Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Understanding ancient China: Taoism

Taoism (or Daoism) is the English name referring to a variety of related Chinese philosophical and religious traditions and concepts. These traditions influenced East Asia for over two thousand years and some have spread internationally. [1]

Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao; namely, compassion, moderation, and humility.

Taoist thought focuses on wu wei ("non-action"), spontaneity, humanism, and emptiness. An emphasis is placed on the link between people and nature. Taoism teaches that this link lessens the need for rules and order, and leads one to a better understanding of the world.

The Chinese character Tao (or Dao, depending on the romanisation scheme) means "path" or "way", but in Chinese religion and philosophy it has taken on more abstract meanings.

Tao is rarely an object of worship, being treated more like the Indian concepts of atman and dharma.[2]

Most traditional Chinese Taoists are polytheistic. Nature and ancestor spirits are also common in popular Taoism.

Chinese alchemy, astrology, cuisine, several Chinese martial arts, Chinese traditional medicine, fengshui, and many styles of qigong breath training disciplines are intertwined with Taoism throughout history.

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