daoism confucianism origin of the universe
A person would ask a question and then throw a handful of yarrow sticks onto a flat surface (such as a table) and the I-Ching would be consulted for an answer to the person’s question. These hexagrams consist of six unbroken lines (called Yang lines) and six broken lines (Yin). When a person looked at the pattern the yarrow sticks made when they were thrown, and then consulted the hexagrams in the book, they would have their answer. The broken and the unbroken lines, the yin and yang, were both necessary for that answer because the principles of yin and yang were necessary for life. Historian John M. Koller writes:
Confucius advocated rites and music so that the desires and emotions might be developed and regulated, for therein lay the development of humanity. To Lao-Tzu, efforts to develop and regulate the desires and emotions seemed artificial, tending to interfere with the harmony of nature. Rather than organize and regulate things to achieve perfection, Lao-Tzu advocated letting things work to their perfection naturally. This means supporting all things in their natural state, allowing them to transform spontaneously (245).
Dao is the “imperceptible, indiscernible,” about which nothing can be predicated but that latently contains the forms, entities, and forces of all particular phenomena: “It was from the Nameless that heaven and earth sprang; the Named is the mother that rears the Ten Thousand Things, each after its kind.” The Nameless (wuming) and the Named (youming), Nothing ( wu) and Something ( you), are interdependent and “grow out of one another.”
The conception of the cosmos common to all Chinese philosophy is neither materialistic nor animistic (a belief system centring on soul substances); it can be called magical or even alchemical. The universe is viewed as a hierarchically organized organism in which every part reproduces the whole. The human being is a microcosm (small world) corresponding rigorously to this macrocosm (large world); the body reproduces the plan of the cosmos. Between humans and the world there exists a system of correspondences and participations that the ritualists, philosophers, alchemists, and physicians have described but certainly not invented. This originally magical feeling of the integral unity of mankind and the natural order has always characterized the Chinese mentality, and the Daoists especially have elaborated upon it. The five organs of the body and its orifices and the dispositions, features, and passions of humans correspond to the five directions, the five holy mountains, the sections of the sky, the seasons, and the Five Phases (wuxing), which in China are not material but are more like five fundamental phases of any process in space-time. Whoever understands the human experience thus understands the structure of the cosmos. The physiologist knows that blood circulates because rivers carry water and that the body has 360 articulations because the ritual year has 360 days. In religious Daoism the interior of the body is inhabited by the same gods as those of the macrocosm. Adepts often search for their divine teacher in all the holy mountains of China until they finally discover him in one of the “palaces” inside their heads.
Daoism and Confucianism present contrasting, though not incompatible, understandings of human flourishing or well-being. Whereas Daoism seeks harmony between the individual (or human) way and the natural order and tends to dismiss human society as artificial and constrained, Confucianism emphasizes the achievement of a kind of moral excellence (ren, or “humaneness”) that is cultivated and manifested by conscientious behaviour within social institutions such as the family, the school, the community, and the state.
The concept of dao is broad and plays various roles in Daoist philosophy. The Cosmic Dao, or the Way of the Cosmos, is an indeterminate force or principle that latently contains all things and spontaneously generates the universe through its constant rhythmic fluctuations. Humanity will flourish only if its dao, or “way,” is attuned with this natural order. The wise ruler or self-cultivated sage is so attuned to the Dao that his actions leave no traces of themselves and so pass completely unnoticed.
This article touches on the subject of deities in Taoism.
This may seem surprising as Taoists do use ‘God-talk’ to refer to the Tao:
With and due to the transformations and changes of the phenomena everything and every being spontaneously, by intuition and in impulse establishes its own ‘way’.
Taoism, also known as Daoism, arose about the same time as Confucianism. Laoze (Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ, also Laotzi, Laotse, Lao-Tse, Lao-tzu, Lao Zi or Lão Tu), is considered to have written a book of 81 chapters, named Tao Te Ching, also Daodejing (trad. Chinese: 道德經; simpl. Chinese: 道德经; pinyin: Dàodéjīng), a classical Chinese text, mainly concerning 道 tao/ dào “way,” and 德 te/dé “virtue”, life, strength.