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Transcript of Taoism
Originating from China, Taoism is a philosophical and ethical religion, which emphasizes the idea of living in harmony with Tao (chinese saying for "way" or "path").
Types of Taoism
The adoption of Chinese beliefs in certain areas of the world have led to a wide spread of Taoism and philosophical practices.
Beliefs, Practices, and Rituals
There are many festivals in Taoism, which play large roles in the culture.
Personal Connections and Reflections
Taoism and Catholicism: (similarities)
"Regard your neighbour’s gain as your gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss.”
Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien ( Taoism's Golden Rule)
It is an East Asian religion believing that all parts of the universe is in harmony, in which it balances and nurtures all things.
Strands of Taoism
There are two strands of Taoism that contain foundational teachings and have helped form other East Asian religions.
1. Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching states that Tao is the ultimate principle of order in the universe and the way of nature. It means "The Book of the Way," in which it explains the ultimate goal for Taoists: to live in harmony.
2. Chuang Tzu (Zhuang Zhou)
Focuses on taoist mysteries and "rules" for living the taoist lifestyle. The text teaches that knowledge is unlimited. It also explains the nature of all things through the example of the yin and yang: there is good in evil and there is evil in good.
Origins of Taoism
Taoism is believed to have began in 142 C.E, but there is no founder or a founding date. However, traditional texts have proved that Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu are important writers that have helped form early Taoism.
An ancient philosopher and poet
The author of the Tao Te Ching
Known as the "Old Master
An influential philosopher of ancient China
Author of the text, Chuang Tzu, and it was a reflection of him
Taught many lessons and told many stories
The History of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu
Believed to have been born in 604 B.C.
Legend has it that Lao Tzu was conceived by a shooting star
Work as a government archivist and his wisdom was sought by many
Known as a historian who had many names. However, he is a religious figure worshiped as the "Supreme Old Lord".
Believed to have lived from 369 to 286 B.C
Chuang Tzu was a follower of Lao Tzu, who was a skillful composer and writer
He is known to be one of the earliest thinkers of life, encouraging others to live a simple life.
The Word, Tao
The word, "tao" from Taoism is translated as "way", in which Taoists regard life as a path that one travels.
- Tao is considered as the "mother of the universe"
Tao Te Ching
includes that Tao
the ultimate source and principle of
Taoists believe "Tao" is an unseen force and ruler of the universe; therefore, it is an ultimate and unified reality that all things arise from.
- Tao is omnipresent and transcendent
Taoism has 20 million followers, mainly centered in Taiwan.
North America has approximately 30 000 Taoists living today.
About 3 440 Taoists currently live in Canada today.
Taoists in Taiwan
Taoists practicing Tai Chi in Toronto
Taoist Place of Worship
The Gong is Taoism's traditional place of worship for meditation and prayer. Ideally, there are 3 types of Gongs: Palace-like, regular, and simple huts or caves. Taoists have a choice of worshiping at home or in a Gong.
Taoists praying in a Gong
In Taoism, Taoists take part in traditional practices of meditation that includes the use of Chinese philosophy and religion. Taoist martial arts is also a form of meditation. These forms of meditation are similar to Buddhist practices.
Translated as the 'Supreme Ultimate Force
Involves the concept of the yin-yang
A form of yoga and meditation derived from martial arts
The purpose is to achieve a calm mind
Most famous form of meditation/yoga in Taoism
" Tai-Chi" translates as "supreme ultimate boxing"
Believe to achieve health benefits, longevity, and defense training,
There are many other ancient Chinese religions similar to Taoism with the same concepts including Confucianism. However, These old Chinese religions believe that one must gain a close relationship with nature and the universe to achieve harmony. Taoism mainly focuses on one's spiritual life.
Taoism does not divide body and spirit. However, it recognizes that physical actions have a spiritual effect. Physical practices play an important role in a Taoist's life
Death and Afterlife:
In Taoism, life and death are merely two aspects of reality, the unchanging Tao. Death is simply a transformation from being to non-being (from yang to yin).
