Click for a full explination of Taoism.
(also spelled Daoism; see below) refers to a variety of related philosophical and religious traditions that have influenced the people of Eastern Asia for more than two millennia. They also notably influenced the Western world, particularly since the 19th century. The word 道, Tao (or Dao, depending on the romanization scheme), roughly translates as "path" or "way". It carries more abstract, spiritual meanings in folk religion and Chinese philosophy.
Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility, while Taoist thought generally focuses on nature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos (天人相应); health and longevity; and wu wei (action through inaction). Harmony with the Universe, or the source thereof (Tao), is the intended result of many Taoist rules and practices.
Reverence for ancestor spirits and immortals is common in popular Taoism. Organized Taoism distinguishes its ritual activity from that of the folk religion, which some professional Taoists (Dàoshi) view as debased. Chinese alchemy (including Neidan), astrology, cuisine, Zen Buddhism, several Chinese martial arts, Chinese traditional medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history.
A Taoist Temple in Taiwan, showing elements of the Jingxiang religious practice and sculptures of Dragon and Lion guardians
Taoist beliefs include teachings based on revelations from various sources. Therefore, different branches of Taoism often have differing beliefs, especially concerning nature. Nevertheless, there are certain core beliefs that nearly all the sects share. These relate to the symbology of the Tai-Chi, or Ying Yang symbol, and the notion of wu-wei (action through inaction) which seek to counterbalance Yin with Yang at every opportunity. Generally speaking, Taoists believe in embodiment and pragmatism, engaging practice to actualize the natural order within themselves.
Taoist theology emphasizes various themes found in the Daodejing and Zhuangzi, such as naturalness, vitality, peace, "non-action" (wu wei, or "effortless effort"—see below), emptiness (refinement), detachment, flexibility, receptiveness, spontaneity, the relativism of human ways of life, ways of speaking and guiding behavior.
I've read quite a few books based on "The Way" and I've always found it interesting but I've never quite devoted myself to the movement, though lately I've been thinking about doing so.
Anyone ever look into it? Discuss!