“Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life. Do not be concerned with escaping safely — lay your life before him.”
It wasn’t the Storm, the Conflagration, or the War In Heaven or the many warriors lost to the Ascension War that caused the Tradition the most difficulty. That came from within. Akashayana Masters withdrew to their monasteries long ago to contemplate Ascension while the soldiers went forth and died for it. While they found inner harmony, time marched on, and the world changed. It was the Akashayana, after all, who first chose to withdraw from the Ascension War, but now many question if that position is sustainable in the long run. The cycle has turned over the last 20 years, and those warriors have returned and are waking up to the past. All of the Traditions were forced to change or perish, but no more so than the Akashayana. The Tradition must now walk a very tense line between the ancient past that has guided them for centuries, and finding new ways to fight anew.
The wheel turns, and everything old is new again. The Akashayana have something of a generational problem. Those few masters that remained on Earth or returned to the Tradition are centuries old and hopelessly out of touch with the 21st century. Having taught themselves to transcend tools, the idea of adapting the Tradition’s way to the Information Age. Many younger members have no trouble dazzling Sleepers on social media with acrobatic feats, but being in the world comes with it the burden of attachment. The Tradition, as a whole, is at a crisis point, and as the Akashayana know well, harmony often comes with conflict. To make matters more complicated, its been over two decades since the Ascension War peaked. While the surviving Akashayana might have persuaded the Council to sue for a kind of peace, at least in the short-term, those who perished in the flames of Doisstep or at the hands of the Union at Concordia or any other Ascension War theater have a different perspective. These new members are just starting to remember their past lives, and are struggling with a well of emotions. Kannagara struggle to tame the wild emotions while other factions, mainly the Shi-Ren and the Vajrapani, wish to use put the fire in the heart of these young mages to good use. This is further complicated by the fact that many of them have returned in Western incarnations. There are a variety of perspectives on this, but the Tradition is slowly waking up to the reality that they must find a way to train these returning members.
Internally, the Tradition isn’t any more harmonious. The Kannagara remain the de facto leaders of the Tradition, but the Wu Lung put their thumb on the scales of power. The power struggle isn’t the kind of thing outsiders would notice. These are not the overt power plays of the Hermetics nor the ecumenical struggles of the Celestial Chorus. You couldn’t even call this a shadow war, but every member of Disciple rank or higher can sense that there is turmoil on the deepest levels of the Record. Members are accessing it, evaluating it, and drawing conclusions. What this means is hard to say. Perhaps this struggle between She-Ren and Kannagara is a sublime one that will result in result in wisdom. Perhaps bloodshed.
Shi-Ren Akarui Tori came to the Tradition during World War II. Born to a Japanese mother and Chinese father, she was a child of two worlds. She grew up in Hong Kong. Although her family was half-Japanese, they were strongly opposed to Japan’s aggression toward China. When Japan invaded Hong Kong in the 1940s, she and her siblings joined anti-Japanese movement, and were recruited into a Golden Dragon secret society. There, the girls began to recall her past incarnations in the Traditions, and Awakened. With no time to loose, the Golden Dragons put her to work spying on the Technocracy, and the information she gleaned as a socialite during the occupation allowed the Golden Dragons an advantage in the war. Her sister, however, was caught by the Technocracy and executed, a transgression Akarui Tori won’t let go of. Sent to the West to ply her talents among the ex-patriot Asian communities, she languished in the male dominated Dragons for decades. The Storm changed that, however. Akarui Tori has risen to power, and is finally having her day. She seemingly charmed the Kannagara into giving her their blessing, and after a contentious contest, was chosen to represent the Tradition on the New Horizon Council. Akarui Tori is not the mild mannered monk or temperate warrior that appeared before the Council in the past. Lean and athletic in designer suits, large sunglasses, Akarui Tori strikes a surprisingly modern figure. Having lived in Hong Kong and North America, she has a perspective that many in the Tradition do not. Tori succeeds where many others have failed in her ability to blend into Western world while staying true to her roots. Darker rumors dog her, however. Some say that she spent time with the Lin Shen, and that is why she was sent to North America. Others question her role as a kind of fixer between China, Japan, and the West as sometimes having gone too far. Whatever the truth is, Akarui Tori has demonstrated that she is capable of juggling a complicated slate of interests and agendas without batting an eye. As far as the Sphinx is concerned, Tori has, so far, been more happy to hear both sides to see if some agreement can be met.
