This article is part of a series on Taoism
Dao (Tao) · De (Te) · Wuji · Taiji · Yin-Yang · Wu Xing · Qi · Neidan · Wu wei
Laozi (Tao Te Ching) · Zhuangzi · Liezi · Daozang
Three Pure Ones · Guan Shengdi · Eight Immortals · Yellow Emperor · Xiwangmu · Jade Emperor · Chang'e · Other deities
Laozi · Zhuangzi · Zhang Daoling · Zhang Jue · Ge Hong · Chen Tuan
Tianshi Dao · Shangqing · Lingbao · Quanzhen Dao · Zhengyi Dao · Wuliupai
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Taoism (also spelled Daoism) refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao (道), which is the mechanism of everything that exists. The word "Tao" (or "Dao", depending on the romanization scheme) is usually translated as "way", "path" or "principle", although the word literally means "nature" as in the nature of all things as well as the natural world. Taoism had not only a profound influence on the culture of China, but also on neighboring countries. While the philosophical Taoism is not institutionalized, the religious Taoism is institutionalized and present in multiple countries. Taoist philosophy is deeply rooted in contemporary China, and is an unavoidable part of modern Chinese life.[1]

Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility, while Taoist thought generally focuses on nature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos (天人相应); health and longevity; and wu wei (action through inaction). Harmony with the Universe, or the source thereof (Tao), is the intended result of many Taoist rules and practices.

Reverence for ancestor spirits and immortals is common in popular Taoism. Organized Taoism distinguishes its ritual activity from that of the folk religion, which some professional Taoists (Dàoshi) view as debased. Chinese alchemy (including Neidan), astrology, cuisine, Zen Buddhism, several Chinese martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history.


Spelling and pronunciation

The Dai Temple at Mount Tai, one of the holiest mountains in China

English-speakers ongoingly debate the preferred romanization of the words "Daoism" and "Taoism". The root Chinese word "way, path" is romanized tao in the older Wade–Giles system and dào in the modern Pinyin system. In linguistic terminology, English Taoism/Daoism is a calque formed from the Chinese loanword tao/dao "way; route; principle" and the native suffix -ism. The sometimes heated arguments over Taoism vs. Daoism involve sinology, phonemes, loanwords, and politics – not to mention whether Taoism should be pronounced /ˈt.ɪzəm/ or /ˈd.ɪzəm/.

Daoism is consistently pronounced /ˈd.ɪzəm/, but English speakers disagree whether Taoism should be /ˈd.ɪzəm/ or /ˈt.ɪzəm/. In theory, both Wade-Giles tao and Pinyin dao are articulated identically, as are Taoism and Daoism. An investment book titled The Tao Jones Averages (a pun on the Dow Jones Indexes) illustrates this /daʊ/ pronunciation's widespread familiarity.[2] In speech, Tao and Taoism are often pronounced /ˈtaʊ/ and ˈtaʊ.ɪzəm/, reading the Chinese unaspirated lenis ("weak") /t/ as the English voiceless stop consonant /t/. Lexicography shows American and British English differences in pronouncing Taoism. A study of major English dictionaries published in Great Britain and the United States found the most common Taoism glosses were /taʊ.ɪzəm/ in British sources and /daʊ.ɪzəm, taʊ.ɪzəm/ in American ones.[3]


There is debate over how, and whether, Taoism should be categorized. Livia Kohn divided it into the following three categories:[4]

  1. Philosophical Taoism (Daojia (Pinyin: Dàojiā) 道家) – A philosophical school based on the texts Dao De Jing (道德經) and Zhuangzi (莊子);
  2. Religious Taoism (Daojiao (Pinyin: Dàojiào) 道敎) – A family of organized Chinese religious movements originating from the Celestial Masters movement during the late Han Dynasty and later including the "Orthodox" (Zhengyi 正一) and "Complete Reality" (Quanzhen 全眞) sects, which claim lineages going back to Lao Zi (老子) or Zhang Daoling in the late Han Dynasty;
  3. Folk Taoism – The Chinese folk religion.

