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Daoism

DAOISM.

Defining the features of Daoism (or Taoism) as one of the predominant trends in the history of Chinese thought involves accounting for its religious traits. As often happens outside the Western hemisphereBuddhism may be the best-known example, but the same is true of Islamthe boundary between thought and religion in China is tenuous, unstable, and sometimes simply impossible to identify. Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and other legacies have defined themselves as "teachings" (jiao ) or "lineages" (jia, a word that primarily means "house" or "family"). The terms for "philosophy" and "religion" (zhexue and zongjiao ) have become part of the standard Chinese vocabulary through late-nineteenthand early-twentieth-century translations of Western books.

In the most general way, Daoism may be defined as a traditional form of thought and religion, based on some central notions, cults, and practices but never subject to systematization as a whole, and syncretic but at the same time self-containedin the sense that it integrates many elements from other traditions, but frequently emphasizes its distinction from them. These basic features underlie different formulations of doctrinal notions and a large variety of practices, ranging from self-cultivation to communal rituals.

Daoism and Chinese Thought and Religion

Historically, the Daoist tradition has consisted of several schools, or rather lineages, usually based on one or more primary texts and associated with one or more divine or semi-divine beings. As a whole, these lineages and corpora have represented the higher but "unofficial" form of native religion in China. This definition points to the complexity of questions that surround the status of Daoism and its relation to Chinese religion; it is also relevant to its relation to Chinese thought, for the status of Daoism as a religion was often defined with reference to ideas and notions formulated in its early doctrinal texts.

In relation to the different forms of common religion in China, the stated purpose of Daoism is "transforming" (hua ) people, in the sense of educating them to venerate pure deities that impersonate the Dao, instead of joining other cultsthose defined as "vulgar" (su ) or "illicit" (yin ), which often included sacrifice and involved the assistance of spirit-mediums. The continuous incorporation of new deities and ritual forms, resulting from the interaction of Daoism with local communities and cults, upgraded these deities by admitting them into the "correct" (zheng ) hierarchy of gods and amended the ritual forms by integrating them into the proper way of communicating with the divine world. As has often been noted, the spirit-medium, and not the Confucian officer or the Buddhist monk, was the first competitor of the Daoist priest within local communities.

The relation between Daoism and Buddhism has been fertile, with reciprocal borrowings of doctrinal formulations, theological elements, technical terminology, and forms of practice. Even though Buddhist polemical authors have often accused Daoists of appropriating Buddhist notions and topoi and even of plagiarizing their scriptures, these disputes have usually occurred in the surroundings of the imperial court. In that milieu, providing evidence of doctrinal preeminence in order to obtain official patronage was more important than highlighting any shared ground. Daoism provided Chinese Buddhism with some of that ground in the early stages of its development and, in turn, drew from it in later times. For the average faithful, anyway, subtle doctrinal distinctions surely were not the main concern, and Daoist or Buddhist deities could equally be addressed as suitable and practicable.

Daoism's relation to Confucianismthe dominating influence behind the system of social norms, upheld by the central government, maintained by the local officers, supported by the literati, and transmitted through educationhas been complex. Classical Confucianism focuses on the social aspects of human life. Daoism is by no means uninterested in these issues, but its views are based on different doctrinal grounds. Despite this, and with exceptions with respect to Neo-Confucianism, the contrast between Daoism and Confucianism has not primarily involved their philosophical views (the respective claims in this respect were known and quietly acknowledged by both), but their religious aspects. As Anna Seidel has noted (1997, pp. 3941), although Daoism is the higher form of Chinese native religion, it has always occupied a position subordinate to the imperialthat is, officialcults. For the Confucian officers, the Daoist priests represented spiritual powers over which they had no control. Replacing the state ceremonies to Heaven and Earth, or to paragons of Confucian virtue, with rituals performed by Daoist priests and addressed to the divine personifications of the Dao, would be equivalent to granting Daoism an official role in the administration of the empire. For this reason, the Confucian officer and literatus did not hesitate to acknowledge Daoism only in its philosophical, mystical, or literary aspects, and even to regard it as equal to common religion.

The Roots of Daoism

The main early Daoist text is the Daode jing (Scripture of the way and its virtue), a short work consisting of aphorisms attributed to Laozi (the Old Master, or Old Child). Although some scholars have suggested that other sources might be slightly earlier, virtually all movements and lineages within Daoism consider this as the founding scripture of the entire tradition, even though they may venerate their own texts and their own founders. Another early work, the Zhuangzi (Book of Master Zhuang), has provided Daoism with doctrines, notions, and technical vocabulary throughout its history.

The present general consensus among scholars is that the Daode jing was not written by a single author, and that Laozi is the appellation of the symbolic Daoist sage whose doctrines are reflected there. The text appears to have existed in a form close to the present one between 350 and 300 b.c.e., but many of its statements likely derive from oral traditions whose dates are impossible to determine. The Zhuangzi, which is deemed to be one of the masterpieces of Chinese literature, is different from the Daode jing from the point of view of its formal features and consists mainly of stories, anecdotes, and reflections. Zhuangzi himself probably authored the seven so-called Inner Chapters in the late fourth century b.c.e., with the other portions dating from one or two centuries later. Despite differences in emphasis, the two texts present the same view of the Dao and its relation to the world, outlined below on the basis of the Daode jing (references in parentheses are to the number of sections in this text).

The Dao.

The word dao has two main meanings, "way" and "method." These two meanings refer, respectively, to the way in which something is or the way it functions, and to the way of doing something (including the extended meaning of "practice" in a religious sense). The early Daoist texts are the first ones to use this word to mean the Absolute (Robinet, p. 26). For the Daode jing, the Dao has no name and is beyond any description or definition; the word dao itself is used only because one "is forced" to refer to it (25). The Dao is unknowable, has no form, and therefore does not undergo change (41), is "constant" (1), and is "invisible, inaudible, and imperceptible" (14). The two principles of Non-being (wu ) and Being (you ) are contained within it. Yet the Dao, in spite of its being "indistinct and vague" (huanghu ), contains an "essence" (jing ) that is the seed of the world of multiplicity (21). Under this second aspectwhich can be distinguished from the previous one only within the domain of relativitythe Dao is the "origin" of the world and its "mother" (1).

The faculty that the Dao has to give life to the particular objects is its de, or "virtue," and is described as "a mystery within a mystery" (1). The Daode jing outlines this process, which happens spontaneously and has no cause or purpose, in a famous statement: "The Dao generates the One, the One generates the Two, the Two generate the Three, the Three generate the ten thousand things" (42). According to this formulation, which like all similar outlines found in Daoist texts is meaningful only from a relative point of view, the Dao first generates the One (yi ), the principle of the unity of existence in which the individual entities defined by forms and names are included, but have not yet emerged. The One differentiates itself into the two polar and complementary principles, Yin and Yang. The Three is the product of the joining of Yin and Yang; it represents the One reestablished at the level of each individual entity. The "ten thousand things" (wanwu ) are the sum of entities generated by the joining of Yin and Yang. The sentence of the Daode jing quoted above therefore formulates both a metaphysics, by arranging the single items in a hierarchical sequence designed to show their ultimate origin in the Dao, and a cosmogony, which does not take place once and for all in illo tempore but is continuously reiterated within each of the cosmic cycles that the Dao brings into existence.

