Taoism, known as “The Way,” can be categorized as both a Chinese philosophy and a religion. Taoists believe in accepting and yielding to the ways of life, complementing nature and being by internalizing their goals rather than worshipping a god externally. Taoism, in its metaphysical and philosophical nature, is much like Confucianism, but the ideal interests of the two religions are contrasting. Confucianism was formulated during a time of war and relies heavily upon a moral and political system that fashioned society and the Chinese empire, while Taoism correlates to a time of peace and honors spiritual and metaphysical preoccupation (Taoism 2).
The supposed author of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, is said to be the father of Taoism. It is estimated that Lao Tzu, spelled many other ways including Lao-tsu, Lao Tse, and Lao Tzi, was born under the name of Li Erh in Honan, China, around 604 B.C.E. Myth says that Lao Tzu was born fully developed with a long, white beard and hair the color of snow. He was somewhat of a recluse and withdrew from society to avoid governmental law and rule. He retreated to the Western frontier after the fall of the Zhou dynasty to continue his personal study of metaphysics and philosophy (Taoism 2). The collaborations of his studies and observations are said to be the basis of the Tao Te Ching, although some scholars argue that Lao Tzu’s existence cannot be proved and that the scholar Chuang-tzu played at least a partial role in the authorship. However the Tao Te Ching came to be, it is prized for being the foundation of Taoist belief and should hold merit as a universal guide, not as an author’s accomplishment (De Bary, Chan, and Watson 49).
There are t...
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...e and space and is therefore attainable to each individual who is ready to be released from the bonds of the physical. The Tao is perfection, a place where yin and yang come together and all that lives in diversity finds unity.
De Bary, Wm. Theodore, Wing-Tsit Chan, and Burton Watson, eds. Sources of Chinese Tradition. NewYork: Columbia UP, 1960.
Feibleman, James K. Understanding Oriental Philosophy: A Popular Account for the Western World. New York: Horizon, 1976.
Robinson, B.A, “Taoism.” Religious Tolerance.org. 28 August 2000. 15 September 2000 <http://www.religioustolerance.org/taoism.htm>.
Smullyan, Raymond M. The Tao is Silent. New York: Harper & Row, 1977.
“Taoism.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 1999-2000 ed. 19 September 2000
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