College Of Arts And Sciences | The Daoist Body
E103 | 0116 | Bokenkamp, S


Daoism [also spelled "Taoism"], the only organized religion ever to
have arisen in China, is known as "the religion of immortality."
This is because the express goal of Daoism is to teach its followers
to merge bodily with the Dao, the basic life-force of the universe,
and thus become
xian [often translated "immortals"].  But of course Daoists did die.
Modern scholars of the religion, unable to locate any clear
expression in Daoist texts concerning the immortality of the soul,
are thus presented with a puzzle.  Given that traditional Chinese
civilization was in all other ways extremely practical, how could
such an apparently irrational, death-denying, religion ever have
arisen there?  In this course, we shall examine traditional Chinese
views of the body through Daoist scriptures, images, stories, and
meditations in an attempt to discover what the attainment of xianhood
meant in flesh and blood, as well as spiritual, terms to early
Chinese Daoists.