Purpose of Life:
Taoist's purpose of life is to attain immortality: eternal life, longevity, or superhuman physical abilities; and to live in accordance with the Tao (living in harmony with the natural way of things)
Taoist rituals involve purification, meditation and offerings to deities. These rituals are to bring harmony to the world of nature, the world or human society, and the inner world of human individuals.
Physical practices in Taoism:
Taoist texts teach the importance of keeping the body pure in order to ensure spiritual health. To remain pure a person should avoid certain activities and foods. Greed, lust, pride and dishonesty are examples of things that should be avoided.
There are many Taoist breathing exercises. Taoist breathing exercises are called
Taoist teaching recommends abstaining from alcohol, meat, beans and grains.
Types of Taoism
There are two kinds of Taoism: philosophical and religious.
Accepts death as a cycle of Taoism
Not as involved in the religion
Has magical thoughts
Involved in the religion
Conduct of religious practices
Believe health and healing will result to a long life or immortality
Taoist rituals involve purification, meditation and offerings to deities. It involves the priests (Daoshi), singing and playing instruments, and dancing.
A ritual performed for cosmic renewal
Taoist priest dedicates the offerings in the names of the families of a village, performs a ritual to restore order to the universe, and asks the gods to bring peace and prosperity to the village.
Temple rituals can be used to regulate ch'i (type of force or energy in Taoism) and balance the flow of yin and yang for each individual
Taoism's most popular ritual
Taoists want to attain Chi, which is an ancient legend and a type of energy that sustains all things.
1. The Lantern Festival
Gods in Taoism
A celebration of the first full moon of the year
Taoists walk the streets carrying lighted lanterns of different colours, and are released into the sky
People eat Tangyuan (dumpling and rice), which is a symbol of family unity and happiness
2. The Dragon Boat Festival
Originated in the Zhou Dynasty, in honor of a man named Qu Yuan, who was a poet and statesman minister to the Zhou Emperor who committed suicide
The festival is the anniversary of his death, which includes dragon boat racing.
Both religions are based on a golden rule
- Taoism: "Regard your neighbour’s gain as your gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss"
- Catholicism: "don't do to others what you don't want being done to you"
Taoism and Catholicism both believe in an ultimate reality
There are sacred texts in Taoism as well as Catholicism.
- Taoism: Tao Te Ching
- Catholicism: The Holy Bible
While Catholicism's historical founder is Jesus Christ, Laozi is generally known as Taoism's historical founder; however, it is not certain.
Taoism and Catholicism: (Differences)
The recognition of sin
: Does not recognize the need for salvation because Taoists believe that God (Tao) is just a force that people need to harmonize themselves with, not to make any personal relationships with.
: Recognizes the need for salvation through the cleansing of sins, since Catholics have a bond with God
The belief of an afterlife
The religion's ultimate goal is to achieve immortality. Buddhist's beliefs of rebirth have influenced Taoism, but there is no belief of an afterlife.
: The religion's ultimate goal is to know, love, and serve God for achievement of happiness in heaven and to live in eternity.
Taoism is a philosophical religion; therefore, it is not a religious system but a cultural one.
Taoists do not refer Tao like the way Catholics think of God
Taoism is knowledge-based and a cultural religion
Believes in a universal order without a personal God to lead it.
Catholic Christians view their God as an actual, present, and conscious being.
Catholicism is a religious system with high views of faith
Believes in a personal God and a strong moral system (reward and punishment).
Before doing research on the religion, Taoism, I knew that it was a very peaceful and harmonizing religion. However, It was new to me to learn that Taoism does not worship on any specific Gods, nor does it necessarily believe in a God like Catholicism. Although Taoism does not believe in an afterlife, which is a very important belief in the Catholic religion, I find the religion's main goal to find harmony with the universe and their ways to achieve immortality inspirational and enlightening. It intrigues me to find that Taoists seek towards meditation, diet, and physical practices to be in tranquility (like the yin and yang), drawing me more to this religion and inspiring me towards meditation. I feel that meditation and prayer is essential in a religion. In learning about this religion, I have discovered that the world is very diverse; but even though Taoism does not believe in an afterlife and a God, the idea of peace and unity forms the religion's main purpose of life, therefore it is very harmonious.