|Doctrines|| ||The high deity of the Compassion Society is the Golden Mother of the Jasper Pool, who is the progenitrix of humanity and all of creation. Humanity, however, has forgotten its divine origins and has become mired in the profane world of desire and material form. The Mother grieves over her children's waywardness and, out of her infinite compassion, makes a continous effort to call them back to her paradise of the Jasper Pool. However, during two cosmic eras only a small number made the trip back to the Mother's side. Now the world has entered the third and last era, at the end of which it will come to a cataclysmic end. The Mother is redoubling her efforts to remind her children of the divine spark within their natures and of the necessity to cultivate it and make it grow, so that they can escape from the doomed world of dust and return to the Jasper Pool.
The Compassion Society transmits the Mother's messages to humanity by means of spirit-writing and provides through its ritual practices a venue where believers can express their devotion to the Mother and cultivate their spiritual natures. These practices include scripture recitation, processions, and the so-called "training", a kind of group trancing, which is to bring practitioners into closer contact with the divine.|
|History|| ||The Compassion Society was founded in 1949, when the Golden Mother revealed herself through a medium in the northeastern Taiwanese city of Hualien.|
However, neither the figure of the Golden Mother nor her mythology were innovative; rather, they represent a recourse to an ancient shared body of sectarian and Taoist mythology, which the Compassion Society accessed to shape its distinctive doctrines and practices. For example, the Society's most authoritative formulation of Mother mythology was not produced by the sect itself, but is a spirit-written work, dating back to the year 1880 ("The Golden Basin of Jade Dew"). Thus, the 1949 revelations in Hualien are a revival of an ancient soteriological and eschatological theme, which proved highly successful in the unsettled social and political conditions of the post-war years of Taiwan. A small temple to the Golden Mother was erected in the same year which eventually grew into the headquarters of a religious movement with (by the end of the 1970s) roughly 200 branch temples and between 10,000 and 15,000 members across the island of Taiwan (and two in Japan). Currently (1997) the number of branch temples is estimated to be more than 1,000.
|Symbols|| ||The Taoist T'ai-chi ("yin-yang") symbol, with two circular arrows going opposite ways around it. |
| ||The headquarters and main temple of the Compassion Society are located in the city of Hualien (northeastern Taiwan). The head of this mother temple chairs two administrative bodies, the Executive Committee and the Membership Representative Assembly, which are in charge of matters pertaining to the sect as a whole. Each branch temple, however, enjoys a great degree of autonomy, taking care of its own affairs without interference from the headquarters, so that the Compassion society is really a loosely knit network of temples that recognize the spiritual authority of the Hualien centre, but are otherwise independent. |