NOT 144K....ONLY 18,000
The Celestial Masters believed that there was an upcoming apocalypse that would nearly destroy humanity. Only 18,000 adherents of the Celestial Master who had the right balance of qi would survive the disaster.  These were the seed people that would repopulate the earth after the destruction. 
THE CHOSEN PEOPLE
In 142 CE Zhang Daoling announced that Laozi had appeared to him and commanded him to rid the world of decadence and establish a new state consisting only of the ‘chosen people.’ Zhang became the first Celestial Master, and began to spread his newly-founded movement throughout the province of Sichuan. The movement was initially called the Way of the Five Pecks of Rice, because each person wishing to join was required to donate five pecks of rice.  The movement spread rapidly,....
YOU ARE ILL BECAUSE YOU HAVE SINNED
In the Hanzhong community, everyone was regarded as ill in some way.  This was because sin caused qi to leave the body, and qi was necessary for life. In order to cure any illness, repentance was a crucial factor in ensuring that the loss of qi could be staunched. Repentance could be accomplished by spending time in a 'Chamber of Silence,' and reflecting on one's sins, or by beating one's breasts and kowtowing to heaven. 
Practicing correct sexual practices was one method of perfecting the body's internal spirits. The Celestial Masters believed that semen is the embodiment of qi. If someone ejaculated too often, their life would be shortened.  In fact, the Xiang'er indicates that people should not even have sex for the purposes of reproduction.  The Celestial Masters frowned upon the practice of heqi (also known as 'The Union of the Breaths') of not ejaculating during sex in order to 'nourish the brain, and advocated non-ejaculation simply as a way to avoid losing qi.
Adherents were grouped by families, and each was attached to a district. Families and districts held copies of civil registers, of which the gods also held a copy.  The registers were detailed records of the people, and recorded each person's rank, identity and location.