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ⓘ Chu (Taoism)




Chu (Taoism)
                                     

ⓘ Chu (Taoism)

Chu is a Daoist name used for various religious practices including communal chu banquet rituals in Way of the Celestial Masters liturgy, the legendary xingchu associated with Daoist xian, and wuchu representing the wuzang in neidan meditation techniques.

                                     

1. Terminology

Chu "kitchen; to cook; a cook" can be written with three Chinese characters 廚, 㕑, and 厨. The common traditional Chinese character 廚 combines the "house radical" 广 with a phonetic indicator shù 尌 joining zhù 壴 "drum" and cùn 寸 "hand"; and the variant traditional character 㕑 has "cliff radical" 厂 instead of 广. The simplified Chinese character 厨 omits the 士 element in 壴, leading to a "graphic folk etymology" of "A 厂 room for cooking 豆 beans with your 寸 hands." Bishop 2016. The Chinese logograph 廚 was anciently used as a loan character for chu 櫥 with the "wood radical" 木, "cabinet" or chu 幮 "cloth radical" 巾, "a screen used for a temporary kitchen".

The Modern Standard Chinese lexicon uses chu in many compound words, for instance, chufang 廚房 with 房 "room", "kitchen", chushī 廚師 with 師 "master", "cook; chef", chudāo 廚刀 with 刀 "knife", "kitchen knife", and paochu 庖廚 with 庖 "kitchen", meaning "kitchen".

In Daoist specialized vocabulary, chu names a Kitchen-feast communal meal, and sometimes has a technical meaning of "magic", "used to designate the magical recipes through which one becomes invisible" Maspero 1981: 290. The extensive semantic field of chu can be summarized in some key Daoist expressions: ritual banquets, communion with divinities, granaries zang 藏, a word that also denotes the viscera, visualization of the Five Viscera wuzang 五臟, written with the "flesh radical" ⺼, and abstention from cereals bigu, and other food proscriptions Mollier 2008a: 279. According to Daoist classics, when bigu "grain avoidance" techniques were successful, xingchu 行廚, Mobile Kitchens or tianchu 天廚, Celestial Kitchens were brought in gold and jade vessels by the yunu 玉女, Jade Women and jintong 金僮, Golden Boys, associated with the legendary Jade Emperor Despeux 2008: 233-234.

Chinese Buddhist terminology applies chu 廚, cf. 櫥 "cabinet" "kitchen; kitchen cupboard" to denote the "cabinet for an image or relic of the Buddhas", translating Sanskrit bhakta-sālā "food-hall" or mahanasa "kitchen" Digital Dictionary of Buddhism.

In Chinese astronomy, Tiānchu 天廚, Celestial Kitchen is the name of an asterism in the constellation Draco, located next to Tiānbàng 天棓, Celestial Flail, and Neichu 內廚, Inner Kitchen.

                                     

2. Translations

There is no standard English translation for either Daoist chu 廚, Kitchen or xingchu 行廚, Mobile Kitchen. The former is rendered as:

  • "kitchen banquets" Verellen 2004
  • "Kitchens" Maspero 1981
  • "Kitchens" Mollier 2009
  • "kitchen festival", "kitchen feast" Stein 1979
  • "cuisines"
  • "cuisines" Kroll 2017

These Anglophone scholars render Chinese chu as either English kitchen "a room for preparing food", optionally clarified with K-, - festival or - feast, or cusine "a characteristic style of cooking, often associated with a place of origin". The latter follows Francophone sinologists, for instance Maspero 1971 and Mollier 1999, who accurately translated Chinese chu as French cuisine "kitchen; cooking" and xingchu as cusine de voyage "travel kitchen". Although English kitchen and French cuisine are doublets deriving from Latin cocīna "cooking; kitchen", they are false friends with significant semantic differences between English kitchen and cuisine. Chinese usually translates English kitchen as chufang 廚房, "kitchen" and cuisine as pēngren 烹飪, "art of cooking".