This distinction is complicated by hermeneutic (interpretive) difficulties in the categorization of Taoist schools, sects and movements.[5] Some scholars believe that there is no distinction between Daojia and Daojiao.[6] According to Kirkland, "most scholars who have seriously studied Taoism, both in Asia and the West, have finally abandoned the simplistic dichotomy of Tao-chia and Tao-chiao, 'philosophical Taoism' and 'religious Taoism.'"[7]

Hansen states that the identification of "Taoism" as such first occurred in the early Han Dynasty when dao-jia was identified as a single school.[8] The writings of Laozi and Zhuangzi were linked together under this single tradition during the Han Dynasty, but notably not before.[9] It is unlikely that Zhuangzi was familiar with the text of the Daodejing.[10][11] Additionally, Graham states that Zhuangzi would not have identified himself as a Taoist, a classification that did not arise until well after his death.[11]

Taoism does not fall strictly under an umbrella or a definition of an organized religion like the Abrahamic traditions, nor can it purely be studied as the originator or a variant of Chinese folk religion, as much of the traditional religion is outside of the tenets and core teachings of Taoism.[12] Robinet asserts that Taoism is better understood as a way of life than as a religion, and that its adherents do not approach or view Taoism the way non-Taoist historians have done.[13] Henri Maspero noted that many scholarly works frame Taoism as a school of thought focused on the quest for immortality.[14]


White Cloud Monastery, Beijing

Some forms of Taoism may be traced to prehistoric folk religions in China that later coalesced into a Taoist tradition.[15][16] Laozi is traditionally regarded as the founder of Taoism and is closely associated in this context with "original", or "primordial", Taoism.[17] Laozi received imperial recognition as a divinity in the mid-2nd century BCE.[18] Taoism gained official status in China during the Tang Dynasty, whose emperors claimed Laozi as their relative.[19] Several Song emperors, most notably Huizong, were active in promoting Taoism, collecting Taoist texts and publishing editions of the Daozang.[20] Aspects of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism were consciously synthesized in the Neo-Confucian school, which eventually became Imperial orthodoxy for state bureaucratic purposes.[21] The Qing Dynasty, however, much favored Confucian classics over Taoist works. During the 18th century, the imperial library was constituted, but excluded virtually all Taoist books.[22] By the beginning of the 20th century, Taoism had fallen much from favor (for example, only one complete copy of the Daozang still remained, at the White Cloud Monastery in Beijing).[23] Taoism is one of five religions recognized by the People's Republic of China and regulates its activities through a state bureaucracy (the China Taoist Association).[24]


A Taoist Temple in Taiwan, showing elements of the Jingxiang religious practice and sculptures of Dragon and Lion guardians

Taoist beliefs include teachings based on revelations from various sources. Therefore, different branches of Taoism often have differing beliefs, especially concerning nature. Nevertheless, there are certain core beliefs that nearly all the sects share.[25] These relate to the symbology of the Tai-Chi, or Yin Yang symbol, and the notion of wu-wei (action through inaction) which seek to counterbalance Yin with Yang at every opportunity. Generally speaking, Taoists believe in embodiment and pragmatism, engaging practice to actualize the natural order within themselves. Also, they believe that life should be peaceful and filled with joy.


Taoist theology emphasizes various themes found in the Daodejing and Zhuangzi, such as naturalness, vitality, peace, "non-action" (wu wei, or "effortless effort"—see below), emptiness (refinement), detachment, flexibility, receptiveness, spontaneity, the relativism of human ways of life, ways of speaking and guiding behavior.


Tao literally means "way", but can also be interpreted as road, channel, path, doctrine, or line.[26] Wing-tsit Chan stated that Tao meant a system of morality to Confucianists, but that it meant the natural, eternal, spontaneous, indescribable way things began and pursued their course to Taoists.[27] Hansen disagrees that these were separate meanings and attributes.[28] Cane asserts Tao can be roughly stated to be the flow of the universe, or the force behind the natural order, equating it with the influence that keeps the universe balanced and ordered.[29] Martinson says that Tao is associated with nature, due to a belief that nature demonstrates the Tao.[30] The flow of qi, as the essential energy of action and existence, is often compared to the universal order of Tao. Tao is compared to what it is not, which according to Keller is similar to the negative theology of Western scholars.[31] It is often considered to be the source of both existence and non-existence. LaFargue asserts that Tao is rarely an object of worship, being treated more like the Indian concepts of atman and dharma.[32]

De (Te)

Tao is also associated with the complex concept of De () "power; virtue; integrity", that is, the active expression of Tao.[33] De is the active living, or cultivation, of that "way".[34] (De is also spelled 'Teh' or 'Te' in some transliteration schemes)

Wu wei

Wu wei (simplified Chinese: 无为; traditional Chinese: 無爲; pinyin: wúwéi or Chinese: 無為) is a central concept in Taoism. The literal meaning of wu wei is "without action". It is often expressed by the paradox wei wu wei, meaning "action without action" or "effortless doing".[35] The practice and efficacy of wu wei are fundamental in Taoist thought, most prominently emphasized in philosophical Taoism. The goal of wu wei is alignment with Tao, revealing the soft and invisible power within all things. It is believed by Taoists that masters of wu wei can observe and follow this invisible potential, the innate in-action of the Way.[36]

