Creative Daoism

by Monica Esposito

ISBN 978-3-906000-04-6 (hardcover)

ISBN 978-3-906000-05-3 (paperback)

UniversityMedia 2013 / 2016, 392 pp./ 400 pp.

Just as Christianity has its Vatican in Rome, modern Daoism boasts of a unique center of religious authority and administration: the Temple of the White Clouds (Baiyun guan) in Beijing, seat of the general headquarters of the Chinese Daoist Association. This temple complex in Beijing, called by Dr Esposito “modern Daoism’s Vatican,” houses the grave of the mythical founder of Daoism’s Quanzhen tradition and celebrates the patriarchs of its Longmen (”Dragon Gate”) branch as his legitimate heirs.

Monica Esposito describes in this book how Daoist masters and historiographers in China, much like their Catholic counterparts in Europe, invented a glorious patriarchal lineage as well as a system of ordination designed to perpetuate orthodox transmission and central control. They also created a kind of New Testament: a new canonical collection of scriptures entitled “The Gist of the Daoist Canon” (Daozang jiyao). It contains hundreds of texts including the Daoist classic The Secret of the Golden Flower which achieved fame through the commentary by Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung.


Table of contents

Bibliography of Monica Esposito's Publications


In this book Dr. Esposito presents the gist of twenty-five years of research on pre-modern and modern Daoism. Its four parts throw new light on the history, historiography, scriptures, and doctrines of Qing Daoism:

  1. Creation of Lineage
  2. Creation of Ordination
  3. Creation of Canon
  4. Creation of Salvation

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