Daoism as a Communal Religion

UCSB Confucius Institute Free Lecture


Daoism as a Communal Religion

Prof. Terry Kleeman

Religious Studies & Asian Languages & Civilization University of Colorado, Boulder

Tuesday May 30, 2017 @ 5:00-6:30 pm

4080 HSSB

Daoists are often envisioned as solitary hermits practicing non-action, or arcane alchemists manipulating elixirs.  But for the first few centuries of its existence, members of the organized religion of Daoism lived in communities of fellow believers, governed by strict sets of precepts and avoiding the company of the profane. Bound together by esoteric sexual rites and sharing periodic vegetarian feasts supplied through their annual tithe of five pecks of rice, these Daoists joined together in an egalitarian society, awaiting an imminent apocalypse that would welcome in a utopian age of Great Peace.

Terry Kleeman received his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. His primary research focus is on Daoism and Chinese popular religion, especially the first centuries of the Daoist religion (ca. 142-618 CE) and the rise of national deity cults in China’s 12th-17th centuries.  Other topics of interest are sacrifice, ritual, religious revelation, ecstatic religion, and new religious movements of East Asia. Major publications:  A God’s Own Tale (SUNY Press, 1994), Great Perfection: Religion and Ethnicity in a Chinese Millennial Kingdom (Hawaii, 1998), and Celestial Masters: History and Ritual in Early Daoist Communities (Harvard East Asia Center, 2016).