Taoism or Daoism (道教) is a type of belief, or a way of thinking about life. It is at least 2,500 years old and it comes from China. Taoism is now said to be a philosophy. Tao (or Dao, 道) is the name of the force or the "Way" that Taoists believe makes everything in the world. Taoists think that words cannot be used to correctly describe Tao. The very first line of the Dào Dé Jīng (道德经), the most important text in Taoism, says "the Way that can be explained in words is not the true Way." There are many other sacred writings by the teachers of Taoism.
Instead of spending a lot of time trying to explain what the Tao is, Taoists focus on living a simple and balanced life in harmony with nature. This is one of the most important principles in Taoism. Taoists also believe that conflict is not good and that if you have a problem with something, it is better to find a way around it.
Taoism first showed up in writing in China about 2500 years ago. People do not always write about their religions at first, so this religion may be much older. Some important people of the history of Taoism are:
- Laozi, or Lao Tzu (老子). He is assumed to have written Tao Te Ching.
- Zhuangzi, or Chuang Tzu (庄子). Like Lao Tzu, his sayings and stories are today put together as a book, and translated into English and other languages.
- Huangdi (the Yellow Emperor, 黄帝). He is assumed to have been the first Taoist, but nobody knows for sure if he was a real person or not.
Beliefs and practicesEdit
Taoists believe that the main principle behind the universe is an esoteric force known as the Tao. The Tao can best be described as the chaotic power of reality that causes change to happen and things to be in the world without direction or intention. The essence of the Tao is personified in nature, in which all action occurs without any sort of meaning, but is just the flow of change and energy.
Taoists believe the best way to live life is through the principle of "wu-wei", which translates to "inaction" or "inexertion". The doctrine of wu-wei advocates to not push back or resist what ever happens to come your way in life, and to let it be and accept its presence. Wu-wei teaches this because it follows the idea of what happens is just what is natural, building on the principle of the Tao.
The yin and yang symbol, the famous icon of Taoism, encapsulates the idea that one must be in a harmony between two opposing forces in one's life and remain neutral to either side.
There are several different types of Taoism, some that combine the principles of Laozi with traditional Chinese deity worship, or some that adhere more strictly to the original tenets and believe only in the concepts of the Tao and wu-wei.
Media related to Taoism at Wikimedia Commons