In ancient Taoist texts, wu wei is associated with water through its yielding nature.[37] Taoist philosophy proposes that the universe works harmoniously according to its own ways. When someone exerts their will against the world, they disrupt that harmony. Taoism does not identify one's will as the root problem. Rather, it asserts that one must place their will in harmony with the natural universe.[38] Thus, a potentially harmful interference is to be avoided, and in this way, goals can be achieved effortlessly.[39][40]


Pu (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: pǔ, pú; Wade–Giles: p'u; lit. "uncut wood") is translated "uncarved block", "unhewn log", or "simplicity". It is a metaphor for the state of wu wei (無爲) and the principle of jian ().[41] It represents a passive state of receptiveness. Pu is a symbol for a state of pure potential and perception without prejudice. In this state, Taoists believe everything is seen as it is, without preconceptions or illusion.[42]

Pu is usually seen as keeping oneself in the primordial state of tao.[43] It is believed to be the true nature of the mind, unburdened by knowledge or experiences.[44] In the state of pu, there is no right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. There is only pure experience, or awareness, free from learned labels and definitions. It is this state of being that is the goal of following wu wei.


Taoists believe that man is a microcosm for the universe.[12] The body ties directly into the Chinese five elements. The five organs correlate with the five elements, the five directions and the seasons.[45] Akin to the Hermetic maxim of "as above, so below", Taoism posits that man may gain knowledge of the universe by understanding himself.[46]

In Taoism, even beyond Chinese folk religion, various rituals, exercises, and substances are said to positively affect one's physical and mental health. They are also intended to align oneself spiritually with cosmic forces, or enable ecstatic spiritual journeys.[47][48] These concepts seem basic to Taoism in its elite forms. Internal alchemy and various spiritual practices are used by some Taoists to improve health and extend life, theoretically even to the point of physical immortality.[12]



Laozi depicted as a Taoist teacher

The traditional Chinese religion is polytheistic. Its many deities are part of a heavenly hierarchy that mirrors the bureaucracy of Imperial China. According to their beliefs, Chinese deities may be promoted or demoted for their actions. Some deities are also simply exalted humans, such as Guan Yu, the god of honor and piety. The particular deities worshipped vary according to geographical regions and historical periods in China, though the general pattern of worship is more constant.[49]

There are disagreements regarding the proper composition of this pantheon.[50] Popular Taoism typically presents the Jade Emperor as the official head deity. Intellectual ("elite") Taoists, such as the Celestial Masters sect, usually present Laozi (Laojun, "Lord Lao") and the Three Pure Ones at the top of the pantheon of deities.[17][51]

While a number of immortals or other mysterious figures appear in the Zhuangzi, and to a lesser extent in the Tao Te Ching, these have generally not become the objects of worship. Traditional conceptions of Tao are not to be confused with the Western concepts of theism and monotheism. Being one with the Tao does not indicate a union with an eternal spirit in the Hindu sense, but rather living in accordance with nature.[30][38]


The Three Jewels, or Three Treasures, (Chinese: 三寶; pinyin: sānbǎo; Wade-Giles: san-pao) are basic virtues in Taoism. The Three Jewels are compassion, moderation, and humility. They are also translated as kindness, simplicity (or the absence of excess), and modesty. Arthur Waley describes them as "[t]he three rules that formed the practical, political side of the author's teaching". He correlated the Three Treasures with "abstention from aggressive war and capital punishment", "absolute simplicity of living", and "refusal to assert active authority".[52]


In the Taoist view of sexuality the body is viewed as a positive asset, and mind and body are not set in contrast or opposition with each other. Sex is treated as a vital component to romantic love; however, Taoism emphasizes the need for self-control and moderation. In Taoism, sex can be encouraged however only where natural (not rough or forced in any way). Complete abstinence is frequently treated as equally dangerous as excessive sexual indulgence. Taoists believe that a man may increase and nourish his own vitality by bringing a woman to orgasm. The female's orgasm activates and strengthens her jing, which has a nourishing and balancing effect on that of the male. The energy released during either one's orgasm can be harnessed and led up the Governor vessel/channel to nourish the brain, for additional benefit to the longevity of that partner.[53]

The Chinese government prefers the celibate model of Buddhism for Taoist clergy. Quanzhen clergy take vows of celibacy, but Zhengyi clergy are often married, and often reside at home. They are called sanju Taoshi, or "Taoist priests who live at home." Numbering in the tens of thousands, the sanju Taoshi perform rituals for their local communities.[54][unreliable source?]


