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Trading Institutions: The Design of Daoist Monasticism

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Chapter Summary

Daoism is originally very much a non-monastic religion. Its first organization, the school of the Celestial Masters (Tianshi) or Orthodox Unity (Zhengyi), was founded in 142 C.E. by the Alchemist Zhang Daoling. Daoist monasticism inherited both these characteristics. Monastic communities, too, have all the hallmarks of liminal groups; in their Chinese organization, moreover, they depended to a large extent on imperial favours and were subject to state regulation. In addition, Daoist monasticism also widely imitated Buddhist patterns as did the lay-centered Daoist organizations in South China during the fifth century especially in the areas of worldview (karma, rebirth, and hell), ethics (precepts and monastic vows), and philosophical speculation (emptiness and logic), as well as in their pantheon (universal deities and saviour figures), art (statues, steles, votive tablets), and ritual (repentance, offerings, requiems). Trade comes into this on several levels as Daoist monasticism was actively and consciously designed.

Keywords: Alchemist Zhang Daoling; Celestial Masters; Daoist Monasticism; ethics; Orthodox Unity; philosophical speculation; South China



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