Daoist Identity

Daoist Identity: History, Lineage and Ritual

Livia Kohn
Harold D. Roth
Copyright Date: 2002
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  • Book Info
    Daoist Identity
    Book Description:

    Daoist Identity is an exploration of the various means by which Daoists over the centuries have created an identity for themselves. Using modern sociological studies of identity formation as its foundation, it brings together a representative sample of in-depth analyses by eminent American and Japanese scholars in the field. The discussion begins with critical examinations of the ways identity was found among the early movements of the Way of Great Peace and the Celestial Masters. The role of sacred texts and literary culture in Daoist identity formation is discussed. The volume then focuses on lineage formation and the increasing role of popular religious practices, such as spirit-writing, in modern Daoism since the Song dynasty. Finally it discusses the Daoist adaptation and reinterpretation of Buddhist rites, such as the feeding of souls in hell and the use of ritual gestures, and the changes made in contemporary Daoism in relation to traditional rites and popular practices.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6213-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)
    Livia Kohn and Harold D. Roth

    The concept of identity is vague and diffuse. The word, originally related to the Latinidem, indicates sameness and lack of change or deviation and is, indeed, still used in this sense, most commonly in its adjectival form, “identical.” The Latin wordidentitas, on the other hand, comes closer to our general sense of the term, indicating “the way in which thesubstantiaof an entity remains the same despite all the changes undergone by itsaccidentes” (Van der Ven 1994, 28). In other words, at the most elementary level, identity is the continuity of an inherent substance or solidity,...

  5. Part I Early Formations
    • 1 Ethnic Identity and Daoist Identity in Traditional China
      (pp. 23-38)
      Terry F. Kleeman

      The ancient Chinese portrayed themselves as an island of civilization in an ocean of barbarism, as a beacon of light surrounded by insignificant others who, if intelligent, were fascinated by Chinese culture and actively sought to assimilate into it and, if not, were recalcitrant recidivists who deserved to be subjugated militarily or driven from the region by force. The reality was much more complex. Recent archaeological discoveries make evident that the Neolithic period saw a variety of advanced regional cultures stretching from Hangzhou Bay to Liaoning, and that the culture of the traditional heartland was by no means the most...

    • 2 Confession of Sins and Awareness of Self in the Taiping jing
      (pp. 39-57)
      Tsuchiya Masaaki

      In the Way of Great Peace (Taiping dao) under the leadership of Zhang Jue in the later Han, the formal confession of sins was practiced. As theDianlue(Scriptural Abstracts) says, as cited by Pei Songzhi in his commentary to Zhang Lu’s biography in theSanguo zhi(Record of the Three Kingdoms):

      In the Way of Great Peace, the leader wrote talismans and wove spells, holding on to a bamboo staff of nine sections. He told the sick people to knock their heads to the ground and remember their sins, then gave them a talisman, burned and dissolved in water,...

    • 3 “Opening the Way”: Exorcism, Travel, and Soteriology in Early Daoist Mortuary Practice and Its Antecedents
      (pp. 58-78)
      Peter Nickerson

      Zhang Daoling and his followers clearly effected a religious revolution. They inaugurated a new dispensation that defined itself, then as now, not in relation to Buddhism or “Confucianism,” but rather in antithesis to the false gods whom the benighted populace worshipped with blood offerings. Though the early Daoists spoke of high antiquity, of the Yellow Emperor, Yu the Great and the famous immortals of the Zhou dynasty, … the social history of Daoism begins with the founding of the Way of the Celestial Master in the second century a.d.

      Thus, I am proposing to use the wordDaoistonly in...

  6. Part II Texts and Symbols
    • 4 Traditional Taxonomies and Revealed Texts in the Han
      (pp. 81-101)
      Mark Csikszentmihàlyi

      The subject of this chapter is the limitation imposed by the use of traditional taxonomies on the writing of the early history of Daoism. As a preface to this discussion, it is worth briefly exploring another area in which the restrictiveness of these taxonomies has clearly been demonstrated. Recent archaeological discoveries in China, in particular the finds at Mawangdui and Guodian, have catalyzed the reevaluation of traditional categories used to describe late Warring States and Qin-Han thought. The discovery of the texts originally identified as theHuangdi sijing(Four Classics of the Yellow Emperor) has led to widespread speculation about...

    • 5 Material Culture and the Dao: Textiles, Boats, and Zithers in the Poetry of Yu Xuanji (844–868)
      (pp. 102-126)
      Suzanne Cahill

      Yu Xuanji, a poet, courtesan, and Daoist nun, lived a short and violent life near the end of the Tang dynasty (618–907 c.e.). Executed in 868 for murdering her maid, she gained a reputation in later history and literature as a disruptive woman who defied social convention, sexual and intellectual norms, and, ultimately, the law. Fifty of her poems, probably less than a quarter of her total output, survive today in theQuan Tangshi(Complete Tang Poetry), abbreviatedQTS. Biographical accounts of her life first appeared within a few decades of her death. The sources agree on the bare...