Taoist Priest in Macau, February 2006

Tao Te Ching

The Tao Te Ching, or Daodejing, also often called Laozi, is widely regarded to be the most influential Taoist text.[55] The title means "The Classic of the Way and Its Power or Virtue". It is a foundational scripture of central importance in Taoism purportedly written by Laozi.[56] However, the authorship and precise date that it was written is still the subject of debate.[57] Alan Watts (1975) held that this view was part of an academic fashion for skepticism about historical spiritual and religious figures, arguing that not enough would be known for years, or possibly ever, to make a firm judgment.[58] The earliest text of the Tao Te Ching that's been excavated (written on bamboo tablets) dates back to the late 4th century BC.[59] It has been used as a ritual text throughout the history of religious Taoism.[60]

Taoist commentators have deeply considered the opening lines of the Tao Te Ching. They are widely discussed in both academic and mainstream literature. A common interpretation is similar to Korzybski's observation that "the map is not the territory".[61] The opening lines, with literal and common translation, are:

道可道,非常道。 (Tao (way or path) can be said, not constant/regular/persistent way)
"The Way that can be described is not the true Way."
名可名,非常名。 (names can be named, not usual names)
"The Name that can be named is not the constant Name."

Tao literally means "path" or "way" and can figuratively mean "essential nature", "destiny", "principle", or "true path". The philosophical and religious "Tao" is infinite, without limitation. One view states that the paradoxical opening is intended to prepare the reader for teachings about the unteachable Tao.[62] Tao is believed to be transcendent, indistinct and without form. Hence, it cannot be named or categorized. Even the word "Tao" can be considered a dangerous temptation to make Tao a limiting "name".[63]

The Tao Te Ching is not thematically ordered. However, the main themes of the text are repeatedly expressed using variant formulations, often with only a slight difference.[64] The leading themes revolve around the nature of Tao and how to attain it. Tao is said to be unnameable and accomplishing great things through small means.[65] There is significant debate regarding which English translation of the Tao Te Ching is preferred, and which particular translation methodology is best. Discussions and disputes about various translations of the Tao Te Ching can become acrimonious, involving deeply entrenched views.[66]

Ancient commentaries on the Tao Te Ching are important texts in their own right. The Heshang Gong commentary was most likely written in the 2nd century CE, and as perhaps the oldest commentary, contains the edition of the Tao Te Ching that was transmitted to the present day.[67] Other important commentaries include the Xiang'er, one of the most important texts from the Way of the Celestial Masters, and Wang Bi's commentary.[68]


The Zhuangzi (莊子) is traditionally attributed to a Taoist sage of the same name, but this has recently been disputed in western academia. Zhuangzi also appears as a character in the book's narrative. The Zhuangzi contains prose, poetry, humour and disputation. The book often is seen as complex and paradoxical as the arguments and subjects of discussion are not those common to classical Western philosophy, such as the doctrine of Name Rectification (Zhengming) and correctly making "this/not-this" distinctions (shi/fei).[citation needed] Among the cast of characters in the Zhuangzi's stories is Confucius.


The Daozang (道藏, Treasury of Tao) is sometimes referred to as the Taoist canon. It was originally compiled during the Jin, Tang, and Song dynasties. The version surviving today was published during the Ming Dynasty.[69][70] The Ming Daozang includes almost 1500 texts.[71] Following the example of the Buddhist Tripiṭaka, it is divided into three dong (, "caves", "grottoes"). They are arranged from "highest" to "lowest":[72][73]

  1. The Zhen ("real" or "truth" ) grotto. Includes the Shangqing texts.
  2. The Xuan ("mystery" ) grotto. Includes the Lingbao scriptures.
  3. The Shen ("divine" ) grotto. Includes texts predating the Maoshan (茅山) revelations.

Daoshi (Dàoshi) generally do not consult published versions of the Daozang, but individually choose, or inherit, texts included in the Daozang. These texts have been passed down for generations from teacher to student.[74]

The Shangqing school has a tradition of approaching Taoism through scriptural study. It is believed that by reciting certain texts often enough one will be rewarded with immortality.[75]

Other texts

While the Tao Te Ching is most famous, there are many other important texts in traditional Taoism including Mohism. Taishang Ganying Pian ("Treatise of the Exalted One on Response and Retribution") discusses sin and ethics, and has become a popular morality tract in the last few centuries.[76] It asserts that those in harmony with Tao will live long and fruitful lives. The wicked, and their descendants, will suffer and have shortened lives.[65] Both the Taiping Jing ("Scripture on Great Peace") and the Baopuzi ("Book of the Master Who Keeps to Simplicity") contain early alchemical formulas that early Taoists believed could lead to immortality.[77][78]


