Difference between revisions of "Lay Daoists"

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Latest revision as of 17:23, 7 November 2009

The title " Lay Daoist" (居士 Jushi ) existed as a form of address in ancient China. In the Qing dynasty, Zhao Yi cited Wu Hui's Random Records in the Nenggai Room, in the 36th scroll of his Haiyu congkao, stating that the title of " Layman" originated in Shang and Zhou times. Buddhism started in opposition to the orthodox Brahmanism and was called " Sramana Thought". ' Sramana' referred to those who renounced their families. So Buddhism began the practice of renunciation of family from its earliest beginning. Laymen who converted to Buddhism without leaving their families, became more numerous as Buddhism developed. The well-known Buddhist theorist Vimalakirti was a layman. Chinese laymen also appeared after Buddhism came to China. The spread of Chan Buddhism and Pure Land Buddhism attracted large number of intellectuals and other people who were pestered by worldly matters, so the number of laymen increased largely. The Complete Perfection sect of Daoism was founded in the Jin Dynasty by Wang Chongyang. He renounced his family, as well as his first seven disciples. So the Complete Perfection sect had adopted this practice from the very beginning. Later, there appeared laymen of the Complete Perfection. In the Orthodox Oneness tradition, one can be a formal disciple once one receives the sect's registers. There is no strict requirement to leave one's family. So there is no need to stress the difference between living with or without one's family. Those who have families are generally called lay Daoists.


Generally speaking, lay Daoists in the Complete Perfection sect have a good education and have made great contributions to its Inner Elixir cultivation and doctrines. Take the eminent Daoist scholar Chen Yingning as an example. Chen Yingning was a layman in the Complete Perfection sect, his Daoist name was Yuan Dun, and he served as the nineteenth patriarch of the Dragon Gate School of the Complete Perfection sect. There are many disciples of the Dragon Gate School of the Complete Perfection sect in Hong Kong; most of them are lay Daoists.