Understanding the History of Chinese Taoism (Essay Sample)
One of the most important topics to help us better understand the diverse people of the world is to study the
world’s major religions. The purpose of this project is to learn more about the religions of the world, helping
you have a greater understanding of other cultures and people you encounter every day.
You will be working in an assigned group both in class and in the computer lab. You will be creating a
presentation on your assigned religion with information, pictures, and relevant symbols. In class, your group
will give a 15 - minute presentation on your assigned religion.
Because we will be working on this project for about a full week, this assignment will be graded with the
weight of a test. The presentation will receive one grade following the rubric you will be given. You will also
receive a participation grade, which covers behavior and cooperation, as well as note taking.
1. Decide how you are going to divide up the research and work involved
2. Take notes from at least 8-10 sources:
a. Your textbook or research journal
b. At least 3 legitimate internet website sources
c. A book, magazine, or newspaper article
3. Interpret these notes into your own words.
4. Type a bibliography of the resources you used for information, following APA guidelines.
5. Prepare an oral presentation to share the information you have learned with the class.
6. Select appropriate images, graphics, and symbols that will support your presentation
7. Create a PowerPoint or large poster to display in class while you present your information.
Required Information to Include
Your presentation must include, but is not limited to, the following information:
1. Where it is mostly practiced
2. Number of followers
3. A description of the people & cultures that practice the religion
4. Basic, core beliefs of the religion
5. Holy places & why they are holy
6. The religion’s holy book or scripture
7. A short history of the religion
8. Any of your religions branches, denominations, or sects
9. Examples of rituals, observances, or holidays
10. Any conflicts that occurred because of the religion
Taoism is a traditional Chinese religion that emphasizes living in harmony with the idea of the Tao, which is a Chinese word that refers to the route, way, path, course, method, or road. The concept also refers to the universal order's principle, doctrine, or system of holistic beliefs. Tao is an integral part of Chinese philosophy and forms the guiding idea in most Chinese philosophical schools. In traditional Chinese religion, the Tao refers to the principle of the universe's natural order. The religion's core belief is accepting the natural order of the universe as the route to wisdom. Taoism greatly emphasizes the proper understanding of the natural order of the universe. It promotes the concept of self-deity, which holds that everyone can master the world's ways by living in harmony with nature. The history of Taoism dates back to the 6th century BCE in the province of Henan. Lao Tzu started Taoism as a philosophical school of thought, which soon developed into a religion for most people in rural China. During the Tang Dynasty, Taoism became an official religion and spread to the neighboring locations.
History of the Religion
The history of Taoism as a religion is tied to the history of philosophy. Lao Tzu is regarded as the founder of the faith, which began around 500 BCE. Lao described Taoism's concept as the belief in Tao — a cosmic force that flows through binds and releases everything in the universe (Mark, 2016). Taoism was founded based on living according to the universe's natural order and going with the flow. The doctrine was born of the philosophy of Taoism, which stressed the observance of the natural world. However, the doctrine slightly differs from the philosophy. The former is based on the belief that cosmic forces are in a state of balance maintained and regulated by the Tao.
The religion began in small villages in rural China. With time, Taoism spread throughout the land, gaining prominence and widespread acceptance during the Shang Dynasty (Mark, 2016). Lao Tzu, the religion's founder, believed that the world could be a better place if everything in the universe lived in harmony. Tzu idealized harmony as a state in which everyone lived together, considered other people's feelings, and respected self-interests and the interest of others. Between 618 and 907 CE, the period forms a significant part of Taoism history as the emperor Xuanzong made it a state religion. During Xuanzong's reign, the people were required to keep the Taoist writings in their homes. The belief gained prominence but soon declined with the declining Tang Dynasty. Taoism was later replaced with Buddhism and Confucianism. By then, the religion had spread through many countries in Asia. Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong were the most influenced and retained the faith to date.
Taoism is founded on the belief in the return to the natural world. The religion is primarily based on the theory of natural order. Therefore, it calls for people to believe in the natural order of the universe by accepting Tao law and the origin of everything in the universe ("Taoist Beliefs, Practices, and Deities," 2016). The belief in natural order assures Taoists that people can attain deity status by practicing certain Taoism. Secondly, Taoists believe in focusing on a person in nature rather than society ("Taoist Beliefs, Practices, and Deities," 2016). This belief encourages Taoists to embrace a personal understanding of nature and adjust themselves to the rhythm of nature. Taoists also believe that meditation and disengaging from daily activities of life help conserve body energy.
Rituals, Observances, and Holidays
Taoists' rituals aim at bringing order and harmony to the universe. The Chiao is the main performed ritual and represents a rite of cosmic renewal. The ritual is conducted by priests who receive offerings from households and offer them to the local deities ("Rites and Rituals of Taoism," 2009). Taoists' holidays include the Lantern Festival, which is dedicated to celebrating the first full moon of the year, Tomb Sweeping Day for celebrating the ancestors, Ghost festival for commemorating the dead, and the Chinese New Year ("Taoism," n.d.b). Taoists also celebrate Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Double-Ninth Day. The ceremonies are designed to honor the deities through purification, meditation, and giving offerings.
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