The number of Taoists is difficult to estimate, due to a variety of factors including defining Taoism. The number of people practicing Chinese folk religion is estimated to be just under four hundred million.[79] Most Chinese people and many others have been influenced in some way by Taoist tradition. Estimates for the number of Taoists worldwide range from twenty million and possibly to as many as 400 million in China alone.[80][81][82]

Recently, there have been some efforts to revive the practice of Taoist religion. In 1956, the Chinese Taoist Association was formed, and received official approval in 1957. It was disbanded during the Cultural Revolution under Mao, but re-established in 1980. The headquarters of the Association are at Baiyun guan, or White Cloud Temple, of the Longmen branch of Quanzhen.[83]

Geographically, Taoism flourishes best in regions populated by Chinese people: mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and various Chinese diaspora communities. Taoist literature and art has influenced the cultures of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Organized Taoism seems not to have attracted a large non-Chinese following, except in Korea (e.g. see Kouk Sun Do) and Vietnam, until modern times. In Taiwan 7.5 million people (33% of the population) identify themselves as Taoists.[84] In Singapore, 8.5% of the population identify themselves as Taoist.[85] There are also small numbers of Taoists in the Western world.


Taoist charm from Tien Hau Temple in San Francisco

At certain dates, food may be set out as a sacrifice to the spirits of the deceased and/or the gods, such as during the Qingming Festival. This may include slaughtered animals, such as pigs and ducks, or fruit. Another form of sacrifice involves the burning of Joss paper, or Hell Bank Notes, on the assumption that images thus consumed by the fire will reappear—not as a mere image, but as the actual item—in the spirit world, making them available for revered ancestors and departed loved ones. At other points, a vegan diet or full fast may be observed.

Also on particular holidays, street parades take place. These are lively affairs which invariably involve firecrackers and flower-covered floats broadcasting traditional music. They also variously include lion dances and dragon dances; human-occupied puppets (often of the "Seventh Lord" and "Eighth Lord"); tongji (童乩 "spirit-medium; shaman") who cut their skin with knives; Bajiajiang, which are Kungfu-practicing honor guards in demonic makeup; and palanquins carrying god-images. The various participants are not considered performers, but rather possessed by the gods and spirits in question.[86]

Fortune-telling—including astrology, I Ching, and other forms of divination—has long been considered a traditional Taoist pursuit. Mediumship is also widely encountered in some sects. There is an academic and social distinction between martial forms of mediumship (such as tongji) and the spirit-writing that is typically practiced through planchette writing.[87]

Many Taoists also participate in the study, analysis and writing of books. Taoists of this type tend to be civil servants, elderly retirees, or in modern times, university faculty. While there is considerable overlap with religious Taoism, there are often important divergences in interpretation. For example, Wang Bi, one of the most influential philosophical commentators on the Laozi (and Yijing), was a Confucian.[88]

A number of martial arts traditions, particularly T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Bagua Zhang, Wing Chun, Won Yuen Yat Hey Jueng, Bak Mei Pai, Bok Fou Pai, Yaw Gong Moon and Xing Yi Quan, embody Taoist principles to a greater or lesser extent, and some practitioners consider their art to be a means of practicing Taoism.[89]

Taoist symbols and images

A Chinese dragon at the Mengjia Longshan Temple in Taipei

The Taijitu ("yin and yang") symbol 太極圖 as well as the Ba gua 八卦 ("Eight Trigrams") are associated with Taoist symbolism.[90] While almost all Taoist organizations make use of the yin and yang symbol, one could also call it Confucian, Neo-Confucian or pan-Chinese. The yin and yang make an "S" shape, with yin (Black or Red) on the right. One is likely to see this symbol as decorations on Taoist organization flags and logos, temple floors, or stitched into clerical robes. According to Song Dynasty sources, it originated around the 10th century.[91] Previously, yin and yang were symbolized by a tiger and dragon.[91]

Taoist temples may fly square or triangular flags. They typically feature mystical writing or diagrams and are intended to fulfill various functions including providing guidance for the spirits of the dead, to bring good fortune, increase life span, etc.[92] Other flags and banners may be those of the gods or immortals themselves.[93]

A zigzag with seven stars is sometimes displayed, representing the Big Dipper (or the Bushel, the Chinese equivalent). In the Shang Dynasty the Big Dipper was considered a deity, while during the Han Dynasty, it was considered a qi path of the circumpolar god, Taiyi.[94]

Taoist temples in southern China and Taiwan may often be identified by their roofs, which feature Chinese dragons and phoenix made from multi-colored ceramic tiles. They also stand for the harmony of yin and yang (with the phoenix being yin). A related symbol is the flaming pearl which may be seen on such roofs between two dragons, as well as on the hairpin of a Celestial Master.[95] In general though, Chinese Taoist architecture has no universal features that distinguish it from other structures.[96]

Relations with other religions and philosophies

Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are one, a painting in the litang style portraying three men laughing by a river stream, 12th century, Song Dynasty.

