Wudang Mountain

Zhang Daoling


Zhang Daoling (simplified Chinese: 张道陵), also commonly called Zhang Ling, was an Eastern Han dynasty (2nd Century CE) Taoist hermit who founded the Zhengyi Mengwei Tianshi Dao ("Tradition of the Celestial Master of the Mighty Commonwealth of Orthodox Oneness") sect of Taoism, also known as the "Tianshi Dao" ("Way of the Celestial Masters") sect or the "Wudou Mi Dao" ("Way of Five Bushels of Rice") sect.

Zhang Daoling as pictured in Myths and Legends of China by E. T. C. Werner
Zhang Daoling as pictured in 
Myths and Legends of China 
by E. T. C. Werner

According to tradition, in 142 CE, Laozi himself appeared to Zhang Daoling on Mount Heming, and informed the hermit that the world was coming to an end, to be followed by an era of Great Peace. Lao Zi explained that those following him would go on to another life, part of the "Orthodox One Covenant with the Powers" ("Zhengyi meng wei"). Through this covenant, Zhang Daoling and his followers would have access to the assistance of celestial powers who control the fate of mankind.

Zhang Daoling went on to found the first regular Daoist church/community as noted above. A major change instituted by the new Covenant was the rejection of food and animal sacrifices. Also, the teachings of Lao Zi as transmitted by Zhang Daoling included the first true Taoist religious pantheon as distinguished from the prior ancient religion of China.

It is said that Zhang Daoling did not die; he ascended to heaven with his wife Yong and two disciples. One of the Immortals, he is now also known as the "Ancestral Celestial Master" or "Celestial Master Zhang."

Some also say he was the grandfather of later Daoist and Yellow Turban leader Zhang Jue.

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