Taoism or Daoism — Definition, Belief, History, and Facts
Taoism or Daoism Definition
Taoism or Daoism is an ancient Chinese philosophy about the law of nature and freedom, the Dao.
It pays attention to the essence and patterns of the universe and the relationship between humans and nature.
It tries to experience and comprehend the universe, society, and the inner fundamental principles of everything.
Gradually, Taoism developed some related fields, such as Taoist literature, science, military, medicine, music, art, folk religion, governance and military methodology, self-cultivation, martial art, and longevity preservation.
Chinese Taoist Aesthetics, Unearthed Porcelain Plate of the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907) — National Museum of China (Photo by Dongmaiying)
Taoism or Daoism Founder and Influential Philosophers
Centuries later, after the great philosopher Lao Zi (or Lao Tzu) (about 571 BC — 471 BC) had finished his masterpiece Tao Te Ching (or Dao De Jing), Taoism was officially formed.
Hence, Lao Zi is respected as the founder, and Tao Te Ching is the essential classic of Taoism.
Another contributive philosopher is Zhuang Zi or Chuang Tzu (about 369 BC — 286 BC), who further developed Taoist belief as an exceptional philosopher and writer.
Silk Manuscript of Dao De Jing (Tao Te Chin), Unearthed From Tomb of Prime Minister Li Cang (? — 185 BC) — Mawangdui Museum of Hunan Province
Extension and Influence of Taoist Philosophy
As a fundamental philosophy, Taoism has influenced other ancient Chinese ideologies to different extents.
Confucius had visited and consulted Lao Zi several times and was highly impressed by his ideas and talent.
Legalism and Mohism referred to some ideas from Taoist classics; in other words, they could also be extensions of specific Taoist ideas in different directions.
Most importantly, Taoism Religion, one of China's most significant folk religions, evolved out of this philosophical school.
Taoist Lotus Shaped Jade Guan (Used to Decorate Tied Hair of Men) of the Song Dynasty (960 — 1279) — Capital Museum
Flourishing of Taoism and Its Powerful Believers
Afterward, Taoist ideology was sometimes suppressed, while in other eras was frequently applied with Confucianism together.
Centuries later, emperors of the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907) respected Lao Zi as their honorable ancestor and Daoism Religion as their state religion.
They wore Taoist robes, did alchemy and other Taoist practices, celebrated Taoist holidays, and so forth.
Taoist Robe of Educated Civilian of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644), by Xiefang Zhuren Dong Jin.
Nowadays, Taoist ideology still plays an essential role in guiding people to respect the laws of nature, get to know themselves, understand the essence of society, perform well in every social role, and live a life that they are proud of; meanwhile, Taoist religious practices are still participated by many Chinese people.
Main Daoism or Taoism Beliefs
Everything in the universe follows certain principles, the Dao; humans and our society are only a part of the whole universe.
Hence, everything and everyone are equal constituents of the whole world; no one is superior or inferior.
The only permanent thing is changing. Human understandings are unlimited.
Following nature or the Dao is better than fighting against it.
Therefore, there should be no pre-set of absolute ideologies and responsibilities for people or society.
Everything and everyone has their original nature and follows their own Dao freely. In the end, they would develop on their path.
There’s no absolute right or wrong, good or bad. On the contrary, all sides are transformable.
Hence, people need to find unique, changing, and genuine themselves on their own.
Integration of the Universe and Humanity.
As a small part of the whole universe, humans should follow, correspond to, and integrate into nature.
Understanding the Dao, people could see the essence of everything, fit, and behave well in all circumstances.
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