Taoist Title

Taoist title, refers to the honorific of a Taoist Priest. Generally Taoist titles are mostly so and so Zi or Priest so and so, Recluse so and so, the carefree so and so etc. There are also honorific titles and posthumous titles that are given by worshippers and later generations. For example Chunyangzi, Priest Xuancheng, Lingxiaozi, Priest Lingxiao, Qingjingzi, Wuweizi, Priest Wuwei etc, they are mostly tinted with the ideology and concepts of their own school.

There is no gender difference in Taoism, Taoist appellations are all based on individual interest and adopted by the individual. Generally it is “Zi” (a respectful suffix for master or teacher), it is also acceptable to not carry “Zi”, but on principle there is no gender difference. With regards to the sacred titles of the gods and immortals, generally males are addressed as “Supreme Celestials”, females are addressed as “Virtuous Sovereigns”. Moreover, male renunciants in Taoism are called “Taoist Priest”, females are called “Taoist Nun”; or using “Qian Taoist” (Qian being the representation of pure Yang hence male) and “Kun Taoist” (Kun being the representation of pure Yin hence female) to distinguish them. Generally they are not addressed as “”male Taoist Priest” or “female Taoist Priest”, as “Shi” in general refers specifically to males. “Taoist Nun” is an address that belittles female Taoist Reverends, generally Taoist Priests are collectively addressed as “Taoist Reverend”.

If one has not been initiated into Taoism or be engaged in merits after initiation one must absolutely not give oneself a Taoist title. This is because giving oneself a Taoist title before even being initiated is an offense to all the immortal masters and patriarchs of Taoism, when you do not even know which school you belong to, how are you to give yourself a Taoist title? Moreover, the so-called “Zi” character, only those who have been initiated and have some accomplishments can use “so and so Zi” and hold such a title, in addition in Quanzhen, “Zi” is for the use of Taoist priests who have received the precepts, and it is bestowed by the “Master of the Recorded Registrars” of the “Eight Grand Masters of Precept Transmission”.

Translated by Wang Chongwei 王崇伟