The terms Tao and De are religious and philosophical terms shared between Taoism and Confucianism.[97] The authorship of the Tao Te Ching is assigned to Laozi, who is traditionally held to have been a teacher of Confucius.[98] However, some scholars believe the Tao Te Ching arose as a reaction to Confucianism.[99] Zhuangzi, reacting to the Confucian-Mohist ethical disputes in his "history of thought", casts Laozi as a prior step to the Mohists by name and the Confucians by implication.

Early Taoist texts reject the basic assumptions of Confucianism which relied on rituals and order, in favour of the examples of "wild" nature and individualism. Historical Taoists challenged conventional morality, while Confucians considered society debased and in need of strong ethical guidance.[100]

The entry of Buddhism into China was marked by interaction and syncretism, with Taoism in particular.[101] Originally seen as a kind of "foreign Taoism", Buddhism's scriptures were translated into Chinese using the Taoist vocabulary.[102] Chan Buddhism was particularly modified by Taoism, integrating distrust of scripture, text and even language, as well as the Taoist views of embracing "this life", dedicated practice and the "every-moment".[103] Taoism incorporated Buddhist elements during the Tang period, such as monasteries, vegetarianism, prohibition of alcohol, the doctrine of emptiness, and collecting scripture in tripartite organisation. During the same time, Chan Buddhism grew to become the largest sect in Chinese Buddhism.[104] Christine Mollier concluded that a number of Buddhist sutras found in medieval East Asia and Central Asia adopted many materials from earlier Taoist scriptures.[105]

Ideological and political rivals for centuries, Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism deeply influenced one another.[106] They also share some similar values, with all three embracing a humanist philosophy emphasizing moral behavior and human perfection. In time, most Chinese people identified to some extent with all three traditions simultaneously.[107] This became institutionalised when aspects of the three schools were synthesised in the Neo-Confucian school.[108]

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Arthur Schopenhauer both wrote of Taoism.[109]

Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in his book Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth sees Taoism in its earliest form as a monotheistic religion divinely revealed to Prophets, the message of which gradually detoriated over many centuries into what is seen today. In terms of this he relates Taoism and other Chinese traditional religions with other traditional Religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam.[110]

