Daoism, 206 BCE-present

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Yin and Yang and a Daoist temple
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A map of cultures in Asia at the time. We shared our land with the cultures of Confucianism and Buddhism. (In the sky blueish area)


People's Republic of China
Qing Dynasty
Song Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
Xia Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty

Historical Highlights

Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE)
In the early Han dynasty, our culture was associated with the Xian de Emperor. A major text during this period was the Huaianzi, which interprets our earlier teachings in light of the quest for immortality.
Three Kingdoms Period (220–265)
Our teachings during this period were the focus of The Xuanxue (Mysterious Wisdom) school.
Six Dynasties (316–589)
Our very own alchemist Ge Hong, also known as Baopuzi was active in the third and fourth centuries and had great influence on our culture. Some of our major scriptures were produced during this time period, including The Shangqing and Lingbao.
Tang Dynasty (618–907)
Our culture finally gained official status in China during the Tang dynasty, as the emporers claimed our very own Laozi as their relative. Emperor Xuanzong who ruled at the height of the Tang, wrote commentaries on texts about our culture during this time as well.
Song Dynasty (960–1279)
Several Song emperors, most notably Huizong, were active in promoting our beliefs, as they collected Taoist texts and published editions of the Daozang. We founded the school of Quanzhen during this period, which was a remarkable feat for us.
Yuan Dynasty (1279–1367)
Our culture suffered a significant setback in 1281 when all copies of the Daozang were ordered burned, however, this gave us a chance to renew ourselves as a culture. Neidan, a form of internal alchemy, became a major emphasis of our Quanzhen sect.
Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)
During this period, Zhu Di helped assist our message as he commanded that all of our texts be collected and combined into a new version of the Daozang.
Nationalist Period (1912–1949)
Guomindang (China Nationalist Party) leaders embraced science, modernity, and Western culture. Viewing the popular religion as reactionary and parasitic, they confiscated some of our temples for public buildings, and attempted to control traditional religious activity. This was a major setback for us.
People's Republic of China (1949–present)
The Communist Party of China, officially atheistic, initially suppressed our religion along with other religions. During the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, many of our temples and sites were damaged or destroyed and our monks and priests were sent to labor camps. Our culture is still intermittent throughout the world.


The Three Jewels, or Three Treasure, are basic virtues of our belief. The Three Jewels are love, moderation and humility. They are also translated as compassion, simplicity and modesty.
We believe in Dao and De (virtue/excellence). Most of our texts argue for some dao and advocate cultivating de favoring dao. Dao is what warrants the views of Laozi and Zhuangzi as our culture. Daoism represents the norms for language, knowledge, ethics and society which are grounded in and continuous with natural norms. So any discussion of dao and de involves us in reflections on the nature of human society and its place in the universe as a whole.


The origins of our religion are also related with other philosophical schools. We tend toward anarchism. (Zhuangzi argues that the proponents of benevolence and morality are usually found at the gates of feudal lords who have stolen their kingdoms.) We should only act when necessary and our actions should not be felt directly by the people, nor should they be visible to the people. Chapters 57-81 of the Dao De Ching deal with government, ruling, and appeasing the people. In the Tang period, our culture incorporated Buddhist elements such as monasteries, vegetarianism, prohibition of alcohol, the celibacy of the clergy, the doctrine of emptiness, and the amassing of a vast collection of scripture into tripartite organization.
In the last century or so, our culture has become incorporated into the theology of the Way of Former Heaven sects, notably Yiguandao and Vietnam's religion of Caodaoism.


Blog Entry #1: A grandmother's funeral
Today I went to a grandmother's funeral. There was a lot going on including the slaughtering of pigs and ducks to be sacrificed and to signify the departed. I also noticed that Hell Bank Notes were being burnt which apparently signify money to be spent in the afterworld based on the assumption that images consumed by fire will reappear as an actual item in the spiritual world.
Blog Entry #2: The reading of the Daodejing
Today, my grandparents read me the Daodejing known as the most influential Daoist text ever written. I learned that the Dao is the true way it is transcendent, indistinct and without form. The main themes of the text are repeatedly expressed using variant formulations, often with only a slight difference. Some interesting notes I got out of it were: "The Way that can be followed is not the constant Way." and "The Name that can be named is not the constant Name."
Blog Entry #3: "The Vinegar Testers"
Today I saw the painting so many have dubbed "The Vinegar Testers". It represents Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism, favoring Daoism. The three men are depictions of Confucius, Buddha and Laozi representing — Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Confucianism saw life as sour, in need of rules to correct the degeneration of people; Buddhism saw life as bitter, dominated by pain and suffering; and Taoism saw life as fundamentally good in its natural state.The underlying message was that sourness and bitterness come from the interfering and unappreciative mind. Life itself, when understood and utilized for what it is, is sweet.
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The Wall

Yay for Daoism! As I was just saying to the Buddhists, I think it's great that we can exist in harmony, and how your followers and can also follow my teachings, and vice-versa. And I am SOOO glad that there's another group out there that enbraces the beauty of long, skinny beards! - Confucianism
Song Dynasty: We can only thank you for providing our dynasty with a very developed religion and beliefs. You have very respectable aspects to your everyday studies that we find very friendly, and deserving recognition. Thank you very much for your contributions to our prestigious dynasty!


Kohn, Livia. The Daoist Monastic Manual: A Translation of the Fengdao Kejie (New York: Oxford University Press 2004)Anatole, Alex. The Truth of Tao (Center of Traditional Taoist Studies, 2005).Silvers, Brock. The Taoist Manual (Honolulu: Sacred Mountain Press, 2005).
Waley, Arthur. The Way and Its Power: A Study of the Tao Te Ching and Its Place in Chinese Thought (Grove Press, 1958).
Daoism. <http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Springs/6339/Daoism.html>.
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