Taoism, also known as Daoism, was developed by Lao Zi. It appeared at the same time as Confucianism. It is a philosophical system that focuses on genuineness, vitality, health, emptiness, alienation, transformation, harmony with nature, and wu wei. Wu wei is a perfect balance and harmony with tao. Tao (or dao) can be translated as a way or path; it is the ultimate principle of the universe. Lao Zi is believed to have written a book Tao Te Ching. It has 81 chapters and it is a fundamental text for Daoism. It influenced many teachings, including Confucianism. Lao Zi also wrote Daodejing. It is a Chinese text, concerning the path, dao and life, virtue. The roots of Daoism are in the nature worship and natural order of things. Dao teaches us to live in harmony with the cosmos and the Universe.
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The Daoist believes about the world are well depicted in the story about the frog in the well by Zhuang Zi. The frog was restricted in his environment and was not able to see the whole world. For this frog, the world was small and he was the ruler. Other tiny creatures in the well were agreeing with his wisdom. However, one day the turtle came. The turtle looked into the well and saw this small ‘kingdom’. Not being able to enter because of his size, the turtle decided to tell the frog about his domain instead. He told the frog about the vast and unfathomable sea. The frog was amazed and his delusions were completely shattered. Suddenly, he realized that the world is much bigger than this tiny well and he is not so important, but just a small part of a great Universe. The same story with the summer insect. This insect is a creature of a season.
He lives a short life before he goes back to sleep or dies. Such an insect has no idea about ice, he is restricted by his circumstances and cannot see the whole picture. This insect’s scope as restricted as the frog’s one. In these two examples, the main principles of Daoism are well seen. According to Daoism, all the things in the world are microcosms of the Universe. The yin – yang philosophy is true for everyone and everything. The harmony with nature and the Universe is a pervasive principle and primordial idea for everything in the world. Even the images of the frog and insect are drawn from nature. It is clear how the frog and his “big” world appeared to be just small parts of the huge boundless Universe. The lesson that can be learned from these examples is that one should not confine and concentrate on himself, but rather live in harmony with the whole world that is full of other microcosms.
Confucianism and Daoism (or Taoism) are both ancient Chinese philosophies. They are both ways of thinking and styles of life. From the Zhuang Zi’s work, it is clear that Confucianism represents a higher form of moralism based on obeying the main Confucian rules, the Five Hierarchical Relationships. Obedience to superiors like parents, husband, ruler, elders is a great benefactor and it will be rewarded by heaven’s blessing. In general, the Confucianism is built on obeying and submissive behavior to deserve the better fortune in the afterlife. Daoism, in contrast, teaches that everyone and everything is a combination of yin and yang. The balance of both should maintain harmony in relationships, social relations, and oneness with nature and the Universe. The Daoists criticize Confucian activism. They prefer to direct their energy to introspection, dao, and wu wei. They believe that comprehension of nature and the Universe can be achieved through passive force and meditation, rather than through empty activism and obeying someone’s rules.