See also



  1. ^ The Ancient Chinese Super State of Primary Societies: Taoist Philosophy for the 21st Century, You-Sheng Li, June 2010, p. 300
  2. ^ Goodspeed (1983).
  3. ^ Carr (1990, pp. 63-65). Converting the various pronunciation respelling systems into IPA, British dictionaries (1933-1989, Table 3) give 9 /taʊ.ɪzəm/, 2 /taʊ.ɪzəm, daʊ.ɪzəm/, and 1 /daʊ.ɪzəm/; American dictionaries (1948-1987, Table 4) give 6 /daʊ.ɪzəm, taʊ.ɪzəm/, 2 /taʊ.ɪzəm, daʊ.ɪzəm/, 2 /taʊ.ɪzəm/, and 1 /daʊ.ɪzəm/.
  4. ^ Kohn (2000), pp. XI, XXIX.
  5. ^ Mair (2001) p. 174
  6. ^ Robinet (1997), p. 3.
  7. ^ Kirkland (2004) p. 2.
  8. ^ Chad Hansen. "Taoism". Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/taoism/. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  9. ^ Kohn (2000), p. 44.
  10. ^ Chad Hansen. "Taoism". Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/taoism/. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  11. ^ a b Graham (1989) p. 170–171
  12. ^ a b c Robinet (1997), p. 103.
  13. ^ Robinet (1997), p. 3–4.
  14. ^ Maspero (1981), p. 211.
  15. ^ Demerath (2003), p. 149.
  16. ^ Hucker (1995), pp. 203–04.
  17. ^ a b Robinet (1997), p. 63.
  18. ^ Robinet (1997), p. 50.
  19. ^ Robinet (1997), p. 184.
  20. ^ Robinet (1997), p. 213.
  21. ^ Kohn (2000), p. XVII.
  22. ^ Schipper (1993), p. 19.
  23. ^ Schipper (1993), p. 220.
  24. ^ Human Rights Without Frontiers "Religious Freedom in China in 2006"[dead link]PDF (30.6 KB) An address given to the Delegation EU-China of the European Parliament.
  25. ^ Robinet (1997), p. 1.
  26. ^ DeFrancis (1996) p. 113
  27. ^ Chan (1963) p. 136
  28. ^ Hansen (1992), p. 206.
  29. ^ Cane (2002), p. 13.
  30. ^ a b Martinson (1987), pp. 168–169.
  31. ^ Keller (2003), p. 289.
  32. ^ LaFargue (1994) p. 283.
  33. ^ Sharot (2001), pp. 77–78, 88.
  34. ^ Maspero (1981), p. 32.
  35. ^ Kirkland (2004), p. 60.
  36. ^ Jones (2004), p. 255.
  37. ^ Oldmeadow (2007), p. 109.
  38. ^ a b Faching & deChant (2001), p. 35.
  39. ^ A source book in Chinese philosophy, Wing-tsit Chan, p137, p
  40. ^ Living in the Tao: The Effortless Path of Self-Discovery, Mantak Chia
  41. ^ Slingerland (2003), p. 233.
  42. ^ Kraemer (1986), p. 286.
  43. ^ Carr & Zhang (2004), p. 209.
  44. ^ Martin (2005), p. 15.
  45. ^ Kohn (2000), p. 825.
  46. ^ Occhiogrosso (2004), p. 171.
  47. ^ Kohn (2000), p. 672.
  48. ^ Robinet (1993) p. 228.
  49. ^ Maspero (1981), p. 92.
  50. ^ Segal (2006), p. 50.
  51. ^ Maspero (1981), p. 41.
  52. ^ Waley (1958), p. 225.
  53. ^ Pas and Leung (1998), pp. 280–81.
  54. ^ "Patheos Library - Taoism: Modern Age". Patheos.com. http://www.patheos.com/Library/Taoism/Historical-Development/Modern-Age.html?b=1. Retrieved 2011-05-16. 
  55. ^ Miller (2003), p. ix
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  58. ^ Watts (1975), p. xxiii
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    Until recently, the Mawangdui manuscripts have held the pride of place as the oldest extant manuscripts of the Laozi. In late 1993, the excavation of a tomb (identified as M1) in Guodian, Jingmen city, Hubei province, has yielded among other things some 800 bamboo slips, of which 730 are inscribed, containing over 13,000 Chinese characters. Some of these, amounting to about 2,000 characters, match the Laozi. The tomb...is dated around 300 B.C.E." 

