Tamashp encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices based largely on original teachings attributed to Tamazi and the resulting interpretation of those philosophies. It originated in ancient Tapiape as a peasant tradition sometime just before 1 AE. Its spread became a symbol of a change in historic eras, marking the end of the Age of Intikilla and the Lē Gata Era. It exalts an uncreated and benevolent deity of wisdom, Kothed (not to be confused with the Kothed religion). Most Tamashp traditions share the goal of overcoming suffering and ending the cycle of death and rebirth. Though Tamashp schools vary in their interpretation of the path to liberation, it is considered the world's largest monotheistic religion.
Views and Core Beliefs
In Tamashp cosmology there is one universal, transcendent, benevolent, and uncreated deity, Kothed, who is omniscient but not omnipotent. All living and created things have aspects of Kothed within them, however, one can become closer or farther from Kothed by one's own actions. The supreme goal of Tamashp is to break the cycle of suffering. Through specific guidelines, people can eventually rejoin with Kothed by giving up their idea of permanence.
Tamashp recognizes Tamazi as the earthly avatar of Kothed as well as several minor prophets with varying degrees of reverence.
Tamashp asserts that there is no permanent self or “soul” in living beings and the misconception that anything is permanent is the primary source of suffering. Craving for pleasures and avoidance of painful feelings are both causes for continued misconception. This in turn continues the cycle of rebirth, which results in agony. By following Tamashp, one can achieve liberation and wholeness by way of disengaging from these desires.
The cycle of death and rebirth called gimti is one of the main focuses of modern Tamashp practitioners. This cycle is considered to be inadequate and painful, perpetuated by desire and ignorance. The theory of rebirths, and realms in which these rebirths can occur, is extensively developed in Tamashp, in particular Trebori Tamashp with its influence of authority tenet. Deliverance from gimti has been the foundation and the most important historical justification of Tamashp, its early adherents having lived as slaves for generations. Later Tamashp texts assert that rebirth can occur in several realms of existence. These are usually broken up into twelve realms; the sevenfold realms of heaven, the demi-god, and the human realm are orderly. There are also three chaotic realms: that of animals, that of ghouls or demons, and the circle of hell.
In early Tamashp texts, it is the state of restraint and self-control that leads to the ending of the cycle of suffering. Many later Tamashp texts describe this liberation as complete nothingness. In some texts, the state is described with greater detail, such as realizing that there is no soul or self in any living being, then realizing that liberation cannot be perceived, and finally that liberation is the state of not even wishing for enlightenment. This state has also been described in Tamashp texts as the state of complete liberation, enlightenment, highest happiness, bliss, fearlessness, freedom, permanence, non-dependent origination, unfathomable, and indescribable.
The existence of karma, in which all actions eventually are met with consequence, is a core belief in Tamashp. This is likely a holdover or adaption from other religions such as old Bibohn or Echtoan. However, it implies neither fatalism nor that everything that happens to a person is caused by karma. A central aspect of Tamashpic karma is that intent, not only circumstance, is essential to bring about a consequence. Good or bad karma accumulates even if there is no physical action, and just having ill or good thoughts creates karmic seeds; thus, actions of body, speech or mind all lead to karmic seeds.
A notable aspect of the karma theory in Tamashp is merit transfer. A person accumulates merit not only through intentions and ethical living, but also is able to gain merit from others by exchanging goods and services, such as through almsgiving. In some cases, a person can transfer one's own good karma to living family members and ancestors. Having more merit, or ‘good karma’, means that one is more likely to be reborn in a more orderly world in the next life or come closer to achieving liberation.
Practices and Rituals
Traditionally, the first step in most Tamashp schools requires verbal devotion to a code of ethics. Tamashp scriptures explain five principles as the minimal standard of Tamashp morality. These five guidelines are seen as a basic training applicable to all Tamashp practitioners. They are: refraining from attack on breathing beings, from taking what is not given, from transgressions concerning temporal pleasures, from falsehoods, and from intoxicating substances that cause recklessness.
Undertaking these five guidelines is part of regular devotional practice both at home and at the local temple. However, the extent to which people keep them differs per region and time. This is partly because these guidelines are not commandments and offenses do not invite religious penalties. Instead, their power has been based on belief in karmic consequences as contrapasso. For example, killing in Tamashp belief leads to rebirth in the chaotic realms. Within the Tamashp doctrine, the precepts are meant to develop mind and character to make progress on the path to enlightenment rather than enforce punishments.
In many Tamashp organizations, adherents may also uphold as many as eight moral rules at a time. The other four precepts are refraining from sexual activity, from eating at the wrong time, from adornment or entertainment, and from comfort. All eight rules are sometimes observed by lay people on specific days, including the Day of Enlightenment and the Arrival of the Deniens during Victory Month.
In addition to these precepts, Tamashp monasteries have hundreds of rules of conduct. Traditionally, Tamashp monks cut social ties to family and community. The monastic life in Tamashp has additional principles as part of life, and unlike other practitioners, transgressions by monks do invite punishments. Full expulsion follows any instance of killing, engaging in libidinous sexual intercourse, theft, or false claims about one's knowledge. Temporary expulsion may follow a lesser offense, although this practice has been known to birth new monastic sects rather than empower a previous one.
