Taoism, or Daoism, is a religious or philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao. The Tao is a fundamental idea in most Chinese philosophical schools. Taoism differs from Confucianism by not emphasizing rigid rituals and social order, but is similar in the sense that it is a teaching about the various disciplines for achieving "perfection" by becoming one with the unplanned rhythms of the universe called "the way" or "dao". Taoist ethics vary depending on the particular school, but in general tend to emphasize wu wei, "naturalness", simplicity and the Three Treasures: 慈 "compassion", 儉 "frugality", 不敢為天下先 "humility"; the roots of Taoism go back at least to the 4th century BCE. Early Taoism drew its cosmological notions from the School of Yinyang, was influenced by one of the oldest texts of Chinese culture, the I Ching, which expounds a philosophical system about how to keep human behavior in accordance with the alternating cycles of nature; the "Legalist" Shen Buhai may have been a major influence, expounding a realpolitik of wu wei.
The Tao Te Ching, a compact book containing teachings attributed to Laozi, is considered the keystone work of the Taoist tradition, together with the writings of Zhuangzi. By the Han dynasty, the various sources of Taoism had coalesced into a coherent tradition of religious organizations and orders of ritualists in the state of Shu. In earlier ancient China, Taoists were thought of as hermits or recluses who did not participate in political life. Zhuangzi was the best known of these, it is significant that he lived in the south, where he was part of local Chinese shamanic traditions. Female shamans played an important role in this tradition, strong in the southern state of Chu. Early Taoist movements developed their own institution in contrast to shamanism, but absorbed basic shamanic elements. Shamans revealed basic texts of Taoism from early times down to at least the 20th century. Institutional orders of Taoism evolved in various strains that in more recent times are conventionally grouped into two main branches: Quanzhen Taoism and Zhengyi Taoism.
After Laozi and Zhuangzi, the literature of Taoism grew and was compiled in form of a canon—the Daozang—which was published at the behest of the emperor. Throughout Chinese history, Taoism was nominated several times as a state religion. After the 17th century, however, it fell from favor. Taoism has had a profound influence on Chinese culture in the course of the centuries, Taoists, a title traditionally attributed only to the clergy and not to their lay followers take care to note distinction between their ritual tradition and the practices of Chinese folk religion and non-Taoist vernacular ritual orders, which are mistakenly identified as pertaining to Taoism. Chinese alchemy, Chinese astrology, Chan Buddhism, several martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history. Beyond China, Taoism had influence on surrounding societies in Asia. Today, the Taoist tradition is one of the five religious doctrines recognized in the People's Republic of China as well as the Republic of China, although it does not travel from its East Asian roots, it claims adherents in a number of societies, in particular in Hong Kong, in Southeast Asia.
Since the introduction of the Pinyin system for romanizing Mandarin Chinese, there have been those who have felt that "Taoism" would be more appropriately spelled as "Daoism". The Mandarin Chinese pronunciation for the word 道 is spelled as tao4 in the older Wade–Giles romanization system while it is spelled as dào in the newer Pinyin romanization system. Both the Wade–Giles tao4 and the Pinyin dào are intended to be pronounced identically in Mandarin Chinese, but despite this fact, "Taoism" and "Daoism" can be pronounced differently in English vernacular; the word "Taoism" is used to translate different Chinese terms which refer to different aspects of the same tradition and semantic field: "Taoist religion", or the "liturgical" aspect – A family of organized religious movements sharing concepts or terminology from "Taoist philosophy". "Taoist philosophy" or "Taology", or the "mystical" aspect – The philosophical doctrines based on the texts of the I Ching, the Tao Te Ching and the Zhuangzi.
These texts were linked together as "Taoist philosophy" during the early Han Dynasty, but notably not before. It is unlikely that Zhuangzi was familiar with the text of the Daodejing, Zhuangzi would not have identified himself as a Taoist as this classification did not arise until well after his death. However, the discussed distinction is rejected by the majority of Japanese scholars, it is contested by hermeneutic difficulties in the categorization of the different Taoist schools and movements. Taoism does not f
Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions and spiritual practices based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are recognized by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana. Most Buddhist traditions share the goal of overcoming suffering and the cycle of death and rebirth, either by the attainment of Nirvana or through the path of Buddhahood. Buddhist schools vary in their interpretation of the path to liberation, the relative importance and canonicity assigned to the various Buddhist texts, their specific teachings and practices. Observed practices include taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, observance of moral precepts, monasticism and the cultivation of the Paramitas.
