Territorial coverage

It is widespread in the territory of modern China and Southeast Asia. 

Currently, followers of Taoism live in the United States and some European countries.

Number of followers

There are more than 60 million followers. Statistics  may vary, since the population of China is multi-confessional.

Year of creation

The foundations of the doctrine were formed in the 5th-3rd centuries BC.


Mass media about the teaching

The mass media publish information about numerous repressions aimed at oppressing followers of Taoism. Because of this, the teaching began to spread only in temples, which in the future may lead to the complete disappearance of religion. 

Modern scholars and religious figures are calling for the construction of monasteries and the creation of communities in order to bring Taoism out of decline. 

The media note that despite the difficulties, in modern China, on the basis of Taoist practices, Qigong has been formed – a set of traditional exercises aimed at improving health. Qigong is popular not only among believers, but also among ordinary people.

Religious figures claim that this trend can raise the popularity of the Taoism religion not only in a temple form.

Taoism originated on the basis of shamanic and magical traditions of southern China during the period of the struggling kingdoms.

The founder of Taoism is considered to be Lao Tzu (Laozi), a Chinese thinker. He is credited with the creation of the book “Tao Te Ching” (Daode Jing), which declares the basic principles of the doctrine. Another author, Chuang Zhou (Zhuangzi), is the creator of the treatise “Chuang Tzu”, which supports the ideas of Lao Tzu. 

The formation of Taoism as a religious creed occurred during the Han Dynasty. Its representative, Zhang Daolin, became the founder and patriarch of the religious school of Heavenly Mentors.

The next representative of the Han dynasty, Zhang Lu, received the Hanzhong territory, which later became a Taoist state.  

In 215 AD, this state was defeated and ceased to exist after the invasion of troops led by Cao Cao.

The new ruler Cao Cao supported the school of the Celestial Masters, due to which the religion spread throughout China.

Later, two Taoist schools appeared – Lingbao and Maoshan, which focused on meditative practices.

During the Tang Dynasty, the school of the Celestial Masters became known as the school of True Unity. It became dominant over other schools of that time.

In the 7th century, the institution of monasticism arose. Formed under the influence of Buddhism, it devotes special attention to self-improvement. During this century, Taoism is infiltrating Korea.

By the 12th century, a large number of pre-Asian schools appeared on the territory of China. To date, the Quanzhen school has been preserved and has not lost its significance.

The decline of Taoism came during the reign of the Qing Dynasty. Its representative, the Kangxi Emperor, opposed shamanic and mystical practices in religion, so Taoism did not develop under his reign.

The essence of Taoism is to obey the universal law of Tao. 

Tao is the absolute. It has no creator, no beginning and no end, but it is ubiquitous. Everything in the world originates from the Tao. 

The main ideas of Taoism are the choice of a life path that will lead the soul to the Tao.

In every person there is Wu-wei – inaction, submission to the currents of life. 

It is it that forms a contemplative attitude to life. 

You can win over the Tao through meditative practices, breathing exercises and knowledge of your universe. 


Let’s consider the main components of religion: 


  1. Qi is the energy of the world that constantly circulates around. 
  2. Yin is the earthly then Qi. Represents a dark beginning.
  3. Yang is the heavenly flow of Qi. A bright beginning. 
  4. Te is a benefactor transmitted from the Tao. 
  5. Pu is the original, integral, untouched energy, soul.

The ethical Code of the Taoist religion is postulated in 10 commandments: 


  1. Do not commit violence against living beings. 
  2. Avoid voluptuousness in your life.
  3. Don’t take someone else’s.
  4. Do not present a lie for the truth.
  5. Keep yourself pristine. 
  6. Be responsible for your kin, honor them.
  7. Help people from the bottom of your heart, sincerely.
  8. If a person is overcome by failures, give him a helping hand.
  9. Don’t be vindictive.
  10. Only when everyone comprehends the Tao, then it will come down to you.

The religion of Taoism does not imply bright and colourful rituals. Rituals are addressed to the contemplation and reverence of nature.


Consider the main: 

Funeral rite. The ritual is performed in order to show the soul the way to the underworld. The day of the ceremony depends on the complexity of the ritual. It is usually carried out on the day of a person’s death. The wake is held in a circle of close people, but one representative from the community is invited. 

The rite of birth. On the day of the event, a festive ceremony is held, accompanied by prayers. The birth of a boy is a big holiday, a large number of relatives are invited. Also, a representative of the spiritual community should be present at this event. The birth of a girl is celebrated more modestly, several neighbours are invited.

Tutanzhai Post. This rite helps healing. Sick people put dirt on their face and pray for healing. Also, this rite is used by “converts”. They put on special robes and go out with prayers to the main squares. There they cover themselves with road dust.

The main holidays in the religion of Taoism: 

The festival of spirits. It is celebrated in the 7th lunar month. According to legend, the spirits return to earth at this time. To honor them, people make offerings, sing, read prayers.

The holiday of the double nine. It is a celebration of well-being. It is celebrated in autumn together with the harvest. On this day, the Taoists glorify the 9 emperors who control the destinies of people.

Lao Tzu’s birthday. It is celebrated in the second month of the lunar calendar. On this day, believers glorify the founder of Taoism, Lao Tzu. The holiday is spent in reading prayers, meditation and studying the writings of the founder of the religion.

Most of the sacred sites of Taoism are located in the mountains of China.

The mountains are considered a place of solitude and contemplation of the sages, so a large number of believers make pilgrimage to them every year.


The main taoist shrines:


Qingcheng Mountain. It is located in Dujiangyan County. The name of the mountain means “The mountain of the blue fortress”. It was here that the first monastery was erected, which made Taoism a religious creed. A large temple complex of the Taoism religion is located on the ridge. Now Qingcheng Mountain is a UNESCO heritage site. 

Mount Udan. It is located in Hubei Province. Here, during the Ming Dynasty, martial arts arose, which were called Wudang Tai Chi.  There are a large number of sacred places on the mountain: the Purple Cloud Palace, the Nanyang Temple and others. Previously, a Taoist university was built, where they studied medicine.

Mount Taishan. The main attraction of Shandong province. A favorite place of hermits and believers. According to legend, the Chinese emperors here turned to Heaven and Earth.

Lao Tzu is considered the founder of the religion of Taoism. He is credited with the authorship of the book “Tao te Ching”, where the foundations of religion are formulated. 

There is no exact information about Lao Tzu’s biography. There are many legends that often contradict each other. Modern researchers agree that Lao Tzu is a collective image and the book is a collection of quotations and wisdom of a number of thinkers of the era.

According to traditional legend, Lao Tzu was born in 604 BC in southern China. He devoted his life to service in the archive and library.

In 517 BC, he had a meeting with Confucius. 

When Lao Tzu reached the old age, he left the country. 

The date and place of Lao Tzu’s death are unknown. Some researchers believe that he ended his life in India.

Since the religious doctrine of Taoism denies the desire for power and control, Taoism has no formal leaders, the only revered figures are the founders of the teachings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Zhou.

Taoism in China was subjected to constant repression and persecution. 

Under the Qing Dynasty, the Taoists and their creed were accused of China being occupied by barbarian tribes. Taoism was called to be recognized as a false doctrine, and Confucianism as a traditional religion. 

In 1850, during the Taiping Rebellion, the monasteries of the Taoism religion were ruined. Taoist literature was ordered to be destroyed.

Up to the 20th century, traditionalist scientists were critical of this creed, blaming it for undermining the social principles of the state. The concessions were made in 1978, when Deng Xiaoping’s reforms were adopted. 

At the moment, criticism of the religion of Taoism is found only in literary sources.


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