TAOISM. GLOBAL VIEW OF CHINA. CONTINENT VIEW OF CHINA. COUNTRY VIEW OF CHINA. OK… So then what is Taoism ?. Taoism is both a philosophy and a religion. The beginnings of Taoism are generally accredited to Lao-tzu, a sixth century philosopher, believed to be from the Henan Province.
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OK… So then what is Taoism?
Taoism is both a philosophy and a religion. The beginnings of Taoism are generally accredited to
Lao-tzu, a sixth century philosopher,
believed to be from the Henan
Oh… So then what do Taoists believe?
Here are three of the major Taoist concepts:
TE means power. The power of a thing is its virtue, its identity, its integrity. So the te of a person is their authentic self, or genuineness. Te is expressed through humility and meekness.
WU-WEI is a concept involving relaxing the conscious mind. It seeks the denial of anything personal and the dissolution of the conscious, individual self. Wu-wei is best illustrated by water; it is supple yet strong, it flows over and fills what it encounters. It means to simply follow the way of nature.
P’U is a term which literally means “unpainted wood”. P’U stresses the importance of simplicity and the need to leave things in their natural state.
In plain English:
Taoists advocate a simple honest life and noninterference with the course of natural events
Taoists don’t like politics, administration, or elaborate rituals.
So then how would you have government?
Do not emphasize status, intelligence, or possessions.
Govern with least visibility and with a serving attitude.
Reduce laws and govern lightly.
Take few actions that involve the people.
Treat other countries non-aggressively.
Taoists believe that the purpose of life is to live according to the Tao.
That requires calmness, passiveness, and humility.
When Taoism was first developing, there were no deities, only the Tao. As time went by, however, many gods became present in the religion. Two types of deities developed.
THE THREE PURITIES(THE THREE CLARITIES)
The Three Purities are the highest deities in Taoism, they rule over the three greatest heavenly realms. The Three Purities are still worshiped in China today; the most important hall in the White Cloud Monastery is devoted to them.
White Cloud Monastery, Beijing
Celestial Worthy of Primordial Beginning
This is the central deity of the Three Purities, he is believed to have spontaneously formed from pure energy at the beginning of the world, which is why he is called the Celestial Worthy of Primordial Beginning.
He created the first writing system by writing patterns in gold onto jade tablets; therefore he is the god of all learning.
Celestial Worthy of Numinous Treasure
This deity is considered to be the attendant of the Celestial Worthy of Primordial Beginning who gave him the task of delivering lessons to lesser gods and humans. Therefore he is the god of Taoist teaching.
(Numinous means supernatural, spiritually elevated, or sublime.)
Celestial Worthy of the Way and Its Power
Here we see Lao-tzu deified. His title was derived from the name of the text attributed to him; the Classic of the Way and Its Power or Tao Te Ching. Lao-tzu differs from the others in that he played an active role in the development of Chinese civilization, often appearing to reveal divine teachings to humanity.
THE THREE OFFICIALS
The Three Officials are a triad of deities who are in charge of heaven, earth and water.
They travel their domains recording the good and bad deeds of people to determine their lifespan and destiny. They punish the evil and so are considered stern and imposing deities.
Official of Heaven
This painting shows the Official of Heaven in his office surrounded by officers and female attendants called “jade maidens”
Official of Earth
In this painting the Official of Earth is on a tour inspecting his domain. He is also accompanied by armed people, as well as demons to punish the wicked.
Official of Water
The Official of Water rides on a dragon, a traditional symbol of rain, while two attendants ride on sea turtles, symbols of longevity. He is further accompanied by several people with armor and weapons to emphasize his ability to enforce his authority.
Taoists believe that there is no one creator, that at the beginning, there was only chaos, or a void, called Wuji.
The concept of Qi may be more easily understood through Filmmaker George Lucas’ idea of “the force” in his film Star Wars. Qi is the very stuff of life. It fills the universe permeating everything, rocks, trees, water, clouds, animals, and people. Qi is often compared to quantum physics. It is like the atom, the building block of life.
Wuxing, or the 5 qualities (elements) developed from Qi.These 5 qualities make up all known substances. They are:Fire, earth, metal, water and wood.
Ghosts, spirits, and superstitions are very
prominent in both ancient and modern
Chinese stories. Foxes were often imagined
to be problematic shape shifters and
tricksters. They often appeared in the guise
of beautiful young women, trying to lure
men into falling under their power. Taoist
priests often served as intermediaries
between the ordinary human world and the
world of the supernatural. They could be called to
rid a person of these spirits, or to exorcise it.
A scholor named Li Yi was reading under the lamplight one evening, when a beautiful woman appeared before him. She teased him mercilessly and soon grew quite brazen, and eventually Li found himself subjected to all sorts of lewd advances.With firm resolve Li remained impassive throughout the ordeal.Later that evening, after Li had finished dinner, he heard a voice coming from his stomach, “I attached myself to some eggplants you ate for dinner” he heard the voice say. “Now that I’m actually housed in your stomach you won’t be able to ignore me!”The woman Li had encountered was in fact a fox fairy.
A Taoist grand master named Zhang was called in to exorcize the fox fairy. Zhang built an alter at the local Pavilion and commenced the purification of scholar Li. For three days they ate sacred vegetarian meals and chanted incantations. Grand Master Zhang's magicians then lifted a scroll on which was written: 'We will exorcize the demon on the fifteenth of March.' When the day arrived, spectators had gathered from far and wide to view the exorcism. The grand master took a position at the center with the magicians seated along the sides. Li was asked to kneel before the grand master and open his mouth. Zhang then put two fingers down Li’s throat and pulled out a fox the size of a small cat.
Hengshan Monastery is located on the cliffs of Mt. Hengshan, which is one of the five sacred mountains of Taoism. In the Shanxi province of China, near the city of Datong.
The gravity defying Hanging Monastery was built on extremely sheer cliffs above Jinlong Canyon 1400 years ago.
In the Three Religions Hall, Buddha, Confucius and Lao-tzu are all enshrined together. This is because in present day the three faiths co-exist in the temple.
Why would someone build a monastery on a cliff?
The monastery was built at this location because it was convenient for passing pilgrims. It was an important passage leading to a shrine to the South and Datong City to the North. The problem is that the river which flowed past the foot of the cliff would flood whenever there was a storm. In those days it was believed that a golden dragon was the cause of the flooding, therefore they built the temple high up on the cliffs to keep away from the flooding, and ward off the influence of the dragon.
Qingyang is one of the oldest and most extensive Taoist temples in Chengdu area. Legend says that Lao Tzu asked a friend to meet him there. When the friend arrived he saw only a boy leading two goats on a leash. He soon realized the boy was Lao Tzu. That is the reason that in the compound, stand two eye-catching bronze goats. Although called a goat, one of them is actually a strange creature with mouse ears, an ox nose, tiger paws, rabbit back, snake tail, dragon horns, horse mouth, goat beard, monkey neck, chicken eyes, dog belly and pig thighs. It is said that this goat has some supernatural powers and anyone who touches it could survive from illness and mischance.