Theravada Buddhism has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia such as Myanmar and Thailand. Mahayana, which includes the traditions of Pure Land, Nichiren Buddhism and Tiantai, is found throughout East Asia. Vajrayana, a body of teachings attributed to Indian adepts, may be viewed as a separate branch or as an aspect of Mahayana Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism, which preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth-century India, is practiced in the countries of the Himalayan region and Kalmykia. Buddhism is an Indian religion attributed to the teachings of the Buddha born Siddhārtha Gautama, known as the Tathāgata and Sakyamuni. Early texts have his personal name as "Gautama" or "Gotama" without any mention of "Siddhārtha," which appears to have been a kind of honorific title when it does appear; the details of Buddha's life are mentioned in many Early Buddhist Texts but are inconsistent, his social background and life details are difficult to prove, the precise dates uncertain. The evidence of the early texts suggests that he was born as Siddhārtha Gautama in Lumbini and grew up in Kapilavasthu, a town in the plains region of the modern Nepal-India border, that he spent his life in what is now modern Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Some hagiographic legends state that his father was a king named Suddhodana, his mother was Queen Maya, he was born in Lumbini gardens. However, scholars such as Richard Gombrich consider this a dubious claim because a combination of evidence suggests he was born in the Shakyas community – one that gave him the title Shakyamuni, the Shakya community was governed by a small oligarchy or republic-like council where there were no ranks but where seniority mattered instead; some of the stories about Buddha, his life, his teachings, claims about the society he grew up in may have been invented and interpolated at a time into the Buddhist texts. According to the Buddhist sutras, Gautama was moved by the innate suffering of humanity and its endless repetition due to rebirth, he set out on a quest to end this repeated suffering. Early Buddhist canonical texts and early biographies of Gautama state that Gautama first studied under Vedic teachers, namely Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, learning meditation and ancient philosophies the concept of "nothingness, emptiness" from the former, "what is neither seen nor unseen" from the latter.
Finding these teachings to be insufficient to attain his goal, he turned to the practice of asceticism. This too fell short of attaining his goal, he turned to the practice of dhyana, which he had discovered in his youth, he famously sat in meditation under a Ficus religiosa tree now called the Bodhi Tree in the town of Bodh Gaya in the Gangetic plains region of South Asia. He gained insight into the workings of karma and his former lives, attained enlightenment, certainty about the Middle Way as the right path of spiritual practice to end suffering from rebirths in Saṃsāra; as a enlightened Buddha, he attracted followers and founded a Sangha. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the Dharma he had discovered, died at the age of 80 in Kushinagar, India. Buddha's teachings were propagated by his followers, which in the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE became over 18 Buddhist sub-schools of thought, each with its own basket of texts containing different interpretations and authentic teachings of the Buddha.
The Four Truths express the basic orientation of Buddhism: we crave and cling to impermanent states and things, dukkha, "incapable of satisfying" and painful. This keeps us caught in saṃsāra, the endless cycle of repeated rebirth and dying again, but there is a way to liberation from this endless cycle to the state of nirvana, namely following the Noble Eightfold Path. The truth of dukkha is the basic insight that life in this mundane world, with its clinging and craving to impermanent states and things is dukkha, unsatisfactory. Dukkha can be translated as "incapable of satisfying," "the unsatisfactory nature and the general insecurity of all conditioned phenomena". Dukkha is most translated as "suffering," but this is inaccurate, since it refers not to episodic suffering, but to the intrinsically unsat
Hasidism, sometimes Hasidic Judaism, is a Jewish religious group. It arose as a spiritual revival movement in contemporary Western Ukraine during the 18th century, spread throughout Eastern Europe. Today, most affiliates reside in the United States. Israel Ben Eliezer, the "Baal Shem Tov", is regarded as its founding father, his disciples developed and disseminated it. Present-day Hasidism is a sub-group within Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, is noted for its religious conservatism and social seclusion, its members adhere both to Orthodox Jewish practice – with the movement's own unique emphases – and the traditions of Eastern European Jews, so much so that many of the latter, including various special styles of dress and the use of the Yiddish language, are nowadays associated exclusively with Hasidism. Hasidic thought draws on Lurianic Kabbalah, and, to an extent, is a popularization of it. Teachings emphasize God's immanence in the universe, the need to cleave and be one with him at all times, the devotional aspect of religious practice, the spiritual dimension of corporeality and mundane acts.
