Dokyo (Taoism) (道教)

Dokyo is one of the Sankyo, (Japanese word translates as "three religions"), the three great religions in China, including Confucianism, Chinese Buddhism and Dokyo.


Dokyo(道教) is a traditional indigenous religion of the Han race. Do (Tao), its central concept, indicates the fundamental and immortal truth of the universe and life. The 首 part of the 道 character means the start, while the remaining encircling portion means the end, so the character itself reflects the dualism of Taiji (the root of all things). The ultimate ideal of this religion is be united in this Tao and to become a sennin (a kind of wizard) through kneading Tan, the elixir of life, and using Rentan-jutsu (medicine-making techniques).

It is encouraged to become a shnisen (immortal and supernatural being) and to live long, because living long increases the opportunities to reach Tao. According to the Taoist philosophy, having a cosmic outlook entails the acceptance of a diversity of truths, and in the same manner the three religions of sankyo coexist and complement each other in China. There are also no prohibitions on eating a particular food, and it is said that eating a variety of foods enables one to maintain balance in life and to live longer.

Even today, this religion has faithful believers, mostly Chinese people, known as Kakyo or Kajin, in Taiwan or in southeastern Asia. Although Taoism was seriously degraded during China's Cultural Revolution, its traditions are still alive among the general public. Also, the religious activity is gradually gaining acceptance from the Communist Party in China today, and its religious view has started to been restored.

Up to now researchers in Japan believed that the philosophy of Laozi and Zhuangzi, or the philosophy of Doka, had no direct relation with Taoism (Dokyo). However, in the process of formation as a soshoshukyo (religion proposed by a person or a group), Dokyo was indeed influenced by the Doka philosophy. Therefore, in Europe in the latter half of the 19th century, the term of Tao-ism was created for indicating both of the religions, and a French academic school, headed by Henry MASPERO, went as far as to point to a causal relationship between the two religions. Specialists on this matter in Japan have increasingly started to accept this view in recent times.

Its origin

It is uncertain how this philosophic system with its religious element came into being. Dokyo was generated based on sharmanism or the philosophy of Kido (literally, ogre's path), and the Shinsen philosophy that seeks perennial youth and long life. Dokyo seems to have been created by incorporating, both in an integrated fashion and in a layer by layer fashion, Bokka's philosophy and belief of 上帝鬼神 (jotei-kishin: god in the heaven and the ogre preventing disasters), the philosophy of Shintoism and festival rites in Confucianism; the metaphysics of '玄' (gen) '真' (shin: truth) in Laozi and Zhuangzi (Doka); and finally, 業報輪廻 (gyoho-rinne: philosophy concerned with "cause and effect "[業報], "rebirth" [輪廻]), Gedatsu (being liberated from earthly desires and the woes of man, [reaching] nirvana, moksha, and mukti) and doctrines and rituals in salvation by Buddha and the Bodhisattvas (Shujyo Saido).

In terms of organization, it was influenced by the Buddhism organization, which developed at about the same time, and was complemented by rituals and doctrines of Sui, Tang and Godai-kukkoku periods (the period of ten dynasties in five generations).

The people best known for pioneering research of Dokyo and organizing the Dokyo society in Japan were Yoshitoyo YOSHIOKA, Kojun FUKUI, Noritada KUBO, Mitsuji FUKUNAGA, Hisayuki MIYAKAWA, and Mizuho SAWADA.

The Relationship between Doka and Confucianism

Dokyo means 'the teaching of Do.'
This term (Dokyo) is used in the broad sense of 'the teachings of the saint to be followed.'
In this sense, this term sometimes refers to Confucianism or Buddhism as well. Actually, the term '道学' (learning of Do) directly refers to Confucianism.

In its narrow sense, this term sometimes refers to 'the teaching of the Do described in "Roshi" (a book) and "Soshi [a book]'" or 'Ro-So' (Laozi and Zhuangzi). Related to 'Ro-So,' this term is also means 'the Dokyo that was formed in the fifth century' (the Maoshan school).

Ro-So' and 'the Dokyo that was formed in the fifth century as part of a historical process,' are called "Doka" in traditional China, and "Taoism" in Europe and the United States, and Dokyo and Doka are thought of as one and the same thing.

Tao means "being natural" or "being inactive," and uses the principles of Yin and Yang (cosmic positive and negative dual forces). Tao is truth, and is called Mugoku (infinite), or Taiji (the root of all things) or Taiso. These philosophies are explained using the figure of Taiji. The figure of Taiji played an important role in forming Sung-period neo-Confucianism, which was refined, later becoming Shushigaku (Neo-Confucianism).

The Dokyo that was formed as part of a historic process

It is believed that the Dokyo school system was based on the social system of Taiheido (Kokin-no-ran [the yellow turban rebellion]) by Chokaku around the second century, and that of Choryo's Gotomaido (五斗米道) or Chokaku's Tenshido (天師道). Similarities with the Buddhist organization system later established in China (in particular, concerning the system of entering into priesthood) have been identified.

Katsuko (Ge-hong) in the Western Jìn Dynasty wrote "Hobokushi," in which he explained the ascetic practices involved in becoming a sennin (immortal mountain wizard).

In the Northern Wei Dynasty, Kokenshi founded Shin-tenshido (New Tenshido).

