New age spirituality dating
Half the text consists in rhyming lines likely of an earlier date.
Chuang-tzu, historian Ssu-ma Ch’ien, and other writers of old all quote from the Lao-tzu/Tao Te Ching and regard Lao-tzu/Lao-tan as a wise elder who taught sage Confucius (551-479) the humble way of true spirituality.
A recent report tells of 1,700 active Taoist temples-monasteries in China, with 26,000 priestly/monastic initiates, a third of them women.
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).
All these religious Taoist schools more-or-less combined in the early 1200s to comprise a common Taoist legacy, Cheng-i (Zhengyi) Way of Right Unity Taoism, headed by priests (usually married) who practice healing via the invoking of spirits (shen), releasing of ghosts/demons (kuei) (an often quite draining work said to decrease the overall lifespan of the priest), recitation of magical formulae, utilization of talismans (fu-lu), sacred water (fu-shui), sacred dance (yü-yen), ascetic practices and sublimation of energies.
A few scholars feel the Tao Te Ching to be the work of several writers, but scholars Izutsu, Karlgren, Ellen Chen, et al.
argue it was a single sage who wrote the majority of its 81 short chapters.
(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).
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.