What is Taoism / Daoism - 道教

Taoism/Daoism 道教 (Saamlawnese: Doe Jiao) is a religion started in ancient China. It has developed into many sects and lineages today with many believers and practitioners worldwide. Taoism stands out from other religions because all Taoism sects emphasize a Tao of their own. Being a Taoist, one must ordain into the sect to become a member of the family lineage of the sect; then, the master will pass on the wisdom and knowledge to the disciple. Many believers are not ordained, but they are not considered to be Taoists. These believers will sometimes go to temples to worship and request help from the gods. In theory, they are more like a consumer.

“What is the Tao?”

The Tao is a higher power that gives way to a sect. The sect’s founder connects to a higher power that gives them power and teachings. This is usually a god or some gods that came to contact with the people. You can witness this by seeing how Taoism grew in Asia; everywhere Taoism exists, would have temples worshiping different gods. A common misunderstanding is that people think “the Tao” translates to “the way,” which is inaccurate. The Tao is like a company’s boss, a team leader. That is why the word has the word “head” on a boat; it means the leader (like the head) leading the team toward a direction.

“What is the way?”

The way of the sect is the direction for the Taoists of that sect, which the Tao, the god of the sect, gives. By following the Tao’s guidance, teachings, and practice, the Taoists are all cultivating on the way to their destination after they die, which is to be in the Tao’s world, the god’s place, which some might call heaven. Since different gods lead different sects, the heavens are not the same for all. Taoism is just a category, and Taoists of different sects are cultivating to go to different destinations they connect to.

Entering the Sects

You will be ordained and accepted as a disciple and a Taoist when entering a sect. A disciple belongs to a sect, a group created by humans; the process of becoming a disciple is called initiation. Being a Taoist makes you become a member of the family of god’s lineage; that is the purpose of being ordained. These two are usually done at the same time traditionally.

One must enter a sect because the god or gods will provide you with the power, magical methods to use the power, and guidance to help you cultivate throughout your life, which guides you and help you to go through hurdles while you are grinding toward the destination. The main goal is to have a place to go after you die, and the content you learn is just tools for you to use for solving problems and dealing with hurdles on the way.

“What about the philosophy?”

Many people think that Taoism is a philosophy. However, that is an incomplete answer. Taoism is a category of religion, and it involves many different sects. Every sect has its philosophy taught to the Taoists when they are ordained.  Every sect’s philosophy could be different from the others. For example, we have a philosophy that differs from the rest of the sects in China.

Some think Lao Tze and his Tao Te Ching is Taoism’s “official” philosophy. Yet, Lao Tze himself never claimed to be a Taoist or held onto any sect. The people later in history framed him for being a figure to represent Taoism. The book existed thousands of years ago, and who knows what has been unearthed is real and complete. Many things are fitted together like a broken puzzle; many translated versions are also done poorly by people who aren’t even real Taoists. Therefore, I would say that it is best not to refer to this book as a Taoism book.

Taoism sects all learn from their Tao, and if a sect is legit, they would constantly be getting new teachings from their Tao (the gods) and won’t need to be sticking to broken puzzle pieces left behind by some unknown and unrelated person in ancient times. A real sect should be “alive,” and they should always have a live communication channel with their higher power, which allows the sect to have guidance and teachings from the source above. This would allow the sect to have its exclusive philosophy and other teachings.

Taoist’s Belief

All the Taoists believe in their Tao as the higher power that leads them to the way of their Tao. While they are alive, they can use the powers, magic and knowledge of their Tao to deal with hurdles and problems in life, improving the quality of life, helping others around them and bringing their Tao’s power to more people in need. When they die, they can go to the heaven of their sect and continue their life there. Being a Taoist is like a lifetime investment for a better homeland after this life ends. Some Taoists still in the newbie stage might not look too far into the after-death matters, but they would be interested in the magic and how to use the Tao’s power to protect themselves and others from spiritual attacks. Some people learn Taoist magic to improve their quality of life.

Taoists believe in a Tao, the greater power that can lead them to a brighter future and a better place to go after death. The Tao provides them with the special power and method to use the power, which we call Taoist magic.

Worshiping the gods and getting help from the gods is a common practice in all sects because it is how to honour their Tao and communicate with their Tao. Every Taoist is building a relationship with their Tao every day.

tai chi

Why is this diagram (the Tai Chi) a symbol of Taoism in general? Because the symbol symbolizes a communication cycle that keeps going and never ends. It symbolizes the communication between the Taoists and their Tao, humans, and gods. As you can see from the practice in all the temples, people burn incense to talk to the gods daily, then the gods give them help and blessings, and the cycle repeats. After the Taoists have gotten the response and help from the gods, they go back and thank the gods and ask for more help. Every Taoist sect follows this pattern; you can witness this from all the temples.

To become a Taoist, you no longer have to look around or travel. Welcome to ordain; we do everything by distance and get you ordained with online teachings and 24/7 communication. Let your journey begin, and become a real Taoist today.