Dream TrippersGlobal Daoism and the Predicament of Modern Spirituality

Dream TrippersGlobal Daoism and the Predicament of Modern Spirituality

David A. Palmer and Elijah Siegler

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780226481760

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

The practices of Daoism – China’s indigenous religion – have become increasingly popular in the West over the past decades. But what does the Americanized “Tao” of healing, health, energy, sex and alchemical spirituality have to do with the ancient monastic tradition as it is practiced in China? Dream Trippers follows American spiritual tourists, practitioners and scholars as they journey to the land of Daoism’s birth, at the monasteries and caves of Huashan, one of China’s most sacred peaks. The book captures the encounters between them and the Chinese monks and hermits who host them and attempt to teach them the “true Dao,” as they interact with each other in obtuse, often humorous, and sometimes enlightening and transformative ways. At stake is the predicament of a globalized spirituality that wavers between an elusive traditional authenticity and a fragile individual autonomy. Dream Trippers untangles the anxieties, confusions, and ambiguities that arise as the Chinese and American practitioners attempt to work through the tensions between cosmological attunement and radical spiritual individualism.