Worshipping 拜神 in Taoism with Wisdom

Worshiping, Baai Sun 拜神 (Saamlawnese: Bye Sin), is a common practice in many religious paths, often demonstrated by praying and giving offerings to the gods and deities. However, what is this all about and how does it work? After reading the eye-opening and mind-blowing article on “What is God,” this is the next one that will bring you more clarity. If you have not read that article yet, please do so before digging deeper because this article is episode 2 of the same series!

The action of worshipping or Baai 拜 is not only used for gods. In ancient times, rulers would do the same to their generals when giving them a special title or task. For example, the ruler would worship a person and grant them a special title for the mission. It doesn’t mean the general has become a god on the altar. The action of Baai 拜 means to give their heart to the person by the form of faith. It’s like saying that you will unconditionally believe they will succeed in the job. It’s a great honour to be worshipped because it means that the person gives you their heart fully, without you even showing them.

Trust and Faith

In our lineage, we defined trust and faith in details. Trust is a kind of belief that is given because of witnessed evidence. For example, you trust a bank because it has been doing well for some time and has many things that show it would not fail. Faith is a belief that is given without the need for evidence, such as you never left your child at home alone in the past, this is the first time, but you have faith that he will be doing good and behave.

True love is all about faith from the beginning because no one can predict anything before the relationship starts, and you can never say let’s try before getting together. If the two are “trying” before starting the relationship, it is already not a form of true love. The relationship would be more like an exchange or business, like a demo version product. Faith motivates people’s hearts to fulfill the promise much more!

Faith is an investment to someone, the investment of the heart.

Trust is not an investment because you have seen something and “bought” it. It’s an exchange.

Worshipping Gods

It could be done in many ways when worshipping the gods, but the concept doesn’t change: to invest your heart’s energy into the god in the form of faith. You might think that faith and heart are not physical, so how could we tell if we are doing it right, and who could measure the energy being invested?

Imagine nature is a game, every second that passes, the game history will be recorded into the system and become a data page. Everything you have done physically counts, not what you say or feel inside the heart. If you are faithful to someone, you must say it and show some physical actions corresponding to your words. For example, people would show their faith when worshiping someone as a general in war with a special way of bowing with a hand gesture. It’s something you won’t do to anyone but this person.

If you noticed, we do many common practices to our gods in Taoism, regardless of sects, which are all a form of expressing our faith. We burn incense, offer tea and other food, talk to the gods daily and ask the gods for help etc. All of these are done to show faith in them.

We do Taoist magic to call the gods for help. Why would we do the magic if we don’t believe god would help or has the power to help? How would we know it will work? We don’t need proof or evidence; we believe it, which is why we use it. This is faith. Every magic we do is built on faith; if the disciple is not faithful, they won’t use magic either. I have seen disciples who lose faith and will stop doing magic because they don’t even believe it would work.

When you have faith in the gods, you will demonstrate it with physical actions and not just by saying it with your mouth. The more you use the god and ask the god for help, the more faithful you are to the god. Many religions teach their believers the same thing when they start to learn. Just ask god for help, simple.

My Misunderstanding of Worship

When I was younger and learning under the other sects, I used to feel that worshiping was nonsense, like you are bowing down to a ceramic statue with no power and no life. We are human, and we have mental and physical power; we can do so much; why do we need to bow to a dead object and call It our god?

I used to believe that Taoist magic used “nature’s power” and my energy; I could do it even without the statues. Then a few sects would say that magic power comes from the body, the organs, etc. So many crooked theories that I found ridiculous today were once very logical for me. When I learned to write FU in the other sect, I was taught that the human energy that goes into the paper made it powerful and work; that is why we must cultivate and practice meditation to “cultivate” our energies. The paper is like an energy carrier, which is why it works. I can sometimes even see the energy with colours and visual effects too. I asked my master who is this XYZ god our sect talks about, but he had no way to explain it to me and said it was just some energies; the name is just a name. It’s just some “energy, “ why can’t I use it like electricity or water? I don’t bow to the computer or the light bulb before I use them; why shall I do all that to the brush, pen or statues for magic?

After a while, I learned from another sect that is even more “ancient” and traditional, which heavily emphasizes what they call chi kung and the “internal alchemy” practice. You have to do a lot of breathing practice and such to “cultivate” the inner energies to get our “magical powers” for the magic that we do. That further taught me that worshiping is useless because everything is all about your energy in the body anyway; those statues are just a decoration for the outsider.

I even learned that statues are all just like a container for your energies, then why am I bowing and kneeling to a statue which is just a part of myself? Do I have to kneel and bow to my jacket before I put it on? It seems like the whole etiquette is nonsense and putting on a show for the audience. To me, worshiping is just an act, and it is useless. It is very disgusting to me because it’s like acting, plus you look like a slave or some low-life doing all that action of bowing and kneeling. Up to a point, I have even written articles saying that Taoists do not worship and warn people of this superstitious belief that is brainwashing our culture and weakening our minds. How wild and ignorant I was, I wished I could time travel to undo this part of my life!

Many Americans are very against the idea of bowing to someone or kneeling to someone, not even a statue because they feel that it is an act of being a slave or maybe it relates to being defeated in war. You are forced to kneel to surrender. Also, many Chinese are like that because they all try to be “modern” and eliminate useless cultural practices.

