Articles on Taoism

Taoist Thought and Religion

Chrome bullet  Daojia 道家 (Taoism; "Lineage[s] of the Way")

The term daojia is a topic of debate among scholars, mainly concerning whether early Taoism constituted a 'school' or 'lineage,' as the term jia seems to imply, and the distinction between daojia and daojiao, which is often understood to mean the religious forms of Taoism. . . . (Isabelle Robinet, from The Encyclopedia of Taoism)

Chrome bullet  Daojiao 道教 (Taoism; Taoist teaching; "Teaching[s] of the Way")

This term, now denoting the religion which is the topic of this encyclopedia, originally meant no more than 'Teaching of the Way'--though even this is misleading, in that inculcation rather than education is implied by 'teaching.' . . . (T.H. Barrett, from The Encyclopedia of Taoism)

Texts and Textual Collections

Chrome bullet  Daode jing 道德經 (Scripture of the Dao and Its Virtue)

The Daode jing, also known as Laozi, is ascribed to Laozi, who allegedly gave it to Yin Xi as he left the Middle Kingdom to go to the west. Scholars have long debated its authorship and date. . . .(Isabelle Robinet, from The Encyclopedia of Taoism)

Chrome bullet  Laozi and the Daode jing

Current Western scholarship is virtually unanimous in asserting that there was no historical Laozi. The reputed author of the Daode jing, whose name means Old Master, might be best seen as a "collective entity" who embodies the nameless tradition. . . . (Fabrizio Pregadio, from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Chrome bullet  Zhuangzi 莊子

Zhuangzi — whose name was Zhuang Zhou — probably lived between 370 and 280 BCE. He wrote the "Inner Chapters" (1-7) of the eponymous work, which form the first of its three main parts. . . . (Fabrizio Pregadio, from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Chrome bullet  Daozang 道藏 (Daoist Canon) and Subsidiary Compilations

What has popularly come to be known as the Daozang (Taoist Canon) is indisputably the foremost body of texts for research in the field of Taoist studies. The Ming Canon of 1445, or so-called Zhengtong daozang (Taoist Canon of the Zhengtong Reign Period), lies at the heart of all modern editions of the Canon. . . . (Judith M. Boltz, from The Encyclopedia of Taoism)

History, Schools, and Lineages

Chrome bullet  Laozi as a God

The process that, in the second half of the 2nd century CE, led to the formation of the first major Taoist religious movement (Tianshi dao, or Way of the Celestial Masters) could not be understood without paying attention to . . . (Fabrizio Pregadio, from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Chrome bullet  Huang-Lao dao 黃老道 (Way of the Yellow Emperor and Laozi)

Huang-Lao dao (Way of the Yellow Emperor and Laozi) is the name under which one part of the Taoist tradition was known in the early Han period (2nd century BCE). The precise contours of this "Way" are unclear. . . . (Fabrizio Pregadio, from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Chrome bullet  Tianshi dao 天師道 (Way of the Celestial Masters)

The founding of the Way of the Celestial Masters or Tianshi dao in modern Sichuan province during the 2nd century CE marks the formal establishment of the Taoist religion. The movement traces its origins to a dramatic revelation to Zhang Daoling in 142 CE, when Laozi descended to him atop Mount Heming (Heming shan). . . . (Terry Kleeman, from The Encyclopedia of Taoism)

Chrome bullet  Shangqing 上清 (Highest Clarity)

The term Shangqing initially denoted a corpus of scriptures revealed to Yang Xi (330-86) between 364 and 370. With later 'apocryphal' texts, these scriptures were adopted by the southern Chinese aristocracy in the fifth and sixth centuries and were assigned the highest rank within the Three Caverns (sandong) of the Taoist Canon. . . . (Isabelle Robinet, from The Encyclopedia of Taoism)

Chrome bullet  Lingbao 靈寶 (Numinous Treasure)

The name lingbao (Numinous Treasure) was originally a description of a medium or sacred object (bao, 'treasure') into which a spirit (ling) had descended. Seemingly, the first scripture to use the name, thus indicating its own status as spiritual treasure, was the Lingbao wufu jing (Scripture of Five Talismans of the Numinous Treasure). . . . (Stephen R. Bokenkamp, from The Encyclopedia of Taoism)

