History of Taoism
Tao can be roughly translated into English as path. The founder of Taoism was Lao-Tse (604-531 BCE), a contemporary of Confucius. (Alternate spellings: Lao Tse, Lao Tsu). He was searching for a way that would avoid the constant feudal warfare and other conflicts that disrupted life during his lifetime. The result was his book: Tao-te-Ching
Taoism started as a combination of psychology and philosophy but evolved into a religion in 440 CE when it was adopted as a state religion. At that time Lao-Tse became popularly venerated as a deity.
It, along with Buddhism and Confucianism, became the three great religions of China. Taoism currently has about 20 million followers, and is primarily centered in Taiwan. About 30,000 Taoists live in North America; 1,720 in Canada (1991 census).