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Action versus inaction in the chinese practice of taoism

The passage on humility in the Tao Te Ching sounds almost like Philippians 2: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. In this passage, Heavenly Father shows us the way to gain the celestial kingdom.

  • Religious Taoism, on the other hand, is further from my own religious experiences and has less to attract me as a Latter-day Saint;
  • The Dao of Heaven takes from what has abundance and supplies what is wanting, but the Dao of man is not thus;
  • Silent, solitary, alone and unchanging;
  • So that this concept could be expressed more exactly like this;
  • When wisdom and insight emerged, then came the Great Artifice.

We simply have to forget about it and give ourselves away in the service of others with no thought for ourselves, in precisely the same way Jesus did. He was God, yet he gave up all his glory to live a human life; to suffer our trials, temptations, and pains; and to suffer for our sins. Certainly the Chinese have embodied some of its quiescence and peacefulness, but the form of Taoism that is practiced in Taiwan and mainland China is religious Taoism. Religious Taoism has in a way always been in China, for it encompasses all the elements of the ancient Chinese religion that were treated earlier.

It is here that we still have the multiplicity of gods, reverence for ancestors, and divination. The Divine Hierarchy The heavenly courts resemble that of the emperor on earth.

  1. Taoists have traditionally believed in the existence of earthly paradises such as the blessed islands of Peng-lai, Ying-chou and Fusang that exist off the coast of Shandong and are said to have been reached by the immortals.
  2. Confucianism, emphasizes achievement and propriety while Taoism stresses unseen strengths in being humble and in some cases, being perceived as average.
  3. It can only perceived though mystical insight.
  4. At the popular level, little has changed in three millennia. An early use of the word denoted the prestige of a patrician whose wealth and accomplishments had created in others a sense of awe or genuine debt, such that they served him willingly.
  5. When wisdom and insight emerged, then came the Great Artifice. Some used gymnastics to bring the body into harmony with the Tao, while others used breath control to quiet the body and bring themselves to the state of embryonic respiration i.

There is a hierarchy, at the head of which stand the Three Pure Ones. These other gods, however, are not supreme, for tricks can be played on them, they sometimes need rescuing, and they can be mocked. At the top of this lower hierarchy stands the Jade Emperor, who controls the natural elements but is one deity that is sometimes mocked.

In conjunction with him are Tao Chun, the ruler of yin and yang, and Lao Tzu again. Notice that Lao Tzu may be located in many places in the Taoist chart of divinities. Under these last three may be Huang Ti the Yellow Emperorwho is considered to be the father of human knowledge and the ancestor of all peoples.

Action in Inaction : The Role of Daoism in Chinese Martial Arts and Film

With him is Kuan Yin, who actually is a figure from Buddhism—the bodhisattva of compassion in feminine form—and is probably the most popular of all divine figures in China. She is the goddess who rescues people in need; she even rescued the Jade Emperor on one occasion. The third person of this triangle is once again Lao Tzu, the wise guide, but he like others may be subject to ridicule. So, these are not gods that are all-powerful or all-knowing. They have their foibles and follies.

The most senior god on earth is the Grand Emperor of the Eastern Peak, who resides on Mount Tai, or Tai Shan, which is the easternmost of the five sacred mountains. Under the earth are ten levels of hell, presided over by various deities. The most popular figures at the lay level are the Eight Immortals.

These are figures that seem to have one foot in the immortal world and one in the mortal.

They assist some people and play tricks on others. Their stories are enjoyable to read and bring laughter to religion. All have been humans before becoming immortals.

  • The highest goal of many devotees of Taoism is the attainment of immortality through a total channeling of energies to reach harmony with Tao;
  • When Zhuangzi was asked by a friend why he was singing and drumming and not grieving after his wife died, he said;
  • Taoists believes that the universe can be divided into two parts, human being and gods;
  • The highest goal of many devotees of Taoism is the attainment of immortality through a total channeling of energies to reach harmony with Tao.

Spirit and Ancestor Worship As we have already seen, there are multiple spirits to worship in Chinese mythology. There are the gods of the earth or the village gods.

There are also the family gods of the doors, wells, wealth, hearths, and kitchens. These can all be benevolent if treated properly with appropriate sacrificial offerings. As the emperor has official duties to his ancestors, so the average person has responsibility to his or her ancestors.

While the emperor makes offerings at official shrines, the people may have ancestral temples or home altars where offerings may be made to ancestors. At the popular level, little has changed in three millennia. Kwan Yin, the most popular member of the divine hierarchy.

  • This short book was divided into eighty-one chapters in the traditional edition ad was the inspiration for a primarily philosophical form of Taoism;
  • Under the earth are ten levels of hell, presided over by various deities;
  • Others occupy rivers, streams and mountains;
  • All have been humans before becoming immortals;
  • There are few in the world who understand them.

On each mountain are various deities, immortals, and spirits. The most sacred of these is Mount Tai in the east, and emperors for centuries have climbed the mountain to offer sacrifices to the gods, since the mountaintop was as close to the heavenly realm as they could get. Temples Religious Taoist temples can be very confusing because at first visitors are not sure whether they are in a Confucian, Buddhist, or Taoist temple.

The answer is yes—you are in all three, for religious Taoism is very inclusive in its relationship to the other two religions. A temple may be dedicated to one god, like the god of war, who was a very successful general in life.

TAOIST BELIEFS, PRACTICES AND DIETIES

But in that same temple, there may be figures of the Yellow Emperor, Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Tzu, as well as other less-known figures. Thus, if the temple seems inclusive, it is almost certainly a religious Taoist temple.

However, the methodologies to attain this harmony and its end result differ significantly.

  1. The relation between man and Nature, or man and spontaneity, is a central issue for Daoism. It is interesting to compare the opening formula to the Confucian formula of timeliness.
  2. All have been humans before becoming immortals.
  3. But none are able to act on this.
  4. Taoists believes that "Xuan" is the first-cause of the universe and a spiritual body beyond the material.
  5. The focus of Taoism is the individual in nature rather than the individual in society. The remaining movement, earth, asserts its presence most powerfully during the periods before the start of each season.

Philosophical Taoism focused primarily on the here and now, living life in harmony with the Tao through wu-wei. There is no forcing of the Tao, as we have seen. Religious Taoism, however, is concerned with health and longevity in this life, as well as with immortality in the next.

Several expeditions were dispatched to find this island, but they were either lost at sea or returned without having found it.

Ch​apter 8

There were those who sought immortality through elixirs derived from various combinations of the five elements. Some used gymnastics to bring the body into harmony with the Tao, while others used breath control to quiet the body and bring themselves to the state of embryonic respiration i. Still others followed hygiene practices under the belief that meat, wine, and the five grains caused the body to decay.

Thus, these foods were avoided and replaced with fruits, berries, and roots and tubers. However, it is religious Taoism that predominates in the Chinese world.

This tradition is predominantly patriarchal in nature and inculcates the values of Confucianism along with it. The concepts of Tao and wu-wei lead me to a deeper understanding of what it means to live by the Spirit.

Religious Taoism, on the other hand, is further from my own religious experiences and has less to attract me as a Latter-day Saint.

After reading this last sentence, my colleague Dr. Alonzo Gaskill rightly pointed out that on the surface, there seem to be more connections between religious Taoism and Christianity than between philosophical Taoism and Christianity. To make his point, he provided the following chart: