The JADE-EMPEROR is Ruler of Heaven, Creator of the Universe, member of the SAN-QING, and Lord of the Imperial Court.
Starting at the bottom by creating the Universe, he helped YUAN-SHI-TIAN-ZONG bring order to the cosmos. Working his way to the top, he spent a billion eons contemplating his Holy Navel before finally achieving a state of the most amazingly perfect Godliness.
Having achieved Illumination and Omnipotence, he went on to become supreme Heavenly Ruler and Emperor of the Universe. The human imperial ruler of China was merely a manifestation and vassal of the JADE-EMPEROR. Earthly Emperors were given leave to rule by the MANDATE-OF-HEAVEN, provided they checked in every so often via a Jade PI-DISC.
The JADE-EMPEROR’s word is law and he rules all Heaven and Earth with a vast company of civil servants and bureaucrats at his beck and call. The CHENG-HUANG and TU-DI look after Earthly paperwork, and every year the ZAO-JUN file a report on your conduct for him to assess.
If that’s not impressive enough, the JADE-EMPEROR found further fame when DAOism and Buddhism came into play and engulfed him in the utmost holiness. Not to mention the most amazingly complicated symbolism.
His list of official titles expanded in all directions. ‘Most Venerable Jade Emperor Of The Heavenly Golden Palace’... ‘Supremely High Emperor Of The Heavens, Holder Of Talismans, Container Of Perfection and Embodiment Of Dao’... and finally, ‘Most Venerable And Highest Jade Emperor Of All-Embracing Sublime Spontaneous Existence Of The Heavenly Golden Palace’. We think that just about covers everything.
The only other deity to compare is the magnificent MONKEY, who arrogantly challenged his rule, caused havoc in Heaven and was finally persuaded to behave by being given a meaningless but magnificent-sounding official title. That’s politics for you.
In fact, the JADE-EMPEROR is a master of winning without really doing anything. He knows all aspects of The Way (DAO) and its Principle of Least Action (Wu Wei), making Heaven’s regime the ultimate example of a do-nothing policy. He can become almost flustered if anything actually happens.