Although the teachings of Tamazi are most well-known for these guidelines, there are many other aspects of daily Tamashp life. To devoted practitioners, another important practice taught by Tamazi is the restraint of the senses. This is usually presented as a practice which is taught prior to formal meditation, which adherents begin to practice faithfully around their coming of age. Sense restraint is not an avoidance of sense impression but a type of mindfulness that recognizes, but does not dwell, on the senses themselves. This practice forms a basis for the concentration and insight needed to accomplish successful meditation.
A related Tamashp practice is renunciation. Generally, renunciation is the giving up of actions and desires that are seen as unwholesome, such as lust for sensuality or secular wealth. Renunciation can be cultivated in different ways. The practice of giving, for example, is one form of cultivating renunciation. Giving up of a secular life and becoming a monk is a more extreme example. Practicing celibacy for a time (in some traditions at all times save the final days of Victory Month) is also a form of renunciation. Another related practice to renunciation and sense restraint taught by Tamazi is restraint in eating. For monks, this generally means not eating after noon, although this practice is usually limited in modern times. Devout Tamashp also follow this rule during special days of religious observance.
Proper restraint and renunciation are said to help in cultivating mindfulness. The training of mindfulness is central in Tamashp. This faculty is the ability to comprehend what is happening in the mind and by what the mind is being influenced. Mindfulness allows for powerful and focused meditations. A wide range of meditation practices has developed in the Tamashp traditions, but "meditation" primarily refers to the attainment of entheos and the practice of mieli. Entheos is a calm, unified, and concentrated state of consciousness. Mieli is a state of perfect equanimity and awareness that is reached through focused mental training. The practice of mieli aids in maintaining a calm mind and avoiding disturbances. It is interesting to note that while evidence suggests meditation was practiced for centuries preceding Tamazi, the methodologies described in Tamashp texts are some of the earliest among texts that have survived into the modern era. These methodologies likely incorporate what existed before Tamazi as well as those first developed within Tamashp.
Tamashp texts contain various meditation schemas. One of the most prominent is that of the four meditations which are stages of progressively deepening concentration. They are described as trance-like states without desire. The first Mieli can be entered when one is secluded from sensuality and unskillful qualities due to withdrawal and right effort. There is rapture and non-sensual pleasure as the result of seclusion while thought and analysis continues. The second meditation reveals there is rapture and non-sensual pleasure as the result of concentration; unification of awareness free from rambling thought. In the third meditation rapture drops away, there is emotional detachment, and one is mindful, alert, and senses pleasure with the body. The fourth meditation consists of a stage of pure equanimity and mindfulness without any pleasure or pain.
There is a wide variety of scholarly opinions both from modern scholars and from traditional Tamashp on the interpretation of these meditative states as well as varying opinions on how to practice them. For example, in the popular Trebori-Tamashp tradition, mystical maps are created for a visualization process with cosmic symbolism. There are numerous forms of these maps which are used for ceremony and meditation. These maps symbolize layers of the external world, gates, and sacred space. Visualizations with deities in the form of maps is a tradition traceable to ancient times and is also used in Echtoan, Anok, and other religious schools.
Throughout most of Tamashp history, meditation has been primarily practiced in Tamashp monastic tradition, and historical evidence suggests that serious meditation by lay people was not common. In recent history, sustained meditation has been pursued only by a minority of monks in Tamashp monasteries. Recently, more committed lay people have practiced formal meditation.
Most forms of Tamashp consider faith as a quality which must be balanced by wisdom, and as a preparation for meditation. Because of this, devotion is an important part of the practice of most Tamashps. Devotional practices include ritual prayer, prostration, offerings, pilgrimage, and chanting. Tamashp devotion is usually focused on some object, image or location that is seen as holy or spiritually influential. Examples of objects of devotion include paintings or statues of Tamazi, the various forms of the deity, sacred maps, and sacred animals. Public group chanting for devotional and ceremonial purposes is common to many Tamashp traditions, especially in communities that lack traditional temples. Loud devotional chanting has been the most prevalent of Tamashp practices in these areas, although many consider this a form of meditation in a vein closer to Bibohnic tradition.
Tamashp was initially an oral tradition in ancient times. Tamazi's words, the early doctrines, concepts, and their traditional interpretations were orally transmitted from one generation to the next.
The first Tamashp canonical texts were likely written down in Huscilus about 400 years after Tamazi died. These texts were written in regional languages, as palm-leaf manuscripts, birch bark, painted scrolls, carved into temple walls, and later on paper.
There is no consensus among the different Tamashp traditions as to what constitutes the scriptures or a common canon. The general belief among Tamashp adherents is that the canonical body is vast. Each Tamashp tradition has its own collection of texts, much of which is translation of ancient Tamashp texts of eastern Asiri Asa.
