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The Growth of Daoism in During Late Qing Dynasty Reflective Essay

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Updated: Aug 6th, 2019

A number of factors are attributed to the growth of Daoism in during late Qing dynasty to the early republican era. One of the factors that contributed to the growth of Daoism was institutional renewal, the emergence of writings, and the spread of Chinese culture across the region. As the Chinese culture spread to other parts of the world, Daoist ideas, skills, and influences were spread through books and scriptures.

Other people noticed that Daoism was a productive religion that contained valuable teachings to the youth and the family1. A number of cultures developed interest in Daoism. Through the leadership of charismatic leaders, such as Wang Changzhue, Daoism gained a wide acceptance among the locals even beyond China.

The religion was adopted by the Qing dynasty as an official state religion2. In some provinces, such as Gansu and Yunnan under Ming, Daoism controlled political, artistic and spiritual aspects of society. The advocates of Daoism worked closely with local communities to expand its influence.

Scholars subscribing to the cultural beliefs of Daoism produced various pieces of writings, which were very influential to the lives of the majority in society. Daoism became popular to an extent that people internalized its teachings and became part of their cultural beliefs. Local scholars could easily express their ideas regarding Daoism in their literal woks, plays, and games3.

It is therefore concluded that Daoism was able to develop during the late Qing dynasty to the early republican era through the works of art and writings of various scholars. Local leadership was in support of the religion hence it could not fade out easily. In other parts of the country, it was made a state religion meaning that everybody was supposed to be a member4.

Some famous reformers such as Zheng supported Daoism because they questioned the credibility of scientific knowledge, as suggested by the western powers. Modern scientists were simply concerned with mechanical determinism whereby cultural beliefs were not considered. Scientific research results to modernity meaning that life is determine by the mode of production.

This alienates the human soul and spirit. Machines and technologies are even valued more than the human soul since they are able to produce wealth. To such reformers, the human soul is the most important because it cannot be accessed scientifically. In this regard, these reformers suggested that scientific knowledge have some limits5.

Ethical, spiritual insight, astuteness and other forms of what the reformers referred to as metaphysics or life stance are exclusively independent system of knowledge, which is self-sufficient. This form of familiarity is pure because it was acquired through instinct and other non-scientific means6.

The tragic events of the Great War confirmed that western discoveries are very dangerous. Many people resorted to traditional discoveries that were mostly based on Daoism because they were safe. The emergence of capitalism was attributed to scientific discoveries whereby people engaged in production of goods and services without caring about the welfare of the poor in society.

Many people confirmed that science was simply concerned with material accumulation, but not promoting the welfare of the majority on society. Science was highly disputed since it could not serve as the basis for ethical or religious knowledge. The Chinese could not rely on the western culture for civilization since it was inconsistent with the local beliefs.

Bibliography

Liu, Xun. Daoist Modern: Innovation, Lay Practice, and the Community of Inner Alchemy in Republican Shanghai. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Centre, 2009.

Footnotes

1 Xun Liu, Daoist Modern: Innovation, Lay Practice, and the Community of Inner Alchemy in Republican Shanghai (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Centre, 2009), 35.

2Xun Liu, Daoist Modern: Innovation, Lay Practice, and the Community of Inner Alchemy in Republican Shanghai (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Centre, 2009), 35.

3 Xun Liu, Daoist Modern: Innovation, Lay Practice, and the Community of Inner Alchemy in Republican Shanghai (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Centre, 2009), 35.

4Xun Liu, Daoist Modern: Innovation, Lay Practice, and the Community of Inner Alchemy in Republican Shanghai (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Centre, 2009), 35.

5 Xun Liu, Daoist Modern: Innovation, Lay Practice, and the Community of Inner Alchemy in Republican Shanghai (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Centre, 2009), 34.

6Xun Liu, Daoist Modern: Innovation, Lay Practice, and the Community of Inner Alchemy in Republican Shanghai (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Centre, 2009), 34.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Growth of Daoism in During Late Qing Dynasty'. 6 August.

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