Cover image for Taoism : origins, beliefs, practices, holy texts, sacred places
Taoism : origins, beliefs, practices, holy texts, sacred places
Oldstone-Moore, Jennifer.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
112 pages : color illustrations ; 21 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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BL1920 .O55 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
BL1920 .O55 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BL1920 .O55 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL1920 .O55 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL1920 .O55 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL1920 .O55 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL1920 .O55 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL1920 .O55 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Existing in China alongside Confucianism and Buddhism throughout the centuries, Taoism has had a major impact on Chinese intellectual and spiritual life. This concise guide offers an engaging introduction to the precepts, history and practices of Taoism, in a well-designed and attractively illustrated volume that includes dozens of color photographs.
The book illuminates Taoism--its main beliefs and rituals, the key sacred texts, the status of the religion today. We learn that the term Tao ("Way") signifies the natural pattern underlying all cosmic change and transformation, the way in which qi (life force) is endlessly created and dissolved to form the myriad phenomena of the universe. Focusing on one's development as an individual and on establishing harmony with nature, Taoism teaches that to achieve order and harmony in one's own life and in the cosmos, one must learn to perceive the Tao in nature and to act--or refrain from acting--in accordance with it. The idea of strengthening oneself through attunement with natural forces is also applied to the preservation of the body through the quest for longevity. Oldstone-Moore also illuminates the history of Taoism, ranging from its founding by Laozi, who is believed to have written the Tao Te Jing, the main text of Taoist thought, to the religion's decline in the early twentieth century, due to the impact of anti-religious movements, the most radical of which was Chinese Communism, to its recent resurgence.
Elegantly designed and beautifully illustrated, this volume would make a wonderful gift for someone interested in Eastern religion or Chinese culture.

Author Notes

Jennifer Oldstone-Moore is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion, Wittenbergy University, Springfield, Ohio. She is also the author of Confucianism.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This entry in Oxford's series of small, brief, attractive overviews of world religions faces a particular challenge, that of discussing a religion with unabashedly enigmatic texts, often practiced in conjunction with other religions, notably Buddhism and Confucianism. Oldstone-Moore teases the Taoism out of Chinese religion, showing the myriad ways that Taoism, with its emphasis on immortality and never taking actions contrary to the natural order, has shaped Chinese faith and history. Chapters organized by subject (Aspects of the Divine, Sacred Time, Death and the Afterlife ) offer a broad introduction to Taoist ethics, faith, and practice, though readers unfamiliar with Chinese history may have difficulty following the chronological development of Taoism. The dry, scholarly prose is nicely offset by friendly design and beautifully reproduced paintings and photographs, and Oldstone-Moore's stirring translations of selections from Taoist texts enliven the book, too. Not for fans of The Tao of Pooh, to be sure, the slim volume will serve serious new students of Taoism well. --John Green Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This is the latest addition to an acclaimed series of religious primers from Oxford. Having established herself as a first-rate tutor in her book on Confucianism, Oldstone-Moore now delves into the origins and fundamental themes of Taoism. At its core is the Tao, which Oldstone-Moore describes as "a nameless, formless, all-pervasive power which brings all things into being and reverts them back into non-being in an eternal cycle." The discipline of Taoism is to stay in unity with the Way of the Tao, meaning to live in alliance with this powerful source that dictates the natural order of the world. The premise is simple enough, yet the ancient tradition of Taoism is notoriously hard to define. It's been an ever-evolving religion that is constantly absorbing fresh revelations and new approaches. What makes this a particularly helpful resource is that Oldstone-Moore is willing to organize and explain many of the complicated elements of Taoism, such as its historical origins (debatable, but possibly going back to 403-221 B.C.E.); its love-hate relationship to Confucianism and Buddhism; its magical components; its elaborate entourage of gods and goddesses; and its emphasis on longevity. Oldstone-Moore occasionally lapses into academic writing (she's a professor at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio), making the text somewhat dry for casual reading. But for anyone who wants a solid overview of a complex and influential tradition (which the author says has led to numerous advances including gunpowder, magnetic compasses and the art of feng shui), this is a fine starting place. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 6
Origins and Historical Developmentp. 12
Extract and Commentaryp. 20
Aspects of the Divinep. 22
Extract and Commentaryp. 30
Sacred Textsp. 32
Extract and Commentaryp. 40
Sacred Personsp. 42
Extract and Commentaryp. 50
Ethical Principlesp. 52
Extract and Commentaryp. 60
Sacred Spacep. 62
Extract and Commentaryp. 70
Sacred Timep. 72
Extract and Commentaryp. 82
Death and the Afterlifep. 84
Extract and Commentaryp. 94
Society and Religionp. 96
Extract and Commentaryp. 104
Transliterations Glossaryp. 106
General Bibliographyp. 107
Indexp. 108
Acknowledgments and Picture Creditsp. 112