What do Taoists believe?

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:


Ch'i is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy and culture.

Death and Afterlife

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.


The spiritual beings of primary importance in religious Taoism are the Immortals (Xian in Chinese).

Purpose of Life

The focus of most religious Taoism is attaining immortality.

The Tao

The ultimate reality in Taoism is the Tao, or Way.