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Switch to Forum Live View Religion or Philosophy?
10 years ago  ::  Feb 13, 2008 - 12:13AM #11
Starjumper_7
Posts: 3
Taoism is a religion and a philosophy.  It has many segments that blend the two to various degrees.  Your indoctrination into Western religions has probably narrowed your view as to what a religion can be because in Taoism some ypes of Chi Kung cultivation with meditation is considered to be part of the religious aspect.

Those who only look at the philosophy, who think they can learn what Taoism is about by only reading about it, are really missing the boat.  This too is a result of Western religious indoctrination.

Wayne Dyer is fool, don't believe him here on beliefnet.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 13, 2008 - 12:15AM #12
Starjumper_7
Posts: 3
"We have nothing like that here in the states for anyone wanting to become a Taoist. There’s no structure, no foundation, and hence no building."

This is incorrect.  There are Taoist churches here although they are very rare.  In some of the big Seaport cities there are some Taoist societies and the idly curious are not invited.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 13, 2008 - 2:25PM #13
sensoryfusion
Posts: 13

Dr. Wayne Dwyer once speaking about Lao Tzu and said that he would be shocked if anyone called taoism a religion. It is solely philosophy.



I'm shocked that anyone considers religion as other than philosophy.

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10 years ago  ::  Feb 14, 2008 - 1:40PM #14
MengTzu
Posts: 110
[QUOTE=Starjumper_7;285056]This is incorrect.  There are Taoist churches here although they are very rare.  In some of the big Seaport cities there are some Taoist societies and the idly curious are not invited.[/QUOTE]

Unfortunately there are so few of these that organized Daoism becomes virtually inaccessible to the majority of the people in the US.  There are local temples in Chinatown and some other areas around Los Angeles (where I live), but many of these temples are more accurately described as Chinese folk religion than Daoism.  The only Dao Guan (i.e. Daoist monasteries/temples) I know in the US are in San Francisco, Hawaii, and Arizona.  (I'm not sure if the one in San Francisco is really a Dao Guan).

Seems like for most of us in the US, the best way to learn about Daoism is through the texts.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 14, 2008 - 2:20PM #15
MengTzu
Posts: 110
[QUOTE=paulisue;203734]I'm still learning about taoism.  I heard Dr. Wayne Dwyer once speaking about Lao Tzu and said that he would be shocked if anyone called taoism a religion.  It is solely philosophy.[/QUOTE]

Depends what one considers "philosophy" and what one considers "Daoism."  Dr. Dwyer spoke as though Daoism had only one text, but even if we are talking about the early forms of Dao Jia (School of Dao) before the rise of organized, institutional Daoism, Dao De Jing was not the only text.  There is no reason to limit Daoism only to the Dao De Jing.  Zhuangzi, for example, has quite a lot of ideas that are at least partly religious (such as the existence of spirits, immortals, and supernatural creatures, humans travelling in the air -- LIezi -- and trancending the confines of their natural existence, etc.), even though it doesn't teach that people should organize into a religion institution, or demands belief or faith in any of these religious ideas.  Even if one were to say that Zhuangzi used these ideas merely to illustrate parables, it is different to say that Zhuangzi did not contain religious ideas.  To the extend that concepts may be viewed both philosophical and religiously, it is an illogical claim to say that these early Daoist texts are purely philosophical.

But even within the Dao De Jing there are ideas that are both philosophical and religious.  For example, the idea that Heaven saves those who are compassionate (ch. 67).  The concept of Dao itself transcends beyond the categories of philosophy and religion.  The experience of Dao is partly a mystical one, an experience that many would place in the area of religiosity.

