The main objective of the Dao Yuan is the intensification of both internal and external moral cultivation.
Internal cultivation consists of meditation and contemplation, that is, the perfection of the inner self.
External cultivation consists of the doing of good deeds for the emancipation of mankind. Without internal cultivation, there will be no establishment of radical principles; without external cultivation, there will be no world salvation. These two modes of life are therefore complementary, neither of which can be dispensed with.
The Dao Yuan was set up with the aim of saving humanity from upheaval and calamity. Why is it that calamity has fallen upon the world? The root of this widespread disaster lies in the depths of the heart of man. When man’s heart turns away from the right path and follows devious bypaths, adverse changes in world affairs will inevitably occur with increasing rapidity to be followed in due time by natural as well as political and social disasters. The only way to turn the tide and save mankind from downfall lies in the spiritual regeneration of each and every member of the human family, in his full understanding of the ways and means of returning to the creative source of his life and restoring to its pristine purity his original spiritual nature, thus re-establishing himself in that goal of life that is perfect in all perfections. When he attains that ultimate goal, his inner radiance will not be obscured by worldly desires, nor will his mind be perturbed by demoniacal distractions. The inner light shining from such perfected beings is so potent that it invisibly dissolves the pestilential influences prevailing in the world and imperceptibly delivers mankind from the dark cycle in which they are involved. Herein lies the radical principle of the salvation of the world.
Devotees of Dao Yuan worship the Most Holy One, 至聖先天老祖 (pronounced Zhìshèng Xiāntiān Lǎozǔ in Mandarin or Shisei Senten Rouso in Japanese), and other divinities. The Most Holy One signifies the Primordial Reality, the Great Dao (先天大道), which is without beginning and without end, and which is neither conditioned by space and time nor restricted to any form. What is called the Great Dao is that Omnipresent Principle which underlies all things in the universe. In reality, the Supreme Lord is the Creative Spirit underlying all planes of existence (無界之靈). He is simply and purely the Primordial Life Force or Cosmic Energy (先天氣胞).
Devotees chant sutras and follow the teachings as enshrined in the Holy Canons (太乙北極真經副集 and 太乙正經午集).
1 Purification of the hearts and curtailment of desires
2 Cultivation of oneself and deliverance of others
3 Transmutation of personal characteristics
4 Return to the realm of divine spirit