Taoism began as one of a number of philosophical traditions in 6th century BCE China, its core text being the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu. The teaching is quietist and incorporates both an exposition of the development of the universe and a code of behaviour (including astute political commentary) aimed at achieving a more simplified life in accordance with nature.As it developed over the centuries it incorporated religious practices and in particular assimilated a great many ancient Chinese folk practices. It is thus very diverse and is the least centralised of the three traditional Chinese (‘Taoic’) religions.
While there are Taoist temples in areas where the Chinese diaspora is well established, and the religion is the second most numerous in Taiwan, there appear to be none in the UK, although people have registered themselves as Taoist in both the 2001 Census and in West Midlands school returns. There is a largely non-religious Western following in organisations like the Taoist Cultural Arts Association (which was founded and is particularly strong in the West Midlands). Here the main interest is in Chinese martial arts, particularly T’ai Chi, in Chinese medicine and other techniques such as Feng Shui. There is also a British Taoist Association run by priests of both Chinese and British extraction which teaches the spiritual tradition.The yin-yang symbol, originating in the 10th Century CE, is the one most generally used in Taoist circles.
More information on the BBC website www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/taoism/
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