Signs of the paragon and exemplar
Signs of the Paragon and Exemplar
The Synod is tasked with the recognition of paragons and exemplars. Over time, the learned assemblies have identified signs that can be used to identify paragons and exemplars. Of these signs, exemplars are expected to have demonstrated four signs. Paragons will have been recorded as having completed at least six, and traditionally not have contradicted any of the others, which may have gone unrecorded.
The signs are:
This sign is unique to paragons. The virtuous souls of true paragons are able to navigate the Labyrinth of Ages and depart it. Some claim this enlightenment allows them to enter the presence of the Creator; others that they move on to a higher form of existence in the heavens or another world. Evidence for this comes in part from no other mortal ever having had a past life vision from the perspective of a known paragon. A contentious variation of this sign is Ascension, which holds that some paragons have attained Liberation whilst alive and have disappeared before their followers, such as Aldones di Sarvos.
This sign applies to paragons and exemplars. The journey of the human soul toward enlightment and transcendence can take several lifetimes. It is widely understood many paragons were exemplars in former lives, and many exemplars were either exemplars or heroes in former lives. Consequently, identifying that a person was a hero, notable figure, or even an exemplar in a former life is one of the Signs that they may be an exemplar in this life, and are on the way to becoming a paragon. For this reason, many pilgrims eagerly seek to take True Liao in search of support for their own exemplarhood.
This sign applies to paragons and exemplars. Any citizen may illustrate a Virtue in a pure, yet self-serving, manner. However, the deeds of the paragon or exemplar prosper their whole people, such as Tian bringing fire from the sun, Kethry's salvation of her tribe, or the First Empress founding the Empire. In the age of the Empire, the sign of benevolence is one that benefits the Empire; in whole or in part.
This sign applies to paragons and exemplars. Paragons and exemplars are inspiring figures who make an impact on those they meet in life and who often attract students, followers or imitators. Sometimes these followers will found orders, societies, chapters or other groups to retain and pass on the teachings of their mentor, teacher or leader. These groups go on to do great works in the paragon or exemplar’s name.
The legends of some paragons and exemplars attribute great and miraculous deeds to them, such as Tian stealing fire from the sun, the power of Good Walder to reward the virtuous, or the incredible strength of Inga Tarn. It is said that the ability to perform superhuman feats, namely miracles, without using magic, is a sign of a soul approaching transcendence.
In recent times, there has been a widespread belief that miracles were unique to paragons, but it is difficult to entirely reconcile this with all the evidence. Inga Tarn, for example, performed miraculous feats of strength, but is an exemplar. Even quite recently there have been many credible witnesses to incidents where powerful spontaneous auras have formed around people, places, and objects with no intervention from practitioners of liao ceremonies, for which there is no easy explanation.
The issue remains fiercely debated with some priests refusing to recognize miracles as a sign of exemplar while others take a more pragmatic approach.
This sign applies to paragons and exemplars and dates back to the origins of The Way in Highguard, when spiritual leaders, pilgrims and scholars travelled from many nations to Bastion to learn of The Way. This included, so it is claimed, many exemplars and paragons, for whom it was a necessary catalyst for their soul's purification. In the age of the Empire, this has been understood to be a journey to the heart of the Imperial Faith, though that has been interpreted as a physical and spiritual journey.
As well as inspiring those already inclined to virtue, a true paragon or exemplar will have a significant success in reducing the number of the un-Virtuous in the world. While citizens may do this by sending their souls back to the Labyrinth in droves, a paragon will convert a significant group of people from their unvirtuous ways. In the days of the Empire this can include foreigners and barbarians, but may also extend to the salvation of Imperial Citizens who have lost their way, such as being seduced by blasphemous or idolatrous cults.
This sign applies to paragons and exemplars. Akin to the sign of Inspiration, this sign relates to that which a paragon or exemplar leaves behind them. The most common form of legacy is in the form of a relic or relics, such as Irontooth, the legendary axe of Korl, or the Imperial Throne left by the First Empress. Less common, but no less valid, are other enduring legacies, such as the great edifices of the Sentinel. These legacies are usually an integral part of the paragon’s legend, serving as proof of their truth and as an inspiration to others.
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