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Taoism beliefs and practice

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Introduction

In the beginning The founder of Taoism is believed by many to be Lao-Tse (604-531 BCE), a contemporary of Confucius. He was searching for a way that would avoid the constant feudal warfare and other conflicts that disrupted society during his lifetime. The result was his book: Tao-te-Ching. Others believe that he is a mythical character. Taoism started as a combination of psychology and philosophy but evolved into a religious faith in 440 CE when it was adopted as a state religion. At that time Lao-Tse became popularly venerated as a deity. Taoism, along with Buddhism and Confucianism, became one of the three great religions of China. Much of the Taoist heritage was destroyed during the next period of warlordism. After the Communist victory in 1949, religious freedom was severely restricted. "The new government put monks to manual labor, confiscated temples, and plundered treasures. Several million monks were reduced to fewer than 50,000" by 1960. 3 During the cultural revolution in China from 1966 to 1976, much of the remaining Taoist heritage was destroyed. ...read more.

Middle

This is an individual effort, with wide social ramifications. When an individual achieves harmony through the leading of the Tao, they in turn affect the social order. This path to harmony often includes six characteristics. These characteristics are: 1. Understanding the Tao, which leads to working with the Tao when making changes. 2. A laissez-faire attitude, which allows nature to follow its own course as the guideline for change. 3. The modeling of one's life after the sage and nature, each of which are modeled after the Tao. 4. Emphasis on the Tao's strategy of reverse transformation (destructive to creative). 5. A focus on that which is simple (simplicity) and origin (originality). 6. The search for intuitive awareness and insight. This includes a deliberate de-emphasis of purely rational or intellectual pursuits. Taoism teaching Lao Tzu taught that people (including governments) should act without doing, and work without effort. By this he meant that an awareness of the Tao in our own nature would enable us to do what is right without striving or working at it, i.e., doing what is right naturally. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is the concept of apparent inaction, but is, in fact, actions which are completely natural, and that achieve that which the Tao intends. Taoists follow the art of "wu wei," which is to let nature take its course. For example, one should allow a river to flow towards the sea unimpeded; do not erect a dam which would interfere with its natural flow. Taoists generally have an interest in promoting health and vitality. Five main organs and orifices of the body correspond to the five parts of the sky: water, fire, wood, metal (Gold) and earth. Taoism today Taoism is practiced mainly in the Far East (China, Korea, Japan). The main enclave of pure Taoism is Taiwan, which still has formally established priests and rituals. Taoism is gaining popularity in North America as well. According the Encyclopedia of Christianity, there are some 2.7 million adherents of Taoism around the world. However, some figures place the number at 150 million. Bear in mind that people in the Far East can be members of any combination of religions at the same time, including Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Shinto. 18/10/2004 ...read more.

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