The Crystal Path
The Crystal Path is a monastic tradition that is widespread in the northern and central regions of the Phoenix Empire. It was founded in Eredhis by a Du Ereth man named Bhedra, who, while born into a luxurious life, instead embraced asceticism.
The Crystal Path teaches that physical possessions and desires are largely distractions from the ultimate goal of enlightenment, and its monks, while not truly sworn to poverty, must obey strict rules of abstinence and asceticism in order to devote themselves to higher callings.
The monks of the crystal path practice a variety of martial arts, and are known throughout the region as fierce defenders of the peace. In the thick jungles and rough hills of northern Qikuo, it is often difficult to patrol and protect the many settlements that lie in this region, both from nGiru as well as bandits and even the soldiers of the local Dong warlords. Many monks of the Crystal Path take it upon themselves to provide security in these lawless frontier regions.
The monks of the Crystal Path are relatively cut off from the rest of the world, except when they choose to venture out from their monasteries on voyages of discovery, enlightenment, or justice.
Tenets of Faith
The monks of the Crystal Path believe that through perfecting their being, specifically their mind and soul but also their body, they will be able to achieve a state of transcendental existence in a similar manner to Bhedra, who now exists beyond not only suffering but death. To this end they rigorously discipline their bodies, souls, and minds through drill and exercise, meditation and trance.
Followers of the Crystal Path try to live up to the example that Bhedra set in all things, from his humility and charity to his rigid control of his negative emotions. It is said he only once allowed himself to cry out in anger, after the betrayal of his greatest student, Magenis, and it caused the very ground and air to tremble with fury.
The monks of the Crystal Path divide enlightenment and perfection into many separate schools, Enlightenment that of the mind, and perfection that of the body, each of which is exemplified by three virtues that a monk must master to achieve that state. A monk devotes themselves to one particular virtue of enlightenment and one of perfection at a time -- the others must still be practiced, but it is these that they focus on perfecting; they are referred to as being "on the path" of these Virtues. This is the eponymous Crystal Path, the path to enlightenment and perfection.
The Virtues of Enlightenment are Wisdom, Humility, and Compassion, while the Virtues of Perfection are Strength, Agility, and Endurance. Connecting the two sides of the path is the Road of Discipline, which must always be practiced. It is both the pinnacle and the foundation of the Crystal Path.
The Three PreceptsThe Three Precepts are the dominant guideline for the Crystal path. If a monk breaks even one of these rules, they are immediately expelled from the monastery, never to return.
- A monk must maintain sexual fidelity. Sexual relations are not excluded, but indulging in them too greatly is. One must have a single partner at a time, and adultery is forbidden. sex is, however, an indulgence, and it is expected that those who progress far along the crystal path will set it aside.
- A monk may not steal anything worth more than a silver piece, as determined by prices at the place of theft.
- A monk must never claim to have attained a state of being that they have not attained. One cannot claim enlightenment if she knows that she has not attained enlightenment, or to have obtained perfection if she knows that she has not obtained perfection, or to be master when one knows that one is merely an apprentice
Other OffensesThe following are less severe offenses, and will result in discipline rather than expulsion.
- A monk may keep no more than three robes (commonly understood to be three sets of clothing)
- A monk may not sleep in a room that does not contain one of his three robes.
- A monk must wash his own clothes, not force the shrinekeepers to do so.
- A monk may only accept robes from other monks or shrinekeepers, never from the laity, unless his own robes have been destroyed or if they are for another monk or shrinekeeper whose robes have been destroyed
- A monk may not take advantage of the above to receive more than one robe from the laity at a time, and must not complain of their quality.
- One may not ask two or more of the laity to pool their funds to buy an expensive robe.
- A monk may not make or accept a new rug or blanket unless it has been six years since he last made or accepted one unless it is destroyed.
- A monk may not make or own a rug that does include at least one piece of silk and one piece of old felt
- A monk may not carry anything made of wool for more than 20 miles
- A monk may not have more than one alms bowl
- A monk may not be separated from his robes for more than six consecutive nights
- Unless a monk is sick, he will spit into neither water or on green vegetation
Prohibitions on TeachingOne cannot show (teach) the Path to someone who:
- Has an umbrella in his hand
- Has a wooden club in his hand
- Has a sharp-edged weapon in his hand
- Is wearing wood-soled sandals
- is in a vehicle
- is on a bed or a couch
- is sitting and clasping his knees
- who is wearing a turban or papakha
- whose head is covered
- who is sitting on a seat while one is sitting on the ground
- who is sitting on a high seat while one is sitting on a low seat
- who is sitting while one is standing
- who is walking in front of one while one is walking behind him
- who is walking on a pathway while on is walking beside the pathway
- breaking of these rules does not merit severe discipline
ConfessionThe following shall be confessed to the Monk's master, who shall decide the course of action and if punishment is warranted.
- Malicious tale-telling among monks is to be confessed
- Should any monk have a member of the laity recite the sacred scriptures with him, it is to be confessed
- Should a monk dig soil, it is to be confessed. Others must do so for him.
- Should a monk set a bed, bench, mattress, or stool belonging to the monastery or communal village property out in the open, or have it set out, and then when he departs not have it put away or put it away himself, it is to be confessed.
- A monk may eat no more than one meal per day at a public alms house or Samsaran monastery, unless he is sick. If he does so, it is to be confessed.
- The drinking of alcohol or fermented liquor is to be confessed
- Tickling with the fingers is to be confessed
- Disrespect is to be confessed
- A monk who dons robe that does not contain the colors red, green, brown, or black is to be confessed. Tassels of the appropriate color may be added.
- Should any monk hide another monk's bowl, robes, or prayer mat, or have it hidden, even as a joke, it is to be confessed.
- Should any monk maintain that the Obstructions are not genuine obstructions when indulged in, he is to be corrected. If he persists, he is to be given three chances before he must confess.
- Should any monk knowingly consort with a monk who has been expelled or professes such a view and not abandoned it, it is to be confessed.
- Should a monk fail to confess to his master, and another monk knows he has not, he shall confess in his stead or be confessed himself.