    • 6 A Mid-Ming Reappraisal of the Laozi: The Case of Wang Dao
      (pp. 127-146)
      Mabuchi Masaya

      In current scholarship on Chinese thought, the early Ming is seen as a time when Neo-Confucianism predominated, especially the study of principle (lixue) in the wake of the teachings of Zhu Xi (1130–1200). Hardly anyone proposes differently (Sano 1972). When it comes to the mid-Ming, a new line of Neo-Confucianism began with Wang Shouren (Yangming, 1472–1528), and different strands of the teaching arose, leading to a multiplicity of views and various debates in the late Ming (Araki 1972). Among scholars, the consensus is that the tendency to unify the three teachings dominated the latter half of the Ming...

  7. Part III Lineages and Local Culture
    • 7 Arms and the Dao, 2: The Xu Brothers in Tea Country
      (pp. 149-164)
      Edward L. Davis

      Since the mid-1980s, many American and Japanese scholars of Daoism have begun to shift their attention from the period of Daoism’s formative development in the late Han, Three Kingdoms, and Six Dynasties to the period when it became the religion of the court in the Tang, Song, and Ming dynasties. This shift in focus has brought with it another change. The pioneers in the systematic study of the early Daoist scriptural traditions were burdened by a legacy of prejudice and ignorance about the religion itself, which for decades, if not centuries, had been viewed as either a degenerate form of...

    • 8 Identity and Lineage: The Taiyi jinhua zongzhi and the Spirit-Writing Cult to Patriarch Lü in Qing China
      (pp. 165-184)
      Mori Yuria

      TheTaiyi jinhua zongzhi(Great Unity’s Instructions on [Developing] Golden Florescence), ever since its translation by Richard Wilhelm and C. G. Jung under the titleThe Secret of the Golden Flower(1929), has been one of the best-known Chinese religious classics in the West. However, as Daoist historical studies grew, it received less attention from scholars, because they tended to concentrate more on the formative period of the religion in the middle ages. Also, the text was thought spurious. As the late Dr. Anna Seidel remarked, “The text of this movement [of inner alchemy] translated by Richard Wilhelm is unfortunately...

    • 9 Manifestations of Lüzu in Modern Guangdong and Hong Kong: The Rise and Growth of Spirit-Writing Cults
      (pp. 185-210)
      Shiga Ichiko

      The mention of Daoism in Hong Kong usually brings to mind territorial temples (miaoyu), Daoist temples (daoguan), or large-scalejiaofestivals and Daoist priests performing rituals in such festivals. The religious organizations calleddaotanordaotang, discussed in this article, are also one form of Daoism in Hong Kong, or they can be described as occupying the most important place in the Daoist community of Hong Kong. However, only a few studies have so far been made of them, perhaps because most of them are inconspicuously located in buildings in urban areas.

      Adaotanordaotang(hereafter referred to as...

  8. Part IV Ritual Boundaries
    • 10 Fang Yankou and Pudu: Translation, Metaphor, and Religious Identity
      (pp. 213-234)
      Charles D. Orzech

      Over the years, students of Chinese religion have struggled to understand and articulate the encounter between South Asian and Chinese religions, variously depicting this encounter as “conquest,” “sinification,” and “transformation.” Recent work on the interaction between indigenous Chinese traditions and the traditions originating to the west and south of China (Zürcher 1980; Bokenkamp 1983 and 1990), as well as work on so-called apocrypha have begun to render such simplistic characterizations of this encounter problematic. In the course of my study of theRenwang huguo boruo bolomiduo jing(Scripture for Humane Kings, T. 245/246; Orzech 1998) I found myself struggling to...

    • 11 Daoist Hand Signs and Buddhist Mudras
      (pp. 235-255)
      Mitamura Keiko

      Daoist hand signs (shoujue) have been used in personal and communal rites since the Six Dynasties for a variety of purposes, including the exorcism of evil forces, control over spirits, and healing of diseases. They developed formally in the medieval period under the direct influence of Buddhist mudras (literally, “hand seals,”shouyin) yet also continued to unfold in their own distinct way. Since most of their practice was esoteric and their transmission predominantly oral, only few early sources remain. In fact, it is only from their mention in theDatang liudian(Six Classics of the Great Tang), in a section...

    • 12 Documents Used in Rituals of Merit in Taiwanese Daoism
      (pp. 256-273)
      Maruyama Hiroshi

      There are many different angles from which one can approach the study of Daoist ritual, but my specific interest focuses on the contents and structure of the written documents used in them, and I try to understand their meaning within the larger religious worldview and practice of Daoism. The use of written documents is unique to Daoist ritual and is one feature that distinguishes it from Buddhist, Confucian, and popular rites. It is essential in defining Daoist ritual as Daoist and thus carries an important weight in the formation of Daoist identity. Rites in general serve to restore and reinforce...

    • 13 Offerings in Daoist Ritual
      (pp. 274-294)
      Asano Haruji

      Offerings, given to a deity for a ritual purpose, form a major element in the structure of ritual. They express the will and wishes of the devotees while also serving to communicate with the deity. All objects presented in formal offerings have symbolic value, just as the act of offering itself should be understood from the perspective of symbolism. While this is of great interest, this chapter is concerned with another question. During my field work in Taiwan, I have observed that offerings in Daoist ritual are similar in kind to those used in popular and Buddhist rites. It seems...

  9. Glossary
    (pp. 295-308)
  10. Names of Authors Cited
    (pp. 309-310)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 311-314)
  12. Index
    (pp. 315-334)