The Daoist Association, USA (DaoUSA) is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Wu Dang Daoist traditions, culture and religion in the United States. DaoUSA, through its virtual presence and the Tai He Temple, located at Dao House in Colorado, plans to construct a traditional 10-acre temple.
What Do We Believe?
- The purpose of life is to return to heaven (to Dao)
- The existence and transcendental nature of immortals
- That all human beings were originally immortals in heaven
- The Dao encompasses all beings, all things
- There are 36 primary immortals in heaven which include: The San Qing (Three Purities), The Jade Emperor and 8 immortals in each of the 4 corners of heaven
- The immortals provide assistance and instruction to humans to support them in their return journey to heaven (Dao)
- Dao follows nature
The Daoist Association, USA (DaoUSA) is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Wu Dang Daoist traditions, culture and religion in the United States. DaoUSA, through its virtual presence and the Tai He Temple, located at Dao House in Colorado, plans to construct a traditional 10 acre temple.
DaoUSA produces quarterly newsletters on Daoism and the Temple project to continue to build our Daoist community. The newsletter accepts short articles from students on Daoist practices. To participate please send articles of less than 400 words to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brief History and Principles
Daoism is the traditional religion of China. In general, it is believed that Daoist organizations were formally established 1,900 years ago by the Celestial Master Zhang Daoling during the reign (AD 126-144) of Emperor Shundi of the Easter Hand Dynasty. However, the original sources of Daoist doctrines can be traced back to the Pre-Qin periord (4000-221 BC).
The ideological system of Daoism covers a wide range of contents. It has evolved into a religious culture based on ancient religious beliefs in China around the worship of heaven and ancestors, as well as Daoist theories and beliefs regarding immortality that arose during the Sping and Autumn, and the Warring States Periods. It has also absorbed ethical ideas from Confucianism and folk religious customs.
The core of Daoism is the Dao (the Way), which is beyond description. It is said that Dao is the origin of the universe, the basis of all existing things, the law governing their development and change. The concept of Virtue (De) is closely related to the Dao. The Dao De Jing says, "All respect Dao, yet value Virtue).
Daoists regard Dao and Virtue as the general principles of their beliefs and behavior. They should not only cultivate Dao but also accumulate Virtue. Therefore, both Dao and Virtue serve as the basis of the Daoist doctrines. Derived from the foundation of Dao and Virtue are a whole set of principles, including non-action (Wu Wei), non-attachment from emotions, non-struggle, and the pursuit of simplicity and truth as well as living.
Daoists believe in Dao as well as in deities and immortals. "Gods" in Daoism refer to the Celestial Worthy of Primordial Beginning, the Celestial Worthy of Numinous Treasure and the Celestial Worthy of the Way and Its Virtue, the Jade Emperor and the Great Emperor of Zhen Wu, who were born before heaven and earth separated; while "immortals" refer to humans who were born after heaven and earth separated and transformed into deities, becoming immortals through cultivating Dao. From the Daoist perspective, both gods and immortals are symbols of Dao.
There exists a hierarchy of gods and immortals in Daoism. At the top of the hierarchy are the gods of the highest ranks the Celestial Worthy of Primordial Beginning, the Celestial Worthy of Numinous Treasure and the Celestial Worthy of the Way and Its Virtue, who are the embodiment of Dao or the Dao itself. Below them are the gods of the lower ranks, who are entrusted with responsibilities according to their attainments in Dao and Virtue. The highest among them is the Jade Emperor, followed by the four major deities and other celestial beings. The Jade Emperor is the highest ruler of the universe. Different deities and immortals have different responsibilities.
The highest ideal of a Daoist is to acquire immortality.To achieve this goal, one must practice Daoism both inside and outside one's physical existence. Inner practice involves physical and breathing exercises, concentrated contemplation, and refining the internal elixir (Neidan). The basic principle of this practice is still to cultivate the self both spiritually and physically. External practice involves doing good deeds and helping others. If one succeeds in both aspects, one could become immortal
Doctrines and Sects
Daoist doctrines are referred to as Daoist scriptures. There were different kinds of Daoist scriptures compiled at different moments in history, all under the title of the Daoist Canon (Daozang). The earliest Daoist Canon appeared during the Tang Dynasty, followed by other editions compiled during the Song, Jin, Yuan and Ming, hence the names: Zhengtong Daoist Canon and Wanli Supplementary Daoist Canon.
The Dao De Jing by Laozi is Daoism's principal and most important canon. Other canons include Book of Secret Revelations, Book of Purity and Quietness, Book of the Lower Elixir Field, Book of Divine Deliverance and Can Tong Qi.
Sects or Schools
Many schools of Daoism were formed throughout history. During the Han Dynasty, there arose Tianshi and Taiping Daoism; during the Wei and Jin Period, there were the Shangqing, Lingbao and the Sanhuang Sects; the Song, Jin and Yuan dynasties saw different sects including Quanzhen, Taiyi, Zhenda, and Jinming.
The two most prominent sects today are the Zhengyi Sect (evolved from Tianshi) and Quanzhen (founded by Wang Chongyang). Today's followers belong to either of these two sects. The Zhengyi Sect is popular mainly in Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Fujian provinces, while Quanzhen flourishes in other parts of China. There is no difference in basic beliefs between the two sects, with the only differences lying in their norms and regulations. Quanzhen, for example, requires its monastic followers to be vegetarian, remain celibate and live in temples, while the Zhengyi Sect has no such regulations.