Chinese Religion – Taoism

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Among the five major religions in my country, Taoism is the only religion that originated in China and was founded by the Chinese, so it is also called a local religion. Taoism had a profound impact on the politics, economy, and culture of our country in ancient times, and it is one of the three spiritual pillars of the ruling class. After the founding of New China, through the democratic reform of the religious system, Chinese Taoism gained a new life and gradually embarked on the path of adapting to the socialist society. Since the reform and opening up, under the guidance of the party and the government’s religious policies in the new era, Taoism in China has shown an unprecedented new atmosphere and has made positive contributions to promoting economic development, social harmony, the reunification of the motherland and world peace.


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The birth and development of Taoism

The Taoist school and the Taoist religion

Most Chinese scholars in modern times believe that Taoism and Taoism are two concepts that are both related and distinct. Traditionally, Taoism is sometimes called Taoism and Huang Lao. Strictly speaking, the two are not the same thing. The term “Taoism” was first found in “On the Essentials of Six Schools” by Sima Tan in the Western Han Dynasty. It refers to the school of thought represented by Lao Zhuang thought among the hundreds of schools of pre-Qin philosophers or refers to the school of Huang Lao that prevailed during the Warring States, Qin, and Han Dynasties.
They all take “Tao” as the highest category in ideology and theory, advocate respecting Tao and virtue, imitating nature, governing the country and self-cultivation by the law of purity and inaction, dealing with belief in ghosts and gods, and dealing with the relationship between man and nature, so they are called Taoism. As for “Taoism”, it is a religious entity. As the name suggests, “Taoism” means the enlightenment or preaching of “Tao”, or a religion that believes in “Tao” and “becomes immortal and attains Tao” through the cultivation of spiritual form. As a religious entity, Taoism not only has its unique classic doctrines, fairy beliefs, and ritual activities, but also its religious inheritance, religious group organization, discipline system, and religious activities venues. Such a religious society is obviously different from the early Taoist school, but Taoism is the upper reaches of “Taoism”, and the beliefs of Taoism and Taoism are “Tao”, and we must not divide it arbitrarily.
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The birth, formation, and development of Taoism

From the Eastern Han Dynasty to the Wei, Jin, and Southern and Northern Dynasties, Taoism was formed and established. In the late Eastern Han Dynasty, Huang Lao Dao formed an entity, and folk primitive religious groups such as Taiping Dao and Tianshi Dao were established one after another. After hundreds of years of transformation and development in the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, the classic Taoist doctrines, the practice of alchemy, and the rites of discipline gradually became complete. The new Taoist sects multiplied and were recognized by the rulers and evolved into a mature orthodox religion.
From the Sui and Tang Dynasties to the Northern Song Dynasty, due to the respect of the ruling class, Taoism was extremely prosperous and had a great social influence. Taoism’s philosophy, health maintenance, spells, and ritual regulations were also more perfect. After the late Tang and Northern Song dynasties, there were some new changes in Taoism, which were mainly manifested in the emergence of the idea of ​​Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, and the rise of Jindan Taoism, which mainly practiced inner alchemy. In the Southern Song Dynasty, Jin, and Yuan Dynasties, Taoism changed. In northern China, new Taoisms such as Quanzhen Tao, Taiyi, and Zhendao appeared. In the south, new Taoisms such as Jindan Sect, Nanzong, Tianxin, Shenxiao, Qingwei, and Jingming appeared, and early Tianshi Taoism and Shangqing. The school and the Lingbao school also have innovations in doctrine and Taoism. Propagating the integration of the three religions and focusing on the cultivation of inner alchemy were the main characteristics of Taoism in this period.
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, as China’s feudal society entered its late stage, the development of Taoism fell into stagnation and ossification. In modern China, Taoism inherited the Ming and Qing Yuxu, except for a few periods, which have been at a low point.
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The main doctrines of Taoism

Taoism inherited and developed Taoism thought in the pre-Qin period, taking “Tao” as the highest belief, and evolving from it the highest classics, the highest Taoism, and the highest gods, and building a huge system of classic Taoism gods. Taoism believes that Tao can be cultivated, and the purpose of cultivation is to attain Tao and become immortal. The ultimate goal is to be in harmony with Tao and to be in harmony with Tao.
Taoism respects Laozi as the ancestor of Taoism and regards Laozi’s “Tao De Jing” as the main classic.

1. Respect Tao and virtue, “Tao” is the core of Taoist belief

Taoism regards Tao as its highest belief, regards Tao Te Ching as a classic, and respects Tao and its virtues. It is believed that Tao is the source of the creation of heaven and earth and that the universe, yin and yang, and all things are all transformed from Tao. Virtue means “get”, and Tao is a virtue when it is embodied in people and everything. Human beings and all things are born by Taoism and moral education, so Taoism and virtue should be respected.

2. Immortality is the goal of Taoism

Taoism believes that the Tao can be cultivated, and the Tao can become an immortal. Taoism regards life as extremely important. Taoism is to live forever. It advocates practice to extend the length of life and improve the quality of life, to achieve eternity of life. Taoism advocates treating the secular life with a pure and innocent attitude, and practicing in the spirit of “I am not in heaven.” Through various Taoist practices, one can become one with the Tao and become an immortal god.
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