Religion in Canada

Taoism in Canada

Taoism is a multi-faceted religion, in large part due to its adoption of various traditional Chinese beliefs and practices. As a result, the practice of Taoism includes observations about nature, philosophical insights, physical exercises, practices for attaining longevity and inner purity, guidelines for living, and rituals for protection.

Historically, there have been two eras of Taoism. Around 300 B.C.E., began philosophical Taoism, as found in the Tao Te Ching, and then later, around 100 BCE began ritual Taoism. Today, ritual Taoism is commonly thought to be the proper expression of philosophical Taosim, as a result they are more appropriately seen as one.

Taosim essentially began as a result of the teachings of Lao Tze who lived between 600-500 BCE. He wrote the Tao Te Ching, which is the central scripture of Taoism. The essential belief of Taoism, as expressed in the Tao Te Ching, is the Tao. The Tao is the origin of nature; it is also known as the way or the river of nature. It is possible to experience the Tao and to live in harmony with it, by abandoning desires for individual things. But the Tao is not a god; it is not cognisant, nor does it have personality. Taoists reject hatred, intolerance, and unnecessary violence, and embrace harmony, love and learning, as taught by Nature.

There are three jewels (characteristics) that Taoists should cherish as mentioned in Tao-te-Ching:

Compassion, which leads to courage

Moderation, which leads to generosity

Humility, which leads to leadership

The Taoist canon is formed of more than a thousand sacred books on a broad range of subjects. Ultimately Taoism adopted and is now composed of a variety of influences, mostly bringing together physical health and spiritual elevation. It supported a pantheon of deities, including Lao Tzu as one of the three 'Supreme Ones'. The Taoist liturgy and theology was much influenced by Buddhism. Its scriptures, the Tao-tsang, consist of over 1,400 separate works totaling more than 5,000 chapters.

Taoism encompasses both philosophy and religion with an emphasis on individual freedom and spontaneity, laissez-faire government and social primitivism, mystical experience and techniques for self-transformation. Taoism is mostly found in Taiwan, where there are priests, exorcists and various clergy who perform rituals, services and ministerial work for the community. Taoism currently has about 20 million followers and is primarily centered in Taiwan. About 30,000 Taoists live in North America , with 3,440 of them in Canada . Taoism has had a significant impact on North America culture in areas of acupuncture, herbal and holistic medicine, meditation and martial arts. The International Taoist Tai Chi Centre near Orangeville , Ontario in Canada , is host to many international Society workshops and special events. Located on over 100 acres, the site is a wonderful setting for practicing the Taoist arts.

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