Taoism

Discussion in 'Religion' started by brownie, Jul 14, 2004.

  1. brownie

    brownie New Member

    Anybody here interested in or done any reading on taoism? I just read the Tao of Pooh, and the Teh Of Piglet and found them great introductions to this very fascinating religion/philosophy that has really sparked my interest and felt very close to my own beliefs.

    I'd love to get a discussion about taoism going here. What's it about, how it affects your life, different theories/opinions about it, pretty much anything.

    I'll get it started off. I am confused as far as how taoists view the afterlife. For me, I don't think there is a heaven. I think you get absorbed back into nature, and the personal me dissolves. I become a water drop in the pond. How does this relate to the taoist perspective?

    brownie
  2. Higher Logic

    Higher Logic Web Developar

    Moving to Spiritual Aspects. Also, I did a course in Daoism/Taoism, as well as other Asian/Indian religions (Confucianism, Shinto, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) so I'll talk about this later :)
  3. Arise -SWS-

    Arise -SWS- New Member

    I'm a big fan of the theoretical/spiritual sides of Taoism, and not so much the social side. The social side of it sets up orders and castes which immediately remove the equality between all men and women.

    To answer your question, in Taoism, reincarnation is the name of the game. Tao can be described as a force that existed before heaven and earth came into being. During life, the Taoist seeks to harmonize his/her life with this force. This means ridding yourself of distractions like fame, fortune, and desire (to fans of Buddhism this should sound familiar), in order to engage in meaningful self-exploration and spiritual development. It is believed that in death, the physical body is destroyed but the spirit or soul is preserved and migrates to another physical body until union with Tao (a.k.a., enlightenment/nirvana) occurs. Once this union is achieved, the "Thread of Life" is cut and the spirit ceases to return to physical bodies (immortality). The spirit ending its cycle of physical reincarnations in Taoism can be compared to the Hindu concept of Brahma, where the soul returns to the universe from which it came.
  4. Higher Logic

    Higher Logic Web Developar

    Original Taoism actually didn't believe in a caste system; the founder himself, Lao Tzu hated the idea. It wasn't until Confucianism influenced Taoism that the caste system was integrated into later Taoist books. It's more of a way of living life, heavy with meditation and contemplation, along with more mythical things like alchemy and immortality. It was also mainly a handbook for rulers, a guide for life if you will. Finding the importance and connection of virtue and power.
  5. brownie

    brownie New Member

    Wow, I find that interesting. To me it sounds like your explaining Hinduism. I didn't know there was reincarnation and Nirvana along with Taoism.

    brownie
  6. Higher Logic

    Higher Logic Web Developar

    That's because he doesn't know what he's talking about. Taoism is essentially three things:

    1) Political - handbook for rulers
    2) Religious - path to spiritual insight
    3) Guide - for living in harmony

    There's some common elements to living, like wu-wei (effortlessness), simplicity, gentleness, and relativity. Taoists also practice "yoga" (for lack of a better word).

    Now, if you were to get into the religious aspect of Taoism, then you wouldn't be looking at the pure essence of Taoism, just the sects:

    Yellow Turbans and the "Way of the Heavenly Masters." Buddhism forced Taoism to create a canon (over 1000 books circa 1445) that deal with meditation, breathing exercises, sexual yoga, stories, longevity, magical powers, alchemy, and rituals.

    There is, HOWEVER, a FORM of Taoism called "Complete Perfection Taoism" which combines aspects of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. So perhaps he is mixing that up with the pure form of Taoism.

    Confucianism was manily about education and relationships with the family, with friends, and finally with everyone else. Virtues like ren/jen, li, shu, xiao, wen, and so on all deal with relationships and proper etiquette. Confucianism, like Taoism, had to go through phases otherwise it would have died off, Conf. went from philosophical to religious to scholary. It's the reason East values learning so much.
  7. Arise -SWS-

    Arise -SWS- New Member

    You're right, I was confusing the pure form with the confucian-influenced version of it...

    The caste system was brought in by confucianism as higher logic pointed out. I am right in saying that reincarnation is part of taoism though? I hope so...
  8. Higher Logic

    Higher Logic Web Developar

    I'll have to check my notes on Taoism, the pure form as it was founded by Lao Tze, and I'll also see which sects believe in reincarnation; but my idea was that Taoism had a lot to do with immortality (alchemy, meditation, breathing exercises, tantric yoga), which in a way deals with reincarnation, but not in the same way a Hindu would, if that makes any sense at all.
  9. Higher Logic

    Higher Logic Web Developar

    The goal in Taoism is to achieve tao, to find the way. Tao is the
    ultimate reality, a presence that existed before the universe was formed
    and which continues to guide the world and everything in it. Tao is
    sometimes identified as the Mother, or the source of all things. That
    source is not a god or a supreme being as with Christians, for Taoism is
    not monotheistic. The focus is not to worship one god, but instead on
    coming into harmony with tao. Tao is the essence of everything that is
    right, and complications exist only because people choose to complicate
    their own lives. Desire, ambition, fame, and selfishness are seen as
    hindrances to a harmonious life. It is only when one rids himself of
    all desires can tao be achieved. By shunning every earthly distraction,
    the Taoist is able to concentrate on life itself. The longer the one's
    life, the closer to tao one is presumed to have become. Eventually the
    hope is to become immortal, to achieve tao, to have reached the deeper
    life. This is the afterlife for a Taoist—to be in harmony with the
    universe.

    Since there are two different aspects of Taoism, the philosophical version and the religious version, it is not a clear yes or no as to whether they believe in reincarnation. It's certainly not like Indian religions. The philosophical version would laugh at the idea of reincarnation, while the religious side (the ones that have mixed with Buddhism) do believe in reincarnation, but again, it's better to use the term "immortality" since that is the ultimate goal. The whole karma system and caste system and what your job is really doesn't define Taoism, only certain sects that have mixed with Buddhism demonstrate this.

    So to answer the question, no, Taoists ultimately don't believe in reincarnation, but later forms of it do deal with immortality and supernatural properties like alchemy.
  10. kriptonchronic

    kriptonchronic New Member

  11. Arise -SWS-

    Arise -SWS- New Member

    AHH... thank's for clearing that up... I re-read a few chapters of Tao Te Ching and clarified some things for myself. I still think Hinduism shares some philosophy with Taoism- think about it... Tao is analagous Narayana (both are universal forces from which all come from, of which all is composed, and to which all will return). Harmonizing with Tao is comparable to returning to Narayana- becoming immortal through the cessation of physical existence (it's not exatly alike though, but close enough to compare).
  12. Higher Logic

    Higher Logic Web Developar

    Confucianism also uses the concept of the Tao, but based on harmony with humans rather than nature like Taoism. It's more about having right relationships and etiquette like I was saying earlier verses the animism expressed in Taoism.

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