daoism, Complementary and Alternative Healing University

Complementary and Alternative Healing University
中藥詞典    Chinese Herb Dictionary      

Search this site     在本網站找資料


See more menu at the bottom of page



The Secret of Daoism: Dao Jia (道家) Fang Shi (方士) and Qigong

By: Joe Hing Kwok Chu

Qigong is training to maintain the mind and body using the techniques of meditation (thought manipulation), conscious breathing, movements and posture.  The term "qigong" rarely appeared in classical Chinese writings, but became popular after 1960, when  qigong master Liu Gui Zhen used it in promoting health by using qigong exercises. Qigong was practised by very few people prior to that time because of the practitioners' vows of secrecy. After the 1960's, qigong suddenly became wide spread.  Certain forms of qigong, however, are suspect, arising  from questionable sources and could actually be harmful for health.

Some people think that the original source of qigong is the dao jiao religions. Yet most people, especially Westerners, do not differentiate between the Daoist religion and the Daoist philosophers of China. The Daoist religion is called dao jiao (tao chiao), and Dao jiao religions were formed during the end of Han dynasties as political organizations for overthrowing the Han empire. The Daoist philosophers, on the other hand, are called dao jia (taochia). The word "jia" can be translated in English as the suffix "ologists," which means specialists in a certain field of knowledge. Therefore, dao jia means specialist(s) in dao (tao).

What is dao?

Scholars who are not dao jia would translate it as "way." It is true that the every day usage of the word dao means "way" or "road." But in the term dao jia, dao means something else. It means neither road or way.

The dao jia philosopher and writer Zhuang Zi (399-275 BC) in his works mentioned that "dao is to maintain the body, and ultimately is to maintain the mind." The term for maintaining mind and body has been called "xiu dao,"  as "xiu" means "practise and maintaining."

It is true that writings of the dao jiao religions mentioned qigong training. But dao jiao religions were formed late in the history of China. The earliest dao jiao religion, "Wu Dou Mi Jiao", which literally means "Five Deca-liter of Rice Religion," was formed by Zhang Dao Lin  during the period of emperor Xun Di of the Later Han Dynasty, about A.D. 126-144. This Five Deca-liter of Rice Religion spread over the provinces of Xanxi and Sichuan. Another dao jiao religion, "Tai Ping Jiao", literally means "Peace Religion," and was formed by a leader of a revolutionary group, Zhang Jiao . This Peace Religion spread over the provinces of Shandong, Hebei, and Henan. These daoist religions were actually political organizations. The main scripture of these primitive daoist religions was the "Tai Ping Jing." The content of Tai Ping Jing was very complex. Although its content also covered some  practices like qigong,  the writings on qigong were very ambiguous and mystical, of little significant academic value when compared to a work from the same period, "Cantongqi", by Wei Bo Yang 魏伯陽.

Wei Bo Yang,  an important medical writer during the Eastern Han dynasty, was one of the Fang Shi, a group of alchemists who appeared in the records of the Qin Dynasty (255 BC-206 BC). The Fang Shi was an important group in qigong development.

Another important fang shi and medical writer of the Eastern Jing dynasty (317 AD- 420 AD) is Ge Hong  (283 AD - 363 AD), also known as Bao Pu Zi  . The book written by Bao Pu Zi on qigong training is also called Bao Pu Zi.

Dao jia were those philosophers who tried to achieve immortality by improving and maintaining their mental and physical health by using qigong.  The prominent dao jia scholars of ancient China were Lao Zi (Lao Tse or Lao Tze) (604 BC - unknown) and Zhuang Zi (Chuang Tze). Lao Zi was the chief archive librarian of the Zhou dynasty during the Spring and Autumn period. Zhuang Zi (399-275 BC) lived about two hundred years after Lao Zi. Since the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD), the term "Lao-Zhuang zhi xue" (the study of Lao-Zhuang), has become synonymous with daoist philosophy.

The representative writing of the dao jia is the book entitled "Dao De Jing" (Tao Te Ching) by Lao Zi. This is the most translated Chinese philosophy book and is also the most mistranslated book. Dao jia philosophy and training methods were secrets highly guarded by their practitioners. The Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) has been regarded by Chinese scholars as a very profound book, but also one that is very difficult to understand.

Over the centuries, Chinese scholars have argued over what the book was really about.  Some thought it was concerned with the governing tactics of the kings and emperors. Others thought it described military arts. Still others thought it was a spiritual and religious book. Those who really understood the book were those who practised the art of "dao" (tao), the dao jia (dao-ologists). Traditionally, the dao jia would never join the discussion about the book or reveal its meaning because of the vows of secrecy that they had taken before they could be taught the art. Thus, the misunderstanding of the book Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) continues.

Click here for explanation of gigantic qi.

The difference of Daoist philosophy and Confucius philosophy.

Click here for Qigong Classes.

To be translated: 彭祖老子之研究。

Search this site

Problems with website? Please Click here for comment. (Not for inquiry )    

Click here for inquiry

Copyright Notice 按此看關於版權問題

Sponsors' Ads by Google 以下為谷歌 所提供之廣告

A manuscript... writing, translating and proofreading  in progress


List of Health Problems

Qigong (chi kung)

Toxicity of Some Herbs

Side Effect of Some Herbs

Herbs that can be toxic to kidneys

Traditional Chinese Medicine


TCM Diagnosis


Samples of Formulae

Terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine


Chinese Herb Dictionary

Qigong classes

Prescribed Drug Dictionary

Email our web master for  your suggestion (not for inquiry)

Biochemistry Dictionary


Qigong classes


Research Librarian


copy right




Weather Report


Last update: June 16, 2015; 2 p.m. LAH