Meaning of TAOISM in English

indigenous religio-philosophical tradition that has shaped Chinese life for more than 2,000 years. In the broadest sense, a Taoist attitude toward life can be seen in the accepting and yielding, the joyful and carefree sides of the Chinese character, an attitude that offsets and complements the moral and duty-conscious, austere and purposeful character ascribed to Confucianism. Taoism is also characterized by a positive, active attitude toward the occult and the metaphysical (theories on the nature of reality), whereas the agnostic, pragmatic Confucian tradition considers these issues of only marginal importance, although the reality of such issues is, by most Confucians, not denied. More strictly defined, Taoism includes: the ideas and attitudes peculiar to the Lao-tzu (or Tao-te Ching; Classic of the Way of Power), the Chuang-tzu, the Lieh-tzu, and related writings; the Taoist religion, which is concerned with the ritual worship of the Tao; and those who identify themselves as Taoists. Taoist thought permeates Chinese culture, including many aspects not usually considered Taoist. In Chinese religion, the Taoist traditionoften serving as a link between the Confucian tradition and folk traditionhas generally been more popular and spontaneous than the official (Confucian) state cult and less diffuse and shapeless than folk religion. Taoist philosophy and religion have found their way into all Asian cultures influenced by China, especially those of Vietnam, Japan, and Korea. Various religious practices reminiscent of Taoism in such areas of Chinese cultural influence indicate early contacts with Chinese travellers and immigrants that have yet to be elucidated. Both Western Sinologists and Chinese scholars themselves have distinguishedsince Han times (206 BCAD 220)between a Taoist philosophy of the great mystics and their commentators (Tao-chia) and a later Taoist religion (Tao-chiao). This theoryno longer considered validwas based on the view that the ancient Taoism of the mystics antedated the later Neo-Taoist superstitions that were misinterpretations of the mystics' metaphorical images. The mystics, however, should be viewed against the background of the religious practices existing in their own times. Their ecstasies, for example, were closely related to the trances and spirit journeys of the early magicians and shamans (religious personages with healing and psychic transformation powers). Not only are the authors of the Tao-te Ching, the Chuang-tzu (book of Master Chuang), and the Lieh-tzu (book of Master Lieh) not the actual and central founders of an earlier pure Taoism later degraded into superstitious practices but they can even be considered somewhat on the margin of older Taoist traditions. Therefore, because there has been a nearly continuous mutual influence between Taoists of different social classesphilosophers, ascetics, alchemists, and the priests of popular cultsthe distinction between philosophical and religious Taoism in this article is made simply for the sake of descriptive convenience. There is also a tendency among scholars today to draw a less rigid line between what is called Taoist and what is called Confucian. The two traditions share many of the same ideas about man, society, the ruler, Heaven, and the universeideas that were not created by either school but that stem from a tradition prior to either Confucius or Lao-tzu. Viewed from this common tradition, orthodox Confucianism limited its field of interest to the creation of a moral and political system that fashioned society and the Chinese empire; whereas Taoism, inside the same world view, represented more personal and metaphysical preoccupations. In the case of Buddhisma third tradition that influenced Chinafundamental concepts such as the nonexistence of the individual ego and the illusory nature of the physical world are diametrically opposed to Taoism. In terms of overt individual and collective practices, however, competition between these two religions for influence among the peoplea competition in which Confucianism had no need to participate because it had state patronageresulted in mutual borrowings, numerous superficial similarities, and essentially Chinese developments inside Buddhism, such as the Ch'an (Japanese Zen) sect. In folk religion, since Sung times (9601279), Taoist and Buddhist elements have coexisted without clear distinctions in the minds of the worshippers. Fishing in a Mountain Stream, detail of an ink drawing on silk by Hs Tao-ning, a religio-philosophical tradition that has, along with Confucianism, shaped Chinese life for more than 2,000 years. The Taoist heritage, with its emphasis on individual freedom and spontaneity, laissez-faire government and social primitivism, mystical experience, and techniques of self-transformation, represents in many ways the antithesis to Confucian concern with individual moral duties, community standards, and governmental responsibilities. Taoism encompasses both a Taoist philosophical tradition (Tao-chia) associated with the Tao-te Ching (Lao-tzu), Chuang-tzu, Lieh-tzu, and other texts, and a Taoist religious tradition (Tao-chiao) with