Taoism (pronounced and also spelled Daoism is a philosophical and religious tradition that emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao. The term Tao (or Dao, depending on the romanization system used) originally means "way", "path" or "principle", and can be found in Chinese philosophies and religions other than Taoism. In Taoism, however, Tao denotes an obscure metaphysical force which is ultimately ineffable: “The Tao that can be named is not the absolute Tao.” In Taoism, the Tao is the source and essence of everything that exists.
The keystone work of literature in Taoism is the Daodejing, a concise and ambiguous book containing teachings attributed to Laozi, or "the Old Teacher". Together with the writings of Zhuangzi, these texts build the philosophical foundation of Taoism. This philosophical Taoism, individualistic by nature, is not institutionalized. Institutionalized forms, however, evolved over time in the shape of a number of different schools, often integrating beliefs and practices that even pre-dated the keystone texts – as, for example, the theories of the School of Naturalists, which synthesized the concepts of yin-yang and the Five Elements. Taoist schools traditionally feature reverence for Laozi, immortals or ancestors, along with a variety of divination and exorcism rituals, and practices for achieving ecstasy, longevity or immortality.
Taoist propriety and ethics may vary depending on the particular school, but in general tends to emphasize wu wei (action through non-action), simplicity, spontaneity, harmony between the individual and the cosmos (天人相应), and the Three Treasures: Compassion, Moderation, and Humility.
Taoism has had profound influence on Chinese culture in the course of the centuries, and clerics of institutionalised Taoism usually take care to note distinction between their ritual tradition and the customs and practices found in Chinese folk religion as these distinctions sometimes appear blurred. Chinese alchemy, Chinese astrology, Zen Buddhism, several martial arts, Traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history. Beyond China, Taoism also had influence on surrounding societies in Asia.
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Taoism shows a way to return to Ultimate Reality.
Morality is the first essential in the training for immortality. Then the trainee should meditate on the void. Once he is in mediation, he unites his mind with his breath, and eliminates all emotions and all cares, and just focuses on the void. The void means that which is before anything came into being; it is the primordial of the extreme. Returning to the void means returning to the primordial origin, returning to the primordial nature. - Wu Chong Xu
Taoism teaches the attainment of immortality by merging with Tao.
“Taoism – from the word tao, literally meaning ‘the way’. It teaches us we must all find a place for ourselves in the natural way of things that does not disrupt the function of the whole. When we accept our place in the world, we become more concerned for the consequences of our actions, since for every action there is a reaction, and everything we do has a consequence for others.”