PDA

View Full Version : Taoism and deities?/ Taoist alchemy



David19
August 27th, 2006, 06:15 PM
I've been interested in learning about Taoism (actually a lot of Eastern religions) and i was just wondering, does anyone know if Taoism is compatiable with a belief in deities (like, say, could i practice Taoist and still believe in gods), it's just i've searched for information, and some say yes and others say no (some people say Taoism doesn't have anything supernatural in it (e.g. spirits, etc), but others say yes, and from what i've read, i've got his book on religions, and it says Taoists have a belief in hungry ghosts, ancestor worship, other spirits, etc and i think there are some Taoist deities, would the difference of opinion be more 'West' vs. East ('cause, from what i've seen, Taoism in the West, seems to focus more on philosophy while Taoism in China seems to have more of a belief in spirits and the supernatural.

Also, does anyone know anything about Taoist alchemy, as it's something i'd like to look into and learn more about.

Thanks for any help you can provide :).

Shanti
August 27th, 2006, 06:27 PM
The Tao philosophy was born from one writing originally. The Tao Te Ching.
Read it and come to your own understanding.
Even the translations of the Tao vary some as the translations are complex. The meanings of some words in the original language don't just translate into another word. It sometimes takes sentences to translate one word, so read various translations of it.

Stuff written after the Tao Te Ching is just others personal ideals from the original concept.

One thing it teaches is that the Tao that is taught is not the true Tao.
Meaning you have to discover your own truths and way.

No one can tell you whats right or wrong for you.

Taoism is not a religion, its a philosophy and as such it can fit into any religious system.

The Tao in itself is all about finding your own way. Its also about common sense.

When people start saying what you can and can not do, they are adding dogma to a concept that never had it. They are also not even following the original concept. A Taoist doest teach how or what to do, only how to find your own way. If they do tell you how to be or what to do, they're not a Taoist.

My Opinion only.

I have my own translation of the Tao Te Ching on my site if you want to check it out. I translated it from the many translations out there so that it was easier for me to understand. LINK (http://www.mizuhi.thestonecoyote.com/mizuhi1.html)
Read a lot of translations. Compare and feel your way.

David19
August 27th, 2006, 07:24 PM
Thanks for that, your advice also really helped me :).

Garm
August 27th, 2006, 07:36 PM
(some people say Taoism doesn't have anything supernatural in it (e.g. spirits, etc),

Bogus, in fact downright revisionist

They have just decided that Daoist religion as it has actually been practiced by the Chinese should not be factored in to the esoteric, pristine and presumably enlightened concept they cherish of it

The deity level though functions at a much lower metaphysical plane than the Dao flows at

It can safely be regarded as peripheral

The daoists who deal with spirirts take a pragmatic, almost chaoist, aproach to them

David19
August 27th, 2006, 08:32 PM
Bogus, in fact downright revisionist

They have just decided that Daoist religion as it has actually been practiced by the Chinese should not be factored in to the esoteric, pristine and presumably enlightened concept they cherish of it

The deity level though functions at a much lower metaphysical plane than the Dao flows at

It can safely be regarded as peripheral

The daoists who deal with spirirts take a pragmatic, almost chaoist, aproach to them

Thanks for that, do you know where i can learn more about it?.

Shadowraven
August 28th, 2006, 12:45 AM
Shanti said it without parallel. The (near) literal translation of "Tao te Ching" is the path of nature. That said, it does make mention of several basic concepts which outline the thought process encouraged. The key element of the Tao te ching is its ability to encourage and entice thought. Since each person is unique in some way, then it stands to reason that each one's quest for answers would differ. The Tao te Ching merely starts you off on a path by encouraging you to ask the correct questions which will lead you into the right direction. The answers are already all around you... it just depends on how you read them. My triangle may be your pyramid, etc. In its earliest forms, taoism was a philosophy. More accurately, it is built around a mindset designed for self-enlightenment. It did however develop into a diety-worship type of religion later; although, as mentioned before, this is entirely preferential. I could also suggest some research into Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Ninjitsu, and Reike, as supplementals to the Tao te Ching to help foster a more thorough understanding of the mystic concepts understood to be behind the Tao te Ching. It is well to remember that research on many of the subjects, ie. Ninjitsu, will render a history which claims a buddhist beginning. Buddhism has taken much of its ideas and influence from former Chinese cultural ideas. It's strict spiritual heirarchy is due mostly to the heirarchy of the times implemented in society, which was really made big in China through emperor-worship, and strict family value systems. Taoism accounts for its importance on self-enlightenment, but buddhism slightly differs in the way to achieve it. Taoism, however, was exactly the opposite in some things, such as the strictness of the societal roles. The Yamabushi Buddhists in the mountains of Japan played a pivotal role in helping develop the ninjitsu of the outcasts from the strict Bushido-centered societies. Tai Chi was developed as a self-healing and life-prolonging practice mostly, although it is also used in "playing" at martial arts... to further enhance one's own skills regardless of which technique you prefer. Taoism plays a universally pivotal role in most, if not all of these dynamic practices in East Asian culture. To summarize:
You can't get around reading the book, "Tao te Ching"
You have to interpret it for yourself... I still am.
These other arts are great supplementals to the practice of Taoism.

Oh, by the way, "Go" is loads of fun.

plumedsnake
August 28th, 2006, 08:55 AM
I would also say that an understanding of the I Ching would be immensely helpful in understanding the tao te ching.

also I don't think that in China philosophies and religions fit into such strict boxes but they were constantly interacting and exchanging influences, so you will find a lot of TAoism in Chinese Buddhism etc.

