Yue Chongdai

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Life of Yue Chongdai (AD 1888-1958)

Yue Chongdai, whose Daoist name was Dongqiaozi and popular name Yue Yunfa, was a celebrated contemporary Daoist scholar and the 26th generation successor of the Orthodox Dragon Gate sect ( 龍門派正宗 Longmen Pai Zhengzong ) of the Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真派 Quanzhen Pai ). He was a native of Shouguang County in Shandong province. In his childhood, his family moved to Jianping County of Liaoning province, and engaged in agriculture to make a living. Before he was 19, he studied while farming. Gradually, he became eager to keep aloof due to the hard life. In 1912, he renounced his family and went to Cultivate Dao ( 修道 Xiudao ) at the the Temple of Sacred Purity ( 聖清宮 Shenqing Gong ) on Mt. Yiwulu of Liaoning province. He visited the famous mountains and temples of the northeast, and returned to the Temple of Sacred Purity two years later to lead the Daoists into agriculture. In 1920, he became the Daoist in charge of reception at the Temple of Supreme Clarity ( 太清宮 Taiqing Gong ) in Shenyang, and later became the abbot. He insisted that Daoists earn their own living, and led the Daoists of the Temple of Supreme Clarity cultivating the land for 14 years. In 1939, he became a permanent director of the General Daoist Association ( 道教總會 Daojiao Zonghui ) of the Puppet state of Manchuria. In 1944, he left Shenyang for the Temple of Sacred Purity on Mt. Lu to cultivate himself individually for four years. Later, he once visited White Cloud Temple ( 白雲觀 Baiyun Guan ) in Beijing and convalesced there. After the founding of the People's Republic, he became the abbot of the Temple of Supreme Clarity in Shenyang and the 26th generation successor of the Orthodox Dragon Gate sect of the Complete Perfection Tradition ("Chong', the middle character in Yue Chongdai's name, was the 26th character in the genealogy of the Dragon Gate sect). In 1956, he participated in the founding of the Chinese Daoist Association ( 中國道教協會 Zhongguo Daojiao Xiehui ), and in 1957, he was elected its first president. He participated in the Political Consultative Conference of the People's Republic of China in 1956, and at the third Session of the Second National Political Consultative Conference in 1957, he delivered a speech named "Putting an End to Passive Ideas and Taking Part in Social Activities". Soon afterwards, he was wronged and branded as a Rightist. He died in May 1958. After 1979, he was rehabilitated.

View on the history of Daoism

In the article "Putting an End to Passive Ideas and Taking Part in Social Activities", he gave a concise account of Daoism with less religious and more academic flavor. He held that Daoism originated from ancient popular beliefs, inherited Laozi's Daoist theory, was founded by Zhang Ling in the last years of the Han dynasty, and then subdivided and spread, and continued circulating in spite of its rises and falls. He expounded Daoist ideas and evolution in a historical perspective and a sober manner. This represented a new tendency to reform Daoism with new thoughts so as to make Daoist academic research inside Daoism more adapted to the development of the times. He stressed individual cultivation and the refinement of mind and nature, and attached importance to the commandment of "Venerating Heaven and loving the people, caring for life and abhorring killing" and its functions. He held that since Daoism was rooted in traditional popular beliefs, having deep roots in the hearts of the people, it possessed an intense national quality and produced an extensive and profound impact. "Daoism is the intrinsic religion of the Chinese nation. It strikes root in the hearts of the people, and it cannot be denied that although Daoism occasionally experienced rises and declines, its popular beliefs are universal and have never faded."