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Santy

Is Taoism a mainstream religion

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Is Taoism a mainstream religion?

When people discuss the major religions, I hardly ever hear of Taoism being raised. Closely associated with China, it is considered to be subsidiary,or remote. In excess of 4,000 years old, and back then, boasting a local history of some 10,000 years, to the last ice age, or so, it can assume some firsts which are associated with more modern times.

As far as we know, It is an early monotheist religion. This is disputable in the sense that it collected multigods along the way. Collecting subsidiary deities seems to be a constant theme with religions as they get older and older. Christians get Mother Mary, some Moslems get Fatima or past leaders, and most collect angels for example.

Although Taoists in some quarters collected man-like creature gods on mountains and the like, the core base God couldn't be more different. An entity of some kind, one entity, unnamable, indescribable, that is a part of, and runs through all things. Referred to as the Tao.

The written text of the Taoist, and yes, people of the book, is mainly scribed in the I-Ching, or "Book of Changes". The most popular book the world has ever known. Like the Bible, it is not a typically authored book, but a multi-sourced collection. Some of it of unknown origin. Neither is the book quotable in the absolute sense. There is a modern claim that the origins are not Chinese because of linguistic studies, but in any case, much of the original is a struggle to transcribe, as it was written in prose. Widely considered to be the best Western version is by Wilhelm, who spent 30 years preparing a readable Germanic text, but he could not claim correctness of transcript because of the language/thought differences. The first English language version was translated from the German in 1956, (Leslie Ann Baines). Increasing the likelihood of misunderstandings. This is still considered the most authorities version, and is sold as Wilhelm's version. Most of the currently available are Mickey Mouse spiritualist muses. The serious texts are hard work, and are vague by any measure. The book is said to be a source of wisdom of a special kind. That anything worth knowing, will always be worth knowing. Confucius claimed the book had only been wrong once. Modern scholars claim that he was mistaken, and that it was never wrong. The book itself has been the victim of fashion , though. It escaped the book burnings but had the concept of Yin/yang written into it for the first time, shortly BC. All traces of the Yin/yang cult were later removed, around 200 AD. Of course, this wasn't the books fault. I don't think so, anyway!!

Another first, as far as I know, is that it supports the theory of evolution. "All creatures move towards perfection" Which I think is a nice way to put it, but does not detach this observation from the Tao. Pre dating , of course, modern theorists.

The I Ching also advocates the basis of what is now, modern teaching psychology, that is the triangle of needs. In this theory, needs in lower parts of an imaginary triangle must be met before progression to a higher level becomes possible.

Taoists defy modern statistical collection methods because Taoism is the cuckoo of religions. Historically, leaned on by the state, it has hardly ever been recognised officially, so adherents use other religious meeting houses. They will clasify themselves as others. Theoretically, like in other religions, they will pray anywhere. Ironically, it was recognised by the state under Ghengis Khan, who was Mongolian, and had arrived as a conquerer. You know, anything for a quiet life.

Seeking an expert, I was told by a Manchester chip shop owner from China that 50 per cent of Chinese were Taoists, but hardly talk about it because the topics are matter of fact. Although, being Chinese, I found, is not a qualification for Taoism.

Whilst Taoists were considered to be anti state, this is not some kind of preoccupation. They accepted mans position in the world and resisted political attempts to move them from natural outlooks. They are critical of political behaviour though, there being nothing more absurd than a loyal minister, for example. They scorn "programmes of reform". the programmes themselves are lost, but they advocated, truthfully to date I must say, that all men's programmes are temporal and will end in temporality, (Lao Tzu). Man reverting to progression towards perfection as intended by the Tao.

A dichotomy which has always intrigued me, is presented in the "forward" of the Wilhelm version, by a then famous psychiatrist. He claims that this dichotomy is at the heart of the thinking of the books original authors.

It is the difference between two approaches to Changes. The first being that changes in anything is causal, as in, something causes something else to happen. This is the Western outlook, ie, if someone is found to be killed, it was caused by a murderer. Police, for example act on the basis that they are continually looking for the cause of an effect. If a pen rolls off a table, it was because the table was tipped, and so on.

On the other hand, we have what he described as synchronicity,( a neologism). This is more akin to fate, as the westerner sees it. That is that everything "happens" independently, because it is what was always going to happen. That nothing causes anything else, things simply occur, one thing after another. What does happen cannot have been altered, or be altered in the future. Hence, the acceptance of reading the future in some form. The I Ching advocates this outlook to a great extent, but embraces causality in as much as proposing that "seeds" can be planted, in influencing the future.

As an aside, I asked my physicist friend if he could scientifically predict the likelihood of truth of either causality or synchronicity. He returned about two weeks later and pronounced that synchronicity was vastly more likely. There is a saying in science that the simplest explanation is most likely, I don't know.

