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What is Taoism?



Numbers: Because Chinese religious beliefs and practices overlap, the exact number of Taoists is difficult to estimate. However, about 225 million people adhere to Chinese traditional religions, of which Taoism is probably the chief one.

Founder: Lao Zi (or Lao-tzu, according to the older Wade-Giles system of romanizing Chinese characters), supposedly an elder contemporary of Confucius (c. 551-470 B.C.E.), has traditionally been credited with founding Taoism, but few scholars now believe that any such person as Lao Zi ever lived. Unlike Confucius, who sought harmony in the ordering of social life, Lao Zi located life's ultimate principle in nature.

Main Tenets: Taoism takes its name from the word "Tao" ("the Way"), the ancient Chinese name for the ordering principle that makes cosmic harmony possible. Not a transcendent ultimate, the Tao is found in the world (especially in nature) and can be encountered directly through mystical experience. It is the ultimate reality as well as the proper natural way of life humans must follow. Taoism prizes naturalness, nonaction, and inwardness. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of Taoism: philosophical and religious. Philosophical Taoism is rational, contemplative, and nonsectarian, and it accepts death as a natural returning to the Tao. Religious Taoism is magical, cultic, esoteric, and sectarian, and it emphasizes health and healing as ways to gain long life or even immortality. T'ai chi and the medical practice of Quigong are modern manifestations of Taoism.

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  • jackolantyrn356 2010/01/14 07:23:26
    jackolantyrn356
    +1
    "The Tao is thw Father of the ten thousand things and the Father of nothing."
  • FoxFairy jackola... 2011/03/28 00:52:42
    FoxFairy
    Mother not father...Taoism encourages receptiveness, which is yin enegry, yin is female.

    Quote is:

    The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
    The name that can be named is not, the eternal name. [*]
    The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
    The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
    Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. [**]
    Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
    These two spring from the same source but
    differ in name; this appears as darkness.
    Darkness within darkness.
    The gate to all mystery.
  • mikestice 2010/01/14 02:04:37
    mikestice
    +2
    Tao (pronounced "Dow") "The Way" can be roughly translated into English. 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). Taoism currently has about 20 million followers, and is primarily centered in Taiwan.

    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...
    Tao (pronounced "Dow") "The Way" can be roughly translated into English. 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). Taoism currently has about 20 million followers, and is primarily centered in Taiwan.

    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 Manchurian bred Qin Dynasty in 1911, state support for Taoism ended. Much of the Taoist heritage was destroyed during the next period of warlords. 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. Some religious tolerance has been restored under Deng Xiao-ping from 1982 to the present time.
    (more)

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2008/06/30 03:05:48

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