Along with Confucianism and Buddhism, Taoism (pronounced Daoism) is one of the three great religions of China. Taoism began in China around 200 BC as a folk religion in response to the strict rule filled Confucianism.
To practice Taoism one must follow the Tao which is a force that flows through all life. The word Tao means road or way. The followers of Taoism goal is to find a way to harmonize themselves with the Tao.
The founder of Taoism is said to be Lao-Tze who wrote the book Tao-te-Ching. He was searching for a way to avoid conflicts that disrupted society during his lifetime. Many people thought he was a mythical character. As the popularity of Taoism grew, Lao Tze became a deity of the Taoist religion. Currently worldwide there are about 20 million followers of Taoism.
Some of the beliefs of Taoism are that health and vitality are important in living one's life. Taoists see the way nature is as having much to do with how they can be in harmony. For example a Taoist believes that one must nurture their Ch'i (the air they breathe). The Taoist word for 'life force' or 'spiritual energy' is called the Qi.
Taoists also believe that nature must run its course. Taoists are kind to others and believe that they will receive the same in return. Taoists believe that people are compassionate by nature.
The Yin Yang Symbol
The most recognizable symbol of Taoism is the Yin-Yang symbol. It represents the balance of opposites in the universe. When the balance is equal, the universe is calm. If there is an imbalance, there is discourse in the universe. The two contrasting parts of the symbol are black with a bit of white and white with a bit of black. This shows that in nature everything that appears to be all bad has some good in it, and that everything that is good has some bad in it. The two sides appear to be swirling which shows that the world is always changing.