It is now well known exactly when Taoism originally started. There is no specific founder or founding date of Taoism, and it is known to be based off of old Chinese philosophical traditions and Shamanism. Although Lao Tzu, the creator of the Tao-te Ching is largely accredited to Taoism, he was not the original creator. This is shown in the Tao Te Ching when Lao Tzu refers to “the old masters of antiquity.” It is believed that there were actually many people who practiced a basic form of Daoism before Lao Tzu, and each had a small scripture or proverb, which Lao Tzu compiled into the Tao Te Ching. The Tao Te Ching now provides a focus for people who practice Taoism, and is the first philosophical book or scripture for Taoism. Taoism has been growing for more than 2,000 years, and now it is very difficult to find how many people practice Taoism because many times it can be mixed with another religion like Buddhism to just be a traditional Chinese religion.
Texts and Important Religious Figures:
Lao Tzu is credited as the original founder of Taoism and was born in 604 in Henen, China and died in 531. Tao te Ching (or Dao de Ching) is the central text of Taoism and was written by Lao Tzu. It is also known as Lao Tzu’s 5,000 words. The Tao te Ching has 81 chapters and mainly contains life advice, and poems pertaining to the nature of the universe. The Tao te Ching is also called The Way and Its Power because it is a guide to living a spiritual and energetic life. One other important religious text is the Chuang-tzu which was written after the Tao te Ching. It is not written by one person and is instead a collection of wisdom and proverbs although a man named Chuang tzu is attributed to creating it.
Tao, in Taoism means “The Way” There are two different kinds of Taoism. Philosophical and Religious Taoism. In Philosophical Taoism, the people are contemplative and believe that they are not part of any religion or sect. There is no afterlife in Philosophical Taoism, and they instead believe that they are returning to Tao, or The Way. In Religious Taoism Tao, the way, is the natural order of the universe. Death is similar in Religious Taoism as it is in Philosophical Taoism, it is simply the transformation from being to non being. Religious Taoism also has a lot of belief in health and healing of oneself. Both sides of Taoism also have a very different approach on good and evil. They don’t have a good against evil, because once someone sees something as good, they have created something that is evil. They believe it is all from your worldview and your aspect and belief. They believe that every action has some good and some evil. Taoist people also believe in your chi, which is your life energy. They believe that your chi is connected with your body so the status of one directly affects the other. There is also the Bagua, an octogonal trigram with eight areas. Eight is ba, and areas is gua, so it is the Bagua. Each area has three symbols, each representing yin or yang. Yin is the two dashes and represents the female force of nature, which is usually seen as darker and receptive, while yang is one big dash and is the male force of nature, which is seen as more creative and has more light.
People in Taoism believe that there is no difference or split between physical and material, therefore, physical movements can affect your spirit. There are many types of different exercises that Taoist do for example Qigong, which is a breathing exercise. Qigong is meant to visualize your chi and make it healthy while cultivating it. Another very well known example is Tai Chi which uses flowing movements to stimulate chi. There are also have dietary practices to keep themselve pure. A taoist diet is one that is very simple as well as easy to digest. In order to do this, Taoist people avoid chemicals, processed foods, red meat, dairy, and spicy foods. There is also Taoist meditation. You can be sitting, walking, or lying down and many include visualizing your chi circulating throughout your body. There are also mantras like repeating ‘om’ and another interesting one called Mantak Chia involves smiling into your organs, core, digestive system, and spine.
A place of worship in Taoism are Taoist temples. Well known Taoist temples are the White Cloud Temple, the Baiyun Temple, the Wudang Temple, and many more in China. Although these temples are important sacred spaces in Taoism can be created anywhere at anytime, and after a ritual is over, the space can be converted back to a normal space. These rituals can be meditation, Qigong, Tai Chi, and more. Although they are not ascetics, taoist masters also are not seen wearing ornate or flamboyant clothing. For example, Lao Tzu is always shown only wearing basic clothing. There is also nothing that says people who practice Taoism can’t drink wine beer or alcohol.
Social and Political Issues Essay:
There are many social and political issues that are extremely relevant in the world today. Some because they are relevant in the world, they are relevant in our daily lives, and show up very prominently in our lives. This is how a rational or philosophical Taoist will view different social and political issues that are happening today. Although, you can have different world views and still be a Taoist or practice Taoism. Also, people who practice spiritual, shamanic, martial, alchemic, or other Taoism could have different views on these social and political issues. The first issue discussed will be sexism. Taoism is against sexism and patriarchy. As a matter of fact, Taoism emphasizes the wisdom of women, and Lao tzu, creator of the Tao Te Ching, encourages men to take up a female path with female virtues like nurture and empathy. It is believed that genders should be together like the yin yang symbol is together. One can’t exist without the other, and they are both equal and add different experiences and emotions into the world. Taoist believe that sexism should have no place in this world.
The next subject is abortion. Philosophical practitioners of Taoism actually have no problem with abortion. The argument made is that an embryo is a potential human being, and practicers of Taoism say that you must realize a potential human being is not the same thing as a real human being. The an example could be: eggs, flour, sugar, and water is a potential cake, but a potential cake is not the same thing as a real cake. They believe that it is a woman’s right to make the decision whether or not she should take on the difficulties of having a child for nine months, and whether or not she is willing to support it after it is born. They also believe that it is an act of cruelty to not allow a woman of her own right to make the decision, and as stated before, Taoist do not accept sexism.
The next social issue is homosexuality. Practitioners or Taoism have very mixed views on homosexuality. They see it as something that is abnormal, and unnatural, and at the same time completely normal and natural. An argument for it being abnormal, is that they cannot naturally have offspring, and they cannot have a natural ‘genital embrace’ which they believe genitals have specifically evolved for. Taoist believe that this is disadvantageous and some believe that it can lead to a dysfunctional relationship with your partner and with your chi. On the other hand, Taoist should not and cannot be homophobic. They cannot degrade people that are homosexual, and they cannot view them any less than other human beings. They also believe that because nobody is actually harmed in homosexuality, it is not an immoral thing. Taoist believe that they should not reject anyone because it is not their place to do so. They also believe that they should not deny the rights of people who are homosexual, for example their right to get married, because that would be denying them, and it would be discriminatory. As for adoption of a child for homosexual couples, it is argued that a child would be more loved and protected by a couple who is related by blood to that child. It is also argued that a homosexual couple would be more than enough suited to be able to love and nurture a child, and let it integrate into society. Furthermore, a homosexual couple adopting a child is much better than letting a child live in an orphanage, which could potentially have overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions.
The last subject covered will be divorce. At first, Taoist people believed that divorce was evil. Later on, they realized that some marriages don’t work out, and some people aren’t happy with their marriages. They realized that it may even be better for a child so that they wouldn’t be in an unhealthy environment where the parents are constantly in conflict. Now divorce is accepted as an outlet for these unhealthy and unhappy relationships. Although there are many other social issues in the world, these are some of the most prominent right now. Although these views are widely accepted by Taoist practitioners, they are not the only views held by Taoist practitioners. Taoist are usually very accepting, and want to be open to as many ideas as possible, which makes their world views generally accepting.
Link to Presentation:
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