Religious Daoism
The Organization of the Dao

Deified Form of Laozi
Zhang DaolingInstitutionalization of ... ancient, esoteric, and popular practices into distinctive religious movements, with revealed texts, detailed rituals, and priests serving as ritual specialists, developed as the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) was declining amidst famine and war. An array of revelations and prophecies predicted the end of the age and finally led to the rise of religious/political organizations.
In 184 CE ... Zhang Daoling (Chang Tao-ling) had a vision in which he was appointed representative of the Dao on earth and given the title Celestial MasterHe advocated ... practices of healing by faith and developed a quasi-military organization of religious officials, attracting numerous followers. The older Han religion had involved demons and exorcism, belief in an afterlife, and a god of destinies, who granted fortune or misfortune based on heavenly records of good and bad deeds. These roles were now ascribed to a pantheon of celestial deities, who in turn were controlled by the new Celestial Master priesthood led by Zhang’s family. (Living Religions, 200)
San Guan: The Three Celestial Officials
Spirit Generals

Current Celestial Master Leader: Zhang Yuanxian

Chinese Character for Longevity
LongevityThe aim of the longevity practices is to use the energy available to the body in order to become strong and healthy, and to intuitively perceive the order of the universe. Within our body is the spiritual micro-universe of the “three treasures” necessary for the preservation of life: generative force (jing), vital life force (qi), and spirit (shen). These three are said to be activated with the help of various methods: breathing techniques, vocalizations, vegetarian diets, gymnastics, absorption of solar and lunar energies, sexual techniques, visualizations, and meditations. (Living Religions, 198-9)
Laozi on the OxI have heard that one who is good at taking care of his life will not encounter wild bulls or tigers when traveling by land, and will not [be wounded] by weapons when in the army. [In this case] wild bulls will find no place in which to thrust their horns, tigers no place in which to put their claws, and weapons no place in which to insert their points. And why? Because in him there is no place (literally, no ground) of death. (Chinese Religion, 81-2; cf. Daodejing 50)

Cook Ding
A good cook changes his knife once a yearbecause he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a monthbecause he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room more than enough for the blade to play about in. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone. (The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, 50-51; cf. Zhuangzi, Chapter 3)
Those who rebel against the basic rules of the universe sever their own roots and ruin their true selves. Yin and yang … are the beginning and the end of everything and they are also the cause of life and death. Those who disobey the laws of the universe will give rise to calamities and visitations, while those who follow the laws of the universe remain free from dangerous illness, for they are the ones who have obtained Tao, the Right Way. ... Obedience to the laws of Yin and Yang means life; disobedience means death. ... Anything contrary to harmony (with nature) is disobedience and means rebellion to nature. (Anthology of Living Religions, 171 [Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen])
Alchemy CauldronThe search for the elixir of immortality, closely related to, or identical with “the philosopher’s stone,” apparently began in China and eventually spread to the West. The alchemical elixir, when ingested, would prolong life indefinitely; the alchemical philosopher’s stone would be able to transmute base metals into gold. Gold was the common denominator. In the case of the elixir, the symbolism of gold was that of indestructible, incorruptible life. The hope of making cheaper ingredients into the most valuable needs no symbolism. (Chinese Religion, 83)
The process of inner alchemy involves circulating and transmuting jing energy from the lower body into qi energy and then to shen energy to form what is called the Immortal Fetus, which an adept can reportedly raise through the Heavenly Gate at the top of the head and thus leave their physical body for various purposes, including preparation for life after death. In addition, the adept learns to draw the qi of heaven and earth into the micro-universe of the body, unifying and harmonizing inner and outer. (Living Religions, 199)
Inner Alchemy Chart First take the power of heaven and earth and make them into your crucible; Then isolate the essences of the sun and the moon: Urge the two things to return to the Tao of the center: Then work hard to attain the golden elixir how would it not come forth? Secure your furnace, set up your crucible; always follow the power of heaven and earth. Forge their essence and refine their innermost power, always keeping well in control of your yin and yang souls. Congealing and dissolving, the incubating temperature produces transmutation. Never discuss its mystery and wonder in idle conversation! ... Swallowing saliva and breathing exercises are what many people do. Yet only with the method of this medicine can you truly transform life. If there is no true seed in the crucible, It is like taking water and fire and boiling an empty pot. ... Empty the mind and fill the belly” such profundity of meaning! Just to empty your mind, you must know it first. Similarly, to refine your lead, you must first fill the belly: Understand this to protect the mass of gold that fills your halls within. (Anthology of Living Religions, 175-6)
Book Cover: Opening the Dragon Gate

Taiji: Soul
Daoism in Daily Life...and Death
Spiritual Development, Health & Longevity
Daoism and Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine
Tai Chi/Qigong


Taijiquan in motion
Chinese Painting


Yijing Dude
Yijing (I Ching)



Yin Yang Goldfish
Reflection Paper Icon
Organized (or “Religious”) Daoism refers to Daoist sects that focus on the performance of rituals for the community and/or the pursuit of immortality. How is this form of Daoism similar to and/or different from “The Way of Wuwei” that was discussed in the previous lecture?