Perhaps another point, then, is that it is one thing to say that something is not a religion (i.e., instituionalized religion replete with organization and ceremonies) and it's another thing to say that something is not religious (i.e., containing certain themes characteristic of religions.)  Daoism probably did not become organized into a formal institution that one would expect of a religion until, at the latest, the early 3rd century C.E., but before that time the Dao Jia, School of Dao, already contain many religious ideas in their texts.  Also, even if there was no Daoist institutional that resembles what we expect of a religion, there was at least some form of organization even before the 3rd century C.E.  We know of at least one community in those early days that practiced both Daoism and Mohism.  The longevity practices of cultivation in early Daoism can also be said to have religious purposes.  In addition, there was no need for a separate body of religious ceremonies before the 3rd century, as the ceremonial aspects of Chinese life at the time were continued from ancient rites of the Zhou dynasty that continued to develop through the Han dynasty, rites that were practiced generally throughout society regardless of which school one belonged to, so that if the early Daoists were to practice religion, they probably practiced those rites (such as ancestral rites), keeping in mind that not all followers of Daoism in those early days were hermits.  After the fall of Han in the 3rd century, however, the cultural landscape began to change.  The rise of organized Daoism was precisely to address the issue of establishing a new world order (which includes new rites) after the fall of Han.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2008 - 10:42PM #16
RevKeithWright
Posts: 137
A Deist simply believes in the Creator.  We don't believe in prayer, intercession, the attempts to change others by indoctrination/intimidation or harassment or the need for a heaven or hell.  We are simply in awe of creation and the beauty of nature.  It is this natural revelation which confirms our belief in, for lack of a better term and for the sake of communicating concepts to each-other, God.

Taoism confirms some personal beliefs about the universe which came naturally to me.  I was surprised when I found out that those beliefs which I held for many years had a name. 

I feel that the basic concepts of Taoism are natural to someone who rejects the Western concepts of power, the accumulation of wealth, control, and greed.  Once you abandon these pursuits, you begin to see the universe in a new way.

Taoism as a religion goes against what Taoism is as a philosophy.  When The Tao becomes a religion, it ceases to be a religion.  A footstep never becomes the path but the path would never be without the footstep.  Taoism is a path but it isn't a religion (the footstep).  The two cannot exist as one.

Someone asked me about prayer, meditation , and God.  Meditation is about  letting go of everything and not seeking God for when you truely let go of everything, you see that God isn't there.  When you meditate on God, you are presented with an illusion.  An illusion that you can summon God on a whim and that creation is there for you to control through prayer.  When you abandon prayer, you accept the Tao implicitly as if you have fallen into a beautiful, swift river.  You cease to fight the current, which could sap every last bit of strength which you have, and instead, enjoy the rush of going with the flow.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2008 - 2:59PM #17
MengTzu
Posts: 110
[QUOTE=RevKeithWright;318783]
Taoism as a religion goes against what Taoism is as a philosophy.  When The Tao becomes a religion, it ceases to be a religion.  A footstep never becomes the path but the path would never be without the footstep.  Taoism is a path but it isn't a religion (the footstep).  The two cannot exist as one.[/quote]

You said that when Dao becomes a religion, it ceases to be a religion, but I suppose you intended to say that when Dao becomes a religion, it ceases to be a philosophy.  But Dao is beyond religion and philosophy.  It encompasses both, and is at the same time neither of them.  It is also beyond only two constructs -- it is art, music, and simple living.  It also is in constant motion yet nothing changes, it doesn't become one thing and cease to be another.  Furthermore, because it is one harmonious whole, there's no reason to pit one of its aspects against another.  If existence and non-existence, something considered so diametrically opposed, are in fact one and the same within Dao, then, unless one's mind insists on remaining on the level of the superficiality of words and constructs (and some can probably argue that such apparent contradictions on the word/construct level exists even within the same text of the Dao De Jing), there ultimatley cannot be any real contradiction between the religiosity and the philosophy of Daoism.  This can be perhaps summarized in the phrase "Yuan Rong Wu Ai" -- well-rounded harmony without obstruction -- "obstruction" refers to barriers, such as those existing between constructs, and in other words, distinction.  (Rong can literally mean "to melt", so the kind of harmony here is more than co-existence, but a melting together into one unified reality.) 

