The Texts of Taoism

The Texts of Taoism


Taoism (or Daoism) is the English name referring to a variety of related Chinese philosophical and religious traditions and concepts. These traditions influenced East Asia for over two thousand years and some have spread internationally.

Tao (or Dao, depending on the romanisation scheme) means literally "path" or "way", but in Daoism, Tao is the primordial state of non-being, or Wuji, a state of Nothingness and Boundlessness. The closest equivalent to the concept in western philosophy would be Plato's allegory of the cave in the Socratic dialogue of The Republic, where Tao would be the world outside of the cave, before any forms in that world took shape or before creation. Orthodox teachings in Taoism preaches all adherents to return to this state of non-being, the state of Oneness by way of Xiuzhen and Xiushen.

The word "Taoism" was used to group different Chinese terms including Daojiao/Taochiao and Daojia/Taochia. This scholastic dichotomy of "religious" and "philosophical" Taoism is no longer adopted. for the simple reason that Taoist adherents historically never saw it as a religion, and the word Jiao a word denoting religion after introduction of Christianity to China, was quite foreign to the Taoist classical texts like Daozang. Taoism to the Taoists is just plain Daojia, a School of Dao or learning in Dao.

The Xiushen teaching in Taoism expects adherents to be virtuous, to perform both Deeds and De, ancestor veneration is an integral part of the tradition. Taoists are polytheistic, as is the pantheon according to the Chinese mythology and list of deities.