Livia Kohn Presenter

Livia Kohn

Livia Kohn, Ph.D. joined Boston University as Professor of Religion and East Asian Studies in 1988. She has also worked variously as visiting professor and adjunct faculty at Kyoto University in Japan, Eötvös Lorand University in Budapest, the Stanford Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, San Francisco State University, and the Taoist College Singapore.

Livia specializes in the study of  Daoist religion and Chinese long life practices and has written and edited 35 books and over 100 articles, as well as translated works from the German, French, Chinese, and Japanese. She retired from active teaching in 2006 and now serves as the executive editor of the Journal of Daoist Studies, manages Three Pines Press (the Western voice of Daoism),  and is the lead organizer of a series of major international conferences on Daoism, the latest of which took place at Boston University in May 2014 (

Her many books include Taoist Meditation and Longevity Techniques (1989), Early Chinese Mysticism (1992), God of the Dao (1998), Daoism Handbook (2000), Monastic Life in Medieval Daoism (2003), Daoist Body Cultivation (2006), Meditation Works (2008), Sitting in Oblivion (2010), Daoist Dietetics (2010), A Source Book in Chinese Longevity (2012), and—most recently—Zhuangzi: Text and Context (2014).

Livia began practicing Taiji Quan in the 1970s and dedicated herself to Vipassana Meditation for 20 years, beginning in 1981. She is also a certified instructor of Kripalu Yoga, Qigong, and Scottish Country Dancing. Most recently, she is a leading facilitator of Core Health and co-author of Core Health: The Quantum Way to Inner Power (2012) (http:/

Visit her website, 

Livia’s Sessions:

Saturday, August 26th, 10:00am to Noon 

The Immortal Sisters Panel: Breaking the Gender Trap: Daoist Ways of Empowering Women

Daoists have always lived in a highly gendered society, Chinese culture codifying life in terms of yin and yang and seeing females as weak and inferior. Daoist balance this in three different ways. First, the Daode jing counterbalances male-centered culture by extolling yin-type values and forms of behavior, without however yet reversing or overcoming established stereotypes. Daoist communities, second, do away with stereotypes and actively promote gender neutrality, leveling the playing field between the sexes, classifying people on the basis of personal skill and social contribution rather than sex. Daoist monastics and immortals, third, actively ungender practitioners. Thus, all monastics wear the same hairdo and the same vestments, participate equally in the tasks of the institution, and address each other in an intentionally ungendered way. They thereby create a new level of androgynous living, actively liberating the individual from the confines of the appropriate.

Monday, August 29th

Women’s Spirituality Panel: The Power of Spirit with Lindsey Wei and Wendy Lang

Spirit is the subtlest aspect of qi, the pure, primordial power of the universe that connects us to the root of creation and allows us to open to the ultimate state of perfection. Modern physics describes it as a special unitary energy, which existed at an earlier state of cosmic evolution. Moving faster than the speed of light, it flows through our lives as “consciousness spirit,” mediated by the heart-and-mind. In its individual expression closely related to concepts of “inner nature and destiny,” it tends to get distorted by artificial superimpositions such as emotions and beliefs. To release these blockages, Daoists propose techniques such as mind-fasting, sitting in oblivion, and the Inner Smile. They all help practitioners to once again open to the infinite flow of universal spirit, allowing them to make its power their own.