Book the tao of dating
(Henri Maspero and Izutsu think some of these practices pre-dated Chuang-tzu and Lao-tzu in the southern Ch’u state.) The earliest and most prominent of these religious Taoist schools were the theocratic, liturgical, magical Meng-wei Heavenly Master Taoism (also known as Wu-tou-mi “Five Pecks of Rice” Taoism), founded in the mid-2nd century CE by the long-lived Chang Tao-ling and his son and grandson, later headquartered on Lung-hu Shan/Mountain in Kiangsi province; T’ai-p’ing Supreme Peace Taoism, founded by Chang Chüeh in 2nd century, based on repentance of sins, healing ceremonies and the book on commanding spirits miraculously gotten by the semi-legendary Yò Chi; the equally popular Ling-pao Magic Jewel Taoism (4th/5th century CE, liturgical, influenced by Buddhism, emphasizes fasting and reliance on celestial deities), founded by Ko-hsòan, Hsu Ling-ch’i, et al; and Shang-ch’ing Highest Purity Taoism (elite, monastic, meditative, and mystical, based especially on Chuang-tzu and the Yellow Court Canon), founded in 370 CE by Yang Hsi and the two Hsu’s, father and son, atop Mao Shan (near Nanjing).
This Northern Ch’üan-chen Taoism, headquartered at Pai-yün Kuan (“Monastery of the White Clouds,” built in 739 CE) in Beijing, is still being practiced in many parts of China today, from the cities to the mountains, and is becoming well-known in the West through the translations of many works by Thomas Cleary.
(See also Bill Porter/Red Pine’s book on Taoist hermits.) Japanese and Communist Chinese forces destroyed much of Taoism in China in the 1930s and 1940s, but it survived and flourished in Taiwan and, to some extent, in Hong Kong.
Two other important early Taoist works are the Huai-nan-tzu, the record of talks of eight great Taoist adepts at the court of Prince Liu An, composed approximately 150 years after the Chuang-tzu, and the Wen-tzu, composed circa 100 BCE after Taoism went underground with the ascendancy of a rigid Confucian ideology.
The Lieh-tzu, 3rd-4th century CE, with some earlier material, is a far less profound Taoist work, a collection of folk tales with a philosophy alternating between mere fatalism and hedonism (the Yang-chu chapter).
These five Taoist texts comprise the “contemplative,” “mystical,” “philosophical” Taoism, or Tao-chia, which appeals to individuals with highly refined, intuitive natures who don’t find complete fulfillment in the Confucian ideal of righteousness and a controlled family and social order.
Important Taoist practice areas and/or pilgrimage spots in China are Tai Shan (south of Jinan in Shandong province), Hua Shan (in Shangxi east of Xi’an), Mao Shan (near Nanjing), and the aformentioned Lung-hu Shan (in Kiangsi), Pai-yün Kuan monastery in Beijing, and Wu-tang Shan (in W. A number of old masters still teach in these places and in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea.
Ch’üan-chen Complete Reality Taoism split into a Southern “dual cultivation” school, founded by Lü’s disciple Chang Po-tuan (983-1082) (this school finally became extinct), and a Northern “Pure Serenity” school, founded by Wang Che/Wang Ch’un-yang (1113-71) and his 7 adepts (in-cluding renowned female adept, Sun Pu Erh).After the heavily oppressive Cultural Revolution (1966-76), Taoism (and other faiths) have resurged in mainland China.A recent report tells of 1,700 active Taoist temples-monasteries in China, with 26,000 priestly/monastic initiates, a third of them women.Through the Sui-Tang dynastic era (581-905), when Taoism flourished under state patronage, other religious Taoist schools emerged, focusing on repentance, healing, invoking of spirits, use of talismans, magical formulae, etc.From 907-1368 religious Taoism assimilated the rise of a Buddhist-influenced, ascetic, contemplative Ch’ing-wei tao Tantric “Thunder Magic” sect from Hua Shan and Lungmen Shan in west China, a martial Pei-chi tao or Pole Star Taoism from Wu-tang Shan in Hupei province, and a sorcery-oriented Taoism of central and south China, Shen-hsiao Taoism, founded by Lin Ling-su c1116.Meanwhile, more popular, organized forms of “religious Taoism” or Tao-chiao were emerging in the late Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) and subsequent Wei-Chin era, based on the Lao-tzu, Chuang-tzu, et al., but more strongly patterned after the activity of the court magicians (fang-shih), involving shamanic, yogic, spiritualist and magic practices.