Salvation of Humanity
As far as Daoism is concerned, the idea of Tranquility and Non-Interference by no means conflicts with its concern with social affairs and peoples' life. On the contrary, Daoism always encourages the salvation of society as well as people, and calls for contribution to social stability and prosperity, as well as to peoples' happy life.
Contribution to Society and Retirement after Achievements
Daoism is always concerned with social stability. Both the ideal of society described by Laozi and the concept of Supreme Peace advocated by the Book of Supreme Peace include solutions to the eradication of social drawbacks. When necessary, the Daoist community has also put into effect its demands for the eradication of social drawbacks, as did the Supreme Peace Tradition and the Mighty Commonwealth of Orthodox Oneness Tradition in the Han dynasty. After the Wei and Jin dynasties, the social situation changed a lot. Daoist sects seldom involved themselves in political struggles in society. But Daoists still contributed their ideas and activities to society. One instance was Patriarch Qiu Chuji's visit to Genghis Khan, the Mongol conqueror, at the Grand Snow Mountain. Qiu was cultivating Dao and teaching his disciples in Shandong province while Genghis Khan and his army were sweeping across the West. After stationing his troops at the Grand Snow Mountain, located in Afghanistan, the conqueror sent his envoy to patriarch Qiu, conveying his hope to meet the Patriarch. Although a long distant road and chaotic wars made the journey incredibly arduous, in order to persuade the king to bury his hatchets and work for peace, Qiu, at an age of almost eighty, risked his life by going west. They started the arduous journey in 1120, and reached the conqueror's lodging in March, 1122. The conqueror immediately met with patriarch Qiu. During his talk, Qiu suggested that the conqueror give up brutality and violence. According to the chapter 'Biographies of Sakyamuni and Laozi' in the History of the Yuan Dynasty, the Great Emperor was sweeping West and fierce battles took place every day. Qiu Chuji told him: The man who hates killing is to come to throne. When consulted about administration, Qiu said: All policies should be based on respect of heaven and love of people. His answer satisfied the conqueror. On his way home, patriarch Qiu helped the people with the conqueror decree and tablet of command. During that period, the Yuan troops were trampling over central China. The situation in Hebei and Henan was especially devastating. Many people were captured. They could die at any moment. After Qiu Chuji came back to Yan (Beijing city), he ordered his disciples, with official certificates in hand, to enroll the captured who would soon become slaves. By this way, he saved tens of thousands of people. In contrast with those people who pursued nothing but reputation and wealth, Daoist believers, abiding by Laozi's instruction, normally retired after achieving successes. They often chose to live as hermits instead of claiming credit for themselves and becoming arrogant after their great achievements.
Protection of National Culture
China is an ancient country with a several thousand-year history of civilization. For a long time, China's culture took the world lead. In its history, China was invaded many times by foreign forces. But in the end, those nationalities were either driven out or assimilated by Chinese civilization, becoming members of the Chinese multi-national family. Whenever foreign invasions endangered Chinese culture, the Daoist community always considered the preservation and revival of China's advanced culture as its duty. In the Northern Wei dynasty, when Kou Qianzhi introduced the Great Dao to emperor Taiwu and recognized him as Perfect Sovereign of Supreme Peace, he was in fact injecting some advanced content into a backward culture. In the middle of the Northern and Southern Song dynasties when northern China was controlled by the ethnic Jurchen regime, Wang Chongyang founded the Complete Perfection Doctrine, Xiao Baozheng created the Supreme Oneness Doctrine, and Liu Deren founded the Perfect Doctrine of the Great Dao. In this way, they tried to learn from the Han dynasty regulations and repeat the glory of the previous dynasties. Their real aim was to preserve Chinese culture. That's why the Han people of Central China were willing to follow them and considered Daoism as their spiritual shelter. In Taiwan, during the Japanese occupation, a Japanization policy was introduced to erase the Chinese national spirit. In that period, statues of Daoist deities were destroyed. But as soon as the Japanese were driven out, Daoist temples were rebuilt in a short time. Strong feelings for national civilization and awareness of the preservation of national culture were clearly shown. In modern times, there are Chinese living throughout the world. Daoism and Daoist activities are seen in almost every Chinese community. In fact, Daoism has become an important form for conveying Chinese culture.
Salvation Is the Greatest Merit
According to the Book of Salvation ( 度人經 Duren Jing), Dao values life and salvation. As a religion, Daoism also values life. Its religious doctrines attach a great importance to salvation. Ge Hong considered salvation as Daoism's greatest merit. In his Preface to the Essential Prescriptions for Emergencies Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold ( 備急千金要方序 Beiji Qianjin Yaofang Xu ), a man's life is more valuable than a thousand pieces of gold. When a physician cures the sick with his prescriptions, his merit is more valuable than a thousand pieces of gold. So he gave the title Prescriptions Worth A Thousand Pieces of Gold to his medical book. That also explains why many Daoists devote themselves to medical skills, the study of material medica, and give free or very cheap treatments to patients. This tradition can be found even today. Daoist temples often establish clinics and hospitals where Daoists with medical talents provide medical services to patients.
Erasing One's Evil Desires by Enlightenment of Mind
An important content of Daoist salvation is to enhance the function of Daoist enlightenment, and spread Daoist doctrines to society and Daoist culture to ordinary peoples' daily life. In different times, Daoist scholars used to point out that Daoism's basic principle lays in the enlightenment of one's mind and in the removal of one's desires. While helping people solve their difficulties in daily life, Lu Dongbin, the Imperial Sovereign Who Protects Benevolence, used to enlighten people by releasing them from the burden of secular ideas. In Patriarch Lu's Precious Repentance of the Infinite ( 呂祖無極寶懺 Luzu Wuji Baochan), which is popular in Hong Kong, Patriarch Lu criticizes many bad ideas and behaviour popularly found in human beings, and suggests people to eliminate all bad things to usher in a good future. When preaching Dao to the public, Wang Changyue, the famous Qing dynasy Daoist of the Dragon Gate sect of Complete Perfection, enumerated twenty good types of behavior, which included salvation. He also considered self-salvation as a prerequisite for universal salvation. Only after a man gets rid of his sensual desires and understands the Great Dao throughly, does he realize his ideal of universal salvation. That is, on basis of his strict self-discipline, a savior can influence people with his great personality, leading them ahead.
In addition, Daoism also holds a variety of religious activities to serve people. Daoist Fasts and Offerings, for instance, normally serve as a bridge between spirits and human beings as well as between Ying and Yang, bringing forth a happy life.