Both the Dao and the manifested world model themselves on ziran (25), a term that literally means "to be so of its own." In reference to the Dao, the principle of ziran means that the Dao only regulates itself upon itself; in reference to the world generated by the Dao, ziran means that there is no ultimate reason for things being as they are: the Dao generates the "ten thousand things," but while for the relative the Absolute is its "mother," for the Absolute the relative does not even exist. Aside from generating the world, therefore, the Dao does nothing else: it does not act in it, it is not affected by the transformation, decay, and disappearance of the forms it generates, and it neither rejoices in nor is hurt by what is, in a relative sense, good or bad.

The saintly person.

Just as the Dao does nothing, so is "non-doing" or "non-action" (wuwei ) the way to attain to it. Non-action is the practice of ziran in the human world: one fully responds to circumstances and events, doing no more and no less than what is required, without taking the initiative unless there is an immediate need to do so, and without being moved by personal desire, interest, or advantage (3, 19, 34, 37, 57). In particular, there is no need of striving to perform what is "good," and even less so of attempting to impose it on others, for "when everyone knows the good as good, evil is already there" (2).

The person who has "returned to the Dao" (28, 40, 52) is called in the Daode jing the shengren, a term that in a Daoist context may be translated as "saint" to distinguish him from the Confucian "sage." As the highest realized human being who has achieved liberation in life, the Daoist saint has transcended the limitations of individuality and form; he continues to remain in the world of multiplicity until he has completely fulfilled his function in it, but from an absolute point of view, which is the one in which he constantly dwells, his self-identity is already null, for he is identified with absolute principle. Death for him, therefore, is not even a change of state, for he has attained the state in which no change can occur. In the human world, he "practices the teaching without words" and "makes it possible for the ten thousand things to function, but does not start them" (2). He does not take an active leading role in society but benefits his fellow human beings by his mere presence. This is so even when the saint is the ruler, a figure to whom the Daode jing devotes much attention. In that position, the saint governs according to the principle of non-action, and that is how he ensures the well-being of his country and his subjects. In the ideal description given by the Daode jing, no one even needs to know who the ruler is. "Therefore the saint in his government empties their heart [i.e., their mind], fills their belly, weakens their will, and strengthens their bones. He always wants people to be without knowledge and without desires." He does so because "not exalting the worthy prevents people from competing, not valuing goods hard to obtain prevents people from becoming thieves, and not seeing desirable things prevents the people's heart from becoming confused" (3).

Revelations and Textual Corpora

To a significant extent, the history of Daoism may be seen as a continuous restatement of the principles enunciated in the early founding texts. To an equally significant extent, its development has been marked by the adaptation to varying historical circumstances, the response to the needs and demands of different social groups, and the incorporation of notions, beliefs, cults, and practices derived from other trends of thought and religion. These multiple factors gave rise to the idea, apparently unknown to the early Daoist thinkers, that the Dao may appear under the guise of gods or other divine beings, and may through them take an active role in the world, in particular by granting revelations to some adepts.

The first Daoist revelation.

The process that led, in the second half of the second century c.e., to the formation of the first major Daoist religious movement can only be understood in the light of the politico-religious ideals of ancient China, synthesized in the notion of Great Peace (taiping ) and shared by different traditions including Confucianism. At the center of that process was the deification of Laozi, now represented not only as the sage who expounds the metaphysical doctrines of the Daode jing, but also as a messiah who embodies the Dao and reappears at different times either as a sage counselor of political rulers, or as the inspirer of religious leaders (Seidel, 1969). Scholars have pointed out the association among the spread of beliefs concerning Lord Lao (Laojun, i.e., Laozi in his divine aspect), the cults offered to him outside and even within the imperial court in the second century, and the political decline of the Han dynasty (202 b.c.e.220 c.e.). Based on the notion that the emperor symbolized and guaranteed the balance between Heaven and Earth, the weakening of political power at the end of the Han, and the concurrent natural disasters and social unrest were deemed to reflect a rupture between the supernatural and the human world. Hence the millenarian beliefs and the messianic wait for a Saviora new incarnation of Lord Lao who would restore Great Peace and confer the Celestial Mandate (tianming ) to a new ruler.

In one of his transformations, Lord Lao appeared (in 142 c.e., according to the traditional date) to a healer, Zhang Daoling, in the southwestern region of Sichuan. Lord Lao established a covenant (meng ) with Zhang Daoling, revealing to him the teaching of Orthodox Unity (zhengyi ) and bestowing upon him the title of Celestial Master (tianshi ). This revelation, which has been dubbed "the New Testament of the Dao" to distinguish it from the teaching of the Daode jing, is at the origin of the Way of the Celestial Masters (Tianshi dao ), a priestly lineage that continues to exist in the present day (the current Celestial Master resides in Taiwan). The early Celestial Masters established a theocratically based enclave in Sichuan that maintained its political semi-independence for several decades, until the end of the Han period. Its purpose was not to terminate and replace the imperial power; rather, the intent of Zhang Daoling and his successors was to realize the kingdom of the Great Peace on earth until a new sovereign would receive the mandate to rule from Heaven.

The administrative structure of the early Way of the Celestial Masters was based on that of the Han empire; both in turn reproduced on earth the bureaucratic ordering of Heaven. Since that time, Daoist texts have often represented Heaven as an administration divided into ministries and offices, with a hierarchical classification of primary deities (often called "emperor," di ) and a host of ancillary gods. The same bureaucratic features are displayed in Daoist ritual, which is based in part on the forms established by the early Way of the Celestial Masters: requests of audiences in the courtly halls of celestial palaces, arrangement of the deities on seats arrayed according to their rank, and written petitions delivered to the gods.

The Three Caverns.

The diaspora of the Celestial Masters' communities after the end of the Han resulted in the expansion of the new religion to other parts of China. Its spread in Jiangnan, the region south of the lower Yangzi River, was one of the prerequisites for the formation of two other major corpora of Daoist doctrines, texts, and practices in the second half of the fourth century. The representatives of the religious legacies of Jiangnan responded to the newly imported cults by reformulating and codifying some aspects of their own traditions in ways that admitted elements of the practices of the Celestial Masters, but were mainly based on the local traditions, which included meditation, alchemy, self-cultivation practices, and various methods for communicating with the gods and expelling demons. The first corpus, known as Shangqing (Highest Clarity), derived from revelations that occurred from 364 to 370 c.e. and was centered on meditation practices; the second, known and Lingbao (Numinous Treasure), derived from revelations that occurred between circa 395 and 405 c.e. and was based on communal ritual. These two codifications clearly define, for the first time, the two main poles of the Daoist religious experience, namely inner, individual practices on the one hand, and collective practices for the community of the faithful on the other.

