Taoism:

Tao (pronounced “Dow“) can be roughly translated into English as path, or the way. It is basically indefinable. It has to be experienced. It “refers to a power which envelops, surrounds and flows through all things, living and non-living. The Tao regulates natural processes and nourishes balance in the Universe. It embodies the harmony of opposites (i.e. there would be no love without hate, no light without dark, no male without female.)2 

The founder of Taoism is believed by many religious historians to be Lao-Tse (604-531 BCE), whose life overlapped that of Confucius (551-479 BCE). (Alternative spellings: Lao Tze, Lao Tsu, Lao Tzu, Laozi, Laotze, etc.). However other historians suggest that he is a synthesis of a number of historical figures. Others suggest that he was a mythical figure. Still others suggest that he lived in the 4th century BCE.

 The founder of Taoism is believed by many religious historians to be Lao-Tse (604-531 BCE), whose life overlapped that of Confucius (551-479 BCE). (Alternative spellings: Lao Tze, Lao Tsu, Lao Tzu, Laozi, Laotze, etc.). However other historians suggest that he is a synthesis of a number of historical figures. Others suggest that he was a mythical figure. Still others suggest that he lived in the 4th century BCE.

He was searching for a way that would avoid the constant feudal warfare and other conflicts that disrupted society during his lifetime. The result was his book: Tao-te-Ching (a.k.a. Daodejing). Others believe that he is a mythical character. 

Taoism started as a combination of psychology and philosophy but evolved into a religious faith in 440 CE when it was adopted as a state religion. At that time Lao-Tse became popularly venerated as a deity. Taoism, along with Buddhism and Confucianism, became one of the three great religions of China. With the end of the Ch’ing Dynasty in 1911, state support for Taoism ended. Much of the Taoist heritage was destroyed during the next period of warlordism. After the Communist victory in 1949, religious freedom was severely restricted. “The new government put monks to manual labor, confiscated temples, and plundered treasures. Several million monks were reduced to fewer than 50,000” by 1960. 3 During the cultural revolution in China from 1966 to 1976, much of the remaining Taoist heritage was destroyed

 
  • Tao is the first-cause of the universe. It is a force that flows through all life.
 
  • The Tao surrounds everyone and therefore everyone must listen to find enlightenment.4
 
  • Each believer’s goal is to harmonize themselves with the Tao.
 
  • Taoism has provided an alternative to the Confucian tradition in China. The two traditions have coexisted in the country, region, and generally within the same individual.
 
  • The priesthood views the many gods as manifestations of the one Dao, “which could not be represented as an image or a particular thing.” The concept of a personified deity is foreign to them, as is the concept of the creation of the universe. Thus, they do not pray as Christians do; there is no God to hear the prayers or to act upon them. They seek answers to life’s problems through inner meditation and outer observation.
 
  • In contrast with the beliefs and practices of the priesthood, most of the laity have  “believed that spirits pervaded nature…The gods in heaven acted like and were treated like the officials in the world of men; worshipping the gods was a kind of rehearsal of attitudes toward secular authorities. On the other hand, the demons and ghosts of hell acted like and were treated like the bullies, outlaws, and threatening strangers in the real world; they were bribed by the people and were ritually arrested by the martial forces of the spirit officials.3
 
  • Time is cyclical, not linear as in Western thinking.
 
  • Taoists strongly promote health and vitality.
 
  • Five main organs and orifices of the body correspond to the five parts of the sky: water, fire, wood, metal and earth.
 

 

  • Each person must nurture the Ch’i (air, breath) that has been given to them.
 
  • Development of virtue is one’s chief task. The Three Jewels to be sought are compassion, moderation and humility.
 
  • Taoists follow the art of “wu wei,” which is to let nature take its course. For example, one should allow a river to flow towards the sea unimpeded; do not erect a dam which would interfere with its natural flow.
 
  • One should plan in advance and consider carefully each action before making it.
 
  • A Taoists is kind to other individuals, in part because such an action tends to be reciprocated.
 
  • Taoists believe that “people are compassionate by nature…left to their own devices [they] will show this compassion without expecting a reward.

Thanks for all.

🙂

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