You must have heard of Taoism many times. When talking about traditional Chinese culture and the Tao, there are often references in books, movies, TV shows, and other kinds of conversations.

But you might not know exactly what Taoism is, where it came from, or what it means. We tell you about it so that you don’t have to worry about it and can finally understand what is being said about it.

Origin of Taoism

The Chinese word Tao, which can also be written as Dao, means the path of life, how it goes, and what it means. The word “Taoism” comes from this idea of absoluteness. Taoism is an old religion and set of beliefs that started in China and combines Buddhist and Confucian ideas.

Around 380 B.C., the Taoist philosophy began to take shape. It was developed through two main texts: Lao Tse’s Dao De Jing, which is also called Tao Te King or the Book of Tao, and the philosopher Chuang Tzu’s Zhuangzi, which is also called Chuang Tse or Chuang Zi. All of this change happened between 770 BC and 221 BC, during the time of the Hundred Schools of Thought.

After that, the emperors chose Taoism as their religion, and it was made the official cult of China. At the same time, the leaders were against religions like Buddhism and Christianity that they thought were from other places.

History of Taoism

Taoism
Photo Credit: Shutterstock via Desygner.com

In the centuries that followed, the Song dynasty showed its support for Taoism. However, between 1644 and 1911, the Qing dynasty favored Confucianism and Tibetan Buddhism, which made Taoism a religion of the lower classes.

In the second half of the 20th century, however, the religion and philosophy of the Taoists were attacked in the country. But the time when Taoist monks were attacked and their temples were destroyed is long gone. Today, Taoism is practiced without problems and is not persecuted, as it is in Singapore and Indonesia.

Taoism Symbols

Taoism is a religion, and it has a whole pantheon of gods. Man, the god of writing, and Mo, the god of war, are two of their most important gods. Like other religions, it has a number of holy places, like Mount Huashan, which has peaks that are 2,610 meters high. You can go up the mountain on one of its many trails and see the beautiful Taoist temples and monasteries that have been there since the 2nd century BC. One of the oldest ones has been turned into a tea house where the bravest travelers meet.

In Taoism, the ying and yang symbol, also called taiji, is one of the most well-known metaphors. It’s a circle with two equal parts that look like two drops, one white and one black. A smaller drop of the opposite color is in the middle of the circle. This symbol shows one of the most important ideas: that there is an active force, called yang, a passive force, called ying, and a third force, called Tao, that combines the first two.

Taoism Philosophy

Taoism is a philosophical movement that is harder to explain in a few words than it might seem. But we can describe some of its basic parts that help us understand the whole and what comes from it, taking into account the active and passive forces that are always at work around us.

In this way, the Three Treasures are the three Taoist virtues we should strive for: humility, moderation, and compassion. Along with them comes a general way of thinking called “non-action,” which is based on adapting to the situation, giving up goals and desires, and giving up the idea that you can control everything.

And that is that Taoism is based in part on the idea that if we wait, everything will work out on its own, which is a reflection of the fact that all reality is subjective. In this way, we must seek harmony with the Tao and find our authentic selves, also called our true selves.

Taoism Today

With all of this information, it is now possible to talk about different kinds of Taoism, depending on what it is about. There are two different kinds of Taoism. One focuses on studying ancient Taoist texts, and the other is a philosophical current.

On the other hand, Taoism, which includes things like Feng Shui and palm reading, is still a popular religion in China. A well-known type is Tai Chi, which is a way to care for your mind and body that is similar to meditation and is often done in public places in China. It has also become popular in the West.

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