What is Taoism?
Tao is referred to as The Way, as in direction, in manner, source, destination, purpose and process. In discovering and exploring Tao, the process and destination are one and the same. Lao Tzu describes a Taoist as the one who sees simplicity in the complicated, and achieves greatness in the little things. It is a simple and natural way of being in our bodies and our psyches, and sharing the Way of being with all life we come into contact with.
Taoism was long established before Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching 2,500 years ago. It originated in the ancient shamanic roots of Chinese civilization. For many centuries Taoism was an informal way of life, a way followed by peasant, farmer, gentleman philosopher an artist. Followers of the Way studied the stars in the heavens and the energy that lies deep within the Earth. They meditated upon the energy flow within their bodies and mapped out the roads and paths it traveled upon.
The Way is a deep reflection, learning from Nature which is considered the highest teacher. It is a belief in life, a belief in the glorious procession of each unfolding moment. The Way is a deeply spiritual life, involving retrospect, balance, emotional and spiritual independence and responsibility with awareness and a deep connection to the Earth and all other life forms.
Taoism in China and the West today is often divided in two forms, Tao Jio and Tao Jia, or religious Taoism and philosophical Taoism. Many scholars argue that there are not two distinct forms of Taoism and in many ways they are right. There is a great intermingling of the religious form of Taoism and it various sects and the philosophical Taoism of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi). Many people who follow the Tao do not consider themselves religious people, do not go to temples and are not ordained priests. Rather these forms exist side-by-side and within each other.