dmattwads

What is the Taoist religion?

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This might seem like a funny post for someone who has been on this forum for so long, but I wonder, what exactly is the Taoist religion?

 

When I initially started my spiritual path I began with Qigong. I liked the health benefits, and sense of peace it brought and most of all that it was not a religion. A few years prior I had left evangelical Christianity and was rather burned out on the notion of religion in general and was certainly not eager to join another one. That being the case the secular nature of Qigong suited me just fine.

 

As time came to pass though some of the more philosophical aspects of the Taoism from which Qigong draws from like Tao, Yin and Yang, Wu Wei, began to raise questions with in me. I began to want answers but found finding anything definitive was very difficult. I found the well defined question and answer system of Buddhism to be very satisfying but still find myself wondering how someone "practices Taoism"?

 

I realize there are different schools of Taoism and different methods of practicing, but not sure what the basics of being a Taoist and practicing Taoism are? Especially as a religion.

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For good insight into the Taoist religion I recommend The Taoist Manual by Brock Silvers.  It goes into depth about the religious side of Taoism, its pantheon and practices.  Starting with a certain disdain for so much 'pop' Taoism.  Good read because most books on Taoism have so little about the Taoist religion. 

 

Right now the Kindle version (which I bought) is $5, a good deal.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BVX00W2/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

Edited by thelerner
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5 hours ago, dmattwads said:

what the basics of being a Taoist and practicing Taoism are? Especially as a religion.

worshipping your own ancestors

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3 hours ago, Taoist Texts said:

worshipping your own ancestors

 

... with a legion of celestial beings featuring ancient emperors, mythical monkey beings, immortals (in spirit form), ancient philosophers, impersonal spiritual energies, gods that created stuff, gods that destroy stuff, gods that resemble dramatically other buddhist gods, which in turn resemble Indian gods, etc... 

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I don't know enough about the religion to make any specific comments but Taoism is a valid religion with its own roots and structure.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

I don't know enough about the religion to make any specific comments but Taoism is a valid religion with its own roots and structure.

 

 

 

In my opinion, it's impossible to identify a religion which isn't valid in its own terms. 

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1 minute ago, Cheshire Cat said:

 

In my opinion, it's impossible to identify a religion which isn't valid in its own terms. 

During a different lifetime I have argued that point.  I'm just trying to be nice this time around.

 

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7 hours ago, thelerner said:

For good insight into the Taoist religion I recommend The Taoist Manual by Brock Silvers.  It goes into depth about the religious side of Taoism, its pantheon and practices.  Starting with a certain disdain for so much 'pop' Taoism.  Good read because most books on Taoism have so little about the Taoist religion. 

 

Right now the Kindle version (which I bought) is $5, a good deal.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BVX00W2/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

 

Might be an interesting read although Chuang tzu would probably be considered as not the real thing by the author, let alone western Taoists. Based on the preview the book probably errs in the opposite directing of the new Age books it criticises. Maybe I will buy it nevertheless, but I have hardly any space left for new books. :(

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Personally, I see nothing in the Tao Te Ching or the Chuang Tzu that would suggest that either of them are religious oriented.

 

But much of the Taoist Religion is based in the two documents.  (Buddhism as well.)

 

 

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7 hours ago, Cheshire Cat said:
10 hours ago, Taoist Texts said:

worshipping your own ancestors

 

... with a legion of celestial beings featuring ancient emperors, mythical monkey beings, immortals (in spirit form), ancient philosophers, impersonal spiritual energies, gods that created stuff, gods that destroy stuff, gods that resemble dramatically other buddhist gods, which in turn resemble Indian gods, etc... 

 

It is all that and more.  That is what Daoist Religion looks like to the outsider and the lay practitioner or member of a Daoist Temple, but to the practitioner it is a very powerful system of internal cultivation with both ritual and meditative aspects that provides powerful tools both for magic and internal alchemy.