Jati & Pai
- Shi-Ren – The venerable Shi-Ren have weathered their fair share of storms, and the most recent tribulations being no exception. After the collapse of the markets in the 1990s and the loss of the venerable Kunio Ashida at Doissetep, the Jade Robes redoubled their efforts to ensure the Tradition emerged hail and whole. Where the once resorted to smuggling and the drug trade the West’s economic pivot towards Asia, particularly China, was the opening Shi-Ren were looking for. Shi-Ren backed corporations have developed footholds in the West, particularly on the West Coast, allowing the Shi-Ren to bring the fight to where the Technocracy lives. Shi-Ren successes in the West and their involvement with crime and drug trade pose troubling questions about the lengths Shi-Ren will go to strike back at the Technocracy. Some within the Tradition think their ends justifying the means philosophy is a little too similar to that of the Technocracy.
- Han Fei Tzu – Han Fei Tzu Academy have embraced modern methods of influence infusing digital platforms like TED Talks with their principals that feed into business school academics. The Academy has also become something of a recruitment ground for new, Western initiates of the Tradition. Indifferent to the Sphinx, the transmission and continued relevance of their ideas remains their top priority in the Ascension War. Behind the scenes, the Academy looks to the Tradition’s political welfare at the New Horizon Council, but has refused to take any particular stance on the Sphinx seeing neutrality as politically advantageous.
- Kaizankai – Kaizankai remain inward looking and their concerns that of their loyalty to Japan. The Kaizankai certainly benefited fro Japan’s prosperity, yet, with the decline of the Zaibatsu, the Kaizankai must decide to embrace globalism or whither in isolation. The Kaizankai are divided on the transmission of the Sphinx. Some see the Sphinx as the sign they have been waiting for to move against the Technocracy while more conservative members distrust its motivations and do not wish to disrupt Japan’s current prosperity. Always slow to move, the Kaizankai wait seemingly in contemplation.
- Gam Lung – The Golden Dragons are second only to the Academy in their resurgence, and they have largely embraced the transmission of the Sphinx. They took full advantage of the Western pivot to Asia, and have used the resources gained through illicit means to restore their lost legitimate business holdings. With cash in hand and the apparent aid from the Sphinx, they have begun to deal back some of the damage done to them by the Syndicate decades ago. The Golden Dragons can be found all over the globe managing their secret societies, raiding corporate stocks, and dealing harshly with their enemies.
- Wu Lung – What few Wu Lung sought refuge within the Akashayana have married into Shi-Ren families settling age-old rivalries…at least for now. The two have become virtually indistinguishable, but many blame the tensions between the Shi-Ren and the Kannagara are due to Wu Lung machinations.
- Common Shi-Ren Focus
- Paradigms: Divine Order and Earthly Chaos, A World of Gods and Monsters, Might is Right, Bring Back the Golden Age, Everything is an Illusion, Prison or Mistake, Ancient Wisdom is the Key, The Ancestors Watch Over Us, Consciousness is the Only True Reality, Transcend Your Limits
- Practices: Ancestor Worship, The Art of Desire/Hypereconomics, Dominion, Faith, High Ritual Magick, Invigoration, Maleficia, Martial Arts, Medicine Work, Yoga
- Practices: The Art of Desire/Hypereconomics, Dominion, Faith, High Ritual Magick, Medicine Work, Martial Arts, Ancestor Worship
- Instruments: Books, Scrolls, and Periodicals, Blessings & Curses, Celestial Alignments, Crossroads and Crossing Days/Moments, Energy, Eye Contact, Group Rites, Languages, Management & Human Resources, Meditation, Money & Wealth, Offerings and Sacrifices, Prayers and Invocations, Social Domination, Symbols, Tricks & Illusions, Voice and Vocalizations, Writings, Inscriptions, and Runes,
- Common Shi-Ren Focus
- Li-Hai – The Empty Vessels and their Mongrel Dharma find enlightenment everywhere and anywhere, and that is exactly where you find them. Flung across the world, the Empty Vessels see find new wisdom by looking at old ideas in new ways. In a world filled with labels and divided by ideologies, there is no better time than the Information Age to urge others to transcend the limitations of orthodoxy and dogma. That said, the Storm was more than just a metaphysical anomaly, but something of a moral one. To them, it represented a powerful rift between the spirit world and the material world, one that must be better understood and perhaps made amends for.
- Mo-tzu Fa – The sect has resolved its leadership crisis with the modern activists largely taking the lead. The Sphinx and the Manifesto, however, are another matter. Distrust of powerful leaders and the sometimes authoritarian tone of the transmissions has resulted in fractious positions concerning how to respond. Many feel that the Sphinx is an example of the revolutionary spirit that Mo embodied, but others think that the Sphinx is a force that wishes to divide the Tradition and distract heroic work in service of the Sleepers. Other voices see the Sphinx as entirely irrelevant given the damage between done by the Storm between Earth and heaven. Between caring for their charges, re-establishing connections to the spirits, and coordinating their efforts the Mo-tzu Fa have their hands full already.
