Just the facts on religion.

Taoist Beliefs

The ancient Chinese religion of Taoism is not entirely distinct from Confucianism or Chinese folk religion, for all Chinese religion and philosophy operate within the same ancient worldview.

Since earliest times, Chinese thought has been characterized by an awareness of man's close relationship with nature and the universe, a cyclical view of time and the universe, veneration or worship of ancestors, the idea of Heaven, and belief in the divinity of the sovereign.

Both Confucianism and Taoism operate within this worldview and incorporate many of its concepts. These two organized belief systems are best viewed as complementary rather than competitive. While Confucianism concerns itself with the social and moral side of life, Taoism focuses on the individual, spiritual life.

The articles in this section explain some of the beliefs that are especially fundamental to Taoism.

  • Afterlife in Taoism

    In Taoism, life and death are merely two aspects of reality, the unchanging Tao. Death is simply a transformation from being to non-being; from yang to yin... full article →
  • Immortals

    The spiritual beings of primary importance in religious Taoism are the Immortals (Xian in Chinese). First introduced in the Chuang-Tzu and perhaps intended by the author to be allegorical, these super-humans or "perfected persons" (chen jen) came to be worshipped and emulated by Taoists... full article →
  • Tao

    The ultimate reality in Taoism is the Tao, or Way. Broadly defined, the Tao is the mysterious natural order of the universe. But paradoxically, what the sages have most often said about the Tao is that nothing can be said about it... full article →
  • Taoist Pantheism

    Taoism is a pantheist faith - the Tao pervades all. The spiritual beings of primary importance in religious Taoism are the Immortals (Xian in Chinese)... full article →
  • ch'i

    Ch'i (also spelled Chi or Qi) is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy and culture. Found in Chinese traditional religion but especially Taoism, Ch'i literally means "air" or "breath," but as a concept it refers to the energy flow or life force that is said to pervade all things... full article →
  • meaning of life (Taoism)

    The ideal person in philosophical Taoism is the sage who understands and lives in accordance with the Tao. Knowing that all opposites are relative and interdependent, and that the best way to live is in harmony with the natural course of things (the Tao), a Taoist does not struggle, oppose, or strive... full article →