The relations among these traditions were formally codified in the early fifth century in the system of the Three Caverns (sandong ). Its main purpose was to hierarchically arrange the different legacies of Jiangnan, assigning the higher rank to Shangqing, the intermediate one to Lingbao, and the lower one to other earlier and contemporary traditions. Around 500 c.e., the corpora associated with the Daode jing, the Taiping jing (Scripture of Great Peace), alchemy, and the Way of the Celestial Masters were assigned to the so-called Four Supplements (sifu ). The Three Caverns also provided the formal schema for other important aspects of Daoist doctrine and practice, including the ordination stages of the Daoist priest (daoshi ) and the arrangement of scriptural and other writings in the collections of Daoist texts (Daozang ) that began to take shape from the early fifth century.

This model continued to perform this function even after the contours of Daoist religion were reshaped by various new revelations and codifications during the Song period (9601279) and later, and by the creation in the early thirteenth century of Quanzhen (Complete Reality, or Complete Perfection), a monastic order that is, along with the Way of the Celestial Masters, the main branch of present-day Daoism.

Cosmos and Gods

The cosmos generated by the Dao and the heavens inhabited by deities that personify the Dao are intermediaries between the Absolute and the human world. These two domains overlap to a significant extent, for certain deities and certain features of the cosmos correspond to each other. Both of them play an essential role in the various ways that Daoism provides for "returning to the Dao" (fandao ), which are addressed either to the single individual or to the community as a whole.

Correlative cosmology.

The features and workings of the cosmic domain are explicated in Daoism largely by means of the language and images of the standard Chinese cosmological system. This system, often referred to as "correlative cosmology" by scholars, is based on several patterns of emblems (xiang ) such as Yin and Yang, the five agents (wuxing ), and the eight trigrams and sixty-four hexagrams of the Book of Changes (Yijing ). These emblems function as categories to which the single entities or phenomena can be assigned. The five agents, for instance, emblematize the modes or states in which the one Original Pneuma (yuanqi ) appears in the cosmos, represented by Wood, Fire, Soil, Metal, and Water. Directions of space, segments of time cycles, numbers, colors, planets, viscera of the human body, musical notes, and so forth can be assigned to one of these emblematic categories in order to define not only the relations that occur among the elements of a series, but also those that occur among the different domains. Wood, for instance, is associated with the east, spring, the numbers 3 and 8, the color green (or blue), Jupiter, the liver, and the note jiao. The purpose of correlative cosmology, therefore, is not so much to explain what causes an entity to exist or a phenomenon to occur as it is to define its relation to other entities and phenomena. An important corollary to this view is that an event or action happening or performed in one domain may affect the corresponding components in another domain according to the principle of "stimulus and response" (ganying ), by which things of the same "category" (lei ) influence each other.

Correlative cosmology, which took shape as a comprehensive system between the third and the second centuries b.c.e., is not tied to any specific intellectual or religious legacy and is the result of an effort to create a comprehensive analytic and synthetic system with contributions both by thinkers and by specialists of various traditional sciences, including diviners, astronomers, and physicians. Daoism is one of several traditions that have drawn upon correlative cosmology to formulate its views and to frame its techniques or practices. In Daoism, correlative cosmology serves not only to explicate the functioning of the cosmos, but also to illustrate the notion that single entities and phenomena ultimately originate from the Dao and that the different forms in the world of multiplicity are governed by the One, the principle of the unity of the cosmos. At the same time, the emblems of correlative cosmology serve to regulate the process of "returning to the Dao" through the support of a microcosmic frameworkthe ritual area, the alchemical laboratory, or the human being itself. The ritual area, for instance, is arranged so as to correspond to the cosmos and its temporal and spatial configurations (Lagerwey, 1987, pp. 348). In alchemy, the stages of the compounding of the elixir reproduces in a reverse sequence the cosmological configurations that intervene between the absolute Dao and the domain of relativity.

Communicating with the gods.

The supreme Daoist deities are the Three Clarities (sanqing ), each of whom rules over one of the many heavens distinguished in Daoist cosmography. They are associated with different precosmic eras and are at the origin of the textual corpora associated with the Three Caverns. Above them some traditions place the Celestial Worthy of Original Commencement (Yuanshi tianzun ), who dwells in the supreme Great Canopy Heaven (Daluo tian ). The unity of the cosmos is represented in a deified form by the Great One (or Great Unity, Taiyi ); he resides at the symbolic center of the cosmos in the Northern Dipper (beidou ), whose apparent rotation distributes Original Pneuma to the regions of space and sustains the cycles of time. Several other gods, such as the "emperors" of the five directions (north, south, east, west, and center), also represent cosmological principles. In addition, a multitude of deities, most of whom are the expression of local cults, contribute to form a pantheon with indefinite boundaries that takes different forms according to place and time.

The highest gods, or their representatives, reveal texts, teachings, and practices. The scriptures belonging to the Shangqing and Lingbao corpora are deemed to have taken shape from graphs coagulated from Original Pneuma, or from sounds generated by its vibration, in the early stages of the formation of the cosmos. Those graphs constitute the prototypes of the revealed scriptures, which at first are transmitted from one god to another, undergoing various stages of materialization until they are delivered to humans by a divine being. Just as the gods grant revelations mostly in the form of scriptures, and consistently with the bureaucratic metaphor mentioned above, the typically Daoist form of communicating with the gods is by writing. In Daoist ritual, the priest delivers a "memorial" (or "statement," shu ) to the deities to announce that a ceremony will be performed in their honor, declare its purpose, specify its program, and list the names of those who sponsor it. The so-called talismans (fu, a word that corresponds almost exactly to Greek symbolon ) are traced on paper or other supports, including air, in graphs intelligible to the gods. Like the revealed scripturessome of which, in fact, are deemed to have evolved from themthe talismans have a counterpart in Heaven, and thus serve to identify and authenticate their possessor. Talismans confer power to summon certain deities and to control demons, but they also protect space and heal illnesses; they are worn on one's body, affixed at the four directions, placed along the path that leads to one's dwelling, or made into ashes and drunk with water. Another important ritual object that has a written form is the "register" (lu ), a formal document of investiture that the Daoist priest receives at various stages of his ordination and that defines his rank, the rites that he may perform, and the deities and spirits over which he has control.