It is said that Rikushusei (406 - 477) in the Song (Southern) Dynasty around the fifth century contributed significantly to the unification of various Dokyo schools that existed at that time in Konan (Jiangnan). At that time, various sets of religious scripture existed, such as 'Sanko-kyo,' (developed from Konan magic [Jiangnan]), 'Horei-kyo' and 'Josei-kyo,' each of which represent distinct streams. Around that time, the Sansei (三清), composed of 'Genshi-tenson' (Primeval lord of heaven), 'Reihou-tenson' (Sacred treasure lord of heaven) and 'Dotoku-tenson' (Moral lord of heaven), all of which are metamorphosed Tao- gods, appeared in historical documents.

In his work "Shinko [真誥]," Tokokei (456 - 536) from Nansei and Ryo (the south dynasty) systematized these.

The Tang dynasty, respecting Lao Tzu (Kiji), as the ancestral founder of the family, placed Dokyo above Buddhism as the order of seats in the Imperial court (Do-sen Butsu-go: Dokyo first, Buddhism after it). In the Genso era (in Tang), Genso coveted Horoku (法籙), from Shotei SHIBA to become Taoist emperor, wrote a commentary of "Dotoku-kyo [道徳経]," established Sugengaku (崇玄学) (a school for Dokyo), and made the status of the persons who passed the test there equivalent of that of those who passed Kokyo (貢挙), (called Dokyo [道挙]).

Tokotei towards the end of Tang wrote "Dokyo-reigenki [道教霊験記]" and Dotenfukuchigakutokumeizan-ki [洞天福地岳瀆名山記]."

In the Sung period, emperors, such as Shinso and Kiso protected Dokyo, and as the subjects of Naitanjutsu (内丹術) and Rendo (錬度) were studied by many people, Dokyo underwent a drastic transformation.

Chohakutan in Northern Sung Dynasty wrote "Goshin-hen [悟真篇]," a major scripture for Naitan-do (内丹道).

In Dokyo, each of the eight sennin, called hassen, is equally admired, but it can be said that, of them Ryodohin was the most famous sennin.

In the Jin and Yuan dynasties, new Dokyo represented by Zenshinkyo (literally, all truth religion) was established in the northern area (Besides, the religious organizations of Shindai-Dokyo [truly great Dokyo] and Taiitsukyo experienced a sudden boom.)
Also in the southern area, Shoitsukyo of the Gotomaido stream had considerable influence.

"Seito Dozo [道蔵]" was completed in the Seito era of Ming Dynasty and "Banreki-zoku-Dozo" (Dozo's continuation in the Banreki era) in the Banreki era, establishing Dozo (道蔵), which corresponds to Daizokyo in Buddhism.

In 'Saiyuki' (Journey to West), Gyokukotaitei conferred Songoku the rank of Seitentaisei.

In the popular Ming Dynasty novel 'Hoshinengi,' many Dokyo gods appear. However, due to the popularity of this story among the general public, traditional tales handed down for generations were replaced by ancient events depicted in 'Hoshinengi' and names appearing in the story were displayed on some mausoleums, affecting later religious belief significantly.

Dokyo in Japan

Dokyo was brought to Japan in almost the same era as Buddhism and Confucianism. In the ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code), an administrative institution for Dokyo was introduced. However, because the institution ended up being used for controlling ordinary people's movements and political strife, and because dangerous substances such as mercury used in the formation of a sennin, were employed there, the institution was later abolished. Replacing it, Onmyodo integrated Dokyo techniques, called Dojutsu, to create a unique Japanese version of Onmyodo. ABE no Seimei in the Heian period was a famous Onmyoji (master of Onmyodo).
There is a theory that the title of 'Emperor' also originated in Dokyo (The theory which the term indicates the North Star c.f. Tenno-Taitei [天皇大帝].)
Some claim that Dokyo was not accepted in Japanese culture because the sennin-related philosophy was connected to the thought of destroying the emperor system that had been firmly established in Japan.

One of the famous Dokyo temples in Japan is the Shoten-gu Shrine in Sakado City, Saitama Prefecture.

The Onmyodo philosophy influenced the construction of capitals in Japan and the building of shrines as well. For example, the idea of ryuketsu (a specific area of land would become prosperous).

Fusui (literally, wind and water) is an application of Onmyo-gogyosetsu (the theory of Yin-Yang [negative-positive] and the five elements) in Dokyo. Even today, there are people who use Fusui to bring good luck, and use of the theory is flourishing in Korea and Japan. However, this is slightly different from Onmyodo, which also tells fortune based geographical elements. The "Chiho"part of "Tenen-Chiho"became obsolete in Fusui theory, thus distinguishing it from Onmyodo, which places equal emphasis on both elements. The concept of Chiho (rectangular ground) was represented in the dohyo (ring) (which was rectangular in old times) of sumo as a ritual, but it shapes round today as it has lost the original meaning.

As fortune-telling techniques used by practitioners are seen on the streets, the divination originates in Dokyo is rooted also in Japan. Koshin shinko (belief in Koshin [庚申]) is the Dokyo-based belief, introduced and established in Japan. Koshin towers and Koshin halls were built in various locations throughout the nation, and organizations and customs such as Koshin-ko (organizations celebrating Koshin) and the Koshin-machi ritual (being awake throughout the night on Koshin days) are firmly established. In the areas where Koshin belief centered on a Koshin hall is deeply rooted, the custom of hanging a monkey effigy from the edge of the eaves is observed, an obvious manifestation of the belief.

Calendar-related items such as Shi-gai (辛亥), Kasshi Kakurei (the 1st year of the 60-year cycle in Chinese calendar when changes are often said to happen), and the 24 seasonal datum points, all reveal significant influenced by Dokyo. However, as is the case with Onmyodo, it is synthesized with the philosophies specific to Japan.