Chrome bullet  Quanzhen 全真 (Completion of Authenticity)

Quanzhen is today the main official branch of Taoism in continental China. This status is not primarily due to its doctrines, for Quanzhen tenets do not radically differ from those of other Taoist schools, but rather to its celibate and communal mode of life. . . . (Vincent Goossaert, from The Encyclopedia of Taoism)

Principles and Practices

Chrome bullet  Yin and Yang 陰陽

In Chinese cosmology, Yin and Yang are two opposite but complementary principles that regulate the functioning of the cosmos. Their repeated alternation provides the energy necessary for the cosmos to sustain itself, and their continuous joining and separation is at the origin of the rise and the disappearance of entities and phenomena within the world of the "ten thousand things" (wanwu). . . .(Fabrizio Pregadio, for the Golden Elixir website)

Chrome bullet  Macrocosm and Microcosm

Like several other cultures, China has developed the macrocosm-microcosm theory in different forms. Taoism has borrowed some of them and elaborated others. These multiple formulations are not restricted to the universe and the human being, as other components come into play. . . .(Fabrizio Pregadio, for the Golden Elixir website)

Chrome bullet  Chart of the Great Ultimate (Taiji tu 太極圖)

The relations among the different cosmological configurations that intervene between the Dao and the "ten thousand things" are illustrated in the Chart of the Great Ultimate (Taiji tu), which was discussed at length by both Taoist and Neo-Confucian authors. . . .(Fabrizio Pregadio, for the Golden Elixir website)

Chrome bullet  Taoist Views of the Body

Three main terms define the traditional Chinese views of the human body. The first, ti or "body," designates the physical frame as an ordered whole made of interdependent parts. The second, xing or "form," mainly refers to the body as the counterpart and residence of spirit. The third, shen or "person," denotes the whole human being. . . .(Fabrizio Pregadio, for the Golden Elixir website)

Chrome bullet  Chinese Terms for "Body"

The ordinary Western understanding of the body as physical frame or structure cannot convey the complexity of the premodern Chinese view. This view revolves around three main terms. . . . (Fabrizio Pregadio, from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Chrome bullet  Inner Gods

Besides the gods and goddesses who reside in heaven, a veritable pantheon of Taoist deities also exists within the human being. These deities fulfill various related functions: they personify abstract notions such as the Dao, Yin and Yang, or the five agents; they allow the human being to communicate with the major — and in several cases corresponding — gods of the outer pantheon; they act as officers in the bureaucratic system that manages the whole body; they perform healing tasks by supporting the balance of the body's functions; and they are objects of meditation. . . .(Fabrizio Pregadio, for the Golden Elixir website)

Chrome bullet  Jiao 醮 (Offering Ritual)

The term jiao means "offering" or "sacrifice." It refers, in the present day, to the large-scale Taoist ceremonies organized by local communities, and by other social groups such as professional guilds and various forms of voluntary religious associations, in order to define themselves on the religious level, and specifically in order to establish or confirm the (semicontractual) relationship between the group and its tutelary deity. . . . (Poul Andersen, from The Encyclopedia of Taoism)

Other Articles on Taoism

Chrome bullet  Tao Hongjing 陶弘景 (456-536)

The Taoist master, alchemist, and pharmacologist Tao Hongjing was born in 456 near present-day Nanjing. He served in various positions at the courts of the Liu Song and Qi dynasties until 492. In that year he retired on Mount Mao (Maoshan), the early seat of Shangqing or Highest Clarity, a Taoist tradition based on meditation and visualisation techniques. . . .(Fabrizio Pregadio, for the Golden Elixir website)

Chrome bullet  Isabelle Robinet (1932-2000): A Bibliography

Isabelle Robinet was concerned with both Taoist thought and Taoist religion. The unity of these two theoretical extremes in the wide spectrum of Taoism (or, as she would have said, their "complex unity") is the main theme that runs throughout her work. . . .(Fabrizio Pregadio, for the Golden Elixir website)