What is Daoism?

Daoism (also spelled Taoism) is a philosophical tradition and belief system that originated in China over 2,000 years ago. It has been one of the main tenets of Chinese traditional culture with deep roots in the Chinese people’s customs and world-view.

Daoism seeks to establish harmony between human beings and the principle of the universe, which is called the Dao. The Dao is said to be the originating source and fabric of the universe, the foundation of all living things, and the law governing their development and change.

The concept of Virtue, De in Chinese, is closely related to the Dao, commonly explained as the explicit manifestation of the Dao. Daoists regard Dao and De as the general principles of their beliefs and behaviour. They should cultivate Dao and accumulate Virtue.

Daoism encourages achieving harmony with nature, the pursuit of Virtue, self-development and spiritual immortality. The Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) by Lao Zi (Lao-tzu) is Daoism’s principal canon. However Daoism’s deepest secrets are only revealed by the Dao itself. Thus, Daoist practices such as Neidan (internal alchemy), Qigong and Taiji (Tai Chi) provide a gateway for practitioners to cultivate, embody and directly experience the mysteries of the Dao.

“All things arise from Dao.
They are nourished by Virtue.
They are formed from matter.
They are shaped by environment.
Thus the ten thousand things respect Dao and honour Virtue.
Respect of Dao and honour of Virtue are not demanded.
But they are the nature of things.”

Lao Zi, excerpt from Chapter 51, Dao De Jing