Tamazi was born in the late Lē Gata Era around Tapiepe. Based on historical documentation he lived through a serious drought that threatened the entire empire. It is estimated that as many as 1/4 the population of Tapiape perished during this time. Most of these people were, like Tamazi and his family, serfs or servants living in extreme poverty. Although in decline, the Tapiape empire still practiced a fairly traditional Bibohnic religion and code. The then-government had become restrictive, perhaps intentionally allowing some populations to starve, in the hopes of restricting the popular Echtoan religion from spreading.
Tamazi began traveling with a caravan to earn money. The practice was a common one at the time; most would bring home a small amount of money as well as water and food from unaffected areas. Sometime in his 20's or 30's, however, he had traveled up a hill near his hometown just as it had begun to rain and experienced his first connected meditation with Kothed. This moment is known to Tamashp practitioners as the 'First Revelation' and eventually became the marker for so-called 'year 0'. Tamazi continued to travel with the caravan. His teachings spread, for the most part, to peasants and slaves. Perhaps unwittingly, his words began to create a vast secret empire among the large population of mistreated and often starving lower classes. No serious action was taken against him or his followers, but the religion was outlawed and served as a mystery cult for many years.
Eventually, word spread that his followers were actively performing pilgrimages to the holy spot of First Revelation and Tamazi was imprisoned. Only then did anyone realize the vastness of his secret empire, which drew crowds from Padi, Drepa, Epata, and eastern parts of Troe. Thousands of the faithful converged to demand his release. Arguments turn to riots and soon the riots become battles. Skirmishes eventually became a civil war. Some sources suggest that Tamazi was leading these rebellions while incarcerated.
After a month of fighting the already unstable government lost all support from both foriegn and domestic powers. Tamazi’s followers quickly released him and toppled the remaining loyalists while new alliances were formed. With his followers, Tamazi rebuilt the damaged city and named it Huscilus. A short number of years later the prophet died, leaving no lasting form of hierarchy within his new religion or within the city itself. Infighting and cultural differences caused the birth of many new sects of Tamashp to appear, most notably Kothedism and Denienism.
Holidays and Festivals
Day of Enlightenment: celebrating the day Tamazi was enlightened, it is also the New Year for those of the Tamashp faith. It occurs at the end of winter. In some countries this is considered the calendar new-year, while in other places the Echtoan New Year takes its place. The second most holy day of the classical Tamashp faith, it is also the most celebratory. Even those of the strictest faith enjoy revelry with the spirits of Tamazi’s day. It is said to be a day when the dead walk with the living, so it is also a popular holiday for those of other faiths, especially those of modern paganism.
Arrival of the Denians: celebrates the small group of devout followers who began to argue for Tamazi’s release. This is the beginning of the ‘holiday season’ where practitioners celebrate Tamazi overcoming adversity to spread his teachings. It is an entire month with celebrations based on the historical events leading to Tamazi “founding” Huscilus. Historically this took slightly more than a month and some devout Deneians still practice it with historical accuracy. It also coincides with the beginning of summer, making it a popular holiday for even those of different faiths. In the modern era, it is more popular to see the holiday celebrated with fireworks and booze-fueled parties with the community rather than family gatherings.
Day freed from prison: celebrates the day tamazi was freed from prison. It marks the middle of the holiday season, although historically he was freed much closer to the end of the month. This most holy day was changed to be the center of victory month because of competition with holidays of the Echtoan faith, creating a solid month of celebration to cement the ubiquity of the Tamashp faith. To the faithful, the day represents the conquering of Tamazi’s teachings over earthly governmental power. This is considered the most important holy day, although in the modern era it is more commonly celebrated in secular ways.
Founding of Huscilus: celebrates the “founding” of Huscilus by Tamazi and his followers. The largest celebration is this day because it is the end of the month, though it would not be the most holy day.
Monasteries and Temples
Tamashp institutions are often housed and centered around monasteries and temples. Tamashp monastics originally followed a life of wandering, never staying in one place for long. Some of the earliest Tamashp monasteries were at groves or woods. There originally seems to have been two main types of monasteries, monastic settlements built and supported by donors, and woodland camps that were set up by monks. Whatever structures were built in these locales were made out of wood and were often only temporary structures.
Over time, the wandering community slowly adopted more settled forms of monasticism. These monasteries slowly evolved from the handful of rustic dwellings characterized in early Tamashp to larger, more permanent structures meant to house an entire community of monks.
There are many different forms of Tamashp structures. Classic Tamashp institutions mainly made use of the following structures: monasteries, rock-hewn cave complexes, funerary mounds, and temples.
In eastern Asiri Asa, the most widespread institutions are centered on wats, which refers to an establishment with various buildings such as an ordination hall, a library, monks' quarters and funerary mounds. Western Tamashp institutions also use various structures including monastic halls, temples, lecture halls, bell towers and pagodas.
The complexity of Tamashp institutions varies, ranging from minimalist and rustic forest monasteries to large monastic centers. The core of traditional Tamashp institutions is the monastic community who manage and lead religious services. They are supported by their community who visit temples and monasteries for religious services and holidays.
In the modern era, the Tamashp meditation center, which is mostly used by amateurs and often also staffed by them, has also become widespread.