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Taoism, also known as Daoism, arose about the same time as Confucianism. Taoist thought focuses on genuineness, longevity, health, immortality, vitality, wu wei non-action, a natural action, a perfect equilibrium with tao , detachment, refinement emptiness , spontaneity, transformation and omni-potentiality. This religious and philosophical tradition of Taoism had its roots in the nature worship and divination of the earliest Chinese people.
By Chad Hansen. Pronounced dow'-izm , the term Daoism refers to a movement that developed alongside Confucianism into both a philosophy and a religion, becoming one of the major belief systems in traditional China. The Daoist movement began during the Eastern Zhou Chou dynasty c.
Daoism , also spelled Taoism , indigenous religio-philosophical tradition that has shaped Chinese life for more than 2, years. In the broadest sense, a Daoist attitude toward life can be seen in the accepting and yielding, the joyful and carefree sides of the Chinese character, an attitude that offsets and complements the moral and duty-conscious, austere and purposeful character ascribed to Confucianism. Daoism is also characterized by a positive, active attitude toward the occult and the metaphysical theories on the nature of reality , whereas the agnostic , pragmatic Confucian tradition considers these issues of only marginal importance, although the reality of such issues is, by most Confucians, not denied.
Daoism is a philosophy, a religion, and a way of life that arose in the 6th century BCE in what is now the eastern Chinese province of Henan.
It has strongly influenced the culture and religious life of China and other East Asian countries ever since. The term dao predates the rise of Daoism and is used in all schools of Chinese philosophy, including Confucianism. The concept of dao is broad and plays various roles in Daoist philosophy. The Cosmic Dao, or the Way of the Cosmos, is an indeterminate force or principle that latently contains all things and spontaneously generates the universe through its constant rhythmic fluctuations.
The wise ruler or self-cultivated sage is so attuned to the Dao that his actions leave no traces of themselves and so pass completely unnoticed. The founding figure is Laozi , who flourished in the 6th century BCE but about whom little else is known. His work, the Zhuangzi , partly composed by his disciples, is considered more comprehensive than the Daodejing. Daoism and Confucianism present contrasting, though not incompatible, understandings of human flourishing or well-being.
Daoist thought permeates Chinese culture , including many aspects not usually considered Daoist. In Chinese religion, the Daoist tradition—often serving as a link between the Confucian tradition and folk tradition—has generally been more popular and spontaneous than the official Confucian state cult and less diffuse and shapeless than folk religion. Daoist philosophy and religion have found their way into all Asian cultures influenced by China , especially those of Vietnam, Japan, and Korea.
Various religious practices reminiscent of Daoism in such areas of Chinese cultural influence indicate early contacts with Chinese travelers and immigrants that have yet to be elucidated. Both Western Sinologists and Chinese scholars themselves have distinguished—since Han times bce — ce —between a Daoist philosophy of the great mystics and their commentators daojia and a later Daoist religion daojiao.
The mystics, however, should be viewed against the background of the religious practices existing in their own times. Their ecstasies , for example, were closely related to the trances and spirit journeys of the early magicians and shamans religious personages with healing and psychic transformation powers.
Therefore, because there has been a nearly continuous mutual influence between Daoists of different social classes—philosophers, ascetics , alchemists, and the priests of popular cults—the distinction between philosophical and religious Daoism in this article is made simply for the sake of descriptive convenience. There is also a tendency among scholars today to draw a less rigid line between what is called Daoist and what is called Confucian.
The two traditions share many of the same ideas about man, society, the ruler, heaven , and the universe—ideas that were not created by either school but that stem from a tradition prior to either Confucius or Laozi. Viewed from this common tradition, orthodox Confucianism limited its field of interest to the creation of a moral and political system that fashioned society and the Chinese empire; whereas Daoism, inside the same worldview, represented more personal and metaphysical preoccupations.
In the case of Buddhism —a third tradition that influenced China—fundamental concepts such as the nonexistence of the individual ego and the illusory nature of the physical world are diametrically opposed to Daoism. In terms of overt individual and collective practices, however, competition between these two religions for influence among the people—a competition in which Confucianism had no need to participate because it had state patronage—resulted in mutual borrowings, numerous superficial similarities, and essentially Chinese developments inside Buddhism, such as the Chan Japanese Zen sect.
In folk religion, since Song times — , Daoist and Buddhist elements have coexisted without clear distinctions in the minds of the worshippers.
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External Websites. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Anna K. Author of La divinisation de Lao tseu dans le taoisme des Han. See Article History. Top Questions. Read more below: Dao: Meanings of dao. Read more below: General characteristics: Basic concepts of Daoism. Read more below: Dao: Interpretations of dao.
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Daoism , also spelled Taoism , indigenous religio-philosophical tradition that has shaped Chinese life for more than 2, years. In the broadest sense, a Daoist attitude toward life can be seen in the accepting and yielding, the joyful and carefree sides of the Chinese character, an attitude that offsets and complements the moral and duty-conscious, austere and purposeful character ascribed to Confucianism. Daoism is also characterized by a positive, active attitude toward the occult and the metaphysical theories on the nature of reality , whereas the agnostic , pragmatic Confucian tradition considers these issues of only marginal importance, although the reality of such issues is, by most Confucians, not denied. Daoism is a philosophy, a religion, and a way of life that arose in the 6th century BCE in what is now the eastern Chinese province of Henan. It has strongly influenced the culture and religious life of China and other East Asian countries ever since.
Perceiving the Divine through the Human Body pp Cite as. It is not simply the anatomical and physiological given of contemporary biomedicine. Here the body itself becomes the means through which the Dao manifests its own self- unfolding, and the means by which the Daoist adept experiences the Dao as numinous presences.
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The Tao is a fundamental idea in most Chinese philosophical schools; in Taoism, however, it denotes the principle that is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. The roots of Taoism go back at least to the 4th century BCE. Early Taoism drew its cosmological notions from the School of Yinyang Naturalists and was deeply influenced by one of the oldest texts of Chinese culture, the I Ching Yi Jing , which expounds a philosophical system about how to keep human behaviour in accordance with the alternating cycles of nature. The " Legalist " Shen Buhai c. Chinese alchemy especially neidan , Chinese astrology , Chan Zen Buddhism , several martial arts , traditional Chinese medicine , feng shui and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history. Today, the Taoist tradition is one of the five religious doctrines officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. Since the introduction of the Pinyin system for romanizing Mandarin Chinese, there have been those who have felt that "Taoism" would be more appropriately spelled as "Daoism".
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