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Zhang Daoling张道陵 Celestial Master

Cheng Bohan



Zhang Daoling张道陵 (34–156), originally named Zhang Ling张陵, born in Feng County in Eastern Han东汉丰县 (present-day Feng County, Xuzhou, Jiangsu江苏徐州丰县). He is recognized as the founder of the first Daoist organized group called Zhengyi Mengwei Dao正一盟威道 (Orthodox Unity Way).

As the eighth-generation descendant of Zhang Liang张良, a prominent figure in the founding of the Western Han dynasty, Zhang Daoling was born on the 15th day of the first month in the tenth year of Emperor Guangwu's reign汉光武建武十年正月十五日, in Afang Village阿房村(Now is called Feilou Villiage 费楼村), Feng County.

His father, Zhang Dashun张大顺, practiced the arts of immortality and identified himself as "Master of Tongbai."桐柏真人 Upon the birth of his son, he named him "Ling," hoping that he would follow the path of his ancestors, distance himself from worldly affairs, and ascend to immortality.登陵成仙

Zhang Daoling displayed exceptional intelligence from a young age, mastering the Dao De Jing by the age of seven. While studying at the Imperial Academy Tai Xue 太学(The highest national university in ancient China), he excelled in the Five Classics五经, and his knowledge extended to astronomy, geography, and divination. However, he found the books he studied unable to answer the questions of life and death. Disenchanted with Confucianism, he abandoned it and turned to the Daoist pursuit of longevity.

At the age of 26, Zhang Daoling held an official position as the magistrate of Jiangzhou江州 (present-day Chongqing重庆), but soon resigned to live in seclusion on Mount Beimang in Luoyang 洛阳北邙山(now north of Luoyang, Henan), contemplating the Dao. Despite later invitations to serve as Tai Fu太傅(As an auxiliary minister of the imperial court and an emperor's teacher) and Marquis of Ji County, he declined. Subsequently, Zhang Daoling embarked on a journey to explore mountains and rivers, seeking the Dao and immortality.

After residing in various places, including Taiping Mountain in Tongbai桐柏太平山 and crossing the Yangtze River with his disciples Wang Chang王长 and Zhao Sheng赵升, he settled in Yunjin Mountain, Guixi County, Jiangxi.江西贵溪县云锦山 The mountain's serene beauty earned it the name "Dragon-Tiger Mountain"龙虎山 after legends of dragons and tigers appearing upon the completion of his elixir-making ritual three years later.

At the age of 60, Zhang Daoling, hearing of the pure and teachable nature of the people in Shu Area (Sichuan)四川蜀地, moved to Heming Mountain鹤鸣山 in Sichuan.


In the first month of the first year of Emperor Shun of Han (142 A.D.)汉顺帝汉安元年 正月十五日, Taishang Laojun太上老君 descended to Shu Area, imparting the "Zhengyi Mengwei Dao" to Zhang Daoling. He was instructed to eliminate demons and protect the people. This event marked the establishment of the first Daoist organized group, Zhengyi Dao, with Laozi revered as the founder and "Dao" as the highest belief.

Zhang Daoling became an Immortal at the age of 123 in 156 A.D.永寿二年.

In the seventh year of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (748 A.D. )唐玄宗天宝七年, he was posthumously honored as "Grand Master"太师 due to Emperor Xuanzong association with Laozi.

In the fourth year of the Zhonghe era during the Xizong reign of the Tang dynasty唐禧宗中和四年(884 A.D.), he was titled "Great Master Supporting the Three Heavens' Teachings." “三天扶教大法师”

In the second year of the Daguan era during the Huizong reign of the Song dynasty (1108 A.D. )宋徽宗大观二年, he was posthumously granted the title "Zhengyi Jingying Zhenjun." “正一靖应真君”

The Song Emperor Lizong宋理宗 added to him title:”Santian Fujiao Fuyuan Dafa Shi” ”Zhengyi Jingying Xianyou Zhenjun” “三天扶教辅元大法师,正一靖应显佑真君”。

In the Yuan dynasty, he was honored by the Emperor Yuan Chengzong元成宗 as "Zhengyi Chongxuan Shenhua Jingying Zhenjun." “正一冲玄神化静应显佑真君”

During the Ming dynasty, Emperor Chongzhen崇祯皇帝 bestowed the title "Supreme Deity of Infinite Brilliance in the Six Harmonies." “六合无穷高明上帝”

Within Daoism, Zhang Daoling is revered as the first-generation Celestial Master, known as the Heavenly Teacher (Zu Tianshi)祖天师.

The position of the Celestial Master follows a hereditary succession system. After Zhang Daoling, his son Zhang Heng张衡 succeeded him, known as the Heir Celestial Master (Si Tianshi)嗣天师. The lineage continued, and by the time of the fourth generation with Zhang Sheng, they returned to settle on Longhushan in Jiangxi龙虎山. The descendants have since continued the legacy, collectively referred to as the Zhang Celestial Masters.

Many of the well-known Patriarchs of Daoism is followers of the Zhengyi Dao. Such as Chen Nan陈楠, Wei Huacun魏华存, Bai Yuchan白玉蟾 and more...


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