A depiction of Lao-Tzu. By Lawrencekhoo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Taoism is an ancient religion that developed in China, where tradition states it was founded by Lao-Tzu (also commonly written Laotzi), a legendary and possibly mythical sage who reportedly lived in the 6th century BC.1 There is also substantial evidence indicating that the founders of Taoism drew upon even older traditions in China connected to the Religion of the Sun that extended back thousands of years earlier.2
At the heart of Taoism is the concept of the “Tao” (or “Dao”) itself, which is similar in concept to the “Brahman” of Hinduism.3 It represents the unknowable and unmanifest source of creation, which words cannot truly describe.
Taoist texts state that from the uncreated Tao, creation emerged, a process attributed to the interaction of three cosmic forces, simply called the “One,” “Two,” and “Three”4 or in other sources as “Yin, Yang, and the Central Harmony.”5 These correspond to the Spiritual Father, Mother, and Son, which are frequently mentioned in traditions descended from the Religion of the Sun—for example, as Osiris, Isis, and Horus (Egyptian), the Heavenly Father, Earthly Mother, and Jesus (Sampsean) Odin, Frigg, and Balder (Norse), and many others.6
The Taoist religious symbol of Yin and Yang also depicts the progress of the sun through the solar year and the cycles of darkness and light.
Image created for The Path of the Spiritual Sun based on web article by Allen Tsai, <http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/YinYang.htm>
The forces of Yin and Yang are also depicted visually in the famous “Yin-Yang” symbol, which represents the dual polarities that give rise to all creation as well as the cycles between darkness and light that occur both in the heavens and on a personal level during the process of spiritual transformation.7
Taoists held that a divine light exists within8 and that the aim of spirituality is to develop this potential and achieve immortality.9 Achieving this aim, according to Taoist texts, is a gradual process requiring disciplined spiritual practice.
These practices include an exercise known as neidan (“inner alchemy“) or heqi (“merging pneumas”)—which similar to that found in some traditions in India and many other places10—as well as self-observation, awareness, concentrative meditation, breathing exercises, visualization, and many others. Another central virtue of Taoism is helping others spiritually by sharing spiritual knowledge and helping them discover the Tao.
A collection of spiritual practices found in Taoist texts can be found below (coming soon…). A more detailed overview of the connections of Taoism to the Religion of the Sun can be found in the article, “Cultures Descended from the Civilization of the Sun.”
- King Shu Liu, “The Origin of Taoism,” The Monist 27, no. 3 (July 1917): 377.
- Please see the section on Taoism on the Descendants page for additional detail.
- Belsebuub and Angela Pritchard, The Path of the Spiritual Sun: Celebrating the Solstices & Equinoxes (Mystical Life Publications, Revised and updated second edition July 2017) 104.
- Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, trans. Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1997), 26.
- Isabelle Robinet, “Cosmogony: 2. Taoist Notions,” in The Encyclopedia of Taoism, ed. Fabrizio Pregadio (London: Routledge, 2007), 49.
- Belsebuub and Angela Pritchard, Path of the Spiritual Sun (2nd Ed.), 100.
- Ibid, 43.
- Isabelle Robinet, “Syncretism,” in The Encyclopedia of Taoism, ed. Fabrizio Pregadio (London: Routledge, 2007), 23.
- Farzeen Baldrian-Hussein, “Neidan,” in The Encyclopedia of Taoism, ed. Fabrizio Pregadio (London: Routledge, 2007), 765.
- The neidan tradition within Taoism is vast, and contains a diverse array of schools, texts, and doctrines that understood this practice in different and often contradictory ways, some of which are not in alignment with the Religion of the Sun. Some Taoist texts that do contain knowledge of the Religion of the Sun and are recommended are listed in the resources section of this site.