This data was last updated on 18 August 2021.
Description: The Center of Traditional Taoist Studies (CTTS) has two locations—the Taoist Temple of Original Simplicity, located on Applecrest Road in a residential neighborhood in Weston, Massachusetts, and a private retreat center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. In the entrance to the temple in Weston, visitors are greeted by images of Guandi, the god of prosperity, and various temple guardians. On the first floor are life-sized wooden, stone, and bronze sculptures of Taoist deities as well as the Taoist Mountain, an intricate, multi-level artifact, which represents a miniature temple. The second level of the temple serves as a ceremonial hall for praying and meditation, and features more statues of Taoist deities along with a gallery of consecrated scroll images, called Thangkas, representing ancient Taoist masters and ancestors. The Falmouth retreat center contains various altars and shrines with space for prayer and meditation.
Community: Over the past two decades, and accelerated by restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CTTS has cultivated a global, virtual Taoist community, offering online teaching and services which reach audiences across the United States, Europe, and Australia. Members of both the local and online communities represent a diversity of ages and social and ethnic backgrounds. Most were raised in other religions and do not see their multiple philosophical and religious beliefs as mutually exclusive. Many members have belonged to the congregation for decades. There are approximately 30-40 active members in the local congregation, spread out within about a fifty-mile radius of the temple.
Activities: The Temple of Original Simplicity offers traditional Taoist ceremonies and various programs for its congregation’s development, including classes in Taoist theology and philosophy, meditation, Chi Quong, prayer, and magic diagrams. A central component of Taoist education and spiritual elevation is the teacher-pupil relationship. Members of the virtual community tune into online Taoist counseling and life coaching sessions of Lin Hun therapy and spiritual guidance with leaders of the Temple of Original Simplicity. The center’s website also offers recordings of meditations, ceremonies, and podcasts.
Leadership: The center is headed by Grandmaster Alex Anatole and two other ordained priests. Senior students also help to serve the congregation and host ceremonies. Both masters and students live and study daily as modern Taoists. Grandmaster Anatole became the only disciple of Master Lu Yang Tai as a young boy in Russia and studied and lived with him for twenty years before his own ordination.
History: Grandmaster Alex Anatole informally initiated the Taoist teachings in Boston, Massachusetts in 1978. Congregants living in Massachusetts gathered at the center’s current location in Weston. In 1989, the center was officially recognized as a religious institution, known as the New England Center of Tao (NECT) with the official name of the temple being Temple of Original Simplicity. The next year, NECT was afforded 501c3 non-profit status and was recognized as an official church. In 1994, leaders and senior members of NECT were invited for a Taoist cultural exchange at the White Cloud Temple (Quan Chen Taoists) in Shanghai, China by the temple’s religious authorities and the Chi Quong Research Association, an exclusive Chinese organization of Chi Quong masters. While there, Grandmaster Anatole became one of the first Americans accepted as a master of internal and external Chi Quong. In 1998, The Board of Directors voted to legally change the name to Center of Traditional Taoist Studies to represent a global Taoist presence. In 2020, CTTS trademarked the ancient techniques of Taoist Lin Hun therapy and Divine Guidance, which, Master Richard Percuoco explained, is “used to purge confusion and tune the energetic chi frequency of an individual into alignment with the harmonizing cosmic frequency.”
Publications: Grandmaster Anatole and his pupils have authored six books on the interpretation of Classical Taoism, including a three-volume series on the deities of the Celestial Fox creed. Most people involved in CTTS were introduced to the center through its literature, which focuses on the study of empirical metaphysics, Taoist theology, and meditative techniques aimed at achieving contentment and spiritual enlightenment.