Taoism: A philosophy or a religion?

 

clip image002 thumb8 Taoism: A philosophy or a religion?There is some debate about a distinction between Taoism as a religious tradition and Taoism as a philosophical system. When most Westerners think of Taoism, they are often referring to the works of Laozi and Zhuangzi. These thought systems many be seen as philosophies rather than religions, as they include nothing within themselves about gods, worship or ritual. This type of Taoism is often referred to in Chinese as Daojia, or “Taoist Thinking” (thought, more literally, as “Tao specialists”).

Another aspect of Taoism, more familiar in China or countries under Chinese cultural influence, includes worship of Laozi and other divinities, magic, alchemy, qigong, perfection of immortality, and many other practices. This aspect of Taoism encompasses teaching lineages (where teachers pass on texts, rituals and beliefs to select students), temples, and sects. It is often referred to as Taoist religion, or in Chinese as Daojiao. Continue reading

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Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China

There are more than 200 mountains in China, which have associations with Buddhism. Among them are the famous Buddhism’s Four Mountain Sanctuaries. They are the domains of Buddhism’s four most venerated Bodhisattvas.

clip image002 thumb6 Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China

Mount Wutai of Shanxi Province is the domain of Manjusri, or the Universal Great Wisdom Bodhisattva. Mount Emei is Sichuan Province is the domain of Samantabhadra, or Bodhisattva of Universal Benevolence (Universal Worthy Great Conduct Bodhisattva). Mount Putuo of Zhejiang Province is the domain of Avalokitesvara or Guan Shi Yin Great Compassion Bodhisattva (Goddess of Mercy). Mount Jiuhua of Anhui Province is the domain of Ksitigarbha or Earth Treasure King Great Vow Bodhisattva (Guardian of the Earth). Continue reading

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Fox Spirits

clip image002 thumb5 Fox SpiritsFox spirits in Chinese mythology are spirits of a fox type that are akin to European faeries and demons. They can be either good spirits or bad spirits.

In Chinese mythologies, it is believed that all things are capable of acquiring human forms, magical powers and immortality provided that they received certain energy, such as human breaths or essence from the moon and the sun.

The fox spirits that people encounter in tales and legends tend to be females and appear as young, beautiful women. One of the most infamous fox spirits in Chinese mythology was Daji, who is portrayed in the Ming novel Fengshen Yanyi a beautiful daughter of a general; she was married forcibly to the cruel tyrant Zhou Xin. A nine-tailed fox spirit who served Nvwa entered into the possessed her body, expelling the “true” Daji’s soul. “Daji” and her new husband schemed cruelly and invented many devices of torture, such as forcing righteous officials to hug red-hot metal pillars. Due to such cruelties, many people, including Zhou Xin’s own former generals, revolted and fought against Zhou Xin’s dynasty, Shang. Finally, King Wu of Zhou, one of the vassals of Shang, founded a new dynasty named after his country. The fox spirit in Daji’s body was late driven out by Jiang Ziya, the first Prime Minister of the Zhou Dynasty. Continue reading

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