Taoism, also known as Daoism, is a religious or philosophical tradition of Chinese origin with an emphasis on living in harmony with, and in accordance to the natural flow or cosmic structural order of the universe commonly referred to as the Tao (, also romanized as Dao). Taoist thought and philosophy was later incorporated into the religious traditions and practices of the ancient Chinese religion hundreds of years after its original development. The term Tao means the "natural way of the universe", "the way", "path", or "principle", and can also be found in other unrelated ancient Chinese philosophies and religions other than Taoism. In Taoism, however, Tao denotes something that is both the source of, and the force behind, everything that exists.
Taoism drew its cosmological notions from the tenets of the School of Yin Yang, and is heavily influenced and informed by the acknowledged oldest text of ancient Chinese classics, the I Ching, which prescribes a system of philosophical thought on the ethics of human behaviours based on articulating cycles of change in the natural and social worlds by means of hexagrams, and includes instructions for divination practice still adhered to by modern-day religious Taoists. Daoism, as Taoism is sometimes referred, diverged sharply from Confucian thoughts by scorning rigid rituals and social classes. The Tao Te Ching, a compact and ambiguous book containing teachings attributed to Laozi , is widely considered the keystone work of this philosophy. Together with the writings of Zhuangzi, which interprets and adds to the teaching of Laozi, these classic texts provide the philosophical foundation of Taoism deriving from the 8 trigrams ( bagua) of Fu Xi in the 2700s BC in China, the various combinations of which creates the 64 hexagrams as documented in the I Ching.
Taoist propriety and ethics may vary depending on the particular school, but in general they tend to emphasize wu-wei (action through non-action), "naturalness", simplicity, spontaneity, and the Three Treasures: jing (sperm/ovary energy, or the essence of the physical body), qi (energy, including the thoughts and emotions), and Shén (spirit or spiritual power).
Taoism has had a profound influence on Chinese culture in the course of the centuries, and clerics of institutionalised Taoism usually take care to note distinction between their ritual tradition and the customs and practices found in Chinese folk religion as these distinctions sometimes appear blurred. Chinese alchemy (especially neidan), Chinese astrology, Chan (Zen) Buddhism, several martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history. Beyond China, Taoism also had influence on surrounding societies in Asia.
After Laozi and Zhuangzi, the literature of Taoism grew steadily and was compiled in form of a canon—the Daozang—which was published at the behest of the emperor. Throughout Chinese history, Taoism was nominated several times as a state religion. After the 17th century, however, it fell from favor.
Today, ancient Taoist thought incorporated into the ancient Chinese religion is one of five religions officially recognized in the People's Republic of China (PRC) as well as Taiwan, and although it does not travel readily from its East Asian roots, claims adherents in a number of societies. Taoism also has sizable communities in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and in Southeast Asia.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Taoism \Ta"o*ism\, n. One of the popular religions of China, sanctioned by the state. -- Ta"o*ist, a. & n.
Usage examples of "taoism".
They, as we shall see, developed the idea of one true God, and that history has a direction, whereas with the Greeks and in particular with Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, the gods stood in a different relation to humans as compared with the West.
Confucianism, Taoism, various Hinayana and quasi-Mahayana sects, fully developed Mahayana and, finally, to the ultimate religious consciousness of Shingon itself.
Then he read the Bible, the Koran, and other major religious works: he covered Islam, Zoroastrianism, Mazdaism, Zarathustrianism, Dharma, Brahmanism, Hinduism, Vedanta, Jainism, Buddhism, Hinayana, Mahayana, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism and Confucianism.
Gets them interested in Taoism and Lamaism and then plays on their superstitions and blackmails them.
Taoism accepts the mundane as it is and, unlike the Confucians or the Buddhists, tries to find beauty in our world of woe and worry.
But it offers a smorgasbord of fun - Symbolism of the Tarot, Intermediate Contract Bridge, Folk Guitar, Quilting, Horseshoeing, Chinese Cooking, Hearst Castle Tours, Modern Jazz, Taoism, Hatha Yoga Asanas, Aikido, Polarity Therapy, Mime, Raku, Bicycling, Belly Dancing, Shiatsu Massage, Armenian Cuisine, Revelation and Prophecy, Cake Art, Life Insurance Sales Techniques, Sexuality and Spirituality, Home Bread Baking, Ecuadorian Backstrap Weaving, The Tao of Physics, and lots, lots more!
This is the core philosophy that lies behind Shamanism, Buddhism, Taoism, this is the perception of the perennial philosophy, and I believe that using the lessons of the 20th century -- what was learned at Auschwitz and in the Haight-Ashbury, and at Alamogordo and Nagasaki -- using the lessons of the 20th century, the new youth culture can at least create a viable human alternative.
Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche pointed out in Shambhala that the essential and background idea pervading all of the philosophies of the East, from India to Tibet to China, lying behind everything from Shintoism to Taoism, is "a hierarchy of earth, human, heaven," which he also pointed out is equivalent to "body, mind, spirit.
Of course nobody knew who the author of Forks in Time had been -- the cybertaoists believed it had somehow grown in the net itself, like primitive life forming in the primordial soup -- but it had spread rapidly among Western agnostics and atheists, and seemed to be absorbing (or being absorbed by) Buddhism and Taoism in the Far East.
Dark and light, night and day, positive and negative, destruction and creation are two sides of the same coin, a principle that finds expression in Eastern Taoism and underpins the ancient Chinese / Ching (The Book of Changes), often used for divination.
At one point an attempt was made to get me to write down a complex engineering principle that was shown me in the form of a round motor with twin rotating wheels, opposed in direction, much as yin and yang in Taoism alternate as opposing pairs (and much like Empedocles saw love versus strife, the dialectic interaction of the world).