Free Research Paper on Taoism

Free research paper sample on Taoism:

Laozi (Lao Tzu)- name means “old master” or “old child”; born from vaginal conception; he was born old; he took a job in Loyang for many years but soon grew tired of it and left his post, carried by an ox, traveled to the far west of China; at the border he was recognized as an esteemed scholar and was prohibited from crossing the border until he had written down his teachings; after the book was finished, he left China never to be seen again.

Tao Te Ching- a short book of about five thousand Chinese characters; the great classic book of Taoism, accepted by most Taoists as a central scripture and one of the world’s greatest books; title “the classical book about the Way and its power”; there are 81 short chapters; it is probably the work of many authors; the book is repetitive and lacks clarity;  it is thought to have a political purpose or be a religious guide; its meaning depends on whose interpreting it.

Tao- we cannot really put into words exactly what the Tao is; it is nameless meaning it is not any individual thing that has a name (door, tree, bird, person, etc…); the Tao can not be named because it has no form; but it can be experienced and followed by every individual thing that has a name; the Tao Te Ching says that the Tao is the origin of everything and that all individual things are “manifestations of the Tao”; the Tau is the origin of nature, but it is not G-d because it does not have personality; it neither cares about human beings nor dislikes them, it only produces them; it can be called the rhythm of nature; to experience the Tao we must leave behind our desires for individual things, a concept that runs counter to everyday concerns (i.e. how much things cost, what time it is, etc…); the Tao is perceived by intuition; the Tao seems most active in: water, woman, child, valley, darkness.

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Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu)-what we know of this man is from his writings; he enriched Taoism; the book of his writings called the Zhuangzi is composed of 7 “inner” chapters, which are thought to be about the author himself, and 26 “outer” chapters whose authorship is less certain; this book contains many whimsical stories; its themes include the need for harmony with nature, the movement of the Tao in all that happens, and the pleasure we gain from simplicity; it also goes on to talk about the underscoring of the inevitability of change and the relativity of all human judgments; it adds to Taoism and appreciation of humor; his most famous story is off the butterfly- he was dreaming of being a butterfly and when he woke up he questioned whether he was a human dreaming of being a butterfly or vice versa; the book rejects every barrier including that between the ordinary and the fantastic, between the normal and the paranormal, etc…; the book thus elaborates the potential results of being one with the Tao.

Wu Wei- the ideal of effortlessness; having commandments would go against the nature of Taoism, but Wu Wei offers recommendations about how to live- these recommendations do not come from a divine voice but from nature, the model of balance and harmony; this idea implies the avoidance of unnecessary action or action that is not spontaneous; when a storm hits, nature rebuilds what is necessary and no more; a bird builds a nest according to its needs and no more.

Religious Taoism
Yin and Yang- two complementary principles; the Chinese commonly thought that the universe expressed itself in opposite but complementary principles (light/dark, black/white, night/day, male/female, etc…); complementary but opposing forces of the universe that generate all forms of reality; the ideal is a dynamic balance between forces; the emblem of balance is the yin-yang circle; half dark- representing yin, and half light- representing yang; inside each division is a small dot of the contrasting color that represents the seed of the opposite; the dot suggest that everything contains its opposite side and will eventually become its opposite; both forces are dynamic and in perfect balance as they change; we can think of yin and yang as pulsations or waves of energy (like a heartbeat or like breathing in and out).

Yi Jing (I Ching)- The Book of Changes, an ancient book that interprets life though an analysis of hexagrams; this book helps to interpret hexagrams which aids in helping a person make decisions about the future; an ancient Confucian book of divination(a system of methods for knowing more about the future), one of the Five Classics, still in use today.

Te- virtue; denotes the unity of virtue and power, originally te probably related to the mystique of power of the ruler, to commune with ancestors and spirits; te is the power of the Tao as manifest in man, particularly the charismatic power of the ruler to transform others through the sheer force of his example.

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