Early Religions: Taoism Student Led Tutorial by: Jess, Kim, Julia, Jackie, Jackie P., and Mehek
Introduction The Tao Ta Ching made the following proclamation: “The Tao gives birth to the one, The one gives birth to two, The two gives birth to three, Three gives birth to all things.” • Tao is the force that existed before all things. • One: refers to the mechanism of balance the Tao gave the world. • Two: refers to the birth of opposites. • Three: refers to the birth of heaven, earth and all of humanity.
History of Taoism • The founder: Lao-Tzu (604-531 B.C.E) • He was searching for a way that would avoid the constant warfare and other conflicts that disrupted society during his lifetime • The result was his book: Tao-te-Ching (a.k.a. Daodejing).
Began as a combination of psychology and philosophy • Originated in China • Became a religion in 440 C.E. • Main religion along with Buddhism and Confucianism in China • Support for Taoism ended in 1911 • Communist victory in 1949 caused low religious freedom • Some tolerance has been restored under the reign of Deng Xiao-Ping
What is “Tao”? • Defined as “way” or “path”; natural way of the universe • It is “everythingness” but has no characteristics • Includes balance between opposite forces • To be a Taoist means to practice and respect the way of nature, to maintain balance • “Self-so”
Emperor Huang Di • The Emperor visited a hermit to ask him a question • The hermit’s response was the teachings of Tao • Because of the impact of Tao, the Emperor changed the way he governed his people; he became compassionate and was seen as a healer • Named “Yellow Emperor” • He created harmony within himself and his kingdom • He is recognized as the greatest emperor of China
Lao Tzu • Is thought to be the founder of Taoism • Scholars are unsure for the following reasons: -Lao Tzu means "old master", which is a title and not an actual name. -The wisdom of Lao Tzu seems to be through the work of three different people. -He may have been a man named Li Erh, an achivist at the royal palace of Luoyang
Chuang Tzu • Wrote a book full of the teachings of Tao • When he died, the groundwork for Taoism had been laid • Older temporary of Confucious • Left the royal court when he was very old. • Wrote the Tao Te Ching, a short collection of wise verses, when he was leaving the province of Ch'u and was asked to leave behind some reckoning of his wisdom.
Key Practices and Rituals • Main goal is to achieve balance and harmonize Chi (energy) in the body. • Acupuncture: Application of tiny needles to one of 800 pressure points • Feng Shui: Aligning objects to specific areas of the room to maintain the best flow of spiritual energy. • Tai Chi: Slow, choreographed movements to harmonize flow of Chi in the body.
Ying and Yang • Ying: the Moon - female force - receptive, passive, cold • Yang: the Sun - male force - force, movement, heat • Represents the good and evil in ourselves • The idea of balance
Other Symbols • They see the North and South poles as divine • Chinese dragons and phoenixes are also recognized
Wu Wei • Wu Wei: Not doing/taking action • Let nature take its course • One should act in a manner that does not jeopardize the natural world • Sense of Effortlessness • Yu Wei: Taking Action
Spirit Beings • Immortals: Spiritual Beings of primary importance • Taoists have great respect for such beings • They exist in a place where they are able to experience: • No troubles • Effortless existence of physical freedom • Here they • Are ageless • Eat only air • Enjoy the power of flight - Drink nothing but dew
Purpose of Life • Life should be lived by the Tao • Everything is relevant, relative, and interdependent • Focus: attaining immortality (eternal life, longevity, attainment of superhuman physical abilities)
How to attain Immortality • In order to achieve this, one must focus their attention and control on: • body through diet, exercise, and mindfulness • breathing • exploring alchemy with the goal of finding elixir of immortality • behaving in a moral way that is in harmony with Tao • searching for the Isle of Blessed (where the Spirit Beings reside)
Death and Afterlife • Two aspects of reality • Transformation from being to non-being • It should not be feared or desired, but accepted
Number of Adherents • Currently there are approximately 20 million followers that are primarily located in Taiwan • About 30,000 Taoists live in North America • 1,720 Taoists live in Canada 30,000 in North America! 1,720 in Canada?
Influence in 21st Century • Taoism has a significant affect on North American and Worldwide culture - Acupuncture - Tai Chi - Feng Shui • Many medicines that come from Taoism are used today • Taoists are involved with herbals and practice healing using different kinds • Ying Yang symbol is drawn and used all around the world in the 21st century, even though most people don’t understand its true meaning
Other Interesting Facts • "Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river." Lao Tse • "Different Chinese philosophers, writing probably in 5-4 centuries B.C., presented some major ideas and a way of life that are nowadays known under the name of Taoism, the way of correspondence between man and the tendency or the course of natural world." Alan Watts, from his book: "Tao: The Watercourse Way."
"We believe in the formless and eternal Tao, and we recognize all personified deities as being mere human constructs. We reject hatred, intolerance, and unnecessary violence, and embrace harmony, love and learning, as we are taught by Nature. We place our trust and our lives in the Tao, that we may live in peace and balance with the Universe, both in this mortal life and beyond." Creed of the Western Reform Taoist Congregation [source:http://www.religioustolerance.org/taoism.htm]