Hasidim, the adherents of Hasidism, are organized in independent sects known as "courts" or dynasties, each headed by its own hereditary leader, a Rebbe. Reverence and submission to the Rebbe are key tenets, as he is considered a spiritual authority with whom the follower must bond to gain closeness to God; the various "courts" share basic convictions, but operate apart, possess unique traits and customs. Affiliation is retained in families for generations, being Hasidic is as much a sociological factor – entailing, as it does, birth into a specific community and allegiance to a dynasty of Rebbes – as it is a purely religious one. There are several "courts" with many thousands of member households each, hundreds of smaller ones; as of 2016, there were over 130,000 Hasidic households worldwide, about 5% of the global Jewish population. The terms hasid and hasidut, meaning "pietist" and "piety", have a long history in Judaism; the Talmud and other old sources refer to the "Pietists of Old" who would contemplate an entire hour in preparation for prayer.
The phrase denoted devoted individuals who not only observed the Law to its letter, but performed good deeds beyond it. Adam himself is honored with the title in tractate Eruvin 18b by Rabbi Meir: "Adam was a great hasid, having fasted for 130 years." The first to adopt the epithet collectively were the hasidim in Second Temple period Judea, known as Hasideans after the Greek rendering of their name, who served as the model for those mentioned in the Talmud. The title continued to be applied as an honorific for the exceptionally devout. In 12th-century Rhineland, or Ashkenaz in Jewish parlance, another prominent school of ascetics named themselves hasidim. In the 16th century, when Kabbalah spread, the title became associated with it. Jacob ben Hayyim Zemah wrote in his glossa on Isaac Luria's version of the Shulchan Aruch that, "One who wishes to tap the hidden wisdom, must conduct himself in the manner of the Pious." The movement founded by Israel Ben Eliezer in the 18th century adopted the term hasidim in the original connotation.
But when the sect grew and developed specific attributes, from the 1770s, the names acquired a new meaning. Its common adherents, belonging to groups each headed by a spiritual leader, were henceforth known as Hasidim; the transformation was slow: The movement was at first referred to as "New Hasidism" by outsiders to separate it from the old one, its enemies derisively mocked its members as Mithasdim, " pretend hasidim". Yet the young sect gained such a mass following that the old connotation was sidelined. In popular discourse, at least, Hasid came to denote someone who follows a religious teacher from the movement, it entered Modern Hebrew as such, meaning "adherent" or "disciple". One was not a hasid anymore, observed historian David Assaf, but a Hasid of someone or some dynasty in particular; this linguistic transformation paralleled that of the word tzaddik, "righteous", which the Hasidic leaders adopted for themselves – though they are known colloquially as Rebbes or by the honorific Admor.
Denoting an observant, moral person, in Hasidic literature tzaddik became synonymous with the hereditary master heading a sect of followers. The lengthy history of Hasidism, the numerous schools of thought therein, its use of the traditional medium of homiletic literature and sermons – comprising numerous references to earlier sources in the Pentateuch and exegesis as a means to grounding oneself in tradition – as the sole channel to convey its ideas, all made the isolation of a common doctrine challenging to researchers; as noted by Joseph Dan, "Every attempt to present such a body of ideas has failed". Motifs presented by scholars in the past as unique Hasidic contributions were revealed to have been common among both their predecessors and opponents, all the more so regarding many other traits that are extant – these play, Dan added, "a prominent role in modern non-Hasidic and anti-Hasidic writings as well"; the difficulty of separating the movement's philosophy from that of its main inspiration, Lurianic Kabbalah, determining what was novel and what a recapitulation baffled historians.