  60. ^ Kohn & LaFargue (1998), p. 158.
  61. ^ Barrett (2006), p. 40.
  62. ^ Kim (2003), pp. 21–22
  63. ^ Kohn & LaFargue (1998), pp. 104.
  64. ^ Kim (2003), p. 13
  65. ^ a b Van Voorst (2005), p. 165
  66. ^ Kohn & LaFargue (1998), pp. 185–86.
  67. ^ Schipper & Verellen (2004), p. 73.
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  71. ^ Schipper & Verellen (2004), p. 36.
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  75. ^ Robinet (1997), p. 132.
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  77. ^ Schipper & Verellen (2004), p. 70–71.
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  88. ^ Schipper (1993), p. 192.
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  90. ^ Little (2000), pp. 131–139
  91. ^ a b Little (2000), p. 131
  92. ^ Kohn (2004), p. 116.
  93. ^ Kohn (2004), p. 119
  94. ^ Little (2000), p. 128
  95. ^ Schipper (1993), p. 21.
  96. ^ Little (2000), p. 74
  97. ^ Markham & Ruparell (2001). p. 254.
  98. ^ Hansen (2000). pp. 202, 210.
  99. ^ Fisher (1997). p. 167.
  100. ^ Maspero (1981). p. 39.
  101. ^ Maspero (1981). p. 46.
  102. ^ Prebish (1975). p. 192.
  103. ^ Dumoulin, Heisig & Knitter (2005). pp. 68, 70–73, 167–168.
  104. ^ Dumoulin, Heisig & Knitter (2005). pp. 166–167, 169–172.
  105. ^ Mollier (2008).
  106. ^ Markham & Ruparell (2001). pp. 248–249.
  107. ^ Windows on Asia[dead link] Asian Studies Center, Michigan State University.
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  • Balfour, Frederic Henry, tr. The Divine Classic of Nan-Hua; Being the Works of Chuang Tsze, Taoist Philosopher (Kelly & Walsh, 1881).
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  • Carr, David T. & Zhang, Canhui. Space, Time, and Culture (Springer, 2004). ISBN 1-4020-2823-7.
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  • Kim, Ha Poong. Reading Lao Tzu: A Companion to the Tao Te Ching With a New Translation (Xlibris Corporation, 2003). ISBN 1-4010-8316-1.
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  • LaFargue, Michael. Tao and Method: A Reasoned Approach to the Tao Te Ching (SUNY Press. 1994) ISBN 0-7914-1601-1.
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  • Mair, Victor H. The Columbia History of Chinese Literature (Columbia University Press, 2001). ISBN 0-231-10984-9
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  • Martin, William. A Path And A Practice: Using Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching as a Guide to an Awakened Spiritual Life (Marlowe & Company, 2005). ISBN 1-56924-390-5.
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  • Maspero, Henri. Translated by Frank A. Kierman, Jr. Taoism and Chinese Religion (University of Massachusetts Press, 1981). ISBN 0-87023-308-4
  • Miller, James. Daoism: A Short Introduction (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003). ISBN 1-85168-315-1
  • Mollier, Christine. Buddhism and Taoism Face to Face: Scripture, Ritual, and Iconographic Exchange in Medieval China. (University of Hawai'i Press, 2008). ISBN 0-8248-3169-1.
  • Moore, Charles Alexander. The Chinese Mind: Essentials of Chinese Philosophy and Culture (University of Hawaii Press, 1967). ISBN 0-8248-0075-3.
  • Occhiogrosso, Peter. The Joy of Sects (Doubleday, 1994). ISBN 0-385-42564-3
  • Pas, Julian F. & Leung, Man Kam. Historical Dictionary of Taoism (Scarecrow Press, 1998). ISBN 0-8108-3369-7.
  • Prebish, Charles. Buddhism: A Modern Perspective (Penn State Press, 1975). ISBN 0-271-01195-5.
  • Robinet, Isabelle. Taoist Meditation: The Mao-shan Tradition of Great Purity (Albany: SUNY Press, 1993 [original French 1989]).
  • Robinet, Isabelle. Taoism: Growth of a Religion (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997 [original French 1992]). ISBN 0-8047-2839-9
  • Segal, Robert Alan. The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion (Blackwell Publishing, 2006). ISBN 0-631-23216-8.
  • Schipper, Kristopher. The Taoist Body (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993 [original French version 1982]).
  • Schipper, Kristopher and Franciscus Verellen. The Taoist Canon: A Historical Companion to the Daozang (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2004).
  • Sharot, Stephen. A Comparative Sociology of World Religions: virtuosos, priests, and popular religion (New York: NYU Press, 2001). ISBN 0-8147-9805-5.
  • Silvers, Brock. The Taoist Manual (Honolulu: Sacred Mountain Press, 2005).
  • Slingerland, Edward Gilman. Effortless Action: Wu-Wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China (Oxford University Press, 2003). ISBN 0-19-513899-6.
  • Van Voorst, Robert E. Anthology of World Scriptures (Thomson Wadsworth, 2005). ISBN 0-534-52099-5.
  • Waley, Arthur. The Way and Its Power: A Study of the Tao Te Ching and Its Place in Chinese Thought (Grove Press, 1958). ISBN 0-8021-5085-3.
  • Watts, Alan Wilson. Tao: The Watercourse Way with Al Chung-liang Huang (Pantheon, 1977). ISBN 0-394-73311-8 .

Further reading

  • Chung-yuan, Chang (1963/1970). Creativity and Taoism, A Study of Chinese Philosophy, Art, and Poetry. New York: Harper Torchbooks. ISBN 0061319686. 
  • Kirkland, Russell. Taoism: The Enduring Tradition. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Klaus, Hilmar. The Tao of Wisdom. Laozi - Daodejing. Chinese-English-German. Aachen: Hochschulverlag 600 p. 2009 ISBN 978-3-8107-0055-1
  • Kohn, Livia. The Taoist Experience: An Anthology (Albany: SUNY Press, 1993).
  • Komjathy, Louis. Handbooks for Daoist Practice. 10 vols. Hong Kong: Yuen Yuen Institute, 2008.
  • Miller, James. Daoism: A Short Introduction (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003). ISBN 1-85168-315-1
  • Saso, Michael R. Taoism and the Rite of Cosmic Renewal (2nd ed., Washington State University Press, 1990). ISBN 978-0-87422-054-4
  • Sivin, Nathan. Chinese Alchemy: Preliminary Studies (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968)
  • Sommer, Deborah. Chinese Religion: An Anthology of Sources (Oxford University Press, 1995) ISBN 0-19-508895-6
  • Welch, H. and Seidel, A., Facets of Taoism (Yale University Press, 1979)
  • Daoism entry from the Center for Daoist Studies
  • Short History of Daoism from Daoist Studies website
  • Wikipedia of Daoism
Popular (non-academic) interpretations of Taoism

External links

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