The symbol of Taoism represents Yin and Yang in balance.
Yin is female, cold, passive, negative, dark, death, good, right, weak, responsive. contraction.
Yang is male, hot, active, positive, light, life, evil. left, strong, aggressive, expansion.
Tao (pronounced "Dow") can be roughly translated into English as path, or the way. It "refers to a power which envelops, surrounds and flows through all things, living and non-living. The Tao regulates natural processes and nourishes balance in the Universe. It embodies the harmony of opposites (i.e. there would be no love without hate, no light without dark, no male without female.)"
"Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river." Lao Tse
"We believe in the formless and eternal Tao, and we recognize all personified deities as being mere human constructs. We reject hatred, intolerance, and unnecessary violence, and embrace harmony, love and learning, as we are taught by Nature. We place our trust and our lives in the Tao, that we may live in peace and balance with the Universe, both in this mortal life and beyond." Lao Tse'
The founder of Taoism was Lao-Tse (604-531 BCE)
Taoist Beliefs and Practices:
Tao is the first-cause of the universe. It is a force that flows through all life.
The goal of everyone is to become one with the Tao.
The concept of a personified deity is foreign to Taoism, as is the concept of the creation of the universe. Thus, they do not pray as Christians do; there is no God to hear the prayers or to act upon them. They seek answers to life's problems through inner meditation and outer observation.
Time is cyclical, not linear as in Western thinking.
Yin (dark side) is the breath that formed the earth. Yang (light side) is the breath that formed the heavens. They symbolize pairs of opposites which are seen throughout the universe, such as good and evil, light and dark, male and female. Intervention by human civilization upsets the balances of Yin and Yang. The symbol of Taoism, seen at the top of this page, represents Yin and Yang in balance.
"The Tao surrounds everyone and therefore everyone must listen to find enlightenment.
Five main organs and orifices of the body correspond to the five parts of the sky: water, fire, wood, metal and earth.
Each person must nurture the Ch'i (air, breath) that has been given to them.
Development of virtue is one's chief task. The Three Jewels to be sought are compassion, moderation and humility.
Taoists follow the art of "wu wei", which is to achieve action through minimal action. "It is the practice of going against the stream not by struggling against it and thrashing about, but by standing still and letting the stream do all the work. Thus the sage knows that relative to the river, he still moves against the current. To the outside world the sage appears to take no action - but in fact he takes action long before others ever foresee the need for action." 1
One should plan in advance and consider carefully each action before making it.
A Taoists is kind to other individuals, largely because such an action tends to be reciprocated.
Taoists believe that "people are compassionate by nature...left to their own devices [they] will show this compassion without expecting a reward."
The Creed: "We believe in the formless and eternal Tao, and we recognize all personified deities as being mere human constructs. We reject hatred, intolerance, and unnecessary violence, and embrace harmony, love and learning, as we are taught by Nature. We place our trust and our lives in the Tao, that we may live in peace and balance with the Universe, both in this mortal life and beyond."
Taoism is so complex, go to http://wrt.org/ for further information.