What are Daoism and its basic beliefs?

Daoism/Taoism believes in Dao/Tao, and that is what gives Daoism its name. The main activities of Daoism include learning, self cultivating and practicing Dao in order to help others. Daoism was initiated by Yellow Emperor around 3,000 B.C.; it is a religion indigenous to China.

The Book “Laozi”, also known as “Dao De Jing”, is the main classic of Daoism. Daoism believes that Dao is the holding of nothingness, it is the root of creation, it is the origin of consciousness and it is the beginning of Heaven and Earth. The multitudes of nature phenomena exist due to Dao, and the five elements take their shapes because of Dao. The core essence of the universe, Yin and Yang as well as everything in the universe is but the creation or manifestation of the Dao.

In Daoist view, there are other universes besides the universe we live in. These universes, such as the 10 grand Dongtian (Grotto-Heavens), the 36 Dongtian, and the 72 Fudi (blessed locations), are where all the Divine, Immortals and Deities live in. In the view of Daoism, Dao had originally manifested itself into 3 different kinds of vital Breaths or Qi, and they in turn transformed themselves into the 3 highest Divine in Daoism, the Yuanshi (Primordial Beginning) Heavenly Worthy, the Lingbao (Numinous Treasure) Heavenly Worthy and the Daode (Dao and Virtue) Heavenly Worthy. There are other Divine and Deities that Daoism believes in. They form a huge pantheon of Celestial Beings. These are Deities in charge of every possible aspect of the natural world and human society. Some Deities are responsible for larger events in Nature, such as the Three Officials who are the Deities in-charge of Heaven, Earth and Water; and others are assigned minor duties, such as the Door Guardians, the Kitchen Deity.

Another fundamental belief of Daoism is that human beings can shun death and achieve immortality. Since Dao is eternal, and whoever can acquire and hold on to it, can therefore achieve eternal life. The process is also called De (as in Dao De Jing), which means, “obtain” or “obtaining the Dao”. In summary, Daoism values life and pursues longevity; it believes one can achieve immortality and spiritual enlightenment through prayer or proper practice; it believes that one can enjoy life of this world and at the same time by returning to Dao – the source of all life, achieve immortality while keeping one’s physical body, and eventually transcend to the realm of the Divine and Deities, live happily ever after.

– Wu Dao Jun

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