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by Kathy Fisher
This article was accepted for publication in Eye on the Web internet magazine before it ceased publication on 8/10/98. All rights are available.
[This article is used with the permission of the author.]
Taoism (also called Daoism and pronounced 'dow-ism') originated about 600 BC with a Chinese man named Lao Tzu. Nothing for certain is known about Tzu; he is a mosaic of legends and tales. We do know, however, that he wrote a short book of his beliefs called Tao Te Ching (meaning The Way and Its Power), which became the basic text of Taoist thought.
Taoism has three branches: a philosophy or attitude toward life; a full-fledged church; and an exercising program. It stresses humility and respect for nature, as well as rejection of competition, selfishness and domination.
Tao literally means 'path' or 'way.' It is the energy system or driving force in nature, in all the universe. Tao is the giver of life, synonymous in many ways with the Western concept of 'God.' Taoism encourages individual efforts to remove obstructions in the flow of Tao.
According to the teachings of Taoism, the power of the Tao streaming through our bodies is known as ch'i, which literally means 'breath' and is defined as 'vital energy.' Efforts to remove blockages in ch'i resulted in programs of bodily movement such as T'ai-Chi Chuan (also known as Tai Chi). A form of martial arts, Tai Chi uses animal motions as its guide.
Taoism is tied in with the traditional Chinese yin/yang symbol, a circle depicting life's opposites (good and evil, day and night, life and death, male and female, etc.). The black (Yin, negative) and white (Yang, positive) halves of the circle flow into each other and each includes a spot of the opposite in its soul.
The I-Ching (which means 'change'), a book as well as a method of predicting the future, is a mix of Taoist and Confucian philosophies. It originally dates back about 5000 years, but was heavily influenced by the followers of Lao Tzu.
Today, the basic beliefs of Taoism are resurfacing in modern Western religions (as well as many Web sites). Ancient texts like the Tao Te Ching still prove valuable for showing human beings the proper way to live.
<>Daoism Depot (http://www.edepot.com/taoism.html) -- Huge site includes poetry, discussion boards, chat, a mailing list, audio library, art gallery, and much more.
<>Taoism and the Philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan (http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Philosophy/Taichi/taoism.html) -- Great historical information.
<>The Abode of the Eternal Tao (http://www.abodetao.com/) -- Information, sales (herbs, books, tools) and links.
<>Taoism Information Page (http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/gthursby/taoism/) -- Great informational site from the World-Wide Web Virtual Library.
<>Western Reform Taoism (http://wrt.org/) -- A modern application of ancient Taoist philosophy.
<>International Healing Tao (http://www.healing-tao.com/) -- Mostly an on-line store with books, herbs, courses, retreats, and more.
<>Tao Web Site by Lance Muresan (http://members.aa.net/~whippet/) -- One of many personal sites about Taoism.
<>Chia's Tao Quote (http://members.tripod.com/~Ch_Ch_Ch_ChiaPet/tao.html) -- Another personal page, with some good links.
<>Chad Hansen's Chinese Philosophy Page (http://www.hku.hk/philodep/ch/) -- An personal page with translations and essays as well as links.
TAI CHI LINKS:
<>Peter Herman's Tai Chi Chuan Web Pages (http://www.singlewhip.com/) -- Discusses the principles and practice of Tai Chi.
<>The Book of Change (http://www.TheTemple.com/TheBookOfChange/) -- A western rendition of the book, I-Ching