Perhaps nothing is more evident than the historical examples of Daoists throughout the ages.  The Dao De Jing, itself encompassing and transcending religiosity and philosophy, has always been a major text of the various Daoist groups.  The Shangqing Daoists were priests as well as profound philosophers.  The development of Chong Xuan Xue in particular brought together the most sublime aspects of the religiosity and philosophy of Daoism together.  Neidan continues this fusion through its lexicon of a plethora of concepts and practices that encompass both religiosity and philosophy.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 29, 2008 - 4:40AM #18
Starjumper_7
Posts: 3
[QUOTE=MengTzu;288527]Unfortunately there are so few of these that organized Daoism becomes virtually inaccessible to the majority of the people in the US.  There are local temples in Chinatown and some other areas around Los Angeles (where I live), but many of these temples are more accurately described as Chinese folk religion than Daoism.  The only Dao Guan (i.e. Daoist monasteries/temples) I know in the US are in San Francisco, Hawaii, and Arizona.  (I'm not sure if the one in San Francisco is really a Dao Guan).

Seems like for most of us in the US, the best way to learn about Daoism is through the texts.[/QUOTE]

I don't like that idea because so many people filter the texts through their own beliefs and indoctrination most miss it by a mile.  Western religion is all about texts and beliefs but Taoism has so much more and there is a lot of it here in the USA.

the best way to learn about Taoism is to meet a Taoist master and learn whatever art he is teaching.  Easiest is Tai Chi.  It is much harder to find a real Chi Kung master who can show you the Way, but they are around.  Feng Shui is another art, and so is calligraphy.

Study the art, be with the master, and you won't learn ABOUT Taoism, you will do much better than that.  You will learn to BE Taoism. Give it a couple of decades though.
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10 years ago  ::  Mar 03, 2008 - 4:50PM #19
MengTzu
Posts: 110
[QUOTE=Starjumper_7;321668]I don't like that idea because so many people filter the texts through their own beliefs and indoctrination most miss it by a mile.  Western religion is all about texts and beliefs but Taoism has so much more and there is a lot of it here in the USA.

the best way to learn about Taoism is to meet a Taoist master and learn whatever art he is teaching.  Easiest is Tai Chi.  It is much harder to find a real Chi Kung master who can show you the Way, but they are around.  Feng Shui is another art, and so is calligraphy.

Study the art, be with the master, and you won't learn ABOUT Taoism, you will do much better than that.  You will learn to BE Taoism. Give it a couple of decades though.[/QUOTE]

I prefer the middle way here.  I know some Daoists insist on the significance of having masters, while some vehemently reject the necessity of masters (some even seem to view the whole idea of having masters as negative.)  My position is in the middle of the two opposing views.  I think it is important to keep one's own individuality and become able to understand the texts oneself.  On the other hand, having master becomes important in certain practices.  For example, the practice of neidan without supervision might lead to psychological or perhaps even physiological harms, and having masters is a safety provision.  Ultimately, I don't think the two positions are in true contradiction, because even if one were to have masters, one still needs to ultimately realize the truth on her own, as a Daoist text says, and she must cultivate herself through her personally practicing the methods herself.

Regardless of what position one were to hold, there's a practical problem: there are not many masters around anyway.  This is not just true in the US.  Daoist masters are far less available than the clerics of many other religions.  I think the problem that some might take Daoism out of context can be remedied in a different way.  The main source of problem is the lack of available information.  This is certainly true in the US, as the majority of Daoist texts have not yet been translated into English.  But even the Chinese themselves are not well informed about Daoism.  I think the first task is to make Daoist texts more readily available.  When most of the information is out there, I believe most people can become more capable in seeing a more complete picture of Daoism through reading the texts.
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10 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2008 - 12:29PM #20
1ndhcw
Posts: 3
Does it matter whether it is an actual religion or philosophy?  Is one so much better than the other?  If the message learned from the Tao [and I'm confused now, which is it Tao or Dao?] if it helps someone find their path, fulfill some meaning isn't that what's important? I'm for anything that helps someone live a better, happier, more fulfilled life which in turn brings peace or contentment to the home. 
Good thoughts to all,
Nancy
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