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Taoism or Daoism (/ˈtaʊɪzəm/ (listen) or /ˈdaʊɪzəm/ (listen)) refers to a set of Chinese traditions and religions which emphasize living in harmony with the Tao (Chinese: 道; pinyin: Dào; Wade–Giles: Tao4; lit. 'Way', 'Path'). The Tao is generally defined as the source of everything and the ultimate principle underlying reality. The Tao Te Ching and the Zhuangzi are widely considered key Taoist texts.
|Literal meaning||"Religion of the Way"|
|Vietnamese alphabet||Đạo giáo|
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Institutions and organizations
Taoism includes various self-cultivation methods, including meditation, internal alchemy, and various rituals. Common aims include becoming one with the natural flow of the Dao, longevity, becoming a sage (zhenren) and even an immortal (xian). Taoist ethics vary depending on the particular school, but they generally tend to emphasize virtues like: "inaction" (无为; 無爲; wúwéi), "naturalness" or "spontaneity" (自然; zìrán), "simplicity" (朴; 樸; pǔ), and the three treasures: compassion (慈; cí), frugality (俭; 儉; jiǎn) and humility (不敢为天下先; 不敢爲天下先; bù gǎn wèi tiānxià xiān).
The roots of Taoism go back at least to the 4th century BCE. Early Taoism drew its cosmological notions from the School of Yinyang (also known as "the Naturalists"). Other influences include: Shang and Zhou dynasty religion, Mohism, Confucianism, Legalist theorists like Shen Buhai and Han Fei, and the Chinese classics, especially the I Ching and the Lüshi Chunqiu.
Taoism has had a profound influence on Chinese culture in the course of the centuries and Dao masters (道士; dàoshi), a title traditionally attributed only to the clergy and not to their lay followers, usually take care to note the distinction between their ritual tradition and the practices of Chinese folk religion and non-Taoist vernacular ritual orders, which are often mistakenly identified as pertaining to Taoism. Chinese alchemy (especially "internal alchemy" - neidan), Chinese astrology, Chan (Zen) Buddhism, several Chinese martial arts including Tai chi, traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui and many styles of Qigong have been associated with Taoism throughout history.
Today, the Taoist religion is one of the five religious doctrines officially recognized by the People's Republic of China (PRC), including in its special administrative regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macau. It is also a major religion in Taiwan as well as throughout the Sinosphere including Korea and Japan, and has a significant number of adherents in a number of other societies throughout East and Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Taoism also has adherents in the West, which includes East or Southeast Asian immigrants as well as Western convert Taoists.