The discussion begins with critical examinations of the ways identity was found among the early movements of the Way of Great Peace and the Celestial Masters. The role of sacred texts and literary culture in Daoist identity formation is discussed. The volume then focuses on lineage formation and the increasing role of popular religious practices, such as spirit-writing, in modern Daoism since the Song dynasty. Finally it discusses the Daoist adaptation and reinterpretation of Buddhist rites, such as the feeding of souls in hell and the use of ritual gestures, and the changes made in contemporary Daoism in relation to traditional rites and popular practices.
Contributors: Asano Haruji, Suzanne Cahill, M. Csikszentmihalyi, Edward L. Davis, Terry F. Kleeman, Livia Kohn, Mabuchi Masaya, Maruyama Hiroshi, Mitamura Keiko, Mori Yuria, Peter Nickerson, Charles D. Orzech, Harold D. Roth, Shiga Ichiko, Tsuchiya Masaaki.
This book demonstrates that early Daoist discourse possessed a distinct, textually constituted coherence and a religious sensibility that starkly differed from the intellectual background of all other traditions of early China, including Confucianism. The author argues that this discourse is best analyzed through its emergence from the mythological imagination of early China, and that it was unified by a set of notions about the Dao that was shared by all of its participants. The author introduces certain categories from the Western religious and philosophical traditions in order to bring out the distinctive qualities constituting this discourse and to encourage its comparison with other religious and philosophical traditions.