A really good book for understanding Taoist alchemy is 'the Secret of the Golden Flower'. It is a Ch'an buddhist book. Ch'an buddhism illustrates my previous point. It is so Tao in many ways. The most buddhist thing about it is the fact that it's called a Buddhist school.
When Ch'an got taken to Japan, it developed further and it's name changed to Zen.

David19
August 28th, 2006, 03:34 PM
Thanks everyone for all the information, i'll be sure to check out the Tao te ching and the I Ching, and thanks, plumedsnake, for the book on Taoist alchemy, i'll try and check that out too :).

Dale Ivarie
August 28th, 2006, 04:47 PM
Taoism existed before the tao te ching..and is a collection of animistic beliefs with a wide variety of "spirits" gods and the like..I will post up a reading list of stuff in a few days..

The Tao te ching is the most popular taoist text in the west but the poeple from china and taiwan I have talked to have said that it is not considered "the main text" by practicing taoists in these counties..I have been focused on other things fro the pased 7 years but will go back over my old material...

If I remember correctly there is a book called "the taoist experience" that goes over the history of taoism..etc...will post more later...


Dale

Garm
August 29th, 2006, 01:46 AM
http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Philosophy/Taichi/gods.html

David19
December 26th, 2006, 08:55 PM
I thought i'd bump this up, as i wanted to ask something else, the links helped me a lot and the i'm reading some things on Taoism (mostly PDF files i've downloaded and some of the Tao Te Ching.

But, i've got a question, from what Garm said, supernatural beings (e.g. spirits, gods, etc) are and were always a part of Taoism (but i think the Tao is more than them?), but how do Taoists view gods and spirits, do they deal with them, etc, and also, would it be possible to be a Taoist and also worship other gods (e.g. Greek, Norse, etc gods).

Thanks for any help, and also thanks for the help you've all given me in this thread :).

Shanti
December 26th, 2006, 10:04 PM
From this Taoist perspective, everything is Tao and what that everything is, is up to you to find what feels right!
Heck Its up to you to find what Tao is to you!
There is no right or wrong, no one way or a guideline.
For me Tao is everything and nothing. Time and no time. All, totally all.
It simply 'is'.

As a bird fly's and leaves no tracks to follow, so is the way of Tao.

David19
December 27th, 2006, 10:23 AM
Thanks for that, Shanti.

Alaiyo
December 27th, 2006, 09:23 PM
I've always seen Taoism as a guide that allows for a person to worships deities in addition to working with the natural flow of the universe. Not unlike fundamentalist Christians that practice Tai Chi or karate.

Johnathan Brisby
December 29th, 2006, 03:25 PM
Shanti said it without parallel. The (near) literal translation of "Tao te Ching" is the path of nature. That said, it does make mention of several basic concepts which outline the thought process encouraged. The key element of the Tao te ching is its ability to encourage and entice thought. Since each person is unique in some way, then it stands to reason that each one's quest for answers would differ. The Tao te Ching merely starts you off on a path by encouraging you to ask the correct questions which will lead you into the right direction. The answers are already all around you... it just depends on how you read them. My triangle may be your pyramid, etc. In its earliest forms, taoism was a philosophy. More accurately, it is built around a mindset designed for self-enlightenment. It did however develop into a diety-worship type of religion later; although, as mentioned before, this is entirely preferential. I could also suggest some research into Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Ninjitsu, and Reike, as supplementals to the Tao te Ching to help foster a more thorough understanding of the mystic concepts understood to be behind the Tao te Ching. It is well to remember that research on many of the subjects, ie. Ninjitsu, will render a history which claims a buddhist beginning. Buddhism has taken much of its ideas and influence from former Chinese cultural ideas. It's strict spiritual heirarchy is due mostly to the heirarchy of the times implemented in society, which was really made big in China through emperor-worship, and strict family value systems. Taoism accounts for its importance on self-enlightenment, but buddhism slightly differs in the way to achieve it. Taoism, however, was exactly the opposite in some things, such as the strictness of the societal roles. The Yamabushi Buddhists in the mountains of Japan played a pivotal role in helping develop the ninjitsu of the outcasts from the strict Bushido-centered societies. Tai Chi was developed as a self-healing and life-prolonging practice mostly, although it is also used in "playing" at martial arts... to further enhance one's own skills regardless of which technique you prefer. Taoism plays a universally pivotal role in most, if not all of these dynamic practices in East Asian culture. To summarize:
You can't get around reading the book, "Tao te Ching"
You have to interpret it for yourself... I still am.
These other arts are great supplementals to the practice of Taoism.

Oh, by the way, "Go" is loads of fun.

very wise:hahugh:

Agaliha
December 31st, 2006, 04:51 AM
I came across this:





Ho Hsien-Ku ("the Immortal Maiden Ho") is one of the Pa-Hsien, or Eight Immortals of Taoist legend, and the only female one (depending on how Lan T'sai-Ho is feeling that day). She is said to have attained Heaven in broad daylight, and is usually shown with a lotus flower or a peach, symbolizing eternity. The Eight Immortals were first recorded in the Yuan dynasty (13th-14th century), and are said to bring happiness and luck. Pictures and statues of Them are still very popular.

Ho Hsien-Ku was believed to have lived in the 7th century at the time of the Empress Wu. She is also said to have just six hairs on her head, though she is always shown as a beautiful woman with plenty of hair.
Ho Hsien-Ku was the nurse of T'ai Sui, god of the heavens and time, who corresponds to the planet Jupiter.
(here (http://www.thaliatook.com/AMGG/hohsien-ku.html))