- Blue Skins – The Blue Skins briefly fell out of favor during the Storm as many Akashayana sought refuge from the chaos in conservatism and tradition. Since the Storm’s end and the revelations of the Sphinx, the need for the Blue Skin’s accessible yet controlled approach to enlightenment. Individuals may follow the Sphinx or not, it matters very little to the Blue Skins. Crazy times, after all, call for Crazy Wisdom, and the Blue Skins have have troves of it. Many Li-Hai are now exploit the West’s hunger for spectacle in order to transmit the Tradition’s ideas, but mainly Blue Skins can be found in the world cutting finely dressed examples of what enlightenment can be.
- Roda d’Oro – The magpies of the Tradition, the Storm confirmed to them that the branch that is flexible survives. With the need for change recognized around the globe, the Roda d’Oro continue create a synthesis of the best the East and the West have to offer. Individual by choice, the Golden Rings have a diverse perspectives on the Sphinx, but most are more concerned with their Sleeper charges than with the Awakened politics of old.
- Common Li-Hai Focus
- Paradigms: It’s All Good – Have Faith, Turning the Keys to Reality, Ancestors Watch Over Us, Transcend Your Limits, Ancient Wisdom is the Key
- Chaos Magick, Crazy Wisdom, Martial Arts, Yoga, but Li-Hai are very eclectic in their practices.
- Instruments: Transgression, Weapons, Internet Activity, Computers, but Li-Hai are flexible in their instruments that best transmit their ideas.
- Common Li-Hai Focus
- Kannagara– Despite now being the fewest in number, the Kannagara remain at the reigns of the Tradition, but even the immortal Elder Path has shifted in the wake of the Storm. Sleeper concerns now sit on par with lofty ancient teachings and meditation.. What they call the “Engaged Drahma” follows the trends set by Buddhists as it opens up its philosophy to different interpretations. Shaolin monks emerge into the world and Karmachakra rub elbows with the Sleepers in order to demonstrate that community service can, too, be an enlightened practice.
- Common Focus
- Paradigms: Divine Order and Earthly Chaos, Consciousness is the Only True Reality, Ancestors Watch Over Us, It’s All Good – Have Faith, Ancestors Watch Over Us, Transcend Your Limits, Ancient Wisdom is the Key, A Holographic Reality
- Practices: Martial Arts, Yoga, Medicine Work, Invigoration
- Instruments: Books, Scrolls, and Periodicals, Weapons, Armor, Artwork, Dances, Gestures, Postures, and Other Movement Practices, Energy, Fashion, Food and Drink, Languages, Meditation, Ordeals and Exertion, Offerings, & Sacrifices, Sacred Iconography, Symbols, Body Modification, Voice & Vocalization, Writings etc.
- Common Focus
- Jnani- With Doissetep and Concordia gone, the Rishi who intrigued there are little more than myth and rumor. Whatever grudges drove such turmoil in the Otherworlds was not passed on to the Earthbound Jnani who could be found supplicating to spirits in temples or in the wilderness. The Storm was a hardship for the sect. Cut off from the source of much of their magic they attempted to give refuge to what few spirits they could contact, but the searing wall the divided them from the heavens deprived them from the source of much of their magic. Old enemies attempted to take advantage of this, but the Jnani simply retreated to fight another day. The retreat is over. Having heard the words of the Sphinx, the Jnani have emerged from hiding to once again to mix flesh and spirit in pursuit of Ascension.
- Yamabushi – These Japanese monks can be seen in the streets of Tokyo and on Japanese telvision offering an image of ancient spirituality to the masses. Temples are now open to Sleepers who come to onzen, walk the spiritual paths of their sacred mountains, learn meditations, and train with the monks.
- Chabnagpa – The Black Water Sect maintains their records in their a reclusive Tibetan monastery. There are rumors that the sect may be behind some of the recent transmissions from the Sphinx. The Chabnagpa, of course, simply bow humbly and tend to their secrets.
- Wu Shan – The Taoist monks continue their age-old work self-purification through communion with the spirit world, but some have begun to emerge into the world to offering what healing gifts they can to the Sleepers.
- Lin Shen – As always, do not exist. Do not seek the knowledge of the Forest Classic. It will find you.
- Common Focus
- Paradigms: Creation Is Innately Divine & Alive, It’s All Good – Have Faith, Ancient Wisdom is the Key, Consciousness is the Only True Reality, The Ancestors Watch Over Us, We’re All God(s) In Disguise, Transcend Your Limits
- Practices: Alchemy, Medicine Work, Yoga, God-Bonding, Invigoration
- Focus: Artwork, Celestial Alignments, Circles, Pentacles, and other Geometric Designs, Dances, Gestures, Postures, and Other Movement Practices, Energy, Food and Drink, Meditation, Offerings and Sacrifices, Ordeals & Exertions, Symbols, Voice and Vocalizations, Body Modification, Herbs, Roots, Seeds, Flowers, and Plants
- Common Focus
- Vajrapani – When the pogroms came, the Scales of the Dragon took the fight directly to the Technocracy as they always have. The Storm cut them off from Umbral refuges, but the the Vajrapani were never ones to put all their eggs in one basket. Nationalistic and family oriented, the Vajrapani traditionally relied upon the 36 clans that originally made up the faction. Between the Storm, the various wars among the Awakened, and the pogroms, the jati’s numbers were significantly reduced. Since the Storm passed, they have begun to recruit worthy men and women from any background through martial arts schools for a mysterious purpose. The jati has made no formal acknowledgement of the Sphinx, but they have increasingly begun to send their Ryugakusei into the West. Western Bodhimandala also more support than ever before. Rumors abound that the Sphinx has gotten under the Dragon’s scales, but only time will show in what way.
