Daoism during the Republican Era (1911-1949)

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Daoism during the Republican Era (1911-1949)

In the first year of the Chinese Republic (1911), the government of Jiangxi Province cancelled the title "Celestial Master", which had long been conferred tothe Orthodox Oneness sect on Longhu Mountain. Meanwhile, Daoism was on the edge of being deprived of its temples and farmland which were the main financial resource for Daoist monks. In 1928, the Nationalist Party government issued a national regulation pertaining to religious temples, according to which Daoist temples dedicated to the Supreme Venerable Sovereign, the Three Heavenly Officials, Patriarch Lu and Imperial Sovereign Wenchang were banned. Many Daoist temples were changed into schools, government offices and even barracks. After the warlord Yuan Shikai declared himself emperor, he returned the title "Celestial Master" to Daoism. The 62d Celestial Master was given the title "Succeeding Great Perfect Man of the Orthodox Oneness". The seal of the Masters of Orthodox Oneness was also returned to the sect. But after that, the privilege of Celestial Master Zhang on Mt. Longhu was confined to the tradition of the Orthodox Oneness Sect. The dignity and glory it had previously enjoyed never came back.

During the Nationalist Party regime, the Complete Perfection Sect was dominated by the Dragon Gate sect which regarded Qiu Chuji as its founder. The Dragon Gate sect was influencial in many places, including the White Cloud Temple in Beijing, which was visited in 1934 by the Japanese scholar Siaonou Sichi who later authored the History of the White Cloud Temple. The Orthodox Daoist Canon of the Ming Dynasty, which had been compiled by the White Cloud Temple, was reprinted. This promoted not only academic research on Daoism but also Daoist influence in society.

At the time, modern Chinese society was turbulent and unstable. In order to continue the Daoist tradition, some figures in Daoist circles set up some Daoist organizations. In 1912, the "Central Daoist Association", a national religious organization of the Complete Perfection Sect, came into being. Meanwhile in Shanghai, the 62d generation Celestial Master prepared to establish the "Ceneral Daoist Society of the Chinese Republic', which was not ratified by the government. Instead, the "Shanghai Branch of the National Daoist Association of the Chinese Republic' was founded, under which some activities were launched.

Also in Shanghai, a few other local Daoist organizations were established, among which were the "China General Daoist Association" and the "Chinese Daoist Association" In addition, the famous Daoist scholar Cheng Yingning (1880-1968) founded the "Chinese Academy of Immortalist Studies". He also edited Daoist magazines such as the Immortalist Studies Monthly and the bi-monthly Promotion of Good.

But generally speaking, Daoism remained at a standstill during the republican era. Its social influence was decreasing. Nevertheless, Daoist Rites and Magical Skills such as Dietetics and Medicine for Immortality still attracted many followers in the lower class. This shows that during this period, Daoism was gradually integrating into underground religious sects.

Daoist Association of the Republic of China


In the first year of the Republic of China (1912), eighteen representatives of the Complete Perfection School, including Chen Minglin (YU Kun), the abbot of the White Cloud Temple, initiated the establishment of the Daoist Association in Beijing. They drafted the Declaration of the Daoist Association, Outline of the Daoist Association and the Daoist Association's Claim for Recognition by the Government of the Republic of China. On July 15th, they drafted the Daoist Association's Memorial to Prime Minister and President Yuan Shikai. Nine of the representatives, including Chen Minlin, went to the State Department and President's Residence to submit a written statement for admission. They received an official reply on August 4th, which agreed to put their memorial on record. Daoism began to have a legal nationwide organization.


Rectify depravity, continue the Daoist tradition, and combine an otherworldly outlook with a worldly one, so as to cultivate an excellent, noble-minded and perfect republic.


There are worldly affairs and otherworldly affairs. For otherworldly affairs, there is an Office for Religious Proclamation( 演教門 Yanjiao Men ) and an Office for the Conferring of Commandments ( 宣律門 XuanLv Men ). For worldly affairs, there is an Office for Almsgiving ( 救濟門 Jiuji Men ), an Office for Didactic Activity ( 勸善門 Quanshan Men ) and an Office for the Transformation of Evil Deeds ( 化惡門 Hua’e Men ).


there is a General Daoist Association in Beijing, as well as general branch Daoist Associations on the provincial level and branch Daoist Associations on the city and village level.

In the General Daoist Association, there is one chairman and two vice-chairmen. It has three departments: (I) the Assembly Department. Its divisions are the Office for Discussing Official Business, the Examination Office and the Propaganda Office; (II) the Administration Department: it directs the Religious Proclamation Office, the Daoism Propagation Office and the Religious Affairs Office; (III) the Inspection Department: it dominates the Office for Rectifying Deviation, the Senate Office and the Dismission Office.

Administration of the General Branch Daoist Associations and the branch Daoist Associations is similar to those in the General Daoist Association, but simplified to some degree.


Daoist priests, all the devotees (there is no limit for ethnicity, nationality, and occupation), and volunteers who are committed to help Daoism and save the masses can be admitted to the Daoist Association.

Regulations for Members

  1. All members will be vigilant in abiding by the Daoist precepts and guard against violation. Confession should be made should one transgress against any regulation. Upon confession, one should remain committed to the avoidance of any future transgression. Those who violate the regulations and refuse to confess and rectify themselves will be expelled from the Association.
  2. All members should permanently be merciful and demonstrate behavior that is beneficial to all humanity.
  3. Members should study Daoist doctrine to save themselves and others.
  4. Members should observe the regulations and carry on a Daoist livelihood.

Meeting Intervals

The General Daoist Association conference will be held annually. It begins on March 3rd and lasts seven days. Business discussion takes three days and religious research four days. General branch Daoist Associations meet twice each year. These meetings begin on Feb.1st and August 1st respectively, and last five days, two days for business discussion and three days for religious discussion.

The General Daoist Association of the Republic of China


All representatives of the Daoist Association of the Republic of China in Beijing belong to the Complete Perfection School. Therefore, under the direction of the 62nd Celestial master Zhang Yuanxu, the leader of the Orthodox Oneness School, located on Longhu Mountain, in Jiangxi Province, the Orthodox Oneness School decided to set up another nationwide Daoist organization. In September of the first year of the Republic of China(1912), Zhang Yuanxu and representatives of the Orthodox Oneness School from Shanghai, Suzhou and Wuxi held the initiation conference. They announced the establishment of the General Daoist Association of the Republic of China after that. An office of the Jiangxi Headquarters was set up in Shanghai. Although one thousand people participated in the inaugural meeting, the Daoist association established by the Orthodox Oneness School never received recognition by the government of the Republic of China.

===Aims=== Regard the Yellow Emperor and Laozi as the primal ancestors, build relationships with different schools and advocate Daoism. Maintain the world by means of morality and help human beings to achieve international peace.


The Longhu Mountain in Jiangxi province is the Headquarters, though the general Headquarters is in Beijing and the general department is in Shanghai. All the capital cities can set up subsections. Counties and business centers can have branches.


Anyone, regardless of nationality, who is devoted to Daoism, whether maintaining family life or having renounced it, can be admitted.


As this association had not received official recognition, the General Daoist Association of the Orthodox Oneness School, established under the Republic of China, did not set up on a national level and never had nationwide activities.