 

I first became familiar with the broad outlines of the "Religious Daoism", which I prefer to call Ritual Daoism a little over forty years ago when I read Michael Saso's Taoism and the Rite of Cosmic Renewal.  At the time I had been studying, since I was about twelve and practicing, since I was seventeen, Western magic, and since my early Twenties supplementing it with qigong and what I would call Daoist awareness meditation based largely on my understanding of Charles Luk's Taoist Yoga book supplemented with what little literature existed at the time.  Saso's book was a real eye opener and I was immediately taken with the whole system described there.  I liked it so much that in humorous response both the the "born again" Christians who were popping up every where and my Neopagan "witchy" friends, I started jokingly referring to myself as a "born again heathen".

 

I don't know how much detail the OP wants about Daoist Religion, but there is a lot to it and it is both a fascinating study and rewarding practice.

 

ZYD

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I suppose most would call me a 'religious' Dao practitioner. There is a deep misunderstanding particularly in the west of Dao philosophy and Dao practices as being two separate things. They are not. If any thing the works of Li Erh and Xhuan Shi were born out of the old practices of Shamanism. Modern Dao religion has its roots in Oriental shamanism, although it has really gone too far the other way. When one steps out, for instance, the pattern of ancient Tai Ji forms one is stepping out ancient shamanistic ritual rites, imitating animals and mythical beings and the like. Most Dao Masters were shamans, practicing mediumship, martial arts and health practices, along with traditional medicine etc.; a complete system encompassing understanding practically and philosophically, with spirit guidance and teaching. 

'Religious Dao' is a way that westerners describe the practices of spiritual Dao practitioners like myself, but we do not see ourselves in the same boat as any other religion, because it is fundamentally not a religion as such, although modern peoples seem to have taken it that way.

Edited by flowing hands
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5 hours ago, Marblehead said:

Personally, I see nothing in the Tao Te Ching or the Chuang Tzu that would suggest that either of them are religious oriented.

 

But much of the Taoist Religion is based in the two documents.  (Buddhism as well.)

 

Yes, they took these philosophical texts and mythologized them. Laozi was said to have appeared in a vision to someone, and became a deity to be worshiped in the first organized school of "Daoism". A savior figure to protect against an end times scenario, rather than a sage (or a group of people writing as if one philosopher)...despite the fact that the Laozi (text) itself sounds nothing like this, and came more from a time of "warring" schools of philosophy.

Lots of different schools of Daoist religion popped up over the years, almost entirely different from each other at times.

Besides studying history, to me it seems like the best way to get an idea of what Daoist religion is today would be to join a temple/get initiated or ordained as a Daoist. I haven't done this, but know others who have, and it seems like that's the way to understand this stuff. To me, it looks like you'd have to do a lot of work with various deities...so if you're into that sort of thing, dmattwads, maybe learning religious Daoism the real way is how to get the answer.

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5 hours ago, Zhongyongdaoist said:

I don't know how much detail the OP wants about Daoist Religion, but there is a lot to it and it is both a fascinating study and rewarding practice.

 

Do you have a Daoist Teacher?

I'm not the OP but if possible I (we?) would like a lot of detail. :)

 

4 hours ago, flowing hands said:

There is a deep misunderstanding particularly in the west of Dao philosophy and Dao practices as being two separate things.

 

Dao philosophy or Chinese Philosophy?

 

5 hours ago, flowing hands said:

Modern Dao religion has its roots in Oriental shamanism

 

Exactly, I just don't know about the Oriental (being the origin) part, do you have any insight regarding this? That's so way back it's not easy to know for sure. I've heard about a possible connection between Sumer and Chinese civilizations.

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17 hours ago, Cheshire Cat said:

 

... with a legion of celestial beings featuring ancient emperors, mythical monkey beings, immortals (in spirit form), ancient philosophers, impersonal spiritual energies, gods that created stuff, gods that destroy stuff, gods that resemble dramatically other buddhist gods, which in turn resemble Indian gods, etc... 

Thing is, do it right and your pantheon talks to you face to face.  That's the goal, intimacy with your altar's god.  Not worshipping from afar, but getting them into your room and finding out what's what. 