organized doctrine, formalized cultic activity, and institutional leadership. These two forms of Taoist expression are clearly interrelated, though at many points in tension. Aspects of both philosophical and religious Taoism were appropriated in East Asian cultures influenced by China, especially Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Additional reading General works Max Kaltenmark, Lao Tzu and Taoism (1969; originally published in French, 1965), is a good general introduction to Taoist philosophy and religion. Other studies include Marcel Granet, La Pense chinoise (1934, reissued 1988), the classic work on the basic systems of classification in Chinese thoughtdifficult but highly enlightening; Holmes Welch, The Parting of the Way: Lao Tzu and the Taoist Movement (1957, reissued 1966), a readable interpretation of the Tao-te Ching and an account of the Taoist movement; Herrlee G. Creel, What Is Taoism? (1970, reprinted 1982), eight essays on Taoist thought; Henri Maspero, Taoism and Chinese Religion (1981; originally published in French, 1971), a classic pioneer work on religious Taoism; and C. Bell, In Search of the Tao in Taoism: New Questions of Unity and Multiplicity, History of Religions, 33:187201 (November 1993). Texts Arthur Waley, The Way and Its Power (1934, reissued 1977), is a classic translation of the Tao-te Ching preceded by a good introduction on its place in Chinese thought. A contemporary liberal translation in a topical arrangement is Michael Lafargue (trans. and ed.), The Tao of the Tao Te Ching (1992). The texts of the Shih-chi concerning Lao-tzu have been translated and thoroughly discussed in a debate between H.H. Dubs and Derk Bodde in Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 61 (1941), 62 (1942), and 64 (1944). A very readable translation of the most important and most difficult text of Taoist mysticism is found in Burton Watson (trans.), The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu (1968). A.C. Graham (trans.), The Book of Lieh-tzu (1960, reissued 1990), provides a good translation and introduction to Taoist mysticism. Max Kaltenmark, Le Lie-sien tchouan (1953, reprinted 1987), a translation of the earliest extant Taoist hagiography, contains much information on mythology hidden in long notes. Kristofer Marinus Schipper, L'Empereur Wou des Han dans la lgende taoiste (1965), includes a translation of a Taoist hagiographic novel and a study of its ritual background in the Mao Shan sect. An imperfect but complete translation of probably the most important text of religious Taoism is found in James R. Ware (trans. and ed.), Alchemy, Medicine, and Religion in the China of A.D. 320: The Nei P'ien of Ko Hung (1966, reissued 1981). Nathan Sivin, Chinese Alchemy: Preliminary Studies (1968), is an annotated translation of a treatise by a 6th-century alchemista most scholarly introduction on the study of Chinese alchemy. History Taoist speculation and mysticism are discussed in Fung Yu-lan (Yu-lan Feng), A History of Chinese Philosophy, trans. from Chinese by Derk Bodde, 2 vol. (1937, reissued 1983), a standard reference work on the classical period of Chinese thought; Arthur Waley, Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China (1939, reprinted 1982), the Chuang-tzu studied in relation to the thought of its time; Joseph Needham and Wang Ling, The Tao Chia (Taoists) and Taoism, Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 2, chapter 10 (1956, reissued 1991), a highly lucid expos of early Taoist speculation and later Taoist technology; A.C Graham, Disputers of the Tao (1989), researching the period 500200 Bc; and Livia Kohn, Early Chinese Mysticism: Philosophy and Soteriology in the Taoist Tradition (1992), which includes a glossary and excellent bibliography.Tao legends are treated in Henri Dor, Lao-tse et le taosme (1938, reprinted 1981), not very scientific but with much information; and Anna K. Seidel, The Image of the Perfect Ruler in Early Taoist Messianism: Lao-tzu and Li Hung, History of Religions, 9:216247 (196970).The history of Taoist religion is examined in Anna K. Seidel, La Divinisation de Lao tseu dans le Taoisme des Han (1969), an excellent detailed study of the formation of the Taoist system in the early Imperial period; douard Chavannes, Le Jet des dragons (1916), a classic study and translation of a Taoist liturgy dating from the end of the T'ang dynasty; Charles D. Benn, The Cavern-Mystery Transmission: A Taoist Ordination Rite of A.D. 711 (1991), a scholarly milestone in understanding Taoist liturgy; Arthur Waley, The Poetry and Career of Li Po, 701-762 A.D. (1950, reissued 1979), the life of the Taoist poet; Arthur Waley (trans. and ed.), The Travels of an Alchemist (1931, reprinted 1963), the account of the Central Asian journey of the second patriarch of the Ch'an-chen sect; and J.J.M. De Groot, Jaarlijksche feesten en gebruiken van de Emoy-Chineezen (1880), also available in a French translation, Les Ftes annuellement clbres moui (Amoy), 2 vol. (1886, reprinted 1981), and The Religious System of China, vol. 6 (1910, reprinted 1989), both valuable pioneering descriptions of the Taoist priesthood and