11 April 11 2013
Unit Two Paper
Taoism 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. Early religious Taoism was rooted in the ideas of the Taoist thinkers, which were added local religious rituals and beliefs, both to provide examples of Taoist philosophy, and integrate Taoism into the existing world views of all levels of the Chinese people (Fung). Taoism was first recognized as a religious system during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. The publication of the Tao Te Ching and other works provided a focus for Taoist thinking. Taoism became a semi-official Chinese religion during the Tang dynasty and continued during the Song dynasty. As Confucianism gained popularity, Taoism gradually fell and changed from an official religion to a popular religious tradition. After the communist takeover of China, Taoism was banned and its followers re-educated, with the result that the number of practicing Taoists fell dramatically in the next 10 years (Schwartz). At this time Taoism began to flourish in the greater freedom on offer in Taiwan. Before the Communist revolution fifty years ago, Taoism was one of the strongest religions in China. After a campaign to destroy non-Communist religion, however, the numbers significantly reduced, and it has become difficult to assess the statistical popularity of Taoism in the world. After the end of the Cultural Revolution the Chinese government began to allow a small measure of religious freedom. Taoism began to revive in China, and Taoist temples and practitioners can now be found throughout the country. At the heart of Taoist ritual is the concept of bringing order and harmony to many layers of the cosmos: the cosmos as a whole (the world of...