The term xingchu 行廚 has been translated as

  • "traveling kitchen" Campany 2005
  • "movable cuisines" Despeux 2008, Mollier 2008a
  • "traveling canteen Campany 2002
  • "perform the Kitchen" Maspero 1981
  • "mobile kitchen" Sivin 1968
  • "Traveling Canteen" Ware 1966
  • "Mobile Kitchens" Mollier 2009
  • "travelling kitchen-feast" Penny 2000

Joseph Needham calls Wares "Traveling Canteen" a "bizarre translation" 1976: 29. While Maspero uniquely interprets the xing 行 in xingchu as a verb "to perform", the other scholars read it as a modifier "to go; to move" translated as traveling, mobile, or movable cf. movable feast. The chu noun in xingchu is translated as English kitchen, cuisine, or canteen. However, the latter ambiguous word has several meanings besides canteen "a cafeteria or snack bar provided by an organization", canteen "a small water bottle", and British English canteen "a case or box containing a cutlery set". To further complicate translating xingchu, travelling canteen was the 18th-century equivalent of a picnic basket. In modern terms, the xingchu is comparable with a mobile kitchen Sivins translation, military field kitchen, food truck, or food cart.

                                     

3. Chu Kitchen feast

The chu 廚, Kitchen, also known as fushi 福食, "good luck meal", was a religious banquet that usually involved preliminary fasting and purification before consuming a meal of vegetarian food and Chinese wine. The banquet was hosted by families on the occasion of births and deaths, prepared for a ritually-fixed number of parishioners, and accompanied by specific ritual gifts to the Daoist priest. Although the Kitchen Feast became a regular element of organized Daoist religious traditions, scholars do not know the date when it was introduced into the liturgy. One early textual record is the c. 499 Zhengao saying that Xu Mi 許谧, 303-376 offered a Kitchen meal to five persons Stein 1979: 57.

These communal chu Kitchen banquets have a pre-Daoist antecedent in popular Chinese folk religion: the term chu was anciently used for the ceremonial meals organized by communities to honor the she 社, God of the Soil. Although orthodox Daoists criticized, and sometimes banned, these chuhui 廚會, "cuisine congregations" for making immoral animal sacrifices, they nevertheless perpetuated the custom by adapting and codifying it Mollier 2008a: 279. Chu kitchen-feasts have many features in common with another Daoist ritual meal, the zhāi 齋, "fast; purification; retreat", and the two are frequently treated as having the same functions. The 7th-century Daoist Zhaijielu 齋戒錄, Records of Fasting suggested that zhai were anciently called shehui 社會, "festival gatherings of the soil god" - now the modern Chinese word for "society", which was later changed into zhaihui 齋會 Stein 1979: 75.

The Way of the Celestial Masters religion, founded by Zhang Daoling in 142 CE, celebrated chu kitchen festivals at New Year and the annual sanhui 三會, Three Assemblies, which were major Daoist festivals held in the first, seventh, and tenth lunar months, when believers assembled at their local parish to report any births, deaths, or marriages, so that the population registers could be updated. Parishioners who had reason to celebrate on these occasions would host a chu feast for other members of the community in proportion to the significance of their auspicious event and their means. Accounts of these banquets "emphasize both the sharing of food and the affirmation of the unique, religious merit-based social order of the Daoist community" Kleeman 2008: 839-840.

The chu sacrament had three levels of banquets and ritual gifts, depending upon what the family was celebrating. For the birth of a boy, the shangchu 上廚, Superior Ceremony of the Kitchen was a banquet offered to the priest and ten members of the parish, with gifts to the priest of a hundred sheets of paper, a pair of ink brushes, an inkstick, and an ink scraper. For the birth of a girl, it was the less expensive zhongchu 中廚, Middle Ceremony of the Kitchen with a banquet for five parishioners, and the gifts, which the parents had to provide within one month following the birth, were a mat, a wastebasket, and a broom. For the death of a family member, the xiachu 下廚, Inferior Ceremony of the Kitchen, also called jiechu 解廚, Kitchen of Deliverance, is not described in Daoist texts, and we only know that the rival Buddhist polemicists claimed it was a "great orgy" Maspero 1981: 290.

The anti-Daoist Erjiaolun 二教論, Essay on Two Religions by the Buddhist monk Daoan 312–385 said chu kitchen-feasts were intended to bring about jiechu 解除, "liberation and elimination" from pollution and sins, which were connected with the soil god and tombs Stein 1979: 71. The parallel passage in the 6th-century Bianhuolun 辯惑論, Essay on Debating Doubts uses the homophonous graphic variant of jiechu 解廚, "liberation kitchen", thus connecting both chu "kitchen" and chu "liberation" to non-Daoist gods of the soil Stein 1979: 74.