Some, like Louis Jacobs, regarded the early masters as innovators who introduced "much, new if only by emphasis".
A deity is a supernatural being considered divine or sacred. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines deity as "a god or goddess". C. Scott Littleton defines a deity as "a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness, beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life". In the English language, a male deity is referred to as a god, while a female deity is referred to as a goddess. Religions can be categorized by. Monotheistic religions accept only one deity, polytheistic religions accept multiple deities. Henotheistic religions accept one supreme deity without denying other deities, considering them as aspects of the same divine principle. Although most monotheistic religions traditionally envision their God as omnipotent, omniscient and eternal, none of these qualities are essential to the definition of a "deity" and various cultures conceptualized their deities differently.
Monotheistic religions refer to God in masculine terms, while other religions refer to their deities in a variety of ways – masculine, feminine and without gender. Many ancient cultures – including the ancient Mesopotamians, Greeks and Norsemen– personified natural phenomena, variously as either deliberate causes or effects; some Avestan and Vedic deities were viewed as ethical concepts. In Indian religions, deities were envisioned as manifesting within the temple of every living being's body, as sensory organs and mind. Deities were envisioned as a form of existence after rebirth, for human beings who gain merit through an ethical life, where they become guardian deities and live blissfully in heaven, but are subject to death when their merit is lost; the English language word "deity" derives from Old French deité, the Latin deitatem or "divine nature", coined by Augustine of Hippo from deus. Deus is related through a common Proto-Indo-European origin to *deiwos; this root yields the ancient Indian word Deva meaning "to gleam, a shining one", from *div- "to shine", as well as Greek dios "divine" and Zeus.
Deva is masculine, the related feminine equivalent is devi. Etymologically, the cognates of Devi are Greek thea. In Old Persian, daiva- means "demon, evil god", while in Sanskrit it means the opposite, referring to the "heavenly, terrestrial things of high excellence, shining ones"; the linked term "god" refers to "supreme being, deity", according to Douglas Harper, is derived from Proto-Germanic *guthan, from PIE *ghut-, which means "that, invoked". Guth in the Irish language means "voice"; the term *ghut- is the source of Old Church Slavonic zovo, Sanskrit huta-, from the root *gheu-,An alternate etymology for the term "god" comes from the Proto-Germanic Gaut, which traces it to the PIE root *ghu-to-, derived from the root *gheu-. The term *gheu- is the source of the Greek khein "to pour"; the German root was a neuter noun. The gender of the monotheistic God shifted to masculine under the influence of Christianity. In contrast, all ancient Indo-European cultures and mythologies recognized both masculine and feminine deities.
There is no universally accepted consensus on what a deity is, concepts of deities vary across cultures. Huw Owen states that the term "deity or god or its equivalent in other languages" has a bewildering range of meanings and significance, it has ranged from "infinite transcendent being who created and lords over the universe", to a "finite entity or experience, with special significance or which evokes a special feeling", to "a concept in religious or philosophical context that relates to nature or magnified beings or a supra-mundane realm", to "numerous other usages". A deity is conceptualized as a supernatural or divine concept, manifesting in ideas and knowledge, in a form that combines excellence in some or all aspects, wrestling with weakness and questions in other aspects, heroic in outlook and actions, yet tied up with emotions and desires. In other cases, the deity is a principle or reality such as the idea of "soul"; the Upanishads of Hinduism, for example, characterize Atman as deva, thereby asserting that the deva and eternal supreme principle is part of every living creature, that this soul is spiritual and divine, that to realize self-knowledge is to know the supreme.
