The initiated Daoist priest saw the many gods as manifestations of the one Dao. He had been ritually trained to know the names, ranks, and powers of important spirits, and to ritually direct them through meditation and visualization.
In his meditations, he harmonized and reunited them into their unity with the one Dao. However, only the educated believers knew anything of the complex theological system of the priest. Thus communal rituals had two levels: a a priestly level, which was guided by the priest's meditation and observed by major patrons, who were educated laymen; and b a public and dramatic ritual, usually performed by lower ranked Daoist assistants, which was theatrical in form. It conveyed the meaning through visible actions such as climbing sword ladders, or lighting and floating lanterns.
The same ritual had a subtle metaphysical-mystical structure for the theologians, and a visible dramatic structure for the lay audience. Daoism was also an important motif in fiction, theater, and folk tales. Local eccentrics who did not care for wealth and position were often seen as "Daoist" because they spurned Confucian values and rewards.
In fiction Daoists were often eccentrics; they also had magical or prophetic powers, which symbolized their spiritual attainment. They healed, restored youth and vitality, predicted the future, or read men's souls. They were also depicted as the stewards of a system of moral retribution; the Daoist gods in heaven and hell exacted strict punishments for wrongdoing, and would let no sinner off the hook.
On the one hand, then, they were non-conformists who embodied different values and life styles; on the other, their strict moral retribution reinforced the values of the society.
Daoism was "the other way," but it did not threaten the moral consensus. It was, perhaps, a kind of safety valve to escape the pressures of society, or at least a complementary channel for alternative views and values. Chinese communists see Daoism as fatalistic and passive, a detriment to socialist reconstruction. The People's Republic has kept alive some practical arts, such as the use of traditional herbal medicines, which have longstanding links with Daoism.
In a larger sense, since Daoism functioned in imperial China as a retreat and withdrawal from the struggles of the political arena, one might say that in a very general way the current relaxation of political pressure in reaction against the excesses of the Gang of Four represents a Daoistic phase of Chinese Maoism. Excerpted and adapted from Wm.
DeBary, ed. Arthur P. Wolf, "Gods, Ghosts, and Ancestors," in his ed.
This anthology contains excellent and readable translations of poems, biographies, essays, and stories that are very successful in conveying religious attitudes. A useful resource for classroom selections. The drafts were critiqued by the social studies teachers who attended with an eye to supplementing and correcting the information in textbooks and other materials used by teachers. The two articles should read as a pair;they complement each other in much the same way these two religions complemented each other throughout Chinese history.
Since Taoism is an coined, anglicized word, our choice is not to put it in the pinyin, in spite of the fact that we have changed "the Tao," the way, to "the Dao. It remains for the future to determine which will predominate. Daoism The Way. Notes Excerpted and adapted from Wm. Wolf, "Gods, Ghosts, and Ancestors," pp. Author: Judith A.
In Search of the Folk Daoists of North China (豆瓣)
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ISBN 13: 9781138065222
Apr 15, Mel rated it really liked it Shelves: 21st-century-non-fiction , chinese-religion , library , scholarly , soas , taoism. This book was good but it wasn't what I was hoping for.
It contained much more description and much less analysis than I was hoping for. For me the most interesting parts were the appendix.
In Search of the Folk Daoists of North China
It was interesting to see how Taoism had survived that period of Maoism and come back to flourish and how the differences between the lay practitioners and the official temples. Despite being not quite what I was looking for I'd definitely still recommend it though as it was an interesting read and contained This book was good but it wasn't what I was hoping for.
Despite being not quite what I was looking for I'd definitely still recommend it though as it was an interesting read and contained lots of detailed research. Aglaia Starostina rated it really liked it Dec 26, John Varner marked it as to-read Nov 28, Denizhan is currently reading it Jul 26, There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Stephen Jones. Stephen Jones. Stephen Jones has been documenting living traditions of ritual and music in rural China since , going on to hold research posts at SOAS while working as a violinist in London early music ensembles.
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