How to Describe Taoism

Taoism is an ancient Chinese religion and Philosophy based on the teachings in the Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu. Taoism is often difficult to describe to people who have never heard of it, as the Tao Te Ching is extremely vague in what it is trying to say.


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    One cannot describe something one doesn't know or you only have vague knowledge about. Therefore begin by discovering more about Taoism, learn both forms of Taoism, the philosophy of Tao and the Religion of Tao. Start point: The Philosophy of Tao came first and is based on Lao-Tzu's teachings in the Tao Te Ching, next came the Religion of Tao which is based on the legend that Lao-Tzu visited a hermit and told him the world was going to end, those who followed Lao-TZu would go on to better lives.
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    First the Philosophy of Tao. Research the main tenets of Taoism, they are like the ten commandments, being a set of moral laws or maxims that say how a man should act. Starting point: The main tenets are do not murder, do not steal, do not lie, do not consume intoxicants or become involved in sexual misconduct.
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    Read the Tao Te Ching and Zhuangzi as these are the two works that make up Philosophical Taoism. Read a verse, write it down and then try to translate it into simpler language without destroying the original meaning. For example
    • Tao called Tao is not Tao: Tao means Way
    • Meaning:The true way is humble and subtle so few see it, those who boast they know the way do not know the way. The sage follows a path, he does not call it way, but it is.
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    Research the main concepts of Taoism that apply to both Tao Philosophy and Tao religion. Understand that Taoist concepts are often paradoxes which are almost impossible to understand.
    • Tao or The way or path
    • WU-WEI or action without action
    • TE or Usually translated as integrity and the cultivating of the Tao
    • PU or the state of free from prejudice, susceptible to change like Tabula Rasa.
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    When it comes to the religion of Tao you must learn the pantheon of deities that make up Taoism. You should also learn how these are worshipped and why. All the deities have different powers, worshipped in different ways.
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    Now once you've done all your research find a quiet spot away from distractions, get a dictionary, a thesaurus, a notepad and a pencil. Meditate and while meditating think about what Taoism means or means to you, with intense meditation you'll spark of your brain. Write down what you think and you will have unlocked what Taoism, which is supposedly following the natural, means.


  • This is just a basic attempt to help you describe Taoism and there is no substitute for your own searching.
  • Taoism is often said to be indescribable as it is a way of life and so a feeling, following Taoism is often the only way to know.

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Categories: Taoism | Philosophy and Religion