Taoism

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.

Taoist Beliefs

Beliefs include:
Tao is the first-cause of the universe.
The goal of everyone is to become one with the Tao.
Development of virtue is one's chief task. The Three Jewels to be sought are compassion, moderation and humility.
Yin (dark side) is the breath that formed the earth. Yang (light side) is the breath that formed the heavens.
They symbolize pairs of opposites, such as good and evil, light and dark, male and female. Intervention by human civilization upsets the balances of Yin and Yang.
Each person must nurture the Ch'i (air, breath) that has been given to them.
Time is cyclical, not linear as in Western thinking
Five main organs and orifices of the body correspond to the five parts of the sky: water, fire, wood, metal and earth.

Taoist Texts

These include:
Tao-te-Ching (the Way of Power) was believed to have been written by Lao-Tse. It describes the nature of life, the way to peace and how a ruler should lead his life. Chuang-tzu (named after its author) contains additional teachings.

Lao Tzu: Father of Taoism

The Philosopher Confucius: Father of Confucianism


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