Some of the earliest written records of meditation come from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism around 1500 BCE. Between the 6th to 5th centuries BCE, other forms of meditation developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India.
“Those who know do not say; those who say do not know.” -Lao-tzu, the father of Taoism (604 – 531 BC)
Lao-Tzu was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, the founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions.
I am no expert on Taoism. I have a copy of Tao Te Ching and have read it in addition to a few pieces about it, but I was raised a Christian in a Christian culture. Even though I walked away from organized religion at 12, I still retain what I learned from studying the Bible.
I’ve also learned that by the time Buddhism arrived in China in the first century AD, Confucianism and Taoism had been well established for several centuries.
Taoism was popular in China while Confucianism was the official state religion of the Han Dynasty. In fact, I’ve read that the bureaucracy practiced Confucianism at work and turned to Taoist spiritual practices after work.
Even though Taoism and Buddhism have fundamental differences, Taoism helped spread Buddhism. While Taoism seeks the salvation of the individual, Buddhism seeks an escape from the cycle of personal existence.
Certain practices of Taoism and Buddhism are similar, and those are meditation, fasting, and breathing techniques.
The word “Tao” means both the order and totality of the universe and the pathway or road that allows the individual to enter into the rhythm of the world through a negation of self.
Two opposing but complementary forces of reality are fused in the Tao: Yin, which is passive, cold and feminine, and Yang, which is active, hot and masculine.
A contemporary of Confucius, Lao Tzu’s teachings were compiled in the fifth century BC into a collection called the Tao Te Ching or Dao De Jing, that has had a great influence on Chinese thought and medicine.
Continued in Part 2 on October 18, 2017
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