Daoism is the cumulative wisdom of the Chinese civilization over thousands of years and has been influenced by many practitioners through time. In the early days, the Fangshi (Prescription/Healing Masters) evolved into the Daoshi (Masters of the Dao (in some cases way)) and it was in the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), that the collective practices of Daoism evolved firstly with Taiping Dao (Dao of Greater Peace) and also with the Wudoumi Dao (Dao of the five pecks of rice). Taiping Daoism (太平道, Dao of Greater Peace) is one of the oldest schools of Daoism with its origins dating to the Later Han Dynasty (25-220).  Taiping Daoism was also known as Huanglao Daoism, which played homage to the personifications of Laozi (老子) and Huang Di (黄帝 The Yellow Emperor).  During the time a manuscript known as the Taiping Jing (太平經, Classic Scripture of Greater Peace) which was special in the integration of the concepts of Daoism including Yin/Yang, Five elements into its embodiment whilst also applying the concepts of Heaven, Earth and Man to categorize its teachings which were involved in healing and social transformation. 

Since the important deities included Huanglao and Zhonghuang Taiyi, resulting in that yellow was the adopted color. One of the Taiping leaders at the time, Patriarch Zhang Jiao (张角) due to substantial issues of poverty, drought, starvation and inequality rose in rebellion and led many followers in the Huang Bu Qi Yi (黄布起义 Yellow turban/cloth uprising). Thus, due to the socio-economic challenges during the time the Taiping Dao rose in rebellion. After they were defeated they dispersed and thought to be annihilated. The Wudoumi Dao evolved to become the Tianshi Dao (Celestial Masters) or Zhengyi Dao which become sided with the Imperial government. Thereafter, the distinction between Orthodox (Supporting or endorsed by the government) and Heterodox (banned, not supported, not aligned to government) commenced. 

However, both the orthodox and Heterodox prevailed, the former became Daoism (Zhengyi 正一 and much later including Quanzhen 全真 ) whilst the latter became hidden throughout the masses in the form of folk, derived or popular practices (the descendants of Taiping 太平, Taiqing 太清,Lingbao 灵宝 and Shangqing 上清) which . To gain favor with government the orthodox would often eliminate or change practices and criticize the so called Heterodox so in time it is said the straight is not really straight whilst the bent often leads the way. 

Followers and practitioners of Taiping Daoism dispersed into either other Daoist orders (within the Wudoumi Dao) or among those that would be called village or folk religions in much later periods. The early practitioners of Taiping Daoism included the Dao Shi (道士 Hermits or masters of the Dao), Wu Shi (武士 Warriors) and Fang Shi (方士 Medical Healers). Throughout history there were many followers of the Taiping (Huanglao) Daoism tradition. Many martial artists, rebellions, Chinese medicine practitioners and renowned Daoists were a part of Taiping Daoism. Practitioners such as Zhang Jiao (张角), Zuo Ci (左慈), Ge Hong (葛洪) were pursuants of the same type of teachings whilst being inferred different names throughout time. 

Throughout time often the practices of Orthodox and Heterodox were intermixed as were aspects of Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and so on. These folk or popular practices/systems or communities in many cases became the so called Jiao (teachings), there are multitude of these that in many cases were an evolution from the foundation Taiping Dao. It is from within those Jiao (such as Luo Jiao 罗教, Bailian Jiao 白莲教, Hongyang Jiao 红阳教, Qingshui Jiao 清水教, Shouyuan Jiao 收元教, Dacheng Jiao 大乘教, Bagua Jiao 八卦教, Tianli Jiao 天理教 and so forth) that the essence of the Taiping Dao resided. Often unfortunately these were misappropriated and caused disruptions to peace but fundamentally the teachings remained. 

The Taiping Dao is the manifestation of the Fangshi and Wushi of ancient times, it is based on the Huang-Lao tradition, it is the primary source of structured means of Wu-wei, a balanced government that cares for its people and emphasizes cultivation practices as a means to achieve longevity. It is the source of inclusion of the Yi jing, Wuxing, Yinyang and associated principles into Daoism. It was the foundation of Internal Alchemy (内丹 Nei Dan) and general alchemy practices as well.

 

When the Quanzhen tradition was established many years later, it encompassed many of the principles from the old tradition especially in terms of Neidan practice, whilst also absorbing the monastic practices from Buddhism. The Taiping Dao is the embodiment of these integrated traditions that brought the folk/popular with that of the orthodox and that persists in the natural way towards a balanced universe.

Taiping Daoism embodies the essence of Daoist doctrine, it is not a religion in the known sense of the word, it is a practice that aligns with Dao that permeates all matter and non matter. When all life, all beings, here, there and everywhere are in harmony this is the ideal Daoist condition of balance across all realms. 

 

This harmony on all levels, is called Taiping (太平 Greater Peace). 

 

Tuesday the 16th. Dao of Balance and Harmony - Joomla Site Templates