Taoism

Introduction

Taoism is a Chinese theoretical and religious system, which was the basis for a civilization in olden China. Lao-Tzu born in 604 BCE is said to be the initiator of Taoism. Buddhism had a significant impact on Zionism after its initiation in China. Taoism supported Buddhism and basically united with it.

People saw Buddhism as a distant form of Taoism. Later, Taoism became a simple practice and its priests and followers later implemented various supernatural and mysterious customs similar to those of European alchemists. Afterwards, Taoism lost its zeal and the devotees of its practice are now mainly found in Hong Kong and Taiwan. [1]

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The history of Taoism

The beginner of Taoism was known as Lao-Tzu. It is claimed that Lao-tzu wrote the classic book of Taoism: the Tao Te Ching, during his life. In the fourth century a book was written that promoted observance to the way of nature of life in everything. It is referred to as the key features of wu-wei; action not influenced by external forces. Another book expounded on these ideas further. It was known as Chuang-Tzu, and named after its author. [2]

In the first century C.E many groups used these insights to form practices and associations. Some hoped for a golden period in years that followed. This period was known as the great peace. The devotees of Taoism values were supposed to reign during the golden period. Motivated by such ideas, many private associations attempted to lead in the great peace. Among them was a trial to depose the Han dynasty in 184 C.E. [3]

Another Taoist movement that was founded in the same era was referred to as “the way of the heavenly masters”. The initiator declares to have been instructed by Lao-Tzu, whom he regarded as a god. In addition, the association assured to cure diseases. It also gave its followers manuscripts for writing their spiritual growth.

The first millennium was the era of the great peace of Taoism. Taoists formed detailed customs. They also formed various practices that would lengthen life and immortality. Many times Taoism did not emerge the authorized religion. Different kingdoms obliged their followers to do Taoists rituals, for instance, to rejoice the anniversary of Lao-tzu. [4]

The first millennium C.E. was a period when Buddhism began in China. Taoists always resisted Buddhism, and they persuaded many leaders to abolish it.

However, the two religions did influence each other. Taoists concepts played a role in modifying Buddhism. Through the impact of Buddhism, Taoists formed monasteries and convents supported by the government. During the second millennium, Confucianism ruled over Chinese religions. The official outlook enhanced the unity of the three religions; Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.

During this era Taoism formed systems appropriate to the requirements of specific people instead of official sects. With the triumph of communism in China in 1949, Taoism endured immensely. This was because the states outlawed both customs and religions, it resisted Taoism. In the 1980s some Taoists associations were formed and Taoist worship began again. Taoists rituals thrived in Chinese society specifically in Taiwan. [5]

Concept of God in Taoism

In Taoism, Tao has the same definition as that of God. Tao signify a bed of river. Therefore, it implies course or way; the path of sensible living. Since Tao is signified as God, He is not visible although his being is there in everything. Tao, hence, is the path and every living thing has to commit to it. Taoism requires its devotees to adapt the features of Tao in their lives.

According to Taoism, a good person is like water. This is because water helps all living things without competing with them. By learning from this principle, a good person will love insight, people, and order.[6]

The solution to knowing the origin of Taoism is based on the definition that the phrase Tao came to acquire in the traditional Taoist barriers. In Confucian records Tao signifies a path, the right manner of behavior for people and for the administration of governments. The idea is both wider and deeper in Taoism.

Not only is Tao a ritual, something that can be possessed or lost. It is also the very creature of the world. There are three obvious differences but connected definitions of Tao. It is a metaphysical truth. It is a form of ordinary regulation. It is a kind of standard or model for a person’s life.

The key ideas of Taoism comprise the idea of Tao as the common element of every living thing. Tao does not only involve real things of whichever form, in their origins, transformation, and decay. Tao is an inseparable, fixed whole. People are elements or sections of an individual’s life. [7]

Philosophy of contradiction

Tao is a motivation or purpose which directs the life. Therefore, the manner of existence is in accord with Yin and Yang. Ying-Yang is the olden Chinese philosophy of two unlike and complimentary powers in life. The Yin is linked to the womanly, while the Yang is linked to manly. According to the Yin-Yang theory, life is defined in terms of succession and adjustment of the balance of the two powers.

Shariati think that the complete accounts of Taoism together with Zoroastranism, Buddhism are founded on contradiction. A clash between two unlike poles forms history. In Taoism and the Chinese culture, dialectical perspective is of paramount importance. Everything, on the view of Yang and Yin theory, are in continuous fight and are the result of disagreement.

The existence of all these different powers in the matter and in religion, according to Shariati, forms a structure and way in the form of Tao. Below all these adjustments of facts is the course of Tao, which accepts the agreement of the unlike. [8]

The notion of Taoism

In Taoism, the aspect of unity in diversity is similar to the aspect of Wahdatul-wajud. It considers first love, then understanding. Self-control, empathy and kindness are regarded as the three valuables of Taoism. Nevertheless, the theory of Tao did not induce reaction from people.

For the Taoist, believed it was a phony matter required for debate, and dangerous to wisdom and to stay with harmony. Taoism thought that the wise individual was a risk to the society because he thought in terms of laws and rules which would ruin the liberty that people had. Although Taoism was an opposition against the social financial system, it was so much into the current of personality, futurity and wisdom that it destabilized the society. [9]

Taoism instructs that by staying in agreement with the Tao or according to nature, it is likely to lengthen life and even become eternal. Researchers have differentiated between two different forms of Taoism: philosophical and religious.

