a profile, just like using a character in the video game as a profile, then the investiture process is to give it a purpose, assign it a mission and open the “account” for this god in the system. After the god is born, everyone will invest their heart and energy into it through their faith and be done with their worshipping rituals. Once the god is created, it will often be given a unique purpose, such as this god will be the god of fire, peace, cooking, etc. As the people worship the god and ask the god for help on related things, this god will get stronger over time because the faith energy accumulates.
If someone says they worship the god of General Guan, it has nothing to do with the Boon Juen of Guan Yu. In other words, it has nothing to do with Guan Yu, the real person. They are just using him as a profile, like making up a character in a game based on the person as a start-up profile. This is done in many religions and Taoism sects to create their gods. It could be a fictional character or a real historical person; anything works. If there is nothing to use as a reference, they can create a new god profile too. For example, someone can create a new god based on their story. This god will be real, too; it works just the same as those that use a name that already exists.
Investiture of the gods is about assigning them a special task, like saying that this god will take care of our protection, this god will be helping us get better luck etc. with a special task assigned for the god, its energy will be focused in one direction. People will use this god repeatedly for the same subject, which utilizes their powers. That is why the god can become a specialist in one subject, and that is how the gods will become stronger. If we let one god do everything, the god will also become less focused and much weaker than those specially trained.
One God or Many Gods
For Saam Law Taoists, we always say that Saam Law is the main god, the Boon Juen. Then it transforms into many other bodies or gods. Every god is rooted and created from the same god. We believe in many gods and not just one. However, they are all created by the same main god from the beginning. One main god is the source of everything, yet you cannot have one god to do all the jobs. Imagine you are super talented in computers, and you opened a business. You must hire people so these employees will represent you to do the work. Our way of investiture in the gods is to assign a role to the gods so that they can do things as a team and help us in different ways. We believe in professionalism and being focused.
One basic magic you can learn as a newbie is the Sun Kuet 身訣, which allows you to clone the gods from your body and make a new copy of the god, assigning it a task and sending it to work for you. This is exactly what the investiture of gods is about!
Will Humans Become God
No, you will not become a god and be worshiped or used like those we use with our magic. However, you could later be worshiped as a god, just like how people worshiped General Guan. It doesn’t do anything to you though; it’s just another profile for a new god. You can also make a god of Bruce Lee, but the real person won’t benefit from it or know of it.
After we die, and if we cultivate well, we could ascend to Daai Law Tin and live in this Taoist’s heaven, which allows us to become living being in that world, like the Sun Juen (Gods of Gods). In theory, we will become a god too, but we will not be worshiped and used by the disciples. The benefit of being a god this way is explained in the Daai Law Tin article, which you can read if you are interested in knowing more.
Ordain to learn more, and most importantly, to get the connection with the Tao and celestial court established. You can only be connected and related to the gods when you are a part of the system and a disciple of the lineage!