A religion prominent in China, Taoism
was founded in the sixth century BC by the philosopher Lao tse.
The word Tao means "the way" and the religion teaches
that its followers can resist change in the world by following
the principles outlined in Lao Tse's book Tao Te Ching, "The
Way and it's Power". The power comes from an avoidance
of striving through submitting to the forces of the universe,
yin and yang, negative and positive. As a religion, Taoism often
involves magic and supernatural prophecy as well as worship of
a host of deities and spirits.
Other scholars feel that the Tao Te Ching, is really a compilation of paradoxical poems written by
several Taoists using the pen-name, Lao Tzu. There is also a close association
between Lao Tzu and the legendary Yellow Emperor, Huang-ti.
Above , casting Yarrow Stalks
to foretell the future
According to legend Lao Tzu was keeper of the archives at the imperial court.
When he was eighty years old he set out for the western border of China, toward
what is now Tibet, saddened and disillusioned that men were unwilling to follow
the path to natural goodness. At the border (Hank Pass), a guard, Yin Xi (Yin
Hsi), asked Lao Tsu to record his teachings before he left. He then composed in
5,000 characters the Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power).
Whatever the truth, Taoism and Confucianism have to be seen side-by-side as two distinct responses to the social, political and philosophical conditions of life two and a half millennia ago in China. Whereas Confucianism is greatly concerned with social relations, conduct and human society, Taoism has a much more individualistic and mystical character, greatly influenced by nature.