TAOISM AND THE CHINESE SOCIETY
TAOISM , was a philosophical and religious thought of CHINA . It describes about the ideas and concepts of the CHINESE origin . It also emphasizes on how to live in harmony with TAO (Ways) . After the death of CONFUCIUS , CHINA saw many thoughts flowering in the CHINESE society . Where CONFUCIUS was mainly concerned with social , political and ethical problems of the society , latter thinkers gave emphasis on religious and metaphysical problems of the CHINESE society . And the famous TAOIST CLASSICS : 1. Tao-Te-Ching ; and 2. Chuang Tzu , though to some extent prevalent during the time of CONFUCIUS , got currency later on . Emphasis was on how to achieve unity and harmony of the universe which was required for the development of man and society — both . And , thus , TAOISM believed in ‘ Oneness with the Tao ‘as a Supreme goal in life as such . LAO TZU , the said to be writer of Tao-Te-Ching , was born much before CONFUCIUS in 604 BC (according to some in 571 BC) . This shows he was older than CONFUCIUS . It also made them in conflict with each others so far their thoughts were concerned . The CHINESE scriptures also revealed this facts that they knew each others and perhaps met also . LAO TZU was said to have told CONFUCIUS on their meet , ‘ Discard your proud airs , it will all profit you nothing .’ And , in turn , CONFUCIUS obediently held , ‘ To day I have seen LAO TZU , and I am only compare him with the dragon .’
The life of CONFUCIUS is documented , but the life of LAO TZU is expressed through a few legends . When corruption and distress in CHINESE society increased many folds , LAO TZU went on pilgrimage to the far west . When he was on his way , a MANDARIN was said to have requested him to write down his teaching before it was lost as such . Then LAO TZU started writing his magnum opus Tao-Te-Ching ( the book of the way and power ) . And it is said that after that he disappeared in the cloud for ever . Practicing TAO simple means suppressing of desire . It further implies self-negation and quietness . It is said that the TAO gave birth to the one . And the one gave birth to two things —virtue and power . In the CHRISTIANITY , ST. JOHN’S GOSPEL used TAO for the World .
The practicing of TAO ,due to emphasis on Quietness , is often compared to water . It is because water always searches for the lowest place in this world , yet it has capacity to rear thousand and thousand creatures of the Earth . Therefore , TAO-TE- CHING emphasized on Quietism . It spread in CHINA in the fourth century BC . It was propagated by the thinkers who preached concentrating on the inward conscience detracting from the outward conduct . Like the VEDANTA PHILOSOPHY which emphasizes on YATHA PINDE TATHA BRAHMANDE ( Which is in the universe is in ourselves ) . Or shall I say the entire universe itself is within us . Similarly , MENCIUS held that the universe was ‘ complete inside us ‘. The teachings imbibed in TAO-TE-CHING like the GREEK thought of NEO-PLATONISM later became one of the main ingredients of the ancient CHINESE society and culture due to its simplicity and indifference . Thus TAOISM was against ‘ all conquest by force of arms ‘ as the Quietism discarded uses of weapons as such . CHUANG TZU , a follower of TAOISM , like the INDIAN YOGIC PHILOSOPHY gave emphasis on ‘ sitting in forgetfulness ‘. He held , ‘ Do not listen with the mind but with the spirit …..’ CHUANG TZU propagated about the unreality of life as he compared the life with dream . However , the history of the later TAOISM is obscure but during the HAN period books on TAOISM got much importance and regarded as ‘ HOLY BOOKS ‘. The very inactivity TAOISM preached was considered as road to obtaining power like YOGA in INDIA .
The CHIN DYNASTY in the third century BC gave importance to TAOISM and burnt many of the CONFUCIAN Classics . The TAOIST priest now got freedom to show their magical powers , the control of storms and the secret of eternal life . They also propagated Feng shui ( the wind-and-water powers ) , the Yin and Yang and negative and positive powers of the universe . It was said that if you have become united with TAO , then life and death is meaningless . So , the influence of TAOISM on the people of CHINA was such that they left home to live ascetic lives . By fasting and vegetarianism they hoped to obtain deathless existence . Later TAOISM descended to polytheism and even LAO TZU was deified . But the crux of the TAOISM remained to be largely concerned with immortality , exorcism and divination . They like INDIAN TANTRIC SECTS , started dealing with evil spirits and supernatural powers . Due to this degeneration , the true spirit of Later TAOISM became virtually defunct .
NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .
TO BE CONTINUED ………………