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Our knowledge of the ancient Chinese spirituality known as Taoism begins with two texts, the Lao-tzu or Tao Te Ching (“Book of the Tao/Way and Its Power”; Pinyin transliteration renders this Dao De Jing) and the Chuang-tzu (Zhuangzi) both named after famous sages.

Considerable excerpts from both works can be read here (click on link).

They exalt the mystery, simplicity and vast intelligence of the primal, humble Tao, and emphasize that we must empty out, die to self/personal “face,” and thereby humbly return to the “chaos”-like (hun-tun) Tao-Source in full consciousness, thereafter letting spontaneous, non-striving action (wu-wei) flow from the Tao.Through the Sui-Tang dynastic era (581-905), when Taoism flourished under state patronage, other religious Taoist schools emerged, focusing on repentance, healing, invoking of spirits, use of talismans, magical formulae, etc.From 907-1368 religious Taoism assimilated the rise of a Buddhist-influenced, ascetic, contemplative Ch’ing-wei tao Tantric “Thunder Magic” sect from Hua Shan and Lungmen Shan in west China, a martial Pei-chi tao or Pole Star Taoism from Wu-tang Shan in Hupei province, and a sorcery-oriented Taoism of central and south China, Shen-hsiao Taoism, founded by Lin Ling-su c1116.The Taoist scriptural canon is the huge Tao-tsang, comprising c200,000 pages divided into three major sections (tung), seven subsections in all, of more than 1,600 books.They address many topics, not just spirituality, including botany, astronomy, etc.Most of these works use arcane, multi-level symbolic language and alchemical terms.

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