Religious Taoism is not a belief-centered religion, and there are no known Taoist creeds. At the same time, certain characteristic beliefs or assumptions can be identified.
One such belief is in the existence of several classes of supernatural beings, who may enter into relations with human beings. These include gods, ghosts, and ancestral spirits.
Gods are, if not invariably benevolent, generally on the side of righteousness.
Ghosts are dangerous spirits of the departed who must be appeased through offerings, especially during the Chinese Ghost Festival.
Ancestors are also spirits of the departed, but are distinguished from ghosts in that they boast (male-line) descendents who commemorate them through home rituals.
Another fundamental assumption is the efficacy of ritual in maintaining a positive relationship with these beings. Folk Taoism focuses on rituals of sacrifice; elite Taoism emphasizes control over spirits through talismans or "spirit-registers" (fu), on the principle that possession of a spirit's name confers power over that spirit.
Various rituals, exercises, or substances are said to positively affect one's physical health (even to the point of immortality); align oneself spiritually with cosmic forces; or enable ecstatic spiritual journeys. These concepts seem basic to Taoism in its elite forms.
- “Taoism.” Wikipedia. Web. Accessed 10 Apr. 2017.