History of Taoism

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Taoism is a traditional Chinese native religion. Laozi (also called: Lao Dan, Li Er, Laotzu, and Laotse) is the founder of this religion. The Doctrine of Morality is regarded as their holy Bible.

Taoism was formally established in the late Eastern han dynasty (25-220). Northern and Southern Dynasties (386-589) saw it become the legitimacy religion like Buddhism in China, because it was supported by some emperors for political reasons. Taoism welcomed its silver age from tang dynasty (618-907) to northern song (960-1127). Many sects were formed during this period. Taoist temples were scattered all over the country and Taoist masters came forth in great number. After yuan dynasty (1271-1368), Taoism has divided into two major sects: Quanzhen Sect and Zhengyi Sect.

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With the support of royal rulers, Taoism gradually developed. In the ming dynasty (1368-1644), due to the national conflicts, the court had little energy and financial support to encourage the development of Taoism. The interior unity of Taoism was shaken and conflicts arose. In qing dynasty (1644-1911), the Manchu royal family honored Tibetan Buddhism and showed no interest in Taoism. So Taoism eventually lost the support from the upper rulers. Generally, it became a secret religious organization. During the Opium War, Taoism further declined through the oppression of imperialism and western culture. Many Taoists lost their focus on religious study.

At the founding of People's Republic of China, the land reform movement prompted Taoist organizations to develop the crusade of religious democracy. Chinese Taoist Association was formed in 1957, which symbolized the dawn of a new era of Taoism.

At present, many people in Hongkong, Macao and Taiwan believe in Taoism. Overseas, Chinese communities have built many Taoist temples all over the world.

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