Taoism’s Historical Origins And Leaders Essay

2229 words - 9 pages

Taoism is an ancient Chinese religion, a religion of peace focused on universal balance. The religion itself, though generally surviving today, was almost entirely wiped out in ancient times. Taoism’s primary symbol is still visible on the global market in modern times, though it tends to carry somewhat different meanings then it necessarily did previously. An incredibly life-structure oriented religion, it has permeated through society and is more easily understood through analysis of Taoism’s historical origins and leaders, its types and beliefs, ethics, and the modern influences of Taoism on society.
Taoism is one of the oldest religions in the world and its origins are rather ...view middle of the document...

Taoism has had a difficult journey as an accepted religion; it became a formal religion around the same time as Buddhism and lost much of its early strength because Confucianism was set up as the formal religious philosophy of China, which led to a rapid early decline of its followers. This would happen again over 1,000 years later when communists took control of mainland China and “banned [Taoism] and its followers [were] re-educated, with the result that the number of practicing Taoists fell by 99% in 10 years,” and now many practicing Taoists are in Taiwan, as this is where the Chinese fled for freedom from communist China (Taoism: The Origin of Taoism). Taoist religion as a whole is much more focused on leaving nature as it is, and leaving selfish goals—like immortality—behind, which is made evident by Jiahe Liu and Dongfang Shao when they discuss this perspective, “Laozi and Zhuangzi talked about the human body and life only to calm the mind in order to nourish life, without any religious purpose, such as seeking immortality. Buddhism regards dhyana as a religious practice and a bridge leading toward the Buddha land. This point provides an insight into Taoism (Liu and Shao, 38).
Being Taoism’s vernacular is lesser known in areas where there is not a sizeable Taoist population, one means of better historically understanding Taoism is through their specialized terminology, which in turn helps delineate their religious mindset. The most fundamental concept of Taoism is the principle of Tao, Tao itself is considered a guiding force in one’s life which is why Taoism is called ‘The Way,’ though according to Taoist philosophy “The Tao cannot be described in words. Human language can only give hints that may help the mind to form an idea” (Taoism: What is the Tao?). Probably the most famous of all Taoist symbols, is the Yin Yang. Yin and Yang represents the balance of the world with all of its many dichotomies and “In man an equilibrium of opposite forces was the aim” (Liu 379), because they believe everything in the world has its opposite that must be balanced, for example good and evil, heaven and earth, and even man and woman were contrasted. Two other important terms to know for understanding Taoism is the concept of Te and Chi (or Qi). Te is something that Taoist feel the need to emphasis in order to help them follow the Tao more efficiently, so it is a form of awareness, that is most typically defined as virtue or power in most texts (Taoism: Concepts within Taoism). Chi is the natural energy of the universe that ties all humanity together; this is the reason for the mindset by many Taoists to leave everything alone and at peace that is not theirs to effect. Taoism itself is subdivided into three subcategories of focus which include: Religious Taoism, Taoism Adept, and Philosophical Taoism (Hundoble). Religious Taoism is the part of Taoism that focuses on Shamanism and the more mystical polytheistic side of Taoism, with artifacts like...

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