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Taoism

Taoism is a religion with an estimated 20,000,000 followers or Taoists. The founder of Taoism is usually considered to be the philosopher Lao-tse (or Lao-tzu) in China circa 580 B.C. (NOTE: This is before Buddha and Confucius.) Lao-tse means "Wise Teacher" or "Worshipful Master". Some entities believe that the doctrine of Taoism was derived from philosophies of India by Chinese annalists and astrologers several hundred years before Lao-tse.

There are only a few Chinese texts that survived a disastrous book-burning in 213 B.C. by the Emperor Ch'in Shih Huang. The foundation scripture for Taoism is the Tao Te Ching (or The Book of the Way), which was written by Lao-tse according to legend.

Tao (pronounced as Dow) has been translated by others as the Absolute, Enlightenment, God, Nature, Path, Truth, Ultimate Reality and the Way. (Take your pick!) Te (or Teh, pronounced Duh) has been translated by others as Best Conduct, Character, Honor, Integrity, Intelligence, Reason, Virtue and True Wisdom. (Again, take your pick!) Ching means Book.

The Tao Te Ching is composed of 81 sutras (which are roughly about the size of small poems and are usually wise sayings) and uses about 5,000 Chinese pictograms. Some entities believe that Lao-tse's work was condensed and then, edited for clarity by Chinese scholars Lieh-tzu and Chuang-tzu around 400 B.C..

Taoism accepts the doctrine of reincarnation, as does the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism. According Taoism, our souls upon perfection return to the Tao, like drops of water into the sea.

The ancient I Ching (or The Book of Changes), which was written before Lao-tzu may be regarded as a Taoist text. This is especially so as I Ching is usually included within the scope of Confucian literature.

The main symbol in Taoism is the Yin Yang, which is depicted as a circle with one half in black (Yin) and the other half in white (Yang), representing difference and conflict. Also, in the darkest Yin, there is a small spot of Yang. In the lightest Yang, there is a small spot of Yin. Yang/Yin can represent day/night, male/female, acid/base, right/wrong, positive/negative, etc..

Another symbol of Taoism is the Chinese Character for Water: Life-giving Source (depicted within a circle). Modern Taoism is a religion based on Taoist philosophy and folk and Buddhist religion and concerned with obtaining good fortune and long life, often by magical (or spiritual) means.

Also, see
Duality


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