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A Simple Introduction to Chinese Taoism

By Jason Randhawa

Chinese Taoism is a principal philosophy and of religious system of China. Basically, Chinese Taoism advocates a life of complete simplicity and naturalness and of noninterference with the course of natural events, in order to attain a happy existence in harmony with the Tao.

According to Wikipedia, the history of Taoism depends on how it is defined. Taoism's origins may be traced to a prehistoric Chinese religion; to the composition of the "Tao Te Ching" (3rd or 4th century BCE); or to the activity of Zhang Daoling (2nd century CE). Alternatively, one could argue that "Taoism" as a religious identity only arose later, by way of contrast with the newly-arrived religion of Buddhism, or with the fourth-century codification of the Shangching and Lingbao texts. Other accounts credit Laozi (reputed author of the Tao Te Ching/Dao de Jing) as the teacher of both Buddha and Confucius.

Lao Tzu is credited with writing the sacred Taoist book "Tao Te Ching." Here is an excerpt from the Tao Te Ching as translated by JH McDonald (Part 41):

When a superior person hears of the Tao,
She diligently puts it into practice.
When an average person hears of the Tao,
he believes half of it, and doubts the other half.
When a foolish person hears of the Tao,
he laughs out loud at the very idea.
If he didn't laugh,
it wouldn't be the Tao.

Thus it is said:
The brightness of the Tao seems like darkness,
the advancement of the Tao seems like retreat,
the level path seems rough,
the superior path seem empty,
the pure seems to be tarnished,
and true virtue doesn't seem to be enough.
The virtue of caution seems like cowardice,
the pure seems to be polluted,
the true square seems to have no corners,
the best vessels take the most time to finish,
the greatest sounds cannot be heard,
and the greatest image has no form.

The Tao hides in the unnamed,
Yet it alone nourishes and completes all things.

From Part 68:
The best warriors do not use violence.
The best generals do not destroy indiscriminately.
The best tacticians try to avoid confrontation.
The best leaders become servants of their people.

This is called the virtue of non-competition.
This is called the power to manage others.
This is called attaining harmony with the heavens.

As you can see, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching is a very powerful text. This is one of the most widely read sacred books because of its inspiring content and true simplicity.

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