Daoism Beliefs

There are no sacred narratives meaningful to Taoism above all others. Stories about Laozi are not fundamental like stories of Jesus are to Christianity. A collection of early sacred stories in poetic form has been translated as "The Songs of the South." The most memorable is "Li sao," usually translated as "Encountering Sorrow." Its an early example of the fascinatingly ambiguous relationship between a human and the object of his or her spiritual yearning. According to the Taode jing, something existed "before heaven and earth" called Tao. Within a primal matrix of energy are the qi, some are light (yang), and travel upward to the heavens, some are heavy (yin), and travel down to earth. All natural phenomena are generated by the alternation between yin and yang energies. The cycle of existence moves through the Five Phases: Water, Fire, Wood, Metal, and Earth. No divine beings that existed before Tao. Divine beings do not exist forever, and all who interact with humans do human time. Those who die a natural death at the end of a completed life cycle can become ancestors, who then can act as benefactors to the living members of family. Those who die untimely death are orphan souls.

Human nature is aligned with the rest of nature, so that order and harmony can result. Preparation through repetition makes it possible to act without thinking, in pure spontaneity. When humans can deviate from the natural order they bring destruction upon themselves and those around them. Should not use methods of forcing appropriate behavior rather than allowing it to occur spontaneously and naturally. Nature cares nothing for individuals, and illness, death, and misfortune are inevitable aspects of human life. Adopted many Buddhist ideas about the afterlife. Early Taoist concepts of salvation focused on this life rather than an afterlife. They were not interested in what happens after death because they hoped never to die.

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