Daoist sources record that the people invited to a chu Kitchen feast would first observe a period of purification that included fasting and abstention from sex. Kitchen rituals lasted for one, three, or seven days. Participants consumed exclusively vegetarian food and moderate amounts of wine, which was considered as a mandatory element of the banquet Mollier 2008a: 279. For the Superior Kitchens five sheng of wine about a liter per person was planned, for the Middle Kitchens, four sheng, and for the Inferior Kitchen three. The participants "must have departed a bit happy, but not drunk." Maspero 1981: 290. The leftovers were given to other parishioners who could thereby share in the ritual.

Besides annual festivals on fixed dates like the Three Assemblies, chu Kitchen ceremonies were also performed in special circumstances, particularly when there was disease, sin, or death pollution. They were believed to have exorcistic and salvific powers and to confer good luck or merit upon the adepts Mollier 2008a: 279. Kitchen ceremonies often involved Daoist ritual jiao 醮, "offerings" of cakes and pieces of fabric in order to obtain particular favors, such as petitions for recovery from illnesses, prayers for rain in time of drought, and thanksgivings for favors received. An altar was laid out in the open air, and the priest recited prayers Maspero 1981: 34-35.

Ge Hongs c. 318 Baopuzi see below mentions profligately expensive chu Kitchen Feasts in contrasting heterodox yaodao 妖道, "demonic cults", which involved sacrificing animals to gods who enjoyed their blood, with the undefined term Lijia dao 李家道, "religion of the adepts of Li" Stein 1979: 56. The context praises the contemporary charlatan healer Li Kuan 李寬 for not following the ancient tradition of animal sacrifice, while blaming him for extravagance.

The more than a hundred ways for dealing with demons, and costs for food can run high indeed. In tum, these are not completely disinterested affairs, and they might well be classed with things to be forbidden. tr. Ware 1966: 158



                                     

4. Xingchu Mobile Kitchen traditions

In Daoist hagiographies and stories, the esoteric ability to summon a xingchu 行廚, Mobile Kitchen was a standard trope for the powers of a xian transcendent. The xingchu, which Campany called a "curious business" 2002: 29, was a sumptuous banquet of rare delicacies, exotic foods, and wines that could be instantly served up by spirits anywhere on command.

The tradition of xingchu "meditational cuisines" or "contemplative cuisines" seems to have developed in a parallel and complementary manner to the chu "communal cuisine liturgy" Mollier 2008a: 280. Xian transcendents were portrayed as eschewing what counted in China as ordinary foods, especially grains see bigu, and instead eating superior, longevity-inducing substitutes such as sesame seeds and lingzhi mushrooms, typically found in distant and legendary places removed from the heartland of agriculture-based Chinese civilization. Transcendents were frequently depicted as winged beings able to fly long distances rapidly and summoning a xingchu banquet at will eliminated the need to travel across the world and heavens in order to obtain rare foodstuffs of immortality Campany 2005: 46-47.

The Jin Dynasty Daoist scholar Ge Hong compiled the two primary sources of information about xingchu Mobile Kitchens, the Baopuzi and Shenxian zhuan. Ge portrayed adepts seeking xian -hood as avoiding ordinary food such as grains, instead eating "rare, exotic foodstuffs from the far reaches of the cosmos", marvelous products conveying the "numinous power" suggested by their peculiarity. "The ability to command at will a spirit-hosted serving of exotic food and drink in elegant vessels may seem trivial, but when one recalls that many Daoist scriptures prohibit the feasting on sacrificial meats and liquors enjoyed by the aristocracy, and that many adepts did their work on mountains and were isolated from agricultural communities and markets, the practice assumes a more serious aspect." Campany 2002: 221

                                     

4.1. Xingchu Mobile Kitchen traditions Baopuzi

The c. 318 CE "Inner Chapters" of the Baopuzi Master Who Embraces Simplicity have nine occurrences of the word xingchu 行廚, Mobile Kitchen. Seven of them are in contexts of alchemical medicines and elixirs, most of which have poisonous toxic heavy metal ingredients. The Baopuzi uses two related verbs for beckoning a Mobile Kitchen: zhì 至, "arrive at; reach; come" and zhì 致, "cause to arrive at; get to; come to". The other two xingchu usages are in proper names of a Daoist amulet and book, the Xingchu fu 行廚符, Amulet of the Traveling Kitchen, and the Xingchu jing 行廚經, Scripture of the Traveling Kitchen. The Baopuzi also lists another book titled Riyue chushi jing 日月廚食經, Scripture of the Kitchen Meals of the Sun and the Moon.

