How do you address a Daoist priest?

Daoist priests have traditional forms of address to priests, practitioners and hermits.  The callings of priests within the same lineage also use family titles within the Daoist family.  Daoist priests disconnect from the material world and no longer use their community name.  Presented here is an introduction to some common forms of addresses to Daoist priests.

Daoist Priests who have ascended to Immortality

A Daoist priest who become immortal and disposes of the physical body is called Yu Hua Ren.  Never say a person “died” when they ascended and physically disposed the body (Yu Hua). Zhen Ren is a title awarded by emperor to a Daoist priest who died.  When an ancestor has ascended within the Daoist lineage, the disciples use the Zhen Ren title rather than the ancestor’s community name.  A creator of a Daoism branch who has achieved immortality is called by the Zhu Shi title.

Daoist priests with high achievement

In ancient times, the emperor gave to someone who just died the title (last name) Xian Shen, a formal title for someone with better achievement in Dao.  Tian Shi is a title given by the emperor to a living person who has obtained the Dao and given a title in Heaven.  Yu Shi (first name) is a very formal title for an educated scholar learning the Dao or someone who has practiced cultivation to high achievement, and is used as a very respectful address or is referred to historical figures who have died already.  Daoist priests with high achievement, usually older priests, are called Da Shi.

Nan Shi is a respectful calling referring to those who know how to cultivate and nourish life and have some achievement.

Daoist Priests meeting in the temple or meeting for the first time

When Daoist priests meet tin the temple, they have come common respectful callings.  Daoist priests within the same lineage call each other Shi Xiong.  If somewhat older, then (last name) Dao Zhang for someone outside their lineage.  Dao Zhangis a common respectful calling to an older Daoist priest by someone outside their lineage.  In the temple, saying (last name) Dao Zhang is a respectful calling for somebody older and has more achievement.  Saying (Daoist name) Dao Zhang is even more respectful.  In the temple, priests of different lineages call each other Dao Xiong, and female priestesses may be called Dao Gu.  If you do not know the name of a female priestess, a respectful calling is Xian Gu.  Ceremonial masters are respectfully called Fa Shi.

When Daoist priests meet for the first time and do not know each other’s names, they refer to each other by respectful callings by age.  When an older priest does not know a young priest’s name, he calls younger priest Daò Yoǔ.  A younger priest addressing an older priest (male or female) or a priest with some high achievement would say (last name) .  A much older male or female Daoist priest with a very serious devotion and cultivation in the temple or in the Dao is called Lao Xiu Xing.

When referring to oneself, a Daoist priest may say Pín Daoinstead of Wo for “I” in Chinese.

Daoist priests callings within the same lineage

In the Chinese tradition, it is more respectful to call people by their title rather than by their personal names.  When a priest introducing members within the same lineage or to call one another, priests say the titles of the Daoist family.  A disciple calls the teacher Shi Fu, Master or school father.  In Chinese, Shi Fu is said without the last name, but in English this calling is acceptable.  In America, Shi Fu (Master) and Da Shi (Heavenly Master) is often misused.  Shi Mu is the calling for school mother.  Shi Xiongis the calling for school brothers and sisters.  Daoist priests in the same lineage call one another other Shi Xiong, and introduce each other as Shi XiongShi Tai is the calling for female Grandmaster and Shi Gong is the calling male Grandmaster. Shi Tai Gong is the calling for Great Grandmaster.

Daoist priest profession

When referring to Daoist priests (Dao Shi) and priestesses (Dao Gu) as a profession, females are Dao Gu or Dao You, and male priests are Dao Zhang.  A male Daoist priest may also be calledQian Dao, and a female Daoist priestess may also be called Kun Dao.  A person new to Daoist priesthood can be called Dao Ren.

Daoist practitioners

Callings for Daoist practitioners refer to people cultivating at home, scholars, hermits, and promoters of Daoism.  Daoist practitioners cultivating at home are called Ju Shi. They may not have any credentials or formal teaching, but they are interested in studying Dao.  Someone who contributes to Daoism in a scholarly way is called a Xue Shi.  Someone who promotes Daoism and contributes to Daoism culture is called Xìng Shi.  Hermits who study and cultivating Dao are called Ying Shiis a calling for hermits who study and are cultivating Dao.  A Daoist practitioner may have several names, such as Xue Shi (studying the Dao), Ju Shi (cultivating at home), and Ying Shi (cultivating as a hermit).

Maria Ing