The Human Being

Despite significant variations among the different traditions, the basic view of the human being and its potentialities in Daoism reflects its doctrinal principles. Many texts devoted to this subject state that full comprehension of their teachings grants the status of Real Man, or Perfected (zhenren ). The related practices do not consist in a process of "increase" or "becoming perfect" but vice versa in reducing what obstructs one's potential for realization, according to the principle of the Daode jing that "practising the Dao is called reducing; reduce and then again reduce and thereby attain to non-doing" (sec. 48). Some authors of texts of inner alchemy were aware of the ambiguity involved in the very notion of "doing" a practice in order to attain the state of "non-doing" and emphasized that the practice operates within the domain that the adept is called to transcend; its final purpose is to reveal the limitations of that domain.

The heart (xin ) is the symbolic center of the human being. It is the residence of spirit (shen ) and corresponds to the Northern Dipper in heaven. Just as Oneness takes multiple forms in the cosmos, so the center of the human being reappears in multiple locations. The most important are the three Cinnabar Fields (dantian, immaterial loci in the regions of the brain, the heart, and the abdomen) and the five viscera (wuzang, namely liver, heart, spleen, lungs, and kidneys). The three Cinnabar Fields and the five viscera represent, respectively, the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the cosmos within the human being.

According to some traditions within Daoism, these and many other loci of the body are also residences of an inner pantheon of major and minor gods. The most important among them correspond to those that dwell in Heaven and perform multiple related roles: they personify the formless Dao or impersonal notions such as Yin and Yang, allow the human being to communicate with the gods of the outer pantheon, and administer the body and its functions. Several texts describe meditation practices in which the visualization of inner deities is combined with channeling essences and pneumas to the residences of the inner gods in order to provide them with nourishment. From the Tang period, these practices were largely replaced by other methods of contemplation and introspection influenced by Buddhism, but the inner gods have continued to perform an important function in ritual when they are summoned forth by the priest in order to submit the memorial to the gods in Heaven.

Alchemy, in its "inner" form (neidan ), framed its practices in part by drawing from meditation methods and from techniques for "nourishing life" (yangsheng ). The latter term refers to a large variety of methods that share a physiological foundation, including daoyin (a form of gymnastics that is one of the precursors of modern taiji quan ), breathing, and sexual practices. Using the same word that other sources apply to the cults of common religion, several alchemical texts qualify those techniques as "secular" or "vulgar" (su ); as other traditions within Daoism do with deities and rites, alchemy incorporates elements of those techniques but grafts them onto its own doctrinal background.

In alchemy and several other traditions, the purpose of the practice is to acquire transcendence or "immortality." In religious imagery, in both its mystical and popular aspects, "immortality" is a state attained by superior beings, often entirely legendary, through their practices. For others, "immortality" consists in undergoing transformation, in the literal sense of "going beyond the form" and returning to the unconditioned state.

See also Buddhism ; Chinese Thought ; Confucianism ; Humanism: Chinese Conception of ; Legalism, Ancient China ; Religion: East and Southeast Asia .

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Fabrizio Pregadio

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Chinese Religions, Daoism and Science in China

Chinese Religions, Daoism and Science in China


As the native religion of China, Daoism (also spelled Taoism), together with Confucianism and Buddhism, comprises the main body of traditional Chinese culture. Daoists, in pursuit of the ideal of becoming immortals by practicing Dao, made great efforts to transcend conventional wisdom about life and knowledge and so helped both to define ancient science in China and to advance it through a great number of inventions.


Relationship between Daoism and science

For a long time, many Western translators, writers, and scholars misunderstood Daoist thought, largely overlooking its scientific and protoscientific aspects. Moreover, different understandings of what constitutes science have rendered the issue more confusing. While some scholars denied any link between Daoism and science, many studies have confirmed an important relationship between them.

Daoist thought is basic to Chinese science and technology. Daoism provided a philosophical foundation for the development of science; its love for nature, its conception of change, its unique mastery of the relationship between human beings and nature, and its pursuit of freedom are based on the exploration of nature. Daoist admiration for ancient scientific inventors, and their absorption of science and technology in history, show that Daoism tried to reach its religious ideal by means of science. In addition, Daoism's cultural structure is favorable for science. The unique Daoist ideal of material immortality is invaluable in stimulating the observation and exploration of nature and life, and the development of techniques of alchemy, medicine, and related fields.

Daoists regard Dao as the origin of all things, including human beings, and they believe that people can return to Dao and thus attain immortality. Because immortality can be acquired through learning, one's life rests with oneself rather than heaven. Daoist scriptures include such sayings as "Probe into the mystery of heaven and earth and understand the root of creation" (The Taoist Canon, Vol. 18, p. 671). In fact, such explorations serve the goal of achieving oneness with the Dao, which leads to becoming an omniscient and almighty immortal, a True Human of True Knowledge.

Unrealistic as immortality is, many Daoist ideas, techniques, and practices for longevity are reasonable and scientific. They constituted the most important part of Daoist spiritual heritage in the Middle Ages. Thus, Joseph Needham argues in Science and Civilization in China (1956) that Daoism "developed many of the most important features of the scientific attitude, and is therefore of cardinal importance for the history of science in China" (vol. 2, p.161). Similarly, Welch Holmes writes in Taoism: The Parting of the Way (1957) that "the Daoist movement has sometimes been called the Chinese counterpart of Western science To a large extent the Daoists practiced experimental science" (p.134).


Daoist contributions to science

Hua Tuo, a famous Daoist doctor in the third century c.e., was the first to use a type of anesthesia called ma fei san. He also formulated the gymnastic techniques called wu qin xi (imitation of five-animal playing) for nourishing vitality of life. A text of Daoist prescription Zhou Hou Bai Yi Fang (Collection of prescriptions for hundred-and-one diseases fourth century c.e.), written by Ge Hong and enlarged by Tao Hongjing, contains the first known record of the disease of smallpox. It also records therapeutic techniques for dealing with a variety of acute medical conditions, including artificial respiration, bleeding stoppage, abdominocentesis, catheterization, clyster, intestinal anastomosis, débridement (sore cleaning), drainage, fracture treatment with superficial fixture, and disjointed articulation restituting. Remarkably, this work recorded an anti-malaria treatment using southernwood (Artemisia annua L.). In the 1970s, scientists extracted artemisinin from southernwood, which is a significant discovery in the history of antimalaria treatments from medicines of the quinoline category. Sun Simiao, a great Daoist doctor, summed up in the seventh century c.e. the prevention of struma by using animal thyroid and the prevention of nyctalopia by using animal livers. And the treatment of restituting mandible disjointing that Sun Simiao put forward is still in use in modern medicine. Jin Si Xuan Xuan (The incredible mysteries in the golden box), a Daoist text of parasitology written sometime between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries c.e., enumerated a "Catalogue of Nine Parasite Species" with illustrations of various kinds of parasites, as well as figures depicting their life cycles.

