The primary text of Taoism is Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, which works to express the essence of Tao. The book stresses the ineffability of the Tao, and is the second most translated book after Christianity's Holy Bible.
The Tao Te Ching is composed of 81 poems, each of which focuses on either an aspect of Tao. These aspects can be applied to being an effective leader or cultivator of The Way.
"Doing the right thing" is like water.
It's good for all living things, and flows without thinking about where it's going
...just like Tao.
-- excerpted from Ron Hogan's translation
- Taoist ethics are concerned less with doing good acts than becoming a good person who lives in harmony with all things and people. Because of this, devoted Taoists tend to be nice and accommodating people.
Nonetheless, it is important to distinguish between Taoism as a philosophy (as described above) and Taosim as a religion. Taoist philosophies are readily compatible with most world religious views, most similar philosophically in some ways Buddhism. Taoist religious practices include numerous occult rituals including 'internal alchemy' -- the ingestion of minerals and herbs to supposedly restore balance to one's Yin and Yang energies—and the invocation of various Chinese pagan deities. For Christians, such religious Taoism shares many of the dangerous traits of other primitive pagan faiths and lacks the spiritual substance of the Judeo-Christian traditions.
The ideal of the Taoist 'Sage' is one who ultimately removes themselves completely from society (see renunciation and hermit) in order to avoid the immoral dangers of society's moral degeneration. The goal of this hermit-like renunciation and reclusive life is in order to more easily meditate on the Tao in order go to the Taoist conception of heaven.
Taoism originated in China. Accurate figures for the number of believers of Taoism are elusive, for two reasons. Firstly, Taoism is a loosely defined faith, so some people don't even realize they're practicing it. Secondly, the Communist Chinese government does not record most religions in its censuses, on account of the government's anti-religious stance. However, Taoism is one of the five religions officially recognized by the Chinese government, the others being (in order of prevalence) Buddhism, Islam (due to the eastern provinces), Protestant Christianity, Catholicism.
- Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Tai Chi and Kung Fu Martial arts
- Falun Gong
- New Age Spirituality
- Feng Shui
- World History Lecture Three
- Center of Traditional Taoist Studies, www.tao.org/tao.html
- South China Morning Post, April 30, 2007, www.scmp.com