“Few in the world can comprehend the teaching without words, or understand the value of non-action”, said Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, and writer. He also introduced religion and philosophy called Taoism (also known as Daoism) in his main book ‘Tao Te Ching’ around 500 B.C.E.
This organized religious tradition is known for its care of nature, peace, and going with the flow.
WHAT EXACTLY IS TAOISM?
The gentle, but effective philosophy of Taoism takes a unique approach to living and dealing with the world. It states that the purpose of life is inner peace and harmony. The Tao Te Ching, became the most translated philosophical or religious book in history after the Bible.
Taoism became well known in the eighth century and existed alongside Buddhism and Confucianism. It was known as the religion of the Tang dynasty. When the communists took over in 1959, Taoism, Confucianism, and other religions were banned which caused the decline in the practice of Taoism in China. However, many modern Taoists still live in Taiwan.
According to Taoism, all of the things in this world are connected to each other. Therefore, it is both philosophy and religion. It emphasizes “going with the flow” and doing what is natural under the Tao, a cosmic force that binds all things together.
The belief may or may not include practices such as spirit worship but both religion and philosophy are observed by many Taoists today and for over centuries. The book Tao Te Ching or “The Way and Its Power” holds a lot of poetries and sayings from around the third and fourth B.C.E. and it guides Taoist thought and actions.
Yin and Yang are known as one of the main ideas of Taoism. They represent matching pairs, such as hot and cold, good and bad, light and dark which work together toward a universe. Yin and Yang say that everything in the universe is connected and nothing happens or makes sense by itself.
Even though Tao is hard to define, it is sometimes understood as the way of the universe and teaches that all living creatures live in a stage of harmony with the universe and the energy found in it. The book provides a guide for spiritual ways of living in harmony with its energy. However, Taoists don’t worship energy as a god. Taoism has temples and priests who make offerings, meditate, and perform other rituals for Taoists. Mount Laojun in Luoyan, China is a sacred site for Taoists along with the tourists who embark on pilgrimages every year.
Taoist philosophy states that the universe already works harmoniously and according to its own ways. Therefore, if a person exerts his will against the universe he would disturb the harmony that already exists. For example, the harmonious change of summer, autumn, winter, spring is all according to Tao. It is all perfect but, when humans ruined the climate with global warming, the harmony is distorted. They may cause floods, acid rain, and earthquakes which are unwanted by mankind and disturb the flow of the universe.
WHAT ARE THE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR TAOISM?
Though Taoism isn’t perfectly defined, it does have some strange rules and traditions. The traditional diet of Taoists consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, with little meat and no cereals as it is believed that demonic creatures will be released from rotting grains inside you and they will try to eat you from inside out. The Taoists are not allowed to tell lies, steal, commit adultery, commit murder or drink alcohol as they believe that good actions will mean a better life for their soul.
One should maintain harmony with his/her ancestors and family and never degrade their kin. The religion has suggestions for altruistic thinking and models of behavioural details on how to bow, eat, and wash. It states suggestions on how to unfold universal ethics that teach people to think like the Tao itself as well.
TAOISM AND DEATH
The belief states that an individual can be one with the Tao by living in accordance with nature, the cosmos, or the universe. By adopting and assimilating to these, one can gain eternal life. After death, the spirit of a person becomes immortal and continues to live eternally. All things with their transformations are considered to be self-expressing in their natural form. One’s soul or energy is considered to be interlocked with the vital energy that nourishes your soul. Getting rid of the impurities in the body can increase this energy. A person must lead a moral and good-hearted life.
Taoism doesn’t identify man’s will as a problem but one should not go against the universe. Instead, one should put his will in harmony with the natural flow of the universe and go with the flow.