The Flame of the Rising Phoenix
I walked through the door of death
And came across as a monster;
I walked through the threshold of life
And returned across as a man.
- Ki Yuen, Rising Phoenix poet
Virtues: Hun and Yang
Kuei-jin were once humans; acutely so: unfinished tasks, unpaid debts, unfulfilled karma draw them back to their bodies. In their own corpses, they find new places under the Cosmic Wheel. They leave behind their old lives, to pursue an eternal existence of philosophy and enlightenment.
But what guarantee is there that the Cycle has placed these Kuei-jin back in the mortal realms to fulfill a new purpose? Indeed, argues the Rising Phoenix, the true purpose of a Kuei-jin is to finish the tasks left undone in life, to pay the karmic imbalance by retaking one's former role and balancing the acts that brought damnation. By repaying the debt, the Kuei-jin completes his interrupted life cycle and pays his karmic debt, and is, thus, freed from the karmic cycle.
Obviously, this Dharma is reviled as heretical by the Quincunx and the scholars of the Ki Chuang; the undead, they say, have been returned by Heaven with a new purpose and a new mandate. Yet the Rising Phoenixes argue that they have simply been sent back with new powers and a second chance to finish their unresolved lives; the abilities of the Kuei-jin, they assert, are tools to assist in fulfilling one's karmic destiny, while the Demon is nothing more than punishment for failing during one's lifetime. Overcome the urges of the Demon, master the powers of the reborn body, and complete the task of one's mortal life, urge the Phoenixes - and be freed of the cursed Cycle.
Strangely, few Kuei-jin ever achieve great age or status while following this Dharmic path. Many scoff that this is simply due to the fact that the Kuei-jin of this path are incapable of spiritual development because their philosophy is flawed. Yet others note that the most vibrant and most enlightened of the Phoenixes will suddenly disappear from Kuei-jin society, never again seen; even, powerful divinations cannot confirm their deaths. The fate of these elders is a mystery - but in the meantime, the Phoenixes suffer persecution due to their lack of political authority just as much as from philosophical divergence.
The typical Rising Phoenix is, for a time, a bastion of hope and. compassion; driven to regain mortality, they revel in the feelings a senses of their once-living days. Each one struggles to find his true place in the scheme of Heaven, and to fill that place; inevitably, they return to their homes and families, to take a role on the periphery of their old lives in an attempt to fulfill their desires for completion. Indeed, many form small followings among their immediate family, drawing sustenance and support from their relatives while seeking the means of transcending the curse and returning to mortality. Unfortunately, the driving hunger and false life of the vampiric condition inevitably lead to conflict and tragedy.
Training: Rising Phoenixes don't have a typical training regimen, probably due to the lack of true bodhisattvas on this path. Most develop their insight and mysticism, in order to get in touch with their needs and drives and find out where they went wrong in life. Ancestor veneration is common as well, as the Rising Phoenixes seek wisdom from old relatives.
Each Rising Phoenix must find his own inner nature and satisfy it in order to reclaim his place in mortal life. However, some platitudes remain useful to all Phoenixes. Students of the Rising Phoenix are counseled to seek out their mortal relatives and friends, to remain tied to their humanity. The Phoenixes also develop their self-discipline to avoid the temptations of the Demon, while honing their Yang energies to bring themselves closer to the semblance of life.
Weakness: Rising Phoenixes, obviously, lead tragic unlives; the Demon, the imbalance of the soul, and the undying hunger all lead eventually to destruction of one's friends, family, and allies. Attempts to retake a true place in mortal society are doomed by the limitations of the Kuei-jin form. Many give up hope and change their beliefs later in their existence, after destroying their own families. Worse still, the fact that there are very few bodhisattvas on this path means that Phoenixes are easy targets for persecution; courts are quick to proclaim them outcast, and point to this lack as "proof that the path is fundamentally flawed.
Affiliations: Mankind, the color gold and the east direction.
Auspicious Omens and Symbols: Birds of paradise, clear skies, celebrations of birth, spinning tops, kites.
Concepts: Shopkeeper, public servant, professor, student,poet, artist.
Quote: "Even in death I'm very good at that I do. Very good."
1. Return to the world from which you came.
2. Repay the debts of your human life.
3. Help others to find the unique value of humanity.
4. Fight the Demon and deny monstrosity.
5. Live not with extremes or balance, but simply well.
6. Wake the sleeper who shuns experience. Life is the arising of experience.
7. Never deny the joys and sorrow of life.
8. Return to your mortal ways; seek your human state.
Devil-Tiger: They would be monsters. In so doing, they deny their human souls.
Resplendent Crane: Mistakes are tools for learning, not reasons for punishment.
Song of the Shadow: The dead hold no secrets that do not spring from the living.
Thousand Whispers: To be a thousand shallow lives is nothing, when they cannot be one life of meaning.
Thrashing Dragon: Feigning humanity is not human.
Kindred: No remorse, no return. They must die that they may live again.
- fade back -