In seeking elixirs from the bodies of human beings themselves, Daoists made great strides in the field of biochemistry. Both Joseph Needham and Lu Gwei-Djen hold that the medicine named qiushi, which was made by medieval Daoists, is a relatively pure preparation of urinary steroid hormones. A similar medicine was made in the West by a German biochemist in the early twentieth century.

Daoists also acquired solid knowledge of certain chemical reaction processes. They accurately described the reversible reactions between mercury and thiosugar. Long Hu Huan Dan Jue (The oral formula for cyclically transformed elixir of dragon and tiger), written by Jin Ling Zi, an expert in alchemy in the Tang Dynasty (618907), recorded precise methods of making arsenic-copper alloy and of extracting pure copper, methods developed by Daoists over many generations. Instead of conforming to an older Daoist tradition of keeping key links secret or of using obscure terminology, this text clearly and definitely states strict rules of operation that are similar to those of modern chemistry.

As the basic components of gunpowder in ancient China were niter, sulfur, and carbonaceous substances, all frequently used in Daoist alchemical experiments, the invention of gunpowder can be traced back to Daoist writings in the Han Dynasty (206 b.c.e.220 c.e.). The formula included in Bao Pu Zi Nei Pian (The inner chapters of the Philosopher Master-Who-Embraces-Simplicity), written by Ge Hong in the fourth century c.e., already covered the basic composition of gunpowder. In the middle of the ninth century c.e., the Daoist scripture Zhen Yuan Miao Dao Yao Lue (Classified essentials of the mysterious Tao of the true origin of things) clearly recorded the precise composition of gunpowder. Obviously, the time of its invention was much earlier.

Many Daoists were also metallurgists. The hydrometallurgical technique of smelting copper from cupric sulfate liquor was first used in China in Daoist alchemic practices. It can be traced back to Huai Nan Zi (The book of Master Huainan), a Daoist text written in the early years of the first century c.e., it formally appeared in Daoist texts of the Tang Dynasty, and it became the prevailing technique of copper production during the Song Dynasty (9601279). It was no later than the Song Dynasty that Daoists had identified the element arsenic and extracted pure samples of it. Around the year 550 c.e., a Daoist practitioner invented a technique of steel production called guan gang fa, by which pig iron and wrought iron were heated together to a certain temperature for higher quality steel. With its moderate carbon content, this kind of steel was ideal for making high-quality tools. This technique was widely used and refined in China during the succeeding one thousand years.

With seven kinds of materials, Daoist alchemists created the earliest fireproof sealing material called six-one mud. They made glass and preserved valuable technical data in their writings. They wrote works on casting techniques such as Shen Xian Lian Dan Dian Zhu San Yuan Bao Zhao Fa (Spot casting methods of bronze mirror of the three origins of things by the immortals), in which they recorded in detail the techniques of quality control in casting. Ever since Huai Nan Zi in the Han Dynasty, Daoists used mercury-tin alloy and later added lead amalgam to create an ideal media for bronze mirror polishing.

A technique involving the suspending of magnetized needles was used by Daoists to test the quality of lodestone, which was a major healing object in alchemy. Eventually, this technique led to the invention of the magnetic needle compass. In addition, modern scientists found that Wu Yue Zhen Xing Tu (Maps of the true topography of the five sacred mountains), drawn in the third or fourth centuries c.e. and treasured by Daoists over the last eighteen centuries, contains the earliest type of contour map. The maps roughly reflect the local terrain and routes of the mountains.

Precise clock devices are of great importance in Daoist practices. Throughout Chinese history, many Daoists participated in the invention and improvement of the water clock. The famous cheng lou, a scale-controlled water clock invented by a Daoist named Li Lan, was widely used in the 400 years between the fifth and eighth centuries c.e., and served as an important component of various types of compounded clock devices in China. It was also used in the medieval Islamic world; studies show that Muslims probably learned about such clocks from the Chinese. Daoists of the Quanzhen Sect even invented portable water clock devices. A scripture called Quanzhen Zuo Bo Jie Fa (Quanzhen Sect easy preparation for sitting quiet in meditation), written between the tenth and fourteenth centuries c.e., recorded the technical details of making, debugging, and controlling the clocks.

Zhang Zhihe, a Daoist who lived during the Tang Dynasty, expounded the phenomenon of duration of vision, as it was called in modern optics. Later, another Daoist, Tan Qiao, who lived during the Five Dynasties (907960), discussed the phenomenon of reflection of plane mirrors. Zhao Youqin, a Daoist of the Quanzhen sect who wrote the famous scientific work Ge Xiang Xin Shu (New Book on the Investigation of Astronomical Phenomena ) in the Yuan Dynasty (12601368), conducted a series of large-scale experiments on geometric optical problems, such as rectilinear propagation of light, hole imaging, and intensity of illumination. He came to correct conclusions in these fields two centuries earlier than Galileo Galilei (15641642). His rough conclusion that "illumination intensifies as the intensity of light source enhances, but decreases as the image distance increases" appeared four hundred years earlier than Lambert's formula of qualitative illumination published in 1760, according to which "illumination is in reverse proportion to distance squared." In the early years of the nineteenth century, there were still Daoist believers in Guangzhou who studied with an open mind both the traditional Daoist theory of sphere-heavens and modern European astronomy.

In order to avoid losses in their alchemical experiments and for many other religious purposes, Daoists conducted weather observation and forecast. Their scripture Yu Yang Qi Hou Qin Ji (The near forcasting of the weather of rain or fine) analyzed scientifically the causes of wind and rain and recorded in terse but vivid verses their observations, which conform with modern meteorological science. They even provided various types of "cloud pictures" in the text.

Daoists not only explored but also wanted to navigate the heavens. The "flying vehicle made of jujube heart timber," recorded by Ge Hong in his Bao Pu Zi Nei Pian and regarded as the earliest design for a propeller aircraft, reveals the Daoist knowledge of the aerodynamic principles of flight. Modern scientists have recreated the vehicle according to Ge Hong's records and testified it to be technically reasonable. Ge Hong added that when rising to a height of forty li (about 12.44 miles) into the heavens, one can reach the outer space of taiqing (super clarity), where the air is powerful enough to support flying objects, helping them to fly naturally by inertia instead of motive forces. This is close to the law of First Cosmic Velocity in the modern science of astronautics. In the fourth century c.e., a hermit Daoist named Wang Jia wrote Shi Yi Ji (Record of gleaning), in which he claimed that once there had been a huge space aircraft named Cha ridden by the immortals. This aircraft used the sea as its base for launching and landing, and it continually navigated around the four seas, making a circuit every twelve years.

With the invention of gunpowder and the subsequent emergence of applied techniques for the control of its explosive power, the idea arose of using it as a rocket propellant. In the fifteenth century, an official of the Ming Dynasty named Wan Hoo conducted and died in the first attempt at manned rocket flight in human historypropelled by forty-seven gunpowder rockets. A Daoist biographical text formally printed in 1909 includes a description of a Daoist beauty who launched her aircraft into the heavens from a silo by means of a propellant compounded from cyprinoid fat.