Philosophical stands for thoughts established from 600 to 200 B.C.E. Religious signifies activities and rituals like alchemy (changing metals into medication that would make one live forever) and meditation that started around the first century C.E. These two forms play a role in differentiating two key levels in the history of Taoism. However it would be wrong to say philosophical and religious were completely different movements. [10]

Teachings

The first Taoist writings commemorate the Tao. According to the foundation of the Tao Te Ching, it is difficult to provide a name for the Tao. It is simply beyond words. In addition, the Tao is the creator of everything. It forms all things on the earth, including human beings. The first records indicate that people should live in agreement with the Tao.

An example is given of water flowing in a river. It moves because of the pressure on it from other factors such as force of gravity, yet it appears powerful than the banks; it erodes the banks away. Taoists find this illustration informative. Taoists claims the best action from people is not forced by deliberate intention. This example is also applied in the government. A government performs best if its people are unaware of their work. [11]

Afterwards Taoism forms various legendary ideas. It informs that there are many immortals. Some are linked to the earth, while others are linked to people. In addition it educates about the islands of immortals; holy mountains of China, the holiest being Tai Shan; and concerning the life giving features of things like gold.

Moreover, Taoism studies a person in precisely. The most significant power is the original breath referred to as chi. Chi and other powers dwell in the: head, heart, and navel. These three places are the sacred and most significant where immortals live. There are also residences for the three creatures referred to as worms that consume the crucial power and bring loss.

Practices

There are two key forms of Taoist practices: exercises to lengthen life and large, complex ceremonies for the health of the society. The exercises to lengthen life attempt to keep or reinstate the crucial power with which an individual is born. Some rituals known as external elixir pertain eating and drinking, specifically metals.

For the early Chinese, gold signified the nature that all Taoists wanted to achieve. It could neither be ruined neither tainted. This ritual tried to produce gold from baser materials, like lead. In theory, one achieved more days on earth by using utensils made of gold or eating and drinking gold. These traditions are the origin of what referred to as Europe and America in alchemy. [12]

About 1000C.E. the external elixir was replaced by an internal elixir. In these rituals Taoists did not consume physical matters but rather performed rites. The practices involved reflection and breathing and acrobatic exercises. Similar to the two elixirs, the largest public ceremonies, referred to as Jiao, lengthened the life of the priests who did those ceremonies.

They ensured the society had peace, health, and safety of the people as a whole. In these colorful ceremonies, the three immortals were welcomed to a feast. Practically, only the priests gave the feast, although people from the community also contributed with rites of their own.

Taoism comprises both nuns and monks. However the number of nuns has been considerably small and many of the priests are not monks but dwell with relatives. Today, Taiwan has two levels of priests. Those possessing red headbands do rites of exorcism. Those possessing black headbands do key public ceremonies. Some Taoist societies, like “the way of the heavenly masters”, have been cautiously ordered.

Today the leader of the society, referred to as a pope, still declares to be an heir of the first pioneer. Moreover, Taoists have created private communities devoted to the defeat of the government. Apart from being a great participator in the Chinese culture, Taoism drew the attention of Europeans and Americans in the 20th century. Notions from the first Taoist writings became famous. Physical exercises such as Tai Chi and Taoist-impacted martial arts also became famous. [13]

Conclusion

Taoism is a religion in China whose followers believe that one can lengthen his life by obeying the instructions of Tao. It began in China during the first emergence of philosophical thinking and of the general inquiry into the nature of humanity and the meaning of life. The lack of any description is not only viewed in Taoist philosophy, but also the rituals of Taoism and its very survival on the earth.

For nearly two centuries, people have stayed in societies ordered in shrines, adhering to ceremonies that match to the liturgical systems of Taoism. As a religious and liturgical association, Taoism, the social institution of the society, has not experienced any real governing body, or canonical principles. [14]

Bibliography

Ellwood Robert, Alles Gregory. The encyclopedia of world religions. New York: InfoBase Publishing, 2007.

Kirkland Russell. Taoism: the enduring tradition. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Lan Hu Hsiao, Allen William. Taoism.USA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005.

Robinet Isabelle, Brooks Phyllis. Taoism: growth of a religion. USA: Stanford University press, 1997.

Schipper, Kristofer. The Taoist body. California: University of California Press, 1993.

Stein Rebecca, Stein Philip. Anthropology of Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft (2ndEdition). USA: Ally & Bacon, 2007.

Watts, Alan. What is Tao? Canada: Publishers Group West, 2000.

Alan Watts, What is Tao? (Canada: Publishers Group West, 2000), 35.
Rebecca Stein, Philip Stein, Anthropology of Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft (USA: Ally & Bacon, 2007), 55.
Kristofer Schipper, The Taoist body (California: University of California Press, 1993), 112.
Robert, Ellwood Gregory Alles, The encyclopedia of world religions (New York: InfoBase Publishing, 2007), 99.
Isabelle Robinet, Phyllis Brooks, Taoism: growth of a religion (USA: Stanford University press, 1997), 134.
Hu Hsiao Lan, William Allen. Taoism (USA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005), 47.
Alan Watts, What is Tao? (Canada: Publishers Group West, 2000), 40.
Kristofer Schipper, The Taoist body (California: University of California Press, 1993), 115.
Russell Kirkland, Taoism: the enduring tradition (New York: Routledge, 2004), 67.
Rebecca Stein, Philip Stein, Anthropology of Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft (USA: Ally & Bacon, 2007), 60.
Hu Hsiao Lan, William Allen, Taoism (USA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005), 55.
Robert, Ellwood Gregory Alles, The encyclopedia of world religions (New York: InfoBase Publishing, 2007), 117.
Russell Kirkland, Taoism: the enduring tradition (New York: Routledge, 2004), 67.
Isabelle Robinet, Phyllis Brooks, Taoism: growth of a religion (USA: Stanford University press, 1997), 139.

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