By: Olivia Lommen,Kaustubh Madiraju, and Waleed Cherif

Basic Information on Taoism

Origin of the Religion

Lao Tzu started as an academy to teach tao, literally meaning the “way” or “path” in the 2nd century C.E. Lao Tzu was very much loved and the religion of Daoism began due to following Lao Tzu’s path. Daoism began as a religion, during the Eastern Han Dynasty about 1500-2000 years ago. Daoism is one of China’s 5 main religions, and is one of china's ethnic languages.

Basic Religous Beliefs

Daoism takes its name from the word "Tao" ("the Way"), the ancient Chinese name for the ordering principle that attempts to make peace and harmony. Tao is found in the world (especially through nature), and can be encountered directly through mystical experience. It is the ultimate reality as well as the proper natural way of life humans must follow. Daoism prizes naturalness, and non-action

The Daoist’s believe in the yin-yang sign, where it shows a ball with about half white, and half black, with a dot the opposite color in the yin yang symbol. It symbolizes that there must be good in this world (the white) and there must be bad in this world (the black), they must be balanced to truly have a true and good world, if there was too much white or good then in the end that utopian society would break due to no such thing as perfect. If there was to much black in the yin-yang or bad in the world, then the world would be mischievous and be broken apart.

Branches / Divisions of Religion

Daoism branches into two main sections, the religious and philosophical part of it. Philosophical Taoism is rational, contemplative, and nonsectarian, and it accepts death as a natural returning to the Tao. It is based upon philosophy and reason. Religious Taoism is magical, cultic, esoteric, and sectarian, and it emphasizes health and healing as ways to gain long life or even immortality.

The Diffusion of Daosim

(Daosim is also referred to as Taoism)

Daoism believes people should come to this religion instead of it coming to them which is why you will not find Taoism missionaries.Contagious diffusion is seen with Taoism. Since the empire of China was so united under emperors, the entire country practiced extremely similar religions and believed similar things. Once Zhang Daoling founded Mount Qingcheng as the center of the empire, many other Chinese jumped on the bandwagon and became Taoists. Mount Qingcheng is still a place where many Taoists take pilgrimages.

The picture below shows the common areas Taoism is found.

Holy Places


It is unknown how many Taoists in China, but there are about 4.5 million Taiwan (which makes it the second largest religion), and a few tens of thousands in the Americas. It is also the fourth largest religion in Singapore (8.5% of the population), if one excludes the non-religious. Taoism is practiced throughout china. It is commonly found in rural areas.

Unique Features

Key figures and important people


He was the first philosopher of Chinese Taoism in the 6th century BC. He is known as the author of the Daodejing, though modern scholars say that his work had more than one author. According to legend, he was carried for 72 years in his mother's stomach, and he met Confucius as a young man.

Zhuangzi (369–286 BC) :

THe collection of essays he wrote, called the Chuang-tzu, are distinguished by its brilliant and original style, with abundant use of satire, paradox, and seemingly nonsensical stories. Zhuangzi emphasizes the relativity of all ideas and conventions that are the basis of judgments and distinctions; he puts forward as the solution to the problems of the human condition freedom in identification with the universal Tao, or principle of Nature.

Zhang Sanfeng
Zhang Sanfeng, was a semi-mythical Chinese Taoist priest who is believed by some to have achieved immortality, said variously to date from either the late Song Dynasty, As a legendary culture hero, Zhang Sanfeng is credited by modern practitioners as having originated the concepts of neijia; soft, internal martial arts, specifically taijiquan, as a result of a Neo-Confucian syncretism of Chan Buddhist Shaolin martial arts with his mastery of Taoist Tao Yin (neigong) principles.

Holy Texts:

Taoism has no specific canon of scripture, however there are several books which are considered to be the main sources of doctrine of this faith. The first is the Tao te Ching (or Dao de Jing - "Morality Scripture"), which is a collection of poems and stories which were written by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tze. This book of poetry and philosophy explains the Way of the Tao. The book itself is sometimes also called Lao Tze. The Daodejing is the most well known and influential of the Daoist texts. It is thought to be written by the Chinese philosopher Laozi in the 3rd or 4th century BC, and centers on the paradoxical nature of the "Dao" (or "way") and how one can attain it.

The second most important work is the Chuang Tzu or Zhuang Zi, written by the man of the same name. In this book the completion of the primary doctrines of Daoism are contained (specifically the doctrine of Wu-wei).

The final main text is the Lie Zi, which was named after the man who was believed to have written it. This however is probably an apocryphal association. It was written by a man named Lao Tsu 400BC or so.
Tao Te Ching Verse 76 Meditation Video Message

Religous Symbols:

The yin-yang (Taijitu) symbol 太極圖 as well as the Bagua 八卦 ("Eight Trigrams") are the most common Taoist symbols.
The yin and yang border should make a backwards "S" shape, with yang (white or red) on top. One is likely to see this symbol as decorations on Taoist organization flags and logos, temple floors, or stitched into clerical robes.
Taoist temples fly square or triangular flags. These are not merely decorative but function as talismans, and typically feature mystical writing or diagrams. Often a tree branch is used as the flagpole.
Another Taoist symbol of sorts is a zigzag with seven stars, representing the Big Dipper (or the "Bushel", the Chinese equivalent). Taoists see the North Pole (and the South) as divine.
Taoist temples in southern China and Taiwan may often be identified by their roofs, which feature Chinese dragons and phoenixes made from multi-colored ceramic tiles. They also stand for the harmony of yin and yang (with the phoenix being yin). A related symbol is the flaming pearl which may be seen on such roofs between two dragons, as well as on the hairpin of a Celestial Master.

Places of Worship

The ritual space that is created by the Taoshi symbolizes the cosmos and links heaven and earth. It is always created just before the ritual begins, whether the ritual takes place outdoors, in the home of a layperson, or inside a temple. It is a sacred area created for the purpose of the ritual, and then returned to ordinary space at the ritual's end.
pictures of symbols


Taoist ethics is primarily linked with longevity. Since everyone is eager for longevity, Taoism takes this as a tool to bring up many requests to people.As Taoism preaches, one must nicely obey the social ethics for the purpose of longevity. Everybody must accumulate good virtues, do good deeds and obey various kinds of social norms. In all kinds of classic scriptures, Taoism emphasizes that in addition to keeping away from bad deeds and helping others, one must also be loyal to his country, show respect to his parents, and avoid the selfishness of human nature. Meanwhile, Taoism also warns that one will suffer from a reduced life span or an early death once he commits evil.