 

Which is actually a very Hindu/Yogi thing too.  From what I've heard,  the point to learn the prayers and prostrations is because they're a formula to build a relationship and get an appearance. 

 

I don't prescribe to those religions, but I don't diss or disallow there reality either.  Big Universe. 

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Being a TAOIST...means you believe in a way..or something that is true without effort..and true without way,... it is a way all of in itself..in itself is the Tao...and the mystery to behold the Tao! Tao is like the way a circle works as wheel..all you do is hook it to a socket..and the wheels will spin..and move in a direction..forward or backward...depending on perspective..Taoist priests have a maxim..

 

That is either in the way or not..and then we degree upon the decibels and decimals of the out of behavioural pattern...

 

So 100% means the way is fully speaking in terms of existential speech...and in existential terms..the healing of the atrocity of the eternal knot about living for ever..without respite..is always in terms of Eve's natural feels..and talents..which are good to go in any of the ways of the city for example!

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14 hours ago, thelerner said:

Which is actually a very Hindu/Yogi thing too.  From what I've heard,  the point to learn the prayers and prostrations is because they're a formula to build a relationship and get an appearance. 

 

 

 

I've wondered before if Taoism is China's Hinduism?

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For many religious concepts, I get the feeling India did it first.  

 

As far as possessions, I work with paradigm, its very very rare and if you leave it alone, it leaves you alone.  The more time, effort and reality you give it, the more likely you are to see/be entrapped by it. 

 

I was thinking that while it exists its not a channel I watch.  Funny how TV channel and 'psychic' channel are the same word.  Yet in my mind there's much truth to we get what we watch, where we put our minds and attention. 

 

Are possessions/ghosts real?  Illusions of a coping mind?  Something in between?  I don't know and at this point in my life, its not an important question.  I got other channels to watch. 

 

Edited by thelerner

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On 11/15/2018 at 12:09 AM, Taoist Texts said:

worshipping your own ancestors

 

That's Confucianism... well,  Zhou Rites.... 

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I wrote elsewhere about Taoism seems to me to be this path:

 

Primitive Naturalism > Divining and Mythology > Shamanism/Spiritualism > Political Philosophy > Alchemy > Religion > Dark Philosophy > Modern Philosophy

 

I find Flowing Hands to be a Daoism Shaman.   His is not religious as much as he is a shaman spirit.

 

Why did alchemy arise?  Folks lost the old arts.  He has the old arts, is my point. 

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2 hours ago, thelerner said:

(...) 

 

As far as possessions, I work with paradigm, its very very rare and if you leave it alone, it leaves you alone.  The more time, effort and reality you give it, the more likely you are to see/be entrapped by it. 

 

(...) 

 

I've read somewhere that it's forbidden in certain schools... and it's of paramount importance in other schools. 

 

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On 11/15/2018 at 6:05 AM, Marblehead said:

Personally, I see nothing in the Tao Te Ching or the Chuang Tzu that would suggest that either of them are religious oriented.

 

But much of the Taoist Religion is based in the two documents.  (Buddhism as well.)

What the Author Silvers was getting at is that those two books while important, were part of a much much larger library of must readings for religious Taoist.   ie for for a philosophical Taoist they're must reads, for a religious Taoist they're within a subsection of must read. 

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Maybe to help narrow down the topic of bit more into differentiate what would be the difference between taoism and Chinese folk religion?

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3 minutes ago, dmattwads said:

Maybe to help narrow down the topic of bit more into differentiate what would be the difference between taoism and Chinese folk religion?

 

The problem is likely Buddhist intervention into the culture.   I just prefer the saying:   Confucian by day and Daoist by night.  

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11 hours ago, thelerner said:

What the Author Silvers was getting at is that those two books while important, were part of a much much larger library of must readings for religious Taoist.   ie for for a philosophical Taoist they're must reads, for a religious Taoist they're within a subsection of must read. 

I won't argue with that.  When I first started reading of Taoism I did try to read other aspects of Taoism beside just the philosophy but it wasn't what I needed or wanted in my life at the time.  Therefore I returned to just the Philosophy.

 

 

 

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