Daoists were responsible for rich scientific achievements in many other fields, including cosmology, uranography, calendar making, geography, geology, mineralogy, botany, zoology, pharmaceutics, architecture, porcelain production, dye making, wine making, zymurgy, cerebral science, acoustics, wushu, sex hygiene, strategics, and psychology. Because the impetus for scientific exploration comes for Daoists from their religious belief in immortality, their science was inevitably bound by the ideas, purposes, and the historical development of Daoism. Therefore, it was impossible for science to gain an independent and deep development within the Daoist framework. Yet the remarkable achievements of Chinese science were also enabled and inspired by the Daoist interpretation of reality.

See also Dao


Bibliography

dao zang (the taoist canon). beijing: wenwu press, 1988.

holmes, welch. taoism: the parting of the way, rev. edition. boston: beacon press, 1957.

hua, tong-xu. zhong guo lou ke (water clock in china). hefei, china: anhui science and technology press, 1991.

jiang, sheng, and tong, waihop, eds. zhong guo dao jiao ke xue ji shu shi: han wei liang jin juan (a history of science and technology in taoism), vol. 1. beijing: science press, 2002.

jin, zheng-yao. taoism and science, trans. joe smith. new york: macmillan, 1991.

needham, joseph. science and civilization in china, vol. 2: history of scientific thought. cambridge, uk: cambridge university press, 1956.

needham, joseph. gunpowder as the fourth power, east and west. hong kong: hong kong university press, 1985.

sivin, nathan. medicine, philosophy, and religion in ancient china: researches and reflections. aldershot, uk, and brookfield, vt.: variorum, 1995.

sleewyk, andre wegener. "the celestial river: a reconstruction." technology and culture 19 (3) (1978): 423449.

volkov, alexei. "science and daoism: an introduction." taiwanese journal for philosophy and history of science 5, no. 1 (1996): 158.

yoshinobu, sakade. chukoku shisou kenkyu: iyaku you- jou, kagaku shisou hen (a study of chinese thought: essays on traditional medicine, pharmacy, nourishing vitality, and science). osaka, japan: kansai university press, 1999.

zhao, kuanghua, and zhou, jiahua. a history of science and technology in china, vol.: chemistry. beijing: science press, 1999.

zhen-dou, wang. "the recreating of flying vehicle recorded in 'the inner chapters of the philosopher master-who-embraces-simplicity' by ge hong." magazine of chinese museum of history 6 (1984).

zhu, ya-ping. dao jia wen hua yu ke xue (taoism culture and science). hefei, china: university of science and technology of china press, 1995.

zim, herbert s. rockets and jets. new york: harcourt, 1945.

jiang sheng

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Taoism

Taoism

In Chinese, the term Tao, or Dao, which means "way," can refer to phenomena as disparate as the proper mode of conduct in society to an abstract, transcendent order to the universe. Similarly, the Western term Taoism (or Daoism ) refers to a number of distinct phenomena in China, all related in some sense to this concept of Tao. One of the more popular usages is as a reference to several philosophical works of the Warring States and early Han periods, especially the Zhuangzi (Chuang-tzu ) and Laozi (Lao-tzu, also known as the Daodejing (Tao-te ching ), or Classic of the Way and Its Power ). The Chuang-tzu welcomes death as merely one more stage in a process of ongoing transformation that affects all and is directed by the Tao. It speaks of death as a returning home that humankind resists out of ignorance and sees the individual living on after death dissolved in the many creatures of the earth. The famous parable of the author dreaming that he was a butterfly, then waking to wonder if he were now a butterfly dreaming of being a human, is a metaphor for this sense that temporal life is but an illusion and death an awakening.

The Laozi, on the other hand, speaks of death as an inauspicious event to be avoided and mentions self-cultivation techniques intended to prolong physical life. This viewpoint is much closer than the Zhuangzi (Chuang-tzu) to mainstream ancient Chinese thought on death. Life does go on in a shadowy, subterranean realm, but it is not joyful, and much effort was expended from an early period to forestall its arrival. By the third century b.c.e., there were programs of exercise, diet, sexual practices, and meditation intended to nourish the life force while alive as well as jade burial suits and tomb guardians intended to preserve the deceased in the other realm. Alchemy, the belief that the human form could be made eternal through the ingestion of various mineral-based elixirs, developed through the Warring States era, Han Dynasty, and about fifth century b.c.e. to sixth century c.e. Practitioners were initially adepts of the occult arts without a clear sectarian identity, but eventually these practices would make their way into the ritual canon of religious Daoism.

The Confucian view of death, by contrast, forsakes all hope for extraordinary longevity and focuses on the secure installation of the dead in the other world, where they would be administered by a bureaucracy that mirrored that of the living and supplied with the necessities of continued life through ancestral sacrifice. The dead were recalled and, some argue, kept alive by meditative visualizations in which the dead person was called into the consciousness as if still alive. The Confucians also promoted a metaphorical interpretation of sacrifice that elided the question of personal survival and the ethical implications of a transactional relationship with the sacred.

Religious Taoism arose in the second century c.e., proclaiming a new pantheon of pure deities and a new, morality-based set of practices. The early Taoist church foresaw an imminent apocalypse in which the evil would perish and the faithful "seed people" would survive to repopulate a utopian world of Great Peace. Until then, ordained Taoists received celestial ranks that carried over into the world of the dead, assuring them a favored position of power and responsibility in the other world. Their offices might be in the cavern-heavens hidden within the world's sacred mountains or in one of the many celestial heavens. Nonbelievers went to a profane world of the dead, where they were subject to a variety of dangers, including lawsuits from those they had wronged in either realm. Living Taoist priests could intervene on their behalf, using their authority as celestial officials to have suits dismissed and punishments curtailed.

Popular conceptions of the afterlife came to focus on existence in hells where retribution was exacted for sins during life. Taoists, like Buddhists, developed ritual methods to save the deceased from these torments, submitting written petitions to celestial officials but also employing ritualized violence to force their way into the hells in order to lead the deceased out. Major Taoist rituals of renewal (jiao ) typically end with a Rite of Universal Salvation intended to save the dispossessed souls.

Twenty-first-century priests of the Taoist church survive in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and diasporic Chinese communities and have been reestablished in China. There are some movements in the West that claim this mantle as well, but most do not maintain traditional ritual practice. The philosophical works of the Warring States era, on the other hand, enjoy a wide following in the West, though the disparity in the teachings of the Laozi and the Zhuangzi are seldom appreciated. The dominant Chinese approach to death remains that of Chinese popular religion, which eclectically mixes the beliefs of Buddhism and religious Taoism with traditional Chinese views of death, the afterlife, and the soul.

