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Ethics and Community


Some Taoist clergy are married and live at home while others reside in monasteries or temples. They may be male or female, but most today are male. Within each Taoist sect, clergy are ranked according to a formalized hierarchy.

Community Organization

Organizational structures in Taoism have varied considerably over time and sect, and have ranged from a tightly structured theocracy, to monasticism, to informal relationships with local communities.

Principles of Moral Thought and Action

Early Taoism discouraged excessive regulation of morality in favor of natural or secret virtue, but later Taoism adopted and built on the moral precepts of Buddhism. Still later, Confucian elements were added as well.

Vision for Society

Taoism has always had a strong utopian vision in which humans, nature, and heaven coexist in peace and harmony. Today, Taoism is often identified with the environmentalist movement.

Gender and Sexuality

Taoists strive to unite masculine and feminine energies, in a ritual context, or within internal alchemical practices. Men are also encouraged to embrace feminine characteristics, and women may take on traditionally masculine roles.