Taoism has no founder and no founding date. It grew out of various religious and philosophical traditions in ancient China, including shamanism and nature religion. Zhang Daoling became the first Celestial Master and founder of the first organized Taoist school of thought. This tradition continues to the present day, with the current Celestial Master living in Taiwan. Taoism a religion of unity and opposites. Yin Yang is the principle of natural and complementary forces, patterns and things that depend on one another and do not make sense on their own. This principle sees the world as filled with complementary forces – action and non-action, light and dark, hot and cold, and so on. These opposites fit together seamlessly and work in perfect harmony, how it is showed in the yin yang symbol.

The main concept in Taoism is the Tao, often interpreted as the creative principle of the universe and translated as “the way”. The Tao is not a thing or a substance, it is more like a system of guidance, although is not God and is not worshipped. Taoism presents many gods and the most important is Lao Tsu, who is revered as the first god of Taoism and as the personification of the Tao. All of these divinities are within the universe and are themselves subjected to the Tao.

At the beginning the religious manifestations where made on the outside, but then Taoists started building new temples called guan. One of the most important guans is situated in Beijing and it is called Baiyun guan. Taoist rituals involve purification, meditation and offerings to deities. One major Taoist ritual is the chiao (jiao), a rite of cosmic renewal, which is itself made up of several rituals. Temple rituals can be used to regulate ch’i and balance the flow of yin and yang both for individuals and the wider community.

Taoism has many holidays and festivals, the most important are the Lantern Festival, the Tomb Sweeping Day, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Hungry Ghost Festival.

By Carolina Giannessi

Categories: Cultural Post

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