Taoism or Daoism is a type of belief, or a way of thinking about life. It is at least 2,500 years old and it comes from China. Taoism can be called a religion or a philosophy, based on how a person interprets Taoism. This article is about what people call "philosophical Taoism". There is another system of belief that people call "Religious Taoism".
道 Tao or Dao is the name of the Force or the "Way" that Taoists believe makes everything in the world. Taoists think that words cannot be used to say the right things about Tao. The very first line of the 道德经 Dào Dé Jīng (Tao Te Ching), the most important text in Taoism, says:
- 道可道非常道 Dào kě dào fēi cháng dào. (Way can point-way not constant Way.)
This is pronounced like, "Dow kuh dow fei chong dow." One translation of this into English language might be:
- "The Way that can be explained in words is not the true Way."[source?]
Instead of spending a lot of time trying to explain what the Tao is, Taoists focus on living a simple and balanced life in harmony with nature. This is one of the most important principles in Taoism. Taoists also believe that conflict is not good and that if you have a problem with something, it is better to find a way around it.
Some important Taoists are:
- 老子 Laozi, or Lao Tzu. He is assumed to have written Dào Dé Jīng.
- 庄子 Zhuangzi, or Chuang Tzu. Like Lao Tzu, his sayings and stories are today put together as a book, and translated into English and other languages.
- 黄帝 Huangdi (the Yellow Emperor). He is assumed to have been the first Taoist, but nobody knows for sure if he was a real person or not.
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