Three of the seven Baopuzi elixirs are said to have dual purpose usages, long-term consumption is said to grant xian transcendence, including the ability to summon xingchu, and short-term consumption provides a panacea - specifically for eliminating the Three Corpses or Three Worms, demons that live within the human body and hasten their hosts death, and the Nine Worms or Nine Vermin, broadly meaning internal worms and parasites. First, the Xian Menzi dan 羡門子丹, Master Xian Mens Elixir is prepared from wine and cinnabar. "After it has been taken for one day the Three Worms and all illnesses are immediately purged from the patient. If taken for three years, it will confer geniehood and one is sure to be served by two fairies, who can be employed to summon the Traveling Canteen tr. Mollier. "This method, accessible only to the initiate who possessed the proper series of talismans fu 符 and had mastered certain visualization techniques, conferred powers to become invisible, to cause thunder, and to call for rain." This form of sitting meditation was so popular during the Tang period that Chinese Esoteric Buddhism also adopted it. Mollier 2008a: 280

                                     

5. Wuchu Five Kitchens meditation

Following upon the Celestial Masters liturgical Kitchen feasts and xian transcendents Mobile Kitchens, the third stage of Daoist chu traditions was the Tang dynasty 618–907 wǔchu 五廚, Five Kitchens contemplation technique, which recast the concept of ritual banquets in terms of psychophysiological neidan Internal Alchemy Verellen 2004: 351. In Chinese cosmological wuxing Five Phases correspondence theory, the wuchu Five Kitchens or wuzang 五臟, Five Viscera / Orbs system includes not only the physiological internal organs, but also the associated psychological range of mental and emotional states Roth 1999: 41-42. The 735 Wuchu jing 五廚經, Scripture of the Five Kitchens, which poetically describes a visualization practice for circulating qi energies through the Five Viscera, was so popular that Tang Buddhists forged the esoteric Sānchu jīng 三廚經, Sutra of the Three Kitchens based on the Daoist text Mollier 2008b: 1051.

There are two extant editions of Wuchu jing translated by Kohn 2010: 198-206. First, the 763 Tang Daozang Daoist Canon edition titled Laozi shuo Wuchu jing zhu 老子說五廚經, Commentary to the Scripture of the Five Kitchens as Revealed by Laozi contains a preface dated 735 and a commentary, both signed by Yin 尹愔, d. 741. The reduplicatedly named Yin was a prominent Daoist and Confucian scholar under Emperor Xuanzong of Tang r. 712-756, and abbot of the Suming guan 肅明觀, Abbey of Reviving Light temple in the capital Changan. The late Tang Celestial Master Zhao Xianfu 趙仙甫, fl. 732 also wrote a commentary Verellen 2004: 351. Second, the 1019 Yunji Qiqian Seven Bamboo Tablets of the Cloudy Satchel anthology edition titled Wuchu jing qifa 五廚經氣法, Energetic Methods of the Scripture of the Five Kitchens, also includes Yins commentary, with slight variations, such as noting the text was presented to the emperor in 736 Verellen 2004: 351. The qi "energetic" methods of the text are recommended by Sima Chengzhen 司馬承禎, 647–735 in his Fuqi jingyi lun 服氣精義論, Essay on the Essential Meaning of Breath Ingestion text on physical self-cultivation Mollier 2008b: 1051. Although the presence of Yins preface might suggest a Tang date for the Wuchu jing, the origins of this text may be much earlier. Ge Hongs c. 318 Baopuzi mentions a Xingchu jing 行廚經, Scripture of the Movable Kitchens and a Riyue chushi jing 日月廚食經, Scripture of the Kitchen Meals for the Sun and the Moon, which could be the ancestors of the received texts Mollier 2008b: 1051.

