The Diligent Practices provide the framework for correct action in the Immaculate Philosophy. Simple belief is not enough—the faithful live their beliefs through correct action.
THE FIRST DILIGENT PRACTICE Edit
Hear a recital of an Immaculate Text at least once a month, in the company of at least 17 other followers of the Philosophy.
In hearing the words of the Immaculate Dragons and those who were closest to them, the faithful discover words of wisdom when they need them. The sutras that make up the Immaculate Texts are not simply words of spirituality, they apply to all elements of the life of mortals. They act as a guide toward the Higher Road that leads to Exaltation.
The requirement that the Immaculate Text be heard in the company of others emphasizes that community and commonality are the foremost practices of the devoted. By working together to understand their purpose, mortals and Exalted alike grow to understand their respective places in Creation, which strengthens the ties of Creation itself.
THE SECOND DILIGENT PRACTICE Edit
Respect and honor spirits only according to the calendar and in the specific rites set down by the Immaculate Order, giving each spirit its due only insofar as it serves the harmony of Creation. Worship no spirit, elemental, small god or Anathema at all.
As the ties that hold Creation together, it is the proper duty of mortals to contribute to the power of the Celestial and Terrestrial Bureaucracies. But the gods and spirits of the world do not have the right to rule the lives of mortals. Gods have their duties as surely as mortals and Exalts do, and to try to gather power over things that are not under their aegis is wrong and prideful. Therefore, the Immaculate Order is careful to shield mortals from the undue infl uence of godly beings.
The Immaculate Order teaches that the Dragon-Blooded are the only ones spiritually strong enough to deal with powerful gods and spirits without being corrupted by them. Therefore, it is forbidden for mortals to engage in actual worship of individual gods. Instead, mortals may participate in the rites that glorify the gods as a whole, while Dragon-Blooded monks tend to the individual rites of the Hundred Gods (the name for the multitude of divinities in Creation and Heaven).
For this reason, the Immaculate Order is aniconic. The mistrust of animal symbols dates back to the First Age, when many animals were associated with the cults of the Unconquered Sun or Luna, and it has evolved into a general cultural prohibition against the depiction of gods. Only in the temples of those gods may statuary or depictions be erected, and they may be shown only when a Dragon-Blooded monk is performing their rites. All other times, they are locked away and hidden from view.
It is also considered ill luck to depict the Immaculate Dragons, who are best represented with their simple mon symbols. There is no prohibition against depiction of the Elemental Dragons, however, for they are so transcendent that human worship is irrelevant.
THE THIRD DILIGENT PRACTICE Edit
Imitate in word and deed the honorable behaviors of the five Immaculate Dragons, the mortal incarnations of the Dragons of the Elements. Emulate the thoughts appropriate to your incarnation as decreed by the Immaculate Dragons.
This is the core for all morality and ethical behavior to adherents of the Immaculate Philosophy. Mortals are expected to try to emulate all of the Immaculate Dragons, when and where they can. Self-reliance, adherence to tradition and restraint, compassion, the search for perfection, the holiness of hard work: These are the true virtues of the Immaculate adherent.
The Dragon-Blooded are assumed, by tradition, to emulate one Immaculate Dragon above others. Most of the time, this is the Dragon that corresponds to their aspect. A Fire Aspect manifests spiritual spontaneity and rebelliousness in his very anima, so the teachings of Hesiesh will likely benefit him the most. Sometimes, however, that is not the case. In some instances, a monk might suggest to a Dragon-Blood that she seek out the teachings of one of the other Immaculate Dragons.
THE FOURTH DILIGENT PRACTICE Edit
Obey the Dragon-Blooded, the descendants and disciples of the Immaculate Dragons, who are so close to enlightenment that their commands cannot cause a soul to stray from the Road.
There are those among the Dragon-Blooded who claim that this Diligent Practice demonstrates the innate righteousness of the Dragon-Blooded. Certainly, that is what the Immaculate Order teaches the un-Exalted who follow its beliefs. In truth, though, those Dragon-Blooded who learn anything about the Immaculate Faith are taught that this Diligent Practice does not mean that all of the Terrestrial Exalted’s whims and commands are righteous. It simply means that while one of the Princes of the Earth may command a man to take unrighteous action, men will not be led astray by obeying that command. It is the proper place of mortals to obey the Exalted, and in the fulfi llment of that destiny, men draw closer to the Essence of the Dragons.
The Immaculate Order emphasizes to its Exalted adherents, however, that they are still responsible for making sure that their commands are righteous and proper, in keeping with the proper order of Creation. In short, while the commands that one of the Dragon-Blooded Host gives to a mortal cannot draw that mortal away from enlightenment, it can pull the Dragon-Blood further from it.
THE FIFTH DILIGENT PRACTICE Edit
Resist the commands of the Anathema to the fullest degree of the abilities of your present incarnation, and do not fall into despair.
This Diligent Practice emphasizes two things: the understanding of the terrible sway of the Anathema, and the fact that mortals have only so much resistance to them. For this reason, the Immaculate Order considers those mortals who follow the Anathema to be as much victims as those the Anathema slay. In either case, what can mere mortals do to stymie the will of such demons?
Of course, by this token, those Dragon-Blooded who fall to the sway of the Anathema are responsible for their own weakness. They carry the Essence of the Dragons and are heirs to the blood of those who overthrew the Anathema once, at the height of their power. The Immaculate Order’s orthodoxy has no pity for those who fail to resist the demons, though those who have actually encountered the Anathema before are more likely to understand, given the power of the demons that possess them.