“Nature is great beauty but silence, four seasons obey their own orders without debating, things are formed with its own rules taijitu with white representing Yang and black representing Yinsaying nothing, and wise people will find it.”

It’s a very philosophical sentence, isn’t it? Do you know where it’s from? Who said it?

When it comes to religions in China most of people will mention Confucianism because it’s very popular in the world. Today I’m going to introduce a religion deeply rooted in Chinese customs and worldview, Taoism.

Taoism (Daoism) is a philosophical and religious tradition about Tao. The term Tao means “way”, “path” or “principle”. Taoism was founded by Laozi in late 4th century BC. Governed by doing nothing that goes against nature, the governing method of it was fascinated by a lot of rulers in that time. With Qin Shi Huang unifying the country, he burned books and buried the literature in pits, Taoism also doomed. At the beginning of Han Dynasty Taoism was formally established. Supported by some emperors for political reasons, it became the legitimate religion in Northern and Southern Dynasties. Taoism spent its golden ages from Sui Dynasty to Song Dynasty and was divided in Jin Dynasty. In Ming Dynasty thousands of Taoist temples were built, Taoism entered to the life of common people.

The most important ethic part of Taoism is wu wei(non-action).

There is a carpenter who went to another country with his apprentices. They saw a huge oak on their trip. The apprentices were surprised by it and trotted to see it. But the carpenter paid no heed and continued to walk. The apprentices asked their master for the reason. He answered: the tree is useless and for this reason it could live so long. When the night came the carpenter dreamed about the tree. The tree said to him: “why you think I am useless? I can live for so long and grow as huge because I am useless. If I were useful I would have been cut by you. For you I am useless, but for me I am useful.”

Tao Te ChingIt’s difficult to understand wu wei because it’s abstract. But out of this story we are able to understand it better as the story convert abstract into concrete. It asserts that one must place their will in harmony with the natural universe. Thus, a potentially harmful interference is to be avoided, and in this way, goals can be achieved effortlessly.

The naturalness is also an ethic of Taoism and is regarded as a central value in Taoism, which involves freeing oneself from selfishness and desire, and appreciating simplicity.

There is another story:

The pheasants living in forests make all effort to hunt food. It’s difficult but they prefer to live there rather than live in a cage. Although they could get enough food in a cage but their mind would be bounded. For the same reason, people with naturalness won’t pursue material and desire at the price of liberty.

In addition Tao and Te and Three Treasures are important ethics of Taoism too.

Laozi and Zhuangzi are the most important people in Taoism and Tao Te Ching of Laozi and Nanhua Ching of Zhuangzi are the most important codes of Taoism.Kong Fu

If you are interested in Taoism you can visit Wudang mountain, Longhu mountain, Qiyun mountain, Qingcheng mountain and so on. The ancient architectures and the Taoist Kung Fu will make you surprise.

Taoism is the prescription of hearts, and the harbour of the vagrant soul.

Nature is great beauty but silence, four seasons obey their own orders without debating, things are formed with its own rules saying nothing, and wise people will find it.

Will you be one of them?

Sandy Li

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