With rods do the farmers drive the bullocks,
You are the rod and the farmer and the ax and the fire.
Fine skin-lanterns shall be your sunlight
And corpse-dust shall be your perfume.
- The Songs of Hell
The Howl of the Devil-Tiger
Some souls scream when they reach Yomi. Others enjoy the trip and bring the torment back with them when they return. To these souls, the Howl of the Devil-Tiger is a mantra of hope. Pain is a cleansing thing to these vampires; it roots out imperfections and applies the healing torch. In the shriek that follows, a higher Truth appears.
According to The Blood Sutras, Xue discovered the Mantra of Pain after the destruction of Mount Meru. Weeping, he lashed himself with nettles and tore gashes in his sides. As his blood poured to the ground, it burst into flames. Xue ripped off his own face and threw it into the flames. It was then he became enlightened.
Despite misconceptions, the followers of this path are not demon-worshippers. Oh, they appear to be, to the unenlightened observer: Devil-Tiger temples crawl with atrocities - from skewered babies to maimed slaves - and ring with obscene chants and discordant music. Unclean spirits frequent such places, and the Chi that boils in Devil-Tiger dragon nests is corrosive and foul. The outsiders miss the point, however: Devil-Tigers do not worship devils, they want to become devils. And that is a far greater purpose than servitude.
To the Searing Wind (another name for the Devil-Tiger sect), pain is instructive and purifying. A devil, in the grand scheme of things, is the doctor with a cauter-knife and bone-saw. By cutting off the rotting limbs and burning out infections, a devil makes creation health. It is Heaven's wish that Devil-Tigers fulfill this task on Earth - both on others and upon themselves.
These vampires epitomize sadomasochism; they enjoy tormenting other creatures mentally, emotionally and physically, but revel in the same treatment, too. Each tear is a new lesson, each cry a vision of truth. Just as a sudden flash of light leaves a deeper darkness, so the lash of pain creates a greater calm. Restraint comes from the fear of pain; hence, welcome pain and banish restraint. Agony should be savored for the insights that it brings - insights that turn to higher joys, if you understand their meaning.
The Searing Wind tries to help other find those joys; paradoxically, it also seeks to destroy people who understand the truth too well. These devils are surgeons too, after all, and destined by Heaven to cauterize disease. Like the goddess Tien Mu, Devil-Tigers are the lightning that illuminates the wicked; like Le Kung, they are the thunderbolt, which strikes down sinners. The Sixth Age, so they say, will be the brightest strike, the flash that will burn a wicked creation to ashes. Like the lightning, the Devil-Tigers will fade when their task is done, and a new, wiser creation will rise from the embers of the old.
Internal divisions and sects
Alongside the Cranes, the Howl of the Devil Tiger is one of the most rigid structured Dharmas. Their temperament, however, makes it on of the most conflict-driven bodies within Kuei-jin society, with heavy infighting over each position of authority and internal decision, so that it has been referred to as the Ten Thousand Razor Splinters by a bodhisattva.
- The ability and commitment of each Devil-Tiger is tested by the August Body of Sagacious Devils (Lian Zhe Kuei), a gremium of Devil-Tiger Ancestors and Bodhisattvas that ensure the quality and orthodoxy of each Devil-Tiger sworn to the Fivefold Way. Most Devil-Tigers who act as powerful figures in Courts have at least some standing within the August Body. By using an extreme competitive system of ranks, the August Body channels the wrathful energy of the P'o into productive work for the greater good of the Kuei-jin.
- In contrast, the Thousand Embers Righteousness Societies (Chien Yu Jin Zheng Shi Huei), are small groups comparable to small faith circles, numbering from two to thirty. The members of a society support each other even across wu-boundaries, and typically study the dharmic texts together. The purpose of each society in the long run, however, is to act as a distraction to the Demon Emperor, as a guerilla cell that will set mortal society ablaze to stop the Yama Kings from prospering in the Sixth Age.
Smaller groups include
- The Black Iron Talons, a sect of akuma hunters, who also target Nephandi, Kindred, Spectres and other tainted beings
- The Brilliant Coals, a sect within the Golden Courts that cooperate with the Thrashing Dragons, who emphasize passion and physicality, seeking to break the P'o into submission and make the Golden Courts a place so dangerous that even the Yama Kings will shy away from it.
- The Electric Money Wickedness Club, a sect similar to an investment club that seek to devalue and bankrupt economics under the sway of the Yama Kings.
