Would you consider Taoism a religion?

Relatively simple question, for those who have read at least the Tao Te Ching, would you consider that a religion - or no? And if you do (or don’t) and have read at least one of the books, then why do you believe the way you do?

I’ve read the Tao Te Ching at least 5 times, it’s a short book, but I’ve gotten something new out of it every time I’ve read it. From memory, it’s considered one of the oldest philisophical books in the world…however, I’m curious if people consider it a ‘religion’ per se, or not, and why?

Answer #1

The line between different religions and philosophies is harder to draw in the East than in the West, but yes I would consider Taoism a religion of sorts. There is a close relationship between the Tao Te Ching and the traditional religious beliefs of Chinese culture. Also, many of the principles in the Tao Te Ching are similar to principles found in Buddhism itself, not to mention the Bible and the Quran. People who hold Taoist views and philosophies also believe strongly in making offerings to gods and ancestors, and hold nature in high regard. I wouldn’t call it nature worship, as with Shintoism, but certainly a veneration of nature as a greater force, which also indicates to me that there is a religious element in Taoism.

Answer #2

Yes. Although it does contain philosophy, it also contains mysticism, which in my opinion, makes it a religion.

Contrast that for example to the scientific method. It also is rooted in philosophy, but since it contains no mysticism, is not a religion.

Answer #3

I don’t know why, but I have always thought it was a religion, and the dictionary does too:

“Also called Hsüan Chiao; a popular Chinese religion, originating in the doctrines of Lao-tzu, but later highly eclectic in nature and characterized by a pantheon of many gods and by the practice of alchemy, divination, and magic.”

Answer #4

thedude, From what I understand Taoism did start out as a legitimate religion, in fact it was one of the 3 religions along with Buddhism and Confucianism. Religious freedoms were restricted in China and…I think the monks basically became slaves. I think it also was almost totally destroyed during the revolution. Today it is coming back. In Canada we have a growing population of Taoism believers and they would indeed say the religious aspect of it is what has held it together through it all. Sorry I haven’t read any of the books but I would consider it a religion. Sue

Answer #5

I believe that the Tao is more of a spiritual text and when applied in every day living I think it could “fit” in to any religion of the seeker. The Tao suggests we change our way of thinking. One of the interesting interpretations of the “Tao Te Ching” I have read is called “Change Your Thoughts-Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao” by Dr. Wayne Dyer-for those who would like to further explore more on this subject.

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