One of the best studies is the study of civilizations, their culture and their religion. The interest comes in the understanding that each society has its origin, religion and principles. For example, one of the societies that have a rich religious history is the Chinese society. Unlike most societies, this one is characterized by many religious that are indigenous to it. As such, a study of Daoism, its meaning, principles and origin, is necessary in order to have a basic understanding of this major religion and its relevance in the Chinese society.
To start with, Daoism is coined from the Chinese word Dao, which stands for the word “path” or the “way”. Hartz explains that Dao also means the “ultimate reality” (Hartz 11). According to him, this presence is thought by Daoism believers to have “existed before the universe was formed” (Hartz 11). The word was used by one of the Chinese philosophers, Confucius, to refer to how people ought to behave meaning that the term stands for the moral or the ethical way of the Chinese people. Although it was Confucius’ understanding, the term was used to refer to the way of nature in general.
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Although Confucius defines Dao, Daoism as a religion can be traced back to the Zhuang, a major Chinese philosopher of the 4th century. Another philosopher who might have contributed to Daoism is Laozi or the Old Man. However, little is known about this person, but he is known to have contributed greatly in Daoism.
Just like other beliefs, which have notable principles, Daoism also has its elements. For example, among the notable beliefs in Daoism was Tao, which refers to the ultimate reality. This belief is said to be the course of the universe and that it flows in all life’s aspects. The Chinese believed that lack of balance in Tao meant that finding happiness was impossible. Apart from Tao, the Chi character in Daoism refers to Tao’s power or the vital energy. Chi was increased in people’s lives through activities such as dancing, good food, meditating, martial arts, yoga that was among revitalizing activities. For example, the Taoist yogists believed they could connect to Tao in a direct mode by drawing it in their minds and heart and then beaming its energy into others. The highest among these beliefs is known to be a belief in immortality which was achieved through yoga or meditation and breathing. Through meditation and breathing, it was possible to rise to heaven in both spiritual and physical ways. In facts, Daoists believed that some legends were reached at this state of immortality. Apart from yoga and meditation, immortality was also possible through heroic deeds, suffering and service to others (Smith 202).
Apart from Tao, Chi and other principles, the Ying Yang was used to symbolize the balance that was essential in the Tao so as to find enlightenment. The Ying Yang has two sides, a dark side and a light one. The two opposites also represent such as aspects as male and female, good and evil. Daoism seeks compassion, humility and moderation. In addition, those guided by this religion do not believe in antagonism. Instead, they believe in being humble or humility (Kohn 217).
From some of the principles of Daoism, there is no doubt that the religion was for the common good. For example, the emphasis on diet and exercises helped in promoting health among many people and also raising longevity. Unlike other religions that demand total abstinence from some certain food, Daoism only recommended that harmful substances, such as excess alcohol, be avoided. In addition, this religion recommended that everything should be taken or consumed in a balanced way since balance was a major Daoism principle. In addition to this, based on the many principles of Daoism, life among the Daoism believers seems to have been fulfilling and full of joy because they did not believe in antagonism. Although this is the case, a study of Daoism in relation to other religions shows some similarity. For example, the belief in immortality is represented in other religions such as Christianity and Muslim. In addition, the belief that those who do well, those who suffer for the common good might obtain immortality is similar to beliefs of some religions. For example, Christians believe in suffering while Muslims believe in Jihad.
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In conclusion, studies on different societies and their religion are interesting. A study of Daoism, which is one of the major Chinese religions, helps in understanding the religion and its principles. Daoism reveals its beliefs, such as the belief in humility and immortality. In addition, knowledge of Daoism principles helps in revealing how similar it is with other religions.