Daoism as a Reflection of the Natural Principles – Unit 1 Essay

Document Type
5 pages
Word Count
1243 words
Course Code
lstd 3113
SierraLynn Anderson
LSTD 3113-403
Unit 1 Essay
Daoism as a Reflection of the Natural Principles
Daoism is a pantheistic religion said to have been founded by Zhang Ling during the
reign of Emperor Shun of Han (r. 125-144 CE). However, Zhang Ling accredits Laozi to be the
true founder of the Daoist religion and designated his work, Daodejing as the religion’s holy
scripture. There were many factors that led to the development of Daoism. It originated out of
shamanism and folk religions of this time period with heavy influence from Confucianism. The
current social and historical environment under the Han Dynasty provided the perfect setting for
a new religion based on peace and unity to blossom. First, the Hans were extremely spiritual and
superstitious leaders that veered away from the more logical teachings of Confucious. Second,
the concept of immortality (a fundamental goal of Daoism) had already begun to interest past
emperors, an interest that was also emulated within the common folk. Third, the quality of life
for the general population had become increasingly intolerable following the multiple wars that
occurred near the end of the Han Dynasty (ca. 200 CE). All of these factors presented an
extremely fertile place for Daoism, which preached harmony and tranquillity, to prosper. Zhang
Ling used the Taipingjing or “peace text” to spread his teachings and offer his people hope of a
unified and harmonious society once again. The Taipingjing prompted many people to “strive for
the Dao” or aim for virtue, by portraying an ideal world in which peace and harmony could
prevail if mankind behaved in a certain way.
The Daoist religion is based on basic principles of unity and balance. Daoists believed
that the Universe was not created nor designed, but was naturally so. Referred to as a creative
power, “Dao,” was believed to be the spiritually mysterious mother of the universe that brought
forth all universal manifestations. Due to this belief, Daoists strive to find harmony with nature
and cherish the earth. Wu-Wei is the Daoist practice of selflessness and non-action, meaning that
one should aspire for a simple life, free of materialistic desire and greed. Daoism also preaches
the necessity for humans to assume responsibility for the transgressions of their ancestors, family
members, and themselves. To counteract these transgressions or sins and keep the universe in
harmony, one must constantly strive to perform good deeds for others and do no evil. Ultimately,
the responsibility of the individual is extended to society as a whole. Finally and possibly one of
the most fundamental principles of Daoism is the belief in immortality. One of the primary goals
of Daoists is to attain a very long, if not eternal life. If one spends their life following the Dao,
spreading kindness to others, and maintaining good health, then they have the possibility of
extending their life or becoming immortal.
These basic principles of Daoism largely align with and are influence by the Natural
Principles that have dominated ancient Chinese culture and belief systems for centuries. The

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