popular exorcists in Fukien at the end of the 19th century.Other aspects of Taoism are explored in History of Religions, vol. 9, no. 2 (November 1969) and no. 3 (February 1970), issues devoted to the reports from the First International Conference on Taoist Studies, including papers on the conference discussions, on Chuang-tzu, on Neo-Taoism, on Taoist antecedents in Buddhist thought, and on Taoist messianism; R.G.H. Siu, Ch'i: A Neo-Taoist Approach to Life (1974), a presentation of the Taoist philosophy of time; Michael Saso, The Teachings of Taoist Master Chuang (1978), a discussion of contemporary liturgical Taoism; Holmes Welch and Anna K. Seidel (eds.), Facets of Taoism: Essays in Chinese Religion (1979), studies of religious Taoism from the Second International Conference on Taoist Studies; Toshihiko Izutsu, Sufism and Taoism: A Comparative Study of Key Philosophical Concepts (1984); John Lagerwey, Taoist Ritual in Chinese Society and History (1987); and Livia Kohn and Yoshinobu Sakade (eds.), Taoist Meditation and Longevity Techniques (1989), articles explaining everyday practices on this seldom-treated subject. Anna K. Seidel Michel Strickmann The Editors of the Encyclopdia Britannica History Taoism in the Ch'in and Han periods (221 BC-AD 220) of the Chinese empire Esoteric traditions of eastern China The textual remains of Taoism during the Warring States period were all presumably produced in connection with official patronage; similarly, developments in Taoist thought and practice during the early Imperial age principally have to be studied from the vantage point of the court. At the Imperial court, representatives of different local traditions met as competitors for official favour, and the court consequently served as the principal meeting place for the exchange of ideas. The historians who recorded the progress of these varying intellectual and religious currents were themselves court officials and often were active participants in the movements they describe. The emperors, anxious to consolidate and expand their power, were a natural focus for wonder-workers and specialists in esoteric arts. A series of such wonder-workers from the eastern seaboard visited the courts of the Ch'in and early Han. They told of islands in the ocean, peopled by immortal beingswhich the Chuang-tzu had describedand so convincing were their accounts that sizable expeditions were fitted out and sent in search of them. The easterners brought the cults of their own region to the capital, recommending and supervising the worship of astral divinities who would assure the emperor's health and longevity. One of their number, Li Shao-chn, bestowed on the Han emperor Wu Ti counsels that are a rsum of the spiritual preoccupations of the time. The emperor was to perform sacrifices to the furnace (tsao), which would enable him to summon spiritual beings. They in turn would permit him to change cinnabar powder (mercuric sulfide) into gold, from which vessels were to be made, out of which he would eat and drink. This would increase his span of life and permit him to behold the immortals (hsien) who dwell on the Isles of P'eng-lai, in the midst of the sea. Here, for the first time, alchemy joins the complex of activities that were supposed to contribute to the prolongation of life. The Huang-Lao tradition Also originating in the eastern coastal region (Shantung), alongside these same thaumaturgic (wonder-working) tendencies, was the learned tradition of the Huang-Lao masters, devotees of the legendary Yellow Emperor ( Huang Ti) and Lao-tzu. The information on the life of Lao-tzu transmitted by Ssu-ma Ch'ien probably derives directly from their teaching. They venerated Lao-tzu as a sage whose instructions, contained in his cryptic book, describe the perfect art of government. The Yellow Emperor, with whose reign Ssu-ma Ch'ien's universal history opens, was depicted as a ruler of the Golden Age who achieved his success because he applied his teachers' precepts to government. The Yellow Emperor also was the patron of technology; and the classic works of many arcane arts, including alchemy, medicine, sexual techniques, cooking, and dietetics, were all placed under his aegis. Unlike Lao-tzu, the Yellow Emperor is always the disciple, an unremitting seeker of knowledge, and the HuangLao masters' ideal of the perfect ruler. From the court of the King of Ch'i (in present-day Shantung Province) where they were already expounding the Lao-tzu in the 3rd century BC, the teachings of the HuangLao masters soon spread throughout learned and official circles in the capital. Many early Han statesmen became their disciples and attempted to practice government by inaction (wu-wei); among them were also scholars who cultivated esoteric arts. Although their doctrine lost its direct political relevance during the reign of the emperor Wu Ti (reigned 141/14087/86 BC), their ensemble of teachings concerning both ideal government and practices for prolonging life continued to evoke considerable interest and is perhaps the earliest truly Taoist movement of which there is clear historical evidence.

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