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The commandments are the disciplines, regulations and rules with which the Taoists must comply. They have a long history, and originated from the China's ancient fast that was called as Daojie (Commandments of Taoists) at that time. There was recordation about Daojie in the early classics of Taoism, such as Taiping Jing (Classic of Great Peace). Tradition has it that there were disciplines ultimately when Zhang Daoling created Wudoumi Dao, which literally means "Five Pecks of Rice Tao. Subsequently, most sects of Taoism, including the Tianshi Dao (Celestial Masters Tao) and Shangqing Dao (Supreme Purity Tao), basically formed their formal commandments. During the initial development period of Taoism, the commandments were always transmitted openly, but all of them were transmitted secretly after the 5th century. The open transmission of commandments was not resumed till the rise of Quanzheng Jiao (Complete-Truth Sect). Later, it was specified that only Taoist temples that had discipline master(s) were qualified to transmit commandments, and the Taoism disciples of other places must go to the specific Taoist temples together to accept the commandments. Therefore there were many participants every time the commandment transmission started.

There were many types of Taoism commandments, basically including so-called Three Commandments, Five Commandments, Eight Commandments and Ten Commandments. In addition, there are Yuanshi Tianzun (Celestial Worthy of Primordial Beginning) Twenty-Seven Commandments, One Hundred and Twenty Nine Commandments, Three Hundred Commandments and even One Thousand Commandments, etc. The Quanzheng Jiao attaches the Chuzhen (Commandments for Elementary Perfection), Zhongji (Commandments for Middle Perfection), Tianxian (Commandments for Heavenly Immortals) and other commandments. The female Taoists shall study and comply with not only these commandments, but also the Nüzhen nine commandments. As to Zhengyi Dao (Orthodox Unity Tao, another big sect of Taoism, the requirements of commandments are not so strict.

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