As one of the most ancient and respected deities in Daoism, Tai Shang Lao Jun is unsurprisingly known by many names and holds many respected titles, including, but not limited to, Dao De Tian Zun (道德天尊 dào dé tiān zūn) - literally "The Heavenly Lord of Dao and Virtue" - and Tai Qing (太清 tài qīng) - literally "the Grand Pure One." Even the name Tai Shang Lao Jun means "the Supreme Venerable Sovereign."
He is one of the Three Pure Ones (三清 sān qīng)1 and is believed to be the founder of Daoism. In order to bring his teachings to earth, he is said to have been reincarnated many times across history, the most famous incarnation of which was Lao Zi (老子 lǎo zi).
1 Often referred to as the Three Pristine Ones, or the Three Divine Teachers, the Three Pure Ones are the highest Gods in Daoism and are comprised of:
- Yuan Shi Tian Zun (元始天尊 yuán shǐ tiān zūn) - literally the "Lord of Primordial Beginning"
- Ling Bao Tian Zun (灵宝天尊 líng bǎo tiān zūn) - literally the "Lord of the Numinous Treasure"
- Dao De Tian Zun (道德天尊 dào dé tiān zūn) - literally the "Heavenly Lord of Tao and Virtue"