Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Is this page locked? I can't edit it. There's a redundant line in it ("Of course nothing is really that simple. Taoism is deeply infused with Chinese animism and cultural beliefs." at the beginning of paragraph four and the end of paragraph five) that needs to be fixed. Also, there are some clarifications that need to be made - namely, the form of Taoism described here is NOT a religion. There is a religious form of Taoism (Tao Jiao, or Tao Religion), but it is distinct and separate from the philosophical form (Tao Jia, or Tao School of Thought), which is what has been described. Tao Jia is no more a religion than are the schools of Plato and Aristotle.

It's difficult to define "religion," so I will not try to give "ways in which Tao Jia does not fit the definition," but I will point out some things that Tao Jia lacks, at least one of which will exclude it from nearly any definition of religion.

1) No belief regarding deity - either its presence or its absence. 2) No "Code" or "Creed" as to how a person should act, aside from "do what feels right" or "remain in harmony with your nature." 3) No rituals of any kind 4) No moral standpoint (no list of vices, no list of virtues, no sin, no honor, only suggestions for a base line of thought) 5) Truth be known, even its core beliefs aren't shared by all adherents! The core beliefs of Taoism are derived from a dozen or more books, and many Taoists only follow (or have even only read!) one of them. (Usually the Tao te Ching, but sometimes the Chuangzi or the Zhuangzi, or other books)

Tao Jiao is more religious in nature, and involves practices such as food sacrifices, alchemy, attempts to gain immortality, burning Joss Paper, etc. It also involves a pantheon of deities, often with Laozi at its head, viewed as the most important deity (whereas Tao Jia generally holds that Laozi was a human, or in the case of many scholars, a single name attributed to a multitude of writers whose works were combined to form the Tao te Ching). It would be classified as a religion, but is not what is described in the article; the article should be expanded to include this distinction, though I know significantly less about Tao Jiao than about Tao Jia, so at best, I could acknowledge the distinction and some of its practices, as I have here. The sects mentioned in this article ("The Mighty Commonwealth of Orthodox Oneness" and "The School of Complete Reality") and the mentioning of alchemy are associated with Tao Jiao, so this furthermore shows a lack of internal consistency within the article, with the rest of it largely describing Tao Jia. (As I mentioned, though, I'm not a student of Tao Jiao, only Tao Jia, so it's possible these things overlap considerably, in which case the dichotomy between the two types of Taoism simply needs to be represented in general.)

Basically, a good deal of this article needs to be changed or even completely rewritten. I'm not saying we need to create a scholarly dissertation on the nature of Taoism, but a little internal consistency and elaboration on the difference between the two types would be nice.