Taoism Pronounced dow
Yin Female Earth Dark Passive Absorbing Even Numbers Valleys Yang Male Heaven Light Active Penetrating Odd Numbers Mountains Yin-Yang Complimentary Principles
Yin-Yang Taoism and Confucism present in native Chinese culture
Backdrop • Taoism is eclectic and it includes insights about nature, philosophy, principles for living, exercises for healthy living, rituals for protection. • It includes elements from Chinese folk religion. • There is philosophical Taoism found in Tao Te Ching and there is the Tao of ritual form.
Beginnings • One of the most prominent figures in Taoism is Lao Tzu whose name means “old master” or “old child.” • He was born in 600 b.c.e. • He was a librarian for a long time who grew tired of his job. • He left his job and traveled to the western part of China.
More Lao Tzu • While at the western border the guard recognized him as a prominent scholar. • The guard refused him passage until he wrote down his teachings.
The Writings of Lao Tzu • Tao Te Ching, (pronounced dow de jing) is the classic literature of Taoism. • Tao Te Ching means “the classical book about the Way and its power.” • It consists of about 81 short chapters. • It is possible the compilations of many people. • It is repetitious, has no clear order and has a deliberate lack of clarity.
About the Tao • It cannot be put in words. • It cannot be named. • But it can be experienced. • The Tao is the origin of everything and individuals are manifestations of the Tao. • The Tao is perceived by intuition. • Meditating on certain images can help us experience the Tao.
Water - water is gentle, ordinary, and lowly, but strong and necessary. It flows around every obstacle. “The highest good is like water.” It assists in all things “and does not compete with them.” Images of the Tao
Female - the female is sensitive, receptive yet effective and powerful. Images
Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) explains “the way” through stories
Zhuangzi • Lived around 300 b.c.e. • Playful, independent, and in love with the fantastic • His book The Zhuangzi is made up of seven “inner chapters” written by him and twenty-six “outer chapters” probably written by others.
The Zuangzi • It contains many stories • It rejects all barriers • ordinary-fantastic, normal-paranormal, etc. • It talks about harmony with nature, the movement of the Tao and pleasure from simplicity. • It talks about being one with the Tao. • It also contains humor.
Dream within a Dream • One of the most noted stories is where Zhuangzi dreams he is a butterfly not knowing that he was Zhuangzi and when he awakes he is not sure if was a butterfly dreaming of being Zhuangzi or vice-a-versa.
Main teachings • Tao - The Way- is the mystery that makes nature “the way” it is. Although it is frequently translated as the way it can mean process, pattern, existence. Humans can unite themselves with the way they live.
Wu wei - The ideal of effortlessness. Commandments would go against the nature of Tao. No action, no “unusual exertion.” Avoid unnecessary action. Effortlessness
Taoism urges simplicity. Eliminate the unnecessary, the artificial and appreciate the ordinary. There is a distrust of formal education because of its complexity. Simplicity
Taoists extol gentleness. They do not like weapons of war. A wise person lives in peace and restraint and avoids unnecessary violence. Gentleness
Taoists believe in seeing things as whole and beyond opposites. One needs to broaden one’s perspective and avoid parochial concerns. Relativity
Taoism and Long Life “Live Long and Prosper”
Living Longer • Taoist have searched for ways to increase life span as a product of being in union with the Tao. There are practices which help the individual achieve harmony with themselves and the universe around them. There are suggestions on various types of body movement which helps one to attain this desired state.
Achieving Balance • There is an internal alchemy which aims at transforming the life force called ch’i. This is managed in at least five different ways. • Through Yoga - meditation • Through Physical Exercise • Through Diet • Through Medicine • Through a combination of the above
Balance Through Meditation • One way to improve achieve balance is by concentrating on the energy centers of the body and directing the inner ch’i from one vital organ to another.
Balance Through Physical Exercise • One can achieve a oneness with the Tao by performing out certain physical movements which assists to direct the energy flow. This is called Tai Ch’i. • Many people have seen various techniques from different schools.
Balance Through Diet • Harmony within is also achieved through diet and there are certain foods which are associated with yin and the yang. Some foods reduce or augment the vital energy. A balance of these foods is essential to achieve harmony.
Yin Dairy products Green Vegetables Sugar Seafood Yang Chili Cinnamon Root Vegetables Poultry Beans Yin and Yang of food
Balance through Medicine • Natural herbs, spices and various chemical concoctions were used to achieve balance and extend. Many of them did not work. However, there are some have proven to be helpful such as ginseng, garlic and ginger. • Massages and acupuncture are used to directly manipulate vital organs.
Harmony through many • Harmony can be achieved by using the various forms together. The balance is affected by diet, physical and mental proportions.
Religious Taoism • Religious Taoism is a later development. As time went on people met to share ideas and insights. Eventually several groups arose.
Heavenly Masters • One group, which set-up an organization with a hierarchical structure, was led by Zhang Daoling. Because their successor is called “heavenly master” this sect is know as “way of the heavenly masters” and is very active in Taiwan.
Buddhism and other Influences • Taoism became more religious in part as a reaction to Buddhism. As a result there are Taoist texts. These text cover a wide range of topics (i.e. meditation, diet) • Taoism also absorbed Chinese world view. • It also developed a “pantheon of gods.” • It is much stronger in Taiwan than in China where it was started.