See also: Chinese Beliefs; Shinto

Bibliography

Kohn, Livia, ed. The Taoist Handbook. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

Robinet, Isabelle. Taoism: Growth of a Religion. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997.

TERRY F. KLEEMAN

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Taoism

Taoism

One of the three major religious systems of ancient China, together with Confucianism and Buddhism. Early Taoism derives from the Tao ("the road" or "the way") teachings of Lao Tzu. The origins and background of Lao Tzu is uncertain; in fact, most details of his life are legendary. Some sources claim Lao Tzu was said born of poor parents in Tau (Honan) under the Emperor Ting of the Kau dynasty (ca. 605 B.C.E.). Others believe he was a philosopher who became disgusted with the world and became a pessimist, later resigning his position in the Record Department and retiring to a monastery. He also allegedly met and was taught by Gautama Buddha, and held discussions with Confucius. The name, Lao Tzu (meaning "Old Master"), may not be an actual persons name but a pseudonym for the philosophers and teachers who developed Taoism as it is known today.

Lao Tzu's book Tao-te-Ching was regarded as a sacred work in North and Central China, but was burned with other writings in 220 B.C.E. It reappeared under the Han dynasty and was reinforced by the teachings of Chuang Tzu, another Taoist classic. It is believed to have been the work of a philosopher of the same name. Lao Tzu was the first to formalize Taoism while Chuang-Tzu developed a more philosophical system, metaphysics, and epistemology. Chuang Tzu's teachings of the Tao is considered to be transcendental, while Lao-Tzu's is considered to be a natural form.

Taoism was originally an esoteric philosophy, concerned with the unity underlying the opposites and diversity of the phenomenal world. Taoism taught union with the law of the universe through wisdom and detached action. The union of cosmic and individual energies is reminiscent of the Vedanta teachings of India.

As central to the Taoist tradition as the concepts of yin and yang are the ideas of Tao and Te ("the power"). Like yin, Tao is often identified with the passive (or wu wei ); because the way is often given preeminence over the power. It is said a real seeker of wisdom knows the power (Te) but seeks the way (Tao). One should not strive for wealth or prestige and that aggression is to be avoided.

As part of the Taoists' practice, followers have incorporated lifestyle rituals, such as vegetarianism, herbal and tactile medicinal approaches, good moral conduct, and the use of appropriate incantations, amulets, and charms. T'ai Chi Ch'uan, with its fusion of energetic and relaxed exercise, has provided a means of increasing and enhancing ch'i (or Qi), the vital force of life. The overall goal of Taoists' life is to attain harmony with the Tao. This means one must desire nothing, live simply, and act by not acting. It is a practice where solitude and individualism is cherished and where the "upper classes" of social standing are rejected.

Taoism has also developed its own yoga techniques, which parallel the ancient Hindu system of kundalini yoga. These involved control of ch'i, the force believed to stand behind sexual activity, but which could also be diverted into different channels in the body for blissful expansion of consciousness. The circulation of this generative force in the body, aided by breathing techniques, corresponds with Indian yoga techniques involving pranayama breathing, and the ascent of kundalini energy through the chakras or vital centers of the body. This individual alchemy was variously known as k'ai men (open door), ho ping (unity), or ho hsieh (harmony).

The extraordinary parallels between ancient Indian and Chinese Taoism in its various forms and Hinduism (Vedanta and yoga) do not appear to have been documented by historians. The yoga teachings of China descended from teacher to pupil; it is only in recent times that basic texts have been translated into English. There are now teachers of Chinese yoga in Western countries and centers for instruction. There are also many translations with commentaries of the earlier Tao teachings in the Tao-te-Ching.

Sources:

Bishop, Peter and Darton, Michael. The Encyclopedia of World Faiths: An Illustrated Survey of the World's Living Religions. London: MacDonald and Co., Inc., 1987.

Bynner, Witter, trans. The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1944.

Chang, Chung-Yuan. Tao: A New Way of Thinking. New York: Harper & Row, 1975.

Feng, Gia-Fu and English, Jane. Lao Tsu: Tao Te Ching. New York: Vintage Books, 1972.

Hendricks, Robert G. Lao-Tzu: Te-Tao Ching. New York: The Modern Library, 1993.

Hughes, E. R., ed. and trans. Chinese Philosophy in Classical Times. London: J. M. Dent; New York: E. P. Dutton, 1942.

Lu Kuan Yü. Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality. London: Rider & Co., 1970.

Soo, Chee. The Chinese Art of K'ai Men. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1977.

Taoism Information Page. http://www.clas.ufl.cdu/users/gthursby/taoism/ . April 4, 2000.

Watson, Burton, trans. Chuang Tzu, Basic Writings. New York: Columbia University Press, 1964.

Weaverville Joss House Temple. http://cal-parks-ca.gov/DISTRICTS/nobuttes/wjhsp/wjhshp127.htm. March 31, 2000.

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Taoism

Taoism or Daoism. Chinese religious and philosophical system, taking many different forms, and influencing other religions greatly, especially Buddhism. The two major forms of Taoism are philosophical, tao-chia (daojia), and religious, tao-chiao (daojiao); but both are intertwined (and not, as was once thought, incompatible alternatives).

Tao-chia goes back traditionally to Lao-tzu and Tao-te ching (Daode jing). Tao-te ching proposes a transformation of character within, from which good society and behaviour will flow. Where a Confucian asks, ‘What should I do?’, a Taoist asks, ‘What kind of person should I be?’ This involves discerning the Tao, the primordial source of order and the guarantor of the stability of all appearance. Tao is the unproduced Producer of all that is. Through the energetic initiative of creativity, i.e. through Te, the inner and inexpressible nature of Tao nevertheless appears in manifest forms. To live in accord with Tao is to realize this order and nature and stability in one's own life and society. Te is then the virtue of the person who achieves that goal, especially through wuwei.

The political philosophy of Taoism requires the ruler to be equally ‘invisible’. But since the ideal is never realized, the ruler has responsibility to enforce virtue; and this (especially Taote ching 6, 36, 65) has been criticized as encouraging despotism. This was reinforced indirectly by the second major figure/text of tao-chia, Chuang-tzu, where the pursuit of absolute self-command and of the ‘usefulness of the useless’ is taken even further. In contrast, neo-Taoism, e.g. Hsüan-hsüeh, rehabilitated Confucianism as an illustration of what wu-wei, properly understood, would mean in practice. By a different sort of contrast, the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove maintained that being in command of oneself and going with the grain of Tao allowed one to eat, drink, and be merry. The Seven Sages belonged to that part of the neo-Taoist revival known as Chʾing Tʾan, ‘The School of Pure Conversations’.

