When searching about Taoism online, you will bump into a lot of vague and abstract explanations that only lead back to the question of, “So what exactly is Taoism about?” and “What does it mean to become a Taoist? What’s the goal of being a Taoist and how can I become one? Are there are many types of Taoism or just one? How come some says it is a religion, but some says it’s just about a philosophy book by Lao Tze?” Here, we will give you the ultimate down–to–earth answer for beginners who just started to search for the one–stop answer for Taoism 101.
The word TAO or DAO 道 is “DOE” in Cantonese. It doesn’t matter which way you say it – we all know what you are trying to refer to and that’s all that matters for now. Some stubborn ones say you must say DAO because that is Mandarin, but heck, why do we need to care if that’s not even the Han’s dialect, which is what the “Chinese” people spoke back then in the ancient times. Mandarin is not even the original Chinese too, just saying. Do you even know that word “Chinese” is actually just a name the foreigners labelled after the Qing dynasty as the “Qing–nese”? Way before then, I don’t even know what “Chinese” was called by the others. The main point is, if we all know what we are saying, then that’s fine. Don’t be so stubborn and try to “pretend you are authentic.” I just cannot stand those “masters” who try to correct people on this word when they really don’t even speak the “original Chinese” dialect.
TAO–ism, or Doe–Gaau (Cantonese) 道教 is the religion, and that’s why the word Gaau教 meaning “teachings.” Any religion has the word “Gaau” 教 at the back in Chinese is because they are all following the teachings of something. This answers your first question; Taoism is not JUST a philosophy, but rather, it is and has always been both a system of teaching and a religion. Taoism is what people believed and lived by, and just like any other religion religions does, Taoism gives people a way to live life, and explains what all this stuff in this world is about.
There are many lineages and sects of Taoism, which is kind of like how business works. There are many companies like Sony, Google, Microsoft, and so on, but they are all just businesses that makes electronic goods, etc. Taoism is just like that. There are many lineages, but they are not the same thing, and definitely don’t share the same pool of knowledge, power, and source of wisdom. They might fall into the same category of Taoism, but just like humans, they are grouped, but they don’t share the same bank accounts, nor do they have anything to do with each other at the back. Working for Google doesn’t make you an employee at Apple. If one has ordained in a temple inside China under the Quan Zhen sect, they are only a Quan Zhen sect disciple, and have nothing to do with any other sects. Oops, think about what would happen if you were hired by Google and now you are their employee, but you also possess like 3–4 other jobs outside at the same time, like you are also working for Microsoft, Sony, and even Nokia all at the same time. What kind of boss would like such a LOYAL employee? You get the idea. Therefore, any Taoist who claims to have like 3–4 lineages at the back, or even multiple religions, is nothing but junk.
What makes a Taoist special and what is it all about? Being a Taoist is about connecting yourself to a power source, a TAO, which can provide you the guidance, knowledge, and methods to apply to things in your life. The Tao helps you go through obstacles and problems in life, leading you to a destiny in your afterlife. That’s right, if a Taoist doesn’t know their “place to go” after death, they basically failed already. Any religion has their way to explain life and death and after–death, and Taoism is no exception. All lineages have their own way of explaining it and each has their own place to go to. As you can see, Taoism was never JUST a philosophy book. It goes beyond that and talks about after–death too.
Being a Taoist, you can have the special powers given by that source you ordained to, and that leads to Taoist Magic, which is used daily for helping you solve problems and save people when it is time for you to shine for the Tao. Taoists are like superman – they have these magical powers to help people and themselves, making life better, easier, and smoother.
Here is something solid for you to get a hold of what Taoists do. Every day, we get up and greet our Tao by facing the altar, and then we go do our morning things, which includes breakfast and all sorts of preparation for the day. Then, we go to the altar and do our cultivation to start the day off. We burn incense, do spells, and so on to channel to the Gods and Deities, and then ask for protection and help for the whole day to be smooth and good. Whenever anything pops up, we might want the Tao’s help by doing magic and invoking the Gods over to help us.
Now you should have seen the main point here – Taoist do Taoist magic. That’s how you can APPLY the Tao’s power to things in your life. If a Taoist doesn’t do magic, then it’s like a programmer who doesn’t touch the computer, is that even possible?
Taoist are those who rely and trust their Tao. Whenever anything happens in life, they want to always resort back to the Tao for help. Taoists of Saam Law Tao are those who believe and practice the way of Saam Law, which we call the trinity of creation power in nature. If you ordain into our lineage, you will be seeing and witnessing a lot of real deal Taoist magic, and you will also experience how it feels like being able to take control of your own life, instead of being driven by the world.