The c. 905 Daojiao lingyan ji. Du records that the Chinese Buddhist canon of the Tang period contained a text titled Fo shuo san tingchu jing Verellen I992: 248-249. According to Du Guangting, the monk Xingduan 行端, who had "a presumptuous and fraudulent disposition", saw that the widely-circulated Daoist Wuchu jing consisted of five stanzas jì 偈, gatha ; poetic verse; versified utterance" of incantations zhou 咒, mantra ; religious incantation; mystical invocation", rearranged them, and expanded the title into Fo shuo san tingchu jing 佛說三停廚經. "The five incantations he turned into five sutras spoken by Tathagata, and at the end he added a hymn. The additional phrases amounted to no less than a page." Verellen suggests that the scripture, with its "Buddho-Daoist content and quasi-magical use", originated as a late Six Dynasties 220-589 Tantric zhoujing. 1992: 250-51.

Du Guangting gives a lengthy narrative about the Daoist miracle involving supernatural retribution for Xingduans forgery. One day after the monk had already given several copies of the altered scripture to others, a "divine being eight or nine feet tall" and holding a sword reprimands him for the counterfeiting and brandishes his sword to strike the monk. As Xingduan "wards off the blow with his hand, several fingers are lopped off", he begs for mercy, and the Daoist deity agrees to spare his life if he retrieves and destroys all the fakes. Xingduan and his companions search everywhere for the texts, but can only find half of them, the remainder having already been carried abroad by Buddhist monks. Xingduan prepares ten fresh copies of the original scripture, offers incense, repents, and burns the altered copies. Then the divine being reappears and announces: "Having vilified the sages text, restitution wont save you - you do not deserve to escape death", the monk falls prostrate and dies on the spot Verellen 1992: 251.

In the present day, early copies of this apocryphal Buddhist sutra have been preserved. Four textual versions were discovered in the Chinese Dunhuang manuscripts, two versions, dated 1099 and 1270, are kept in the Japanese Mount Kōya manuscripts. In addition, the modern Japanese Taishō Tripitaka canon includes the text Mollier 2009: 26-28.

The highly abstract Wuchu jing mystical poem comprises five stanzas consisting of four five-character lines each. The Yunqi qiqian edition shows that the five stanzas were associated with the Five Directions of space: east lines 1-4, south lines 5-8, north lines 9-12, west lines 13-16, and center lines 17-20 Verellen 2004: 351. For example, the first four lines tr. Kohn 2010: 200-201:

The content of the Wuchu jing guides adepts toward a detached mental state of non-thinking and equanimity. The Five Kitchens refer to neidan Internal Alchemy qi -processing on a subtle-body level", and signify the energetic, transformative power of the Five Viscera Kohn 2010: 71. Yin Yins introduction says,

As long as you dwell in the qi of universal oneness are still and upright. "When the five organs are abundant, all sensory experiences are satisfied; when the five spirits are still, all cravings and desires are eliminated. This scripture expounds on how the five organs taking in qi is like someone looking for food in a kitchen. Thus, its title: "Scripture of the Five Kitchens." tr. Kohn 2010: 200

Commenting on Yins interpretation, Du Guangting claims more explicitly that practicing this scripture will enable an adept to stop eating. Verellen 2004: 352

Techniques in the Wuchu jing 五廚經, Scripture of the Five Kitchens mainly involve visualizing the Five Viscera of the body and chanting incantations. These methods supposedly allow the adept to obtain satisfaction and harmony, and, after some years of training, even transcendence Mollier 2008a: 279-280. Despite this concern with the human body, the text strongly emphasizes mental restructuring over physical practices, saying that "accumulating cultivation will not get you to detachment" and that methods of ingestion are ultimately useless. However, reciting the scripture is beneficial, especially if combined with mental and ethical practices, so that "you will easily get the true essentials of cultivating the body-self and protecting life." More specifically, chanting the text one hundred times and practicing the harmonization of the five qi allows adepts to abstain from grain and eliminate hunger Mollier 1999: 62-63. Many present-day Daoists consider the Wuchu jing as a talismanic text to be chanted for protection Kohn 2010: 71.



                                     
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