Theism is the belief in the existence of one or more deities. Polytheism is the belief in and worship of multiple deities, which are assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, with accompanying rituals. In most polytheistic religions, the different gods and goddesses are representations of forces of nature or ancestral principles, can be viewed either as autonomous or as aspects or emanations of a creator God or transcendental absolute principle, which manifests immanently in nature. Henotheism accepts the existence of more than one deity, but considers all deities as equivalent representations or aspects of the same divine principle, the highest. Monolatry is the belief that many deities exist, but that only one of these deities may be validly worshipped. Monotheism is the belief. A monotheistic deity, known as "God", is u
Tai folk religion
The Tai folk religion, known in Lao and Thai as Satsana Phi, is a form of animist religious beliefs traditionally and practiced by groups of ethnic Tai peoples. Tai folk animist traditions are practiced by Tai Ahom, Lao Isan and Thais of Thailand; these religions are pantheistic and polytheistic and their practice involves classes of shamans. Among the Lao, the Lao Loum and Lao Lom are predominantly Buddhist, while the Lao Theung and Lao Sung are predominantly folk religious. Tai folk animist traditions have been incorporated into Laotian Buddhism. Within the Satsana Phi belief system, supernatural Deities or gods can sometimes be the tutelary gods of buildings or territories, of natural places, or of things. Deities can be ancestral spirits, or other types of spirits of supernatural forces; such deities interact with the world of the living, at times protecting people, at other times seeming to cause harm. Guardian deities of places, such as the phi wat of temples and the lak mueang of towns are celebrated and propitiated with communal gatherings and offerings of food.
Gods of Hindu derivation are included in the Satsana Phi pantheon of gods, as well as several indigenous non-Hindu gods called phi thaen. Gods are ubiquitous, with some of them being associated with the universal elements: heaven, earth and water; the belief system features thirty-two protective body-spirits known as the khwan. At certain special occasions during the course of an individual's life, such as before a pending marriage, a job change, or at other times of high uncertainty, certain Baci ceremonies are sometimes performed for the benefit of an individual, with the aim of properly re-binding such "khwan" body-spirits back to one's body, as the unintentional loosening of such bonds is believed to risk illness or harm; the baci rite calls on all thirty-two khwan to return to one's self to bestow health and well-being on the affected participant. During such ceremonies, cotton strings are tied around a participant's wrists to keep the spirits in place; the baci ceremony can be performed to welcome guests to one's home and after making a long trip, as a curing ritual or after recovery from an illness.
The rite is the central ritual for both the Lao Loum wedding ceremony and for the naming ceremony of a newborn child. In daily life, most people pay respect to the deities that reside in spirit-houses, who are thought to protect the general vicinity of the spirit-house from harm; these spirit-houses are miniature shrines, built to represent the presence of the deity of the shrine, just as a full size shrine is meant to represent such a "presence." Offerings of flowers and candles are given, the spirits are consulted during times of change or hardship for protection and assistance. Natural deities include those that reside in mountains, or forests. Guardian spirits of people include ancestors or angelic-beings who arrive at various points in life, better known as thewada. Malevolent spirits include those khwan of people who were bad in past lives or died of tragic deaths, such as the ghastly phi pob and the vampirical phi dip. Deities associated with specific places such as the household, the river, or a grove of trees are neither inherently benevolent nor evil, occasional offerings ensure their favor and assistance in human affairs.
A class of priests called mophi, "tellers", are locally trained shamans, specialists in the rituals and in communication with their personal angels and gods in general. Using trances, sacred objects imbued with supernatural power, or saksit and rituals like lam phi fa or baci, the shaman is consulted during times of trouble and illness or other misfortune that might be caused by malevolent or unhappy spirits, they are usually present during religious festivals. Ceremonies devoted to the gods involve an offering of a chicken and rice wine. Once the gods have taken the spiritual essence of the offering, people may consume the earthly remains; the head of a household or the individual who wants to gain the favor of the gods performs the ritual. In many villages, a person an older man believed to have special knowledge of the gods, may be asked to choose an auspicious day for weddings or other important events, or for household rites. Lowland Lao villages believe they are protected by the phi ban, which requires an annual offering to ensure the continued prosperity of the village.
The village ritual specialist presides over this major ritual, which in the past involved the sacrifice of a water buffalo and is still an occasion for closing the village to any outsiders for a day. To liang phi ban serves an important social function by reaffirming the village boundaries and the shared interests of all villagers. For followers of Satsana Phi, worship of ancestors is important, although each ethnic group has different practices and beliefs; the Tai Ahom called it dam ancestor god. The Khmu call spirits hrooy, they are similar to the phi of the Lao Loum. Lamet have similar beliefs, each village must have one ritualist, responsible for making all the sacrifices to village gods, he supervises communal houses and officiates at the construction of any new hou