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Taoism originated in China during the 300's BC. It has been part of the Chinese culture for 2,000 years. It was during the same time period as Confucianism, but had opposite ideas and morals, yet it was equally as important as Confucianism in Chinese history. Taoism began as a reaction to "historical situations"(c1), and became a philosophy of the natural way. The word Tao actually means "road" or "way."

Taoism has had a large impact on art and literature, and had been greatly influenced by Chinese folk religion. Folk religion says that most gods were actually just people who displayed heroic qualities. The priests conducted public rituals. Many Taoists seek careers in astronomy, herbal remedies, and alchemy, among other fields.

Tao represents what makes everything what it is, reality as a whole (all the ways). It provides spiritual inspiration, and moral standards. It supplies strength and refuge. Taoism is "not a thing, but a creative process"(b1). The ways tell you to live your life, but not to interfere with nature. A fish needs to swim; a tree needs to grow. The Tao focuses on independence and tranquility.

Taoism is equally as important as Confucianism in Chinese history. Confucianism and Taoism began during the same time period, but had different views, even from the beginning. Confucianism says that you can only live a good life in a well disciplined and structured society, and Taoism says you should live your life however you want, as long as you stay close to nature. Taoism is a philosophy of the natural way. It is a practical way of life.

Taoists look down upon war, taxes, punishment, and your typical set of morals. They look up to happiness, contentment, control, and giving in ...

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...keness of dust."(g3) Basically, its saying that the Tao spirit never dies. The third sense of Tao is the Way of Human Life. It adds on and goes together with the Way of the Universe. It speaks of the way life should be. There have been three Taoism's in China, not just one.



1. Silvin, N. "Taoism." World Book Encyclopedia. 2000, ed. (A)

2. Chan, Wing-Tsit. "Taoism." Encyclopedia Americana. 1992, ed. (B)

3. A. R. T. "Taoism." Encyclopedia Britannica. 1972, ed. (C)

4. Parrinder, Geoffrey, editor. World Religions. New York, NY. Hamlyn Books, 1971. (D)

5. Braden, Charles Samuel. The Worlds Religions. Nashville, TN. Abingdon Press. (E)

6. Hail, William James. "Taoism." Living Schools of Religion. 1956: 83-93 (F)

7. Smith, Huston. The World Religions. Harper Collins Publishers. 1991. (G)

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