Taishang laojun (太上老君)is abberviated to Laojun. He is also called Daode tianzun (道德天尊), as one of Sanqing daozu (三清道祖). In the arrangement of Sanqing daozu’s status, Taishang laojun’s status is on the right side, hold a fan on his hand. Taishang laojun is Laozi’s avatar whose surname is Li. Li is right the surname of Tang dynasty’s royal house. When China was under Emperor Tang gaozong (唐高宗) reigned (628～683), he decred that named Laozi as Xuanyuan huangdi, the Emperor Xuanyuan. Till the reign of Wu Zetian (武則天), the only empress in Chinese history, she changed the title to Laojun. In Song dynaty, Laozi was called Taishang laojun which is we known today.
Laozi, in history, was a mystical hermit. His life was ambiguous. His name is Li Er (李耳). When he was born, his hair had already been white. Then He was called Laozi, a mister borned in an old appearance. It is said that Coufucious had been consulted him some question about rite. Finally, he rided a Chinese buffalo out of Hangu Pass (函谷關) and left no trace. The only thing he left to us is the Daode jing (道德經
), a worldwide known Chinese book.
In Daoism, Laozi was neither dead nor disappeared. At first, he was the symbol of Dao, the nature or essence of our cosmos. He was born before there is formless and rose up before the very beginning. Zhang Daoling (張道陵
) and Kou Qianzhi (寇謙之
) all claimed that their teaching were imparted the Dao by Laozi, as an immortal who descented to this world from Heaven. However, when Tao Hong-jing (陶弘景
) compiled the Zhenling weiye tu (真靈位業圖), he dropped Lao Zi down to the fourth place. Above is Laozi in Daoism, as a religious one.
Besides, in some popular and classical novels of Chinese literature, Taishang laojun also has his place to stand. For example, in the Journey to the West (西遊記), Taishang laojun, as an immortal who is busy in alchemy, live in Doushuai tian (兜率天). Unfortunally, the Mokey King, Sun Wukong (孫悟空) steals all of Taishang laojun’s magical pills and takes them to enhanced his own spiritual power. As a noble immortal, Taishang laojun is made a fool by Sun Wukong.
There are about nine temples dedicated to Taishang Laojun. Comparing to the popularity of Laozi and Daode jing, this figure is very low. Apparently, phiolosophical Laozi has more influence on Taiwan then religious Laozi, Taishang Laojun.
Keywords: Taishang laojun, laojun, Daode tianzun