Cultures & Traditions
Taoism was founded in China by Lao-Tzu in the sixth-century B.C. Characterized by a concentration on nature and the forces of the universe, Taoism calls for living one’s life in harmony with the Tao, or Way, which is the predesigned and ultimately correct path for followers of Taoism. Taoism’s followers believe one should lead a life of non-action and serve one's role as a part of the design of the universe, free of personal ambitions and desires, to achieve harmony.
Taoism began as a philosophy that generated a large amount of literature emphasizing natural themes, which artists used as subjects in their work. In the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. it became a religion primarily concerned with gaining immortality, and quickly became separated from its philosophic origins. The pursuit of a hermetic lifestyle, important in the quest for immortality, played a key role in Taoist belief and practice. By the 8th century, there were over 1600 active Taoist monasteries, and the religion had developed a pantheon of gods in addition to creating scriptures and monastic orders.