Tao-chiao has had a far more diverse history, with many schools and teachings, and constant interaction with popular Chinese religion. The unifying thread is the search for the Way (Tao) of Great Equilibrium and the quest for immortality, though this may be understood literally, metaphorically, or as a temporary (quest for longevity) postponement of death. Because all nature is united in Tao, immortality cannot be achieved by emancipating some aspect of nature (e.g. a soul or spirit) in order to escape from nature; rather, it must be sought in the proper directing of the forces of nature within one's own body. The major areas of concern, emphasized in different ways in the different schools, are (i) inner hygiene, attention, especially through diet and gymnastic exercises, to the conditions of life; in the Inner Deity Hygiene School, the endeavour is to visualize and work with the deities who control the functions of the body, by making offerings to them of appropriate food and behaviour; (ii) breathing, attention to ch'i (breath); (iii) circulation of the breath within the body, bringing its power deliberately to every part; (iv) sexuality, attention to the techniques leading to the retention of energy by retaining semen or controlling orgasm, and by sending this retained power through the body; (v) alchemy, see especially KO HUNG; (vi) behaviour, attention to the kinds of moral behaviour which will be in harmony with the Tao; (vii) the search for the Isles of the Blessed where the immortals (hsien) might be found who would reveal the secrets of their immortality.

While Tao-chiao rests on the same basic texts as Tao-chia, it rapidly produced many more (for the canon, see TAO-TSANG), and began to produce a proliferation of different schools. The first of these (in the sense that it produced deliberate organization and continuity) was Wu-tou-mi tao, of Chang Tao-ling and Chang Lu. A different note was introduced by Wei Hua-tsʾun (251–334): she had risen in the Celestial Master hierarchy, but then married and raised a family. After her family was grown up, she returned to her studies and received visions of the Immortals who entrusted to her the first sections of Shang chʾing, writings which were to become the scripture of the new movement. From the connection with Mount Mao, the movement is known as Mao-shan. Religious Taoism is made up of many schools or sects: at least eighty-six major movements have been listed. Among these many schools, of early importance were Ling-pao and Tʾai-ping Tao (an early example of the revolutionary and somewhat millennarian strand in religious Taoism, familiar in the Boxer rebellion). Later schools of importance include Cheng-i Tao and Chʾüan-chen Tao.

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Taoism

Taoism (däu´Ĭzəm), refers both to a Chinese system of thought and to one of the four major religions of China (with Confucianism, Buddhism, and Chinese popular religion).

Philosophical Taoism

The philosophical system stems largely from the Tao-te-ching, a text traditionally ascribed to Lao Tzu but probably written in the mid-3d cent. BC The Tao, in the broadest sense, is the way the universe functions, the path [Chin. tao=path] taken by natural events. It is characterized by spontaneous creativity and by regular alternations of phenomena (such as day following night) that proceed without effort. Effortless action may be illustrated by the conduct of water, which unresistingly accepts the lowest level and yet wears away the hardest substance. Human beings, following the Tao, must abjure all striving. The ideal state of being, fully attainable only by mystical contemplation, is simplicity and freedom from desire, comparable to that of an infant or an "uncarved block."

Taoist political doctrines reflect this quietistic philosophy: the ruler's duty is to impose a minimum of government, while protecting his people from experiencing material wants or strong passions. The social virtues expounded by Confucius were condemned as symptoms of excessive government and disregard of effortless action. Second only to Lao Tzu as an exponent of philosophical Taoism was Chuang-tzu, who wrote brilliant satirical essays. Taoist ideals greatly influenced Chinese literature, painting, and calligraphy. Later Taoism emphasized the techniques [Chin. te=power] for realizing the effects flowing from the Tao, especially long life and physical immortality.

Religious Taoism

Religious Taoism appropriated earlier interest and belief in alchemy and the search for the elixir of life and the philosopher's stone. By the 5th cent. AD, Taoism was a fully developed religious system with many features adopted from Mahayana Buddhism, offering emotional religious satisfaction to those who found the largely ethical system of Confucianism inadequate. Taoism developed a large pantheon (probably incorporating many local gods), monastic orders, and lay masters. Heading the commonly worshiped deities is the Jade Emperor. Directly under him, ruling from Mt. Tai, is the Emperor of the Eastern Mountain, who weighs merits and faults and assigns reward and punishment in this and future existences. An ecclesiastical hierarchy was founded in the 8th cent., headed by the T'ien Shih [master of heaven]; he claimed succession from Chang Tao-lin, an alchemist of the 2d cent. who was reputed to have discovered the elixir of immortality after receiving magical power from Lao Tzu.

Throughout its history Taoism has provided the basis for many Chinese secret societies; in the 1950s, after the establishment of the Communist regime, Taoism was officially proscribed. Taoism is still practiced to some degree in modern China, as well as in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao and in communities of Chinese who have emigrated.

Bibliography

Taoist ideas have enjoyed wide circulation in the West in the late 20th cent. and have been the basis of popular books, such as F. Capra's Tao of Physics (1983). See also A. Waley, The Way and Its Power (1935); D. C. Lau, tr., Tao Te Ching (1963); B. Watson, tr., The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu (1968); M. Kalternmark, Lao Tzu and Taoism (1969); R. M. Smullyan, Tao Is Silent (1977); C.-Y. Chang, Creativity and Taoism (1963, repr. 1982); N. J. Girardot, Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism (1983); J. Lagerway, Taoist Ritual in Chinese Society and History (1987).

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Taoism

Taoism Chinese philosophy and religion considered as being next to Confucianism in importance. Taoist philosophy is traced to a 6th-century bc classic of Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching. The recurrent theme of this work is the Tao (way or path). To follow the Tao is to follow the path leading to self-realization. Te (virtue) and ch'i (energy) represent the goal of effortless action. Taoist ethics emphasize patience, simplicity, and the harmony of nature, achieved through the proper balance of yin and yang (male and female principles). As a religion, Taoism dates from the time of Chang Tao-ling, who organized a group of followers in ad 142. See also Book of Changes; Tai Chi

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Taoism

Taoism a Chinese philosophy based on the writings of Lao-tzu, advocating humility and religious piety. The central concept and goal is the Tao, and its most important text is the Tao-te-Ching. Taoism has both a philosophical and a religious aspect. Philosophical Taoism emphasizes inner contemplation and mystical union with nature; wisdom, learning, and purposive action should be abandoned in favour of simplicity and wu-wei (non-action, or letting things take their natural course). The religious aspect of Taoism developed later, c.3rd century ad, incorporating certain Buddhist features and developing a monastic system.

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Taoism

Tao·ism / ˈdouˌizəm; ˈtou-/ • n. a Chinese philosophy based on the writings of Lao-tzu (fl. 6th century bc), advocating humility and religious piety. DERIVATIVES: Tao·ist n. & adj. Tao·is·tic / touˈistik/ adj.

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Taoism

Taoism

See Chinese Religions, Daoism and Science in China

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Daoism

Daoism

See Chinese Religions, Daoism and Science in China

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Daoism

Daoism: see TAOISM.

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Taoism

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