He tried to explain that with causality, there is always a choice of paths, for example, you can go left, right or straight on. The possibilities, that you don't take, still exist, and continue branching out into things you could have done, had you taken them. What you do do, results in the actual, which is more self explanatory. So there is a trail, almost infinite, of what could ever possibly have happened, for every scrap in the universe. This being in addition to the actual trail of events.

On the other hand, there is only a single track with synchronisity, so other possible tracks don't exist, simplifying everything. So, in this outlook, synchronisity is vastly more likely. There exists, only one track, for each thing. Which collectively, is one track for everything.

One of the endearing features of Taoism, is that it quietly avoids suggestions or descriptions of violence, although it is matter of fact about war. It is therefore suitable for the ears of children, in the modern sense, although, it being comprehensible to children is another matter.

With the advent of social improvements in China, and the increasing likelihood of more Chinese visiting the West, Taoism may become more topical, and suitable for conversations. So to my mind, it is well worth a look, and worthy of discussion.

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Pure Taoism is no longer the major religion in China. There are some,but the biggest religion in China is Buddhism .

They use aspects of Taoism lore ,as described in the Tao te ching ,but if Taoism was still as prevalent as it once was ,the Taoist monks would still exist .

There is nothing like that in China anymore .

There are some who practice pure Taoism ,but their numbers do not come close to 50% .

China has Christians ,Muslims ,and even atheists so....

Taoism is not mainstream ,anywhere .

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Sorry, yes, Carey, F Baines.

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Taoism is pretty big in Taiwan.

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Buddhists, Moslems, Jews and Christians, yes. It important to bear in mind that these religions are comparative newcomers. The development of Taoism was not influenced by any of them. That the reverse argument is true, you may wish to argue about.

I was taught that Marco Polo opened the gates to China. Buddha travelled to China, as did an earlier budding Buddha, 500 years or so before that. He stayed at a now famous house/monastery, which was developing the Tai Chi, martial arts. He originated from India. His hosts could loosely be described as monks, and would have been Taoists. The occurrence of monastery type organisations fluctuated as the angry attentions of the state waxed and waned over time.

I don't hear much about a Chinese influence in the Middle East. There was a scourge of assassinations in the Middle East, at the time of the crusades. Over 40 victims included Crusaders, top Mullahs and prominent leaders and administrators. There were many attempts to find and kill the secretive sect responsible. These assassinations were orchestrated from a remote, Islamic fort called Alamut in what is now, Northern Iran. This sect renounced Islamic festivals for 50 years, such as Ramadan, on an announcement by the then leader. He is said to have worn unusual clothes and displayed strange flags from the corners of his castle. This was an extremely dangerous thing to do, in a period when intersect bloodletting was the norm. For some reason, unclear, the sect launched a failed assassination attempt on Ghengis Khan, in China. Ghengis khan's reaction was to send his brother, with an army to Alamut and flattened the hitherto impregnable fort. Then returned home. Further, Alamut had sent a delegation to meet the army, enroute, to negotiate. It is hardly disputable that the Chinese knew of and likely had influence in the Middle East, which at the time, included Christian crusaders, Moslems and Jews. Absolute, definite, contact with Jews, I do not know of, apart from the fact that Jews were there at this time. Except for a possible linguistic connection, which is a long shot.

As the Taoists in China are whispering about Godlike, pale, thin men on a distant mountain, which were adopted into a sub cult, we have the occurrence of mount Sinai. Arabic is a phonetically transmitted language and there isn't any correct way of spelling. This especially applies to the A, E, I, O, U's, which are commonly assumed, interchanged or omitted altogether. The Arabic name for Chinese is Sin Sine, providing a possible linguistic connection with Mount Sinai.

I take the other point that you may gauge mainstream by a headcount. The secretive nature of Taoists preclude overt gatherings and a hierarchical system of leaders, although they are said to recognise each other by traits and like Quakers, refer to each other as "friends". They do register as other religions, so if you make a head count on a statistical basis, there will be a lack of reliability. The sheer size of the Chinese population must be accounted for, as the vastly more numerous occurrence of the I Ching compared to other books.

I take your point that I did not include the Tao Te Ching, although I did mention and quote the author. Although he was contemporaneous with Confucius, I have not heard that he contributed to the I Ching as Confucius did. Confucius was comparatively late on the scene, and his contribution was more of his ideas of an explanation of previous inclusions. This infers that even by his period, the book was becoming unintelligible. The flock, it seems, was starting to evolve the shepherd.

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Zen! <3

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No. Its not widespread. But is interesting. Taoism is by no means a newcomer.

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