- Tenshin Arashi Ryu– Arashi form the foundation of the jati’s training regimes, and the need for teachers among the Vajrapani is high. The Arashi have refocused their efforts to the elite warrior trainers of the jati. The Arashi can be found all over the world training warriors before moving on to the next Bodhimandala. While this has gained them a great deal of prestige and political clout in the Tradition, some conservative members feel they have given up their priceless, immortal cultural heritage for temporal power.
- Banner of the Ebon Dragon – The Banner is a secret society of Vajrapani clans that care for their own and guard Chinese Kannagara and Jnani. They continue this duty, but increasingly accompany the Shi Ren in the cities where they execute their agenda’s through front societies used for political purposes or recruitment. In North America, the Heilong Athletic Society serves a similar purpose, and the faction has modeled these societies after Western Free Masonary instilling cultural pride in Chinese communities in the West.
- Sulsa – While all the Vajrapani are capable fighters, the Sulsa now represent the vanguard of jati’s martial power. Stealthy, sly, and wily, the faction is now a much feared blade in the dark. They refuse to give up their old ways of training, and anyone seeking to learn their ways must make the trek to their traditional training schools in Korea and submit to the will of the teachers there. Once training ends one may find the Sulsa in the world doing battle in the name of Samadhi.
- Common Focus
- Paradigms: Divine Order and Earthly Chaos, A World of Gods and Monsters, Might is Right, Bring Back the Golden Age, Ancient Wisdom is the Key, The Ancestors Watch Over Us, Consciousness is the Only True Reality, Transcend Your Limits
- Practices: High Ritual Magick, Maleficia, Medicine Work, Martial Arts, Ancestor Worship
- Instruments: Weapons & Armor, Blessings or Curses, Bodywork, Dances, Gestures, Postures, and Other Movement Practices, Drugs and Poisons, Energy, Elements, Eye Contact, Fashion, Food and Drink, Group Rites, Herbs, Roots, Seeds, Flowers, and Plants, Meditation, Ordeals and Exertion, Social Domination, Symbols, Voice and Vocalizations, Body Modification,
- Common Focus
Akashayana In Los Angeles
Los Angeles has many faces. Most think of it as the home of the entertainment industry, but a city the size of Los Angeles is more than just would-be stars waiting for their big break. The City of Angel’s hasn’t always been kind to its Asian people, however. Starting with the covenant laws of the early 20th century, then the insult that was China City, the poverty driven racial tensions and violence, the internment of the Japanese during World War II, and then LA riots which nearly devastated Koreatown. Still, over a million Asian Americans have found a way to triumph despite adversity. Today, 3.99 million Asians now live in the LA Metro area making it the informal capital of Asian America.
While no longer exclusively made up of Asian people, no one can dispute that Asian culture and the Akashyana are inextricably linked. The Tradition’s influence can be see beyond the ethnic enclaves, however. Meditation, yoga, martial arts, and the alternative medicines of Asia can be found all over Los Angeles. The Chinese American Museum, the various “little cities” or “towns” within LA, the Japanese Garden at Woodley Park, Helen Liu Fong’s Googie Architecture, and the Korean Bell of Friendship all form a web Asian cultural exports throughout the city. Even Hollywood continues to have a spectacular yet problematic love affair with martial arts from Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan to David Darradine or the Matrix. Los Angeles might have a Latin name, but one could make an argument that its soul is Asian. Akashyana can be found in Asian communities, but almost as commonly in Latin American communites teaching martial arts and meditation.
Those new to L.A. looking to contact the Tradition know to go to Paul’s kitchen. Paul’s Kitchen is an institution in Market City China Town. At this cozy, “mom and pop” Chinese restaurant you order a meal, and ask for it to be made to bao ju. Once you have finished your tea you will receive a visit from the Tradition’s emissary to test your worthiness.
- We use the M20 version of Do. Players with Do are expected to be well versed in these the Do rules starting on page 426.
- Given the discipline required to learn Do we consider it an exclusively Akashic Ability for the time being (Mage 20th page 292).
- Akashic players may employ the optional rules for the Peaceful Way (M20 pg. 428).