- The Righteous Earth-Prison Smiting Fist, a sect dedicated on toppling the current ruler of the Yellow Springs, Yu Huang, and is shunned out of political reasons by the Quincunx
- The Distinguished Sinner-Punishing Society, a group of Devil-Tigers that believe in poetic justice and try to make prominent sinners public examples for the mortal world. They are shunned because they violate the law of secrecy among the shen and because they overstep their dharmic boundaries of just punishing sinners.
- The Searing Wind, a near heretical sect that originated a short time after the Treaty of the Quincunx was signed. Led by the self-proclaimed Great Arhat Hon Li, the sect seeks to return to the days of the Demon Warrior Empire, openly persecuting followers of other Dharmas, seeking to mobilize every Kuei-jin for their cause to slay the Demon Emperor.
Like tigers, the vampires of the Searing Wind prefer magnificence to brutality. Such evil has a grace and power that simple carnage cannot match. Their lessons cut like razors - literally! - and their mantras flay one's ears. Skill is a virtue, brutishness a waste. A Master abducts her future disciples, imposes horrific lessons on them, then has them meditate on the essence of their pain.
The students themselves come from violent backgrounds. In their lives, they learned to live with pain. In time, they drew strength from it and often died gruesome deaths. During their stay in Yomi, these souls had their weaknesses sliced away. Now, with the Second Breath in their lungs, they strive to continue their training and to pass on the lesson to individuals who might appreciate it.
Modern Devil-Tigers find the world a fascinating playground. Never before has pain been so acceptable, so mass-produced. At the same time, many people seem numb to exquisite anguish. The challenge of the modern world is to make it feel again - to apply the hot iron until creation's eyes fly open and behold the sight of Heaven.
Even the wisest Devil-Tigers seem impulsive, a bit too quick to provoke a scream. The younger ones are clumsy tempters or raging killers, and their elders aren't much better. Subtlety is not this Dharma's strong point. In the dawning of the Sixth Age, Devil-Tigers stand ready to claim the world and are none too humble about that privilege. They cultivate Bane-spirits in their gardens, but cannot quite hide the hunger in their eyes.
Auspicious Omens and Symbols for Devil-Tigers
Important signs to watch for and to keep around. Many followers of this Way integrate these symbols into their homes and temples. Bodhisattvas frequently manifest such phenomena whenever they appear. The following are Auspicious Omens and Symbols for Devil-Tigers: Tigers, thunderstorms, lightning strikes, huge fires, and burning lotuses (often represented by floating flower-candles).
Affiliations of Devil-Tigers
The elements connected to the Way. Most followers style their dress, behavior and practices after the elements they revere, and they employ samples of these materials in their meditations and rites. The Affiliations of Devil-Tigers are as follows: Fire, the number 2, the color red and the south direction.
|Ride the Demon, do not let it ride you.||Take the power of the demon and use it to your own ends, but never let the Demon control you. Listen to its advice, but never let him tell you what to do.|
|Glory in the fires of the flesh and the passions of the soul.||Everything in life shall be done to its fullest and usually only one at a time. Only in moments of immediacy are we free of dissimulation.|
|Teach others to live joyfully through pain.||It is with agony that the man drives the oxen, and so it is with agony that we drive humanity. Only through the light of agony can we become aware of the truth.|
|Throw fear into the flames and encourage others to do likewise.||Fear is your enemy. As you grow and learn you will face many terrors. Terror of the horrors which you must face, but also the terror of loss, the terror of accomplishing nothing. Only when you give up your fear will you be able to accomplish anything. When you give up fear, you cannot be stopped. Without fear, all gain the drive to accomplish whatever they wish.|
|Do not hesitate - act!||Knowing what to do and doing nothing about it is laziness. Not knowing what do and acting on it is foolishness. Learn the difference between them and never shy away from a course once it is taken.|
|Seek out the brightest embers and feed them until they become bonfires.||Cultivate the wicked and when their usefulness is done, destroy them with the same wickedness you helped them to achieve.|
|Meditate upon the flash of passion, the dazzle of its afterglow and the darkness that follows.||Wash the world in a single color and that color will disappear. Likewise, put the world in constant pain, and pain will cease to exist. Do not forget that there is no pain without pleasure, no suffering without joy. Both are your tools, one used to illustrate the other.|
|Be cultured in your passions and magnificent in your evil. Any imbecile can act like a madman; it takes true wisdom to become a devil.||Strive always to make your evil both elegant and precise, for your malevolence brings honor to the Celestial Bureaucracy.|
|Allied to Yomi Wan|