History

The new Quanzhen sect established in the 12th century had the support of Jin dynasty (1115-1170) emperor Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, who hoped to obtain an elixir of immortality.  His grandson Khubilai (Kublai) Khan (1215-1294), founder of the Yuan dynasty (1206-1268), initially favored Quanzhen but later ordered all Taoist texts except the Taode jing destroyed after the Taoists lost a series of debates with Buddhists and an imperial fleet on its way to attack Japan was destroyed by a typhoon in 1281.  Khan then created another Taoist sect, Xuanjiao, or Mysterious Teaching, which lasted only as long as the Yuan Dynasty (1272-1368).  Quanzhen continued to grow rapidly, despite the loss of the emperor's support.

During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, certain sects were favored at times, especially Zhengyi and Quanzhen; at other times there were strict government controls over all sects.  Because these two traditions were the most accepted, the clergy of other sects began to identify themselves with one of these two orders, and eventually Zhengyi and Quanzhen became the two largest and most powerful sects.  Occasional government attempts to suppress Taoism altogether only strengthened lay support and solidified local associations.


Study Questions:
1.     What was the relationship between Taoism and governmental structures?
2.     How was Taoism used as a force of domination? How was it dominated by political rule?
3.     What were some of the factors that contributed to the rise and fall of Taoist sects?

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