The Taoism is a philosophy of life and an ancient Chinese religion, in which the human being should live in harmony with nature, as part of it.
Thus, he believes that when we take nature as a reference in our lives, we achieve balance, or the “Tao”.
Some Principles of Taoism are common to other religions: humility, generosity, non-violence, simplicity. Others are attributes of the beliefs of the Chinese shamanic religion (theory of the five elements, alchemy and the cult of ancestors) as well as of the cultural ideas and practices of Buddhism .
It is worth remembering that Taoism was once the official Chinese religion , but it was also severely repressed in the formation of the People’s Republic of China in the 20th century.
In Taoism, ” wu wei “, which means “not to act”, is highly valued, because in nature there are no unnecessary actions and all these actions are smooth and flexible, as well as efficient and harmonious, since it prefers subtlety over force.
Taoism also affirms the detachment from the material world and the annulment of desires, for when one wish is fulfilled, another will appear in its place.
Furthermore, Taoism can be considered anarchist if we take into account that it preaches political decentralization, unlike Confucianism , in which moral duties, social cohesion and governmental responsibilities are priorities.
The most important literary works in Taoism are Tao Te Ching , a book that contains the teachings of Lao-Tzu and Daozang , the Taoist canon with approximately 1500 texts compiled throughout the Chinese Middle Ages.
We can also divide the Taoist tradition into “ Philosophical Taoism ”, based on canonical texts and “ Religious Taoism ”, the result of religious movements organized to institute Taoism as a religion, merging elements of traditional Chinese religion with aspects of Confucianism and Buddhism.
Religious Taoism would take place from the 2nd century AD, when Chang Tao-ling founds the sect of the ” way of the heavenly masters “.
Hence the methods practiced until today, such as the ingestion of specific foods and elixirs, breathing exercises, the use of talismans and the practice of gymnastics and martial arts (Tai chi chuan).
As a practice to let go of the material world, meditation would be a way to a deeper understanding of the relationships we have with the Universe, in which all beings and things are interdependent.
To learn more: Buddhism .
Lao-Tzu and Taoism
Lao-Tzu is considered the founder of Taoism, during the “Period of Warrior States” (between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD).
Lao-Tzu, meaning “old master”, lived and worked in Luoyang as an archivist, when he can dedicate himself to studying the scriptures in his care.
He was a contemporary of Confucius, and responsible for the production of Tao Te Ching, a basic reference of Taoism, composed of 81 poems.
Tao, The Ideogram
Tao means “path” and is symbolized by the ideogram Tao (a circle with two equal halves).
It is considered the supreme principle of Taoism and represents what is to come, mutation and emptiness.
It is also a representation of the infinite, of the transcendent and points to a life ruled by the elements yin (female) and yang (male), forces that are complementary and inseparable.