Home Discussion Forum Can I get a short summary of Taoism?

Can I get a short summary of Taoism?

Can I get a short summary? Do I need to believe in the supernatural? Thanks guys.


  1. To understand why Taoism (pronounced dow-ism; rhymes with now) and Confucianism came to wield such a deep and lasting influence on the Chinese people, as well as on those of Japan, Korea, and other surrounding nations, it is necessary to have some understanding of the fundamental Chinese concept of Tao. The word itself means “way, road, or path.” By extension, it can also mean “method, principle, or doctrine.” To the Chinese, the harmony and orderliness they perceived in the universe were manifestations of Tao, a sort of divine will or legislation existing in and regulating the universe. In other words, instead of believing in a Creator God, who controls the universe, they believed in a providence, a will of heaven, or simply heaven itself as the cause of everything.
    Applying the concept of Tao to human affairs, the Chinese believed that there is a natural and correct way to do everything and that everything and everyone has its proper place and its proper function. They believed, for example, that if the ruler performed his duty by dealing justly with the people and looking after the sacrificial rituals pertaining to heaven, there would be peace and prosperity for the nation. Similarly, if people were willing to seek out the way, or Tao, and follow it, everything would be harmonious, peaceful, and effective. But if they were to go contrary to or resist it, the result would be chaos and disaster.
    This idea of going with Tao and not interfering with its flow is a central element of Chinese philosophical and religious thinking. It may be said that Taoism and Confucianism are two different expressions of the same concept. Taoism takes a mystical approach and, in its original form, advocates inaction, quietness, and passivity, shunning society and returning to nature. Its basic idea is that everything will come out right if people will sit back, do nothing, and let nature take its course. Confucianism, on the other hand, takes a pragmatic approach. It teaches that social order will be maintained when every person plays his intended role and does his duty. To that end, it codifies all human and social relationships–ruler-subject, father-son, husband-wife, and so on–and provides guidelines for all of them. Naturally, this brings up the following questions: How did these two systems come into existence? Who were their founders? How are they practiced today? And what have they done as far as man’s search for God is concerned?
    Taoism–A Philosophical Start
    In its early stages, Taoism was more a philosophy than a religion. Its founder, Lao-tzu, was dissatisfied with the chaos and turmoil of the times and sought relief by shunning society and returning to nature. Not a great deal is known about the man, who is said to have lived in the sixth century B.C.E., although even that is uncertain. He was commonly called Lao-tzu, which means “Old Master” or “Old One,” because, as legend has it, his pregnant mother carried him for so long that when he was born, his hair had already turned white.

  2. Taoism leaves lots of room for individual opinions. It speaks of the Tao in spiritual terms, but it’s very abstract and vague and does not outline specific supernatural beliefs or workings much.
    Taoism advocates living with wisdom, compassion, and simplicity, and being at peace with oneself. You can read the Tao Te Ching here, it isn’t very long:
    Edit: I disagree with Luke. Taoism advocates non-action, which is NOT the same as inaction. It is also quite different than Confucianism. It is very non-administrative (it doesn’t tell you what to do) and speaks of spiritual philosophy in general terms, whereas Confucianism outlines very specific behaviors and manners based on rank in comparison to every other person you encounter.
    To define the Tao as the ‘will of heaven’ is also wrong, because the Tao is far more abstract than anything of the kind.
    Watchtower is not a non-biased source of information on other religions.

  3. “Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river.” Lao Tse.
    Taoism as I understand it is about how opposites work in balance, the way of the tao.
    You don’t need to believe in the supernatural.
    Your best option would be to do some independent study.

  4. Taoist do not focus on life after death like Christians. Instead they work out practical ways to live as long as they can be immortal. Here are a few of their beliefs: The Tao literally means ‘the way’ or ‘path.’ It is the way of the universe, the way one should organize their life. You get there by practicing Wu Wei, which literally means inaction. We must avoid all aggression by doing things that are natural and spontaneous. We should live passively, avoiding all stress and violence.
    The Yin and Yang: You’ve seen it on clothes, skateboards, necklaces, and that kind of stuff. Basically the yin-yang symbol represents the tension between good, yin, and bad, yang, things in the world. It goes a little like this. Yin: Male, positive, good, light, and life. Yang: Female, negative, evil, dark, and death.
    In Taoism, yin and yang are positive and negative principles of this universe. One cannot exist without the other, and they often represent opposites. As you have more and more yang, eventually yin will appear to balance it out, and vice versa. As you travel around the circle, white or black will increase, until the opposite color is almost gone, but never totally gone. The cycle then repeats for the opposite color.
    Wu Wei literally means ‘without action.’ It’s one of the main concepts from Taoism. It means that you make something look easy so that it seems like you’re not having to work hard at doing something. By following Wu Wei, you are closely following ‘the way.’ Harmony can only be achieve by looking as the world turned upside down.
    Governing: Government should follow ‘the way’ in governing the people as well. Specific chapters in the “Tao te King” describe the ideal way of governing people. They can be summarized in these key points: Do not emphasize status, intelligence, or possessions; govern with the least amount of visibility and with a serving attitude; reduce laws govern lightly; take few actions that involve the people; treat other counties non-aggressively.
    Three characteristics that Taoist cherish: Compassion which leads to courage; moderation which leads to generosity; humility which leads to leadership. Afterlife: They focus on achieving immortality; but if they do die, they return to the Tao. Their worldview is atheistic. So they don’t even believe in God.
    Yin and Yang: http://www.healingtherapies.info/images/Yin__Yang.gif
    I’m aware my answer is too long, but it can be easily summarized into one paragraph if that was what you were looking for. Kinda like cropping down to the necessary information and leaving the irrelevant statements behind.


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