In the old days, people would kneel and serve tea to their master when they initiated into their sect to learn. Then they would bow to the floor and call them master officially. The Sifu would sit on a chair (like a king) and accept the tea and bow, then hand them a red packet to symbolize acceptance and bless them for a good future on this path. At the same time, people bow to the king and emperor or the higher officials from the court because they have to show respect to these people for their powers. The bowing and kneeling to the Sifu is the same; it’s about showing the status and making the disciple feel lower, so the Sifu can be the “upper.” As modern society emphasizes more and more on being fair and equal, this has become more nonsense to me and even disgusting to me. Many martial artists, including myself, started to “skip” these steps when accepting disciples, and we just accepted money as an exchange. You pay, then you can learn. That’s how many martial art schools have changed these days, from passing on the art with pride to making money like a cold-blooded business.

All I can say is ignorant. A lack of knowledge and wisdom kills everyone and makes us all stupid.

Worshiping your master means putting faith in your master. Faith is to believe without the need for any evidence. You have not yet learned from the master; how do you know he will lead you to a good future and teach you well? You don’t need to know, just put your heart into him, and it will be good!  Your master would feel your faith, so he won’t want to disappoint you!  Aiya!  How stupid was I not to even understand that! If you look from the master’s perspective, accepting the bow and faith, would the master feel good if he does a sloppy job at teaching you? It’s like someone thought you were good, and you turned out to be not; that would be like breaking your credibility and ruining your reputation!  The more the disciple shows their faith in the master, the more the master would want to do a good job!

The Etiquettes of Worship

Why do we kneel and bow? It’s something that confuses a lot of westerners and “modern” people, even the Chinese. Many would think that it is just an act of humiliation because all they can relate to is slavery, or maybe they think that we should be equal since we are all human. Once, a western client told me he would never kneel or bow to any human being other than his parents. He feels everyone else is on the same level, not higher than him.

Most people in modern society need more clarification about the order in nature and what hierarchy means. In nature’s theory, there is always a higher and lower, as explained in the article “What is Taoism.”

If you look at the Tai Chi diagram, there is an upper and lower side. The upper gives, the lower take, then they exchange roles. The upper is always the giver because that’s how nature works. At the beginning of nature, there was nothing but white light; because it was a complete form, it had to give birth to something opposite to itself, then black was created. White then flows into the black, which starts the interaction of Yin and Yang. The white gives first; then, the black was born to take. There was an order set for everything according to this rule.

Who comes first is usually the bigger one or the upper one, such as the host of the meeting is the bigger one etc. The owner of the place, the boss, and the one who pays or gives are usually the upper. Once you have set who is the upper, the order is cleared, and there would be a difference in level.

When peers meet, no one is giving, so they are sharing. Coworkers are peers; they share. Classmates are on the same level; they share too. Friends are also peers; they also share. However, if you ask a friend for help, you would lower yourself to ask politely because you know they are now higher than you, or else how would they be giving and helping? When that client came to my temple in the past and consulted, he was the one who wanted to take the knowledge from me; he would become the lower party. The lower he puts himself, the more I would want to give my knowledge to him. Imagine you are a doctor, and the patient came to you for help; you are the upper, but the patient started teaching you what to do and directing you to do this and that for him; how would you feel?

We must lower ourselves to the gods when we need them to help or give us anything. When we worship them, we must show this by bowing and kneeling. This is a natural way to show the difference in order and demonstrate our faith to put them as our upper, showing them that we believe they will help. The action is a demonstration of faith!

If the gods are locally in front of you, you must kneel because they are at the same level as you, which means you kneel to step down a level. If the gods are high above, like in the celestial court, then we can stand to speak because they are already very high up and above us. Imagine if you kneel, and the gods also kneel; how do you go down another level? You then bow your head down to the ground to put yourself to the lowest you can go. This is why we bow to the floor when we speak to the landlord (he is at the ground level) or if we are giving our greatest faith and gesture.

There are also three levels of bowing in general. The head bends down to show the thanking for the time given. The bending of the back shows the thanking for the heart given (such as attention, trust, faith, decision making etc.). The bending fully to the ground, like a bow to the floor, shows the thanking for the action taken, such as doing something for you. Sometimes we cannot go down to the floor because of our clothing or we are outside and the floor is dirty; then we will make a floor with our hands by overlapping the palms to form a “floor,” and then we would bend the head and body while touching the forehead to the hand to show we are bowing down to the floor.

These etiquettes are taught in our lineage, and they are one of the best ways to show your faith and respect to the gods, which makes your worshiping works, and it is not a form of humiliation or making yourself like a low-life fool. Instead, they are packed with wisdom and metaphysics rules inside the movements. It’s amazing how sophisticated and detailed these things from Saam Law Tao are. After I had learned it from the teachers on this path, I was so grateful and happy about it. I would have no problem bowing and kneeling anymore. According to the situation, I would do it correctly so that my faith can be properly demonstrated and delivered for the magic to work accordingly. There is also a scripture on etiquette too, but it doesn't cover all the details in the book. The real teachings come when you learn in the lineage go through the actual practice.

The next episode of this article is on "Sacrifice" enjoy!

If you have not yet read about how I got into Saam Law Tao, welcome to read these posts on the nine main gods in order. You will enjoy the awesome readings!

The nine main god posts in order: Dei Law, Tin Law, Daai Law, Saam Law, and Sun Lung Jo Si. Then Gum Lung, Jee Lung, Ng Lui and Baak Hork Sin Si.

Ordain today to learn more about these awesome fun things and be a Saam Law Taoist so you can cultivate and use the power of our gods too!