The Tao

The Tao of Shinsei was a series of lectures and discussions which became the basis of the religion known as Shinseism. The whole of it was recorded by the Kami Shiba and consisted primarily of Shinsei's famed discussion with Hantei, and also Shinsei's teachings as he traveled Rokugan finding the Seven Thunders.

Recording the Tao[edit | edit source]

Writing the Tao

As Shinsei met with Hantei to convince the Emperor to allow the monk to take the Seven Thunders and fight Fu Leng, Shiba sat nearby, listening and recording each word the two said. When the conversation was over, Shiba was left with a thick stack of papers covered with writing. [1]

As Shinsei traveled Rokugan finding and collecting his Thunders, Shiba remained by his side, continuing to record his teachings. As they passed through the Empire, Shinsei would stop and speak with the locals, teaching everyone who would listen. These conversations became the final chapters of the Tao. [2]

The pair traveled, collecting the Thunders, until they finally reached Gisei Toshi, where Isawa would eventually join their party. At this point, Shinsei told Shiba to stop writing. he said that the work was complete and would forever remain with the Isawa in the city. [2]

Isawa reaction[edit | edit source]

As Isawa's family began researching the Tao after their namesake's departure, they were appalled at the teachings and declared that the text was blasphemously opposed to kami no michi. Obsessed with finding some flaw in the text, the scholars of the Isawa family began poring over it in order to find irregularities. These scholars spent years dissecting every lesson, mystery and riddle, but ultimately found no errors. Instead, they began to realize that the teachings of Shinsei were in fact compatible with kami no michi. Within a few generations, the Tao took the place of honor in the Isawa family's great library. [2]

Kolat reaction[edit | edit source]

Shinsei's writings suggested that any mortal could be the equal of the gods if he sought the path of enlightenment, and that all things were impermanent, part of an endless kharmic cycle. The kolat felt the Tao endorsed their own philosophies, and that the imperfect Kami would be eventually cast down. They became conspirators, and began infiltrating mercantile organizations and the Imperial Bureaucracy to be closest to those in power, so they would manipulate the Empire from within. [3]

Akodo reaction[edit | edit source]

The Kami Akodo decreed that the Lion Clan should never open their copy of the Tao, but that they should dedicate themselves to Bushido instead. Indeed, each Lion dojo, had a copy of the Tao that had remained sealed. Enlightenment was rare among the Lion, as they favored to study bushido over the Tao. [4]

Varying texts[edit | edit source]

Some lectures that Shinsei gave while collecting the Thunders were often written down by his students. Some were chronicled immediately after the scribe heard the Little Teacher, and some versions were not written until decades afterwards. As a result, many of Shinsei's lectures have several different recorded versions. Clarity was made more difficult because monks who were writing sutra would often use the name of a previous master as a pseudonym. Since the partial destruction of the original Tao (see below), it became difficult to determine what teachings were originally Shinsei's and which came from his followers over the centuries. [5]

Approbation[edit | edit source]

Although the Tao became the foundation of the Shinseism and the Shinsei Brotherhood, the text was still controversial. The most skeptical critics were from the Scorpion Clan, who doubted about the text's authenticity, such as Soshi Muyoko. [6]

Contents[edit | edit source]

The Tao consisted of many dozens of scrolls, divided into three books. The Book of Discussion detailed the conversations Shinsei held with the Kami, as well as various tales of Shinsei's travels. The second book was the Book of Duties, essentially an instruction manual for monks, detailing 225 laws governing monk behavior. The third book, the Book of the Soul, was not Shinsei's, but was added later by the Phoenix founders of the Brotherhood of Shinsei as an attempt to resolve discrepancies between the Tao and kami worship. It contained discourses on mysticism, dissertations on shugenja doctrine and behavior, and a highly developed treatise on psychology. [7]

Secret of the Tao[edit | edit source]

The most complete copy rested in Gisei Toshi, the hidden city, jealously guarded by the Phoenix the original teachings of Shinsei bore a revelation that would shock Rokugani society to its core, the revelation of the Path of Man. It told that humans were more powerful than gods, because for a mortal, anything was possible. [8]

The loss of the Tao[edit | edit source]

The Fire at Gisei Toshi[edit | edit source]

In 283, in the wake of the rampage of Oni no Akuma, fire swept through Gisei Toshi. The great library was ravaged, and the Tao was nearly lost. [9] [10] Many of the Asako librarians perished trying to stem the blaze and save the Tao, but they were not completely successful. Entire sections of the Tao were burned, and the remainder was badly damaged. What remained were only fragments, charred and brittle. These were isolated in the deepest vault of the library. The damaged Tao nearly filled a table, whereas the original text had once been contained within hundreds of scrolls. [2]

After the fire, the greatest of the Asako family librarians devoted their lives to restoring the Tao. They researched every scroll they could in order to find any passage that had been quoted elsewhere. They questioned every scholar of the Tao they could find, recording what they could remember about the original writings. In the end, they could not restore the complete Tao, but their efforts did result in a large body of work which remained as enlightening as ever it was. [2]

The Shadows and the Tao[edit | edit source]

The Shadows began his quest to erase the memory of the Empire, and the first to fall was Isawa Osugi. [11] She had died to save the Tao from the Shadows. [12] The Emperor's own copy of the original Tao was consumed in darkness alongside with half of the original copy of the New Tao. [13] The revered Crane duelist Kakita Toshimoko, faked his death and assumed a low profile to search for Shinsei's True Tao, stolen by the Kolat. Toshimoko found half of the Tao by hunting down the Kolat Master Kage and attacking him for it. Wounded, Toshimoko gave the Tao to Daidoji Rekai to carry it back to the Brotherhood. As this happened, Kage realized that he could no longer protect the Tao from the Shadows and sent the other half of the great work with a ronin ordered to meet Rekai at the Temple of Shinsei. The Shadow’s minions, however, outran the Kolat messenger and slew him, scattering one half of the True Tao into the ocean, lost, forever. [14]

External Links[edit | edit source]

Quotes[edit | edit source]

The Rokugani used quotes of the Tao as support or to highlight some arguments.

For further information on this section, please see Tao (Notable Quotes)


  1. Way of the Phoenix, p. 115
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Way of the Phoenix, p. 116
  3. Way of the Thief, pp. 12-13
  4. Test of Enlightenment
  5. Way of the Phoenix, p. 118
  6. Way of the Scorpion, p. 24
  7. Way of Shinsei, p.30
  8. Way of Shinsei, pp. 30-31
  9. Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game, Third Edition, p. 11
  10. Secrets of the Phoenix, p. 10
  11. A Kolat Revealed (Dark Journey Home flavor)
  12. A Letter from Doji Shizue (Imperial Herald v4 #4)
  13. Way of the Open Hand, p. 19
  14. The Crane Clan, by Edward Bolme and Ree Soesbee (Imperial Herald #15)
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