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Published: 16.05.2011
Updated: 03.12.2011


Taoism (also spelled Daoism) refers to a philosophical and religious tradition that has influenced the people of Eastern Asia for more than two millennia. Taoism has also notably influenced the Western world, particularly since the 19th century.The word 道, Tao (or Dao), is often translated as "path" or "way", but with a myriad of nuances in folk religion and Chinese philosophy.

  • Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility, while Taoist thought generally focuses on nature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos (天人相应); health and longevity; and wu wei (action through inaction).
  • Harmony with the Universe, or the source thereof (Tao), is the intended result of many Taoist rules and practices.
  • Reverence for ancestor spirits and immortals is common in popular Taoism.
  • Organized Taoism distinguishes its ritual activity from that of the folk religion, which some professional Taoists (Dàoshi) view as debased.
  • Chinese alchemy (including Neidan), astrology, cuisine, Zen Buddhism, several Chinese martial arts, Chinese traditional medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history.


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