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What is Taoism?



What is Taoism?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.94

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    watercourse, woo-way, yin-yang, aristocracy, philosophical, patron, chaotic, confucius, inaction, philosopher, corrupt, mystical, revered, virtue, meditate, purpose
     content words:    Lao Tzu, When Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Its Power, Te Ching, Some Taoists, Feng Shui, These Taoists, Eight Immortals, One Immortal


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What is Taoism?
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Have you ever heard the expression, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"? It is believed that a Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, wrote that saying. No one knows if Lao Tzu was a real person, but maybe he would have been a good travel agent. Lao Tzu is believed to be the founder of Taoism, one of the world's major religions.
 
2     According to legends, Lao Tzu lived in China in the sixth century B.C. Some say that when he was born, he was already a wise, old man with white hair! He was the keeper of the archives at the imperial court. Confucius, another famous philosopher, is said to have visited him. When Lao Tzu was 160 years old, he felt sad that his government had become corrupt. He felt that people were not on the right path, so he set out for what is now Tibet.
 
3     A guard had had a dream that a sage would come to the western border of China. When Lao Tzu rode up on his water buffalo, this guard recognized him as the sage from his dream. The guard stopped the old man and told him he could not go on unless he wrote down his teachings. Lao Tzu quickly wrote down 5,000 Chinese characters. His writings were called the Tao Te Ching (pronounced "dao de jin"). This phrase means "The Way and Its Power." Lao Tzu gave his writings to the guard, remounted his water buffalo, and rode away. He was never heard from again.
 
4     The Tao Te Ching is the central sacred book of Taoism. Taoists try to live in harmony with nature. They respect natural forces, like wind and water. Water is the perfect symbol of Taoism because it is soft and flowing, but it also is powerful and sustains life. Tao (pronounced "dao") means way or path. Taoism is also called the "watercourse way."
 
5     In one Taoist story, an old man and his friends walked next to a raging river. The man fell into the water. He was swept through the fast rapids, and then he fell over a large waterfall. His friends were afraid that the old man was dead! When they saw him pull himself out of the river, they ran up to him and asked him how he had managed to survive. The man did not know. He said, "I didn't try to fight the water. I allowed myself to be carried by it, and I was not hurt."

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