Syncretism in the study of Quanzhen Taoism : from essence to argument
May 9, 2012
Department or Program
The Quanzhen School of Taoism was founded by Wang Chongyang in 1170. It was a school that incorporated a wide range and practices and doctrines, but the doctrine most focused upon by scholars of the 20th century was the "unity of the Three Teachings," which referred to the traditional division within China’s religious world of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. By using this doctrine, the school has been labeled "a syncretism," and this syncretic identity has been called the essence or core of Quanzhen. However, this use of the category "syncretism" as a simple label for Quanzhen does not adequately address the ways in which Quanzhen thinkers used discourses on the Three Teachings to establish their school. Instead of viewing syncretism as a core or essence, this thesis attempts to examine the ways in which syncretic discourses functioned to legitimize and authorize Quanzhen within the multi-religious environment of 12th and 13th century China.