Daoism, sometimes referred to as Taoism (pronounced dow), is a religion that most people know but do not realize that they know it. Its traditions can be seen in martial arts, Yin and Yang, and even in the little red envelopes you see around lunar new year. This religion plays a major role in the development in Chinese culture and traditions and is one of China’s oldest indigenous religions. Although Daoism can be very sophisticated and confusing to many, it is certainly not any more different than any other religion as it also has its own set of beliefs, traditions, and purposes. What makes Daoism unique is its level of complexity unlike many straightforward religions such as Christianity and Islam. However, if broken down, Daoism can be very easy to understand.
Daoism originated in China around 500 B.C.E. to 400 B.C.E. during the time of the Zhou dynasty (Hartz 3). It can be traced back to Laozi, who is often credited with writing the Daoist book Tao Te Ching. During the Zhou dynasty, many people developed and believed in cosmic ideas about the earth and heaven. A few of these ideas are the “Five Transformation Phases,”, the doctrine of Chi (energy), Yin and Yang, and the I Ching (Terhart, Franjo 267).
There are many major people that shape Daoism and its beliefs. The most notable among these figures is Laozi who is often credited with founding Daoism. Laozi, the “Wise Old Man,” was said to travel across China on the back of an ox, spreading his philosophy. A legend had said that Laozi had been in his mother’s womb for sixty years and was born with white hair and a beard which explains why he was so wise. Although Laozi is considered to be the father of Daoism, he was not the founder of the religious form of...
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... the land, and redeem lost souls which lasts for a period of three days. The burning of incense is also a major part of Daoist tradition which is done to honor the spirits of ancestors. Paper money is burned at funerals to provide wealth for the dead in the next world. On Chinese New Year, Daoists celebrate the rebirth of Yang and sweets are offered to the gods. Then wooden blocks are thrown like dice to determine when the gods have finished their meals and have granted the hopes and prayers of the people. The famous dragon dance is a symbol of bringing long life, immortality, and union with the heavenly spirits as the dragon swallows a bright red ball (the white dot in the Yin and Yang symbol). It is also a tradition for the family of the deceased to regularly visit the graves to offer food, incense, and flowers so that the spirits can rest peacefully in heaven.
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