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Taoism For Dummies

ISBN: 978-1-118-42396-7
384 pages
June 2013
Taoism For Dummies (1118423968) cover image


The definitive guide to understanding Taoism—no matter your background or faith

Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching is the second most translated book in the world, and the practice of religious Taoism is on the rise in China, where adherents currently number in the hundreds of millions. Yet there remains a remarkable lack of reliable information about Taoism for curious westerners. Taoism For Dummies provides comprehensive coverage of Taoism's origins in China's Chou Dynasty, its underlying quietist principles, its emergence as a major religion, various interpretation of its core texts, including both Eastern and Western interpretations, key Taoist concepts, and much more. It also provides a fascinating glimpse of Taoism in contemporary China.

  • The ideal guide for readers interested in this influential religion, as well as those taking an introductory course on Taoism or Chinese Religion
  • A valuable source of insight for those with an interest in modern Chinese culture and beliefs
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Table of Contents

Introduction  1

Part I: Navigating the World of Taoism 7

Chapter 1: An Introduction to Taoism 9

Chapter 2: What Is Taoism? 19

Chapter 3: Don’t Believe Everything You Think 31

Part II: Looking At the Development of Taoism  45

Chapter 4: Classical Taoist Philosophy 47

Chapter 5: The Development of Institutional Taoism 73

Chapter 6: Types of Taoism in China Today 91

Chapter 7: Go West, Old Tao, Go West 109

Part III: Examining Important Taoist Concepts  133

Chapter 8: What Is the Tao, and What Does It Mean to Follow It? 135

Chapter 9: Doing Everything by Doing Nothing 157

Chapter 10: For Every Yin, There Is an Equal and Opposite Yang 177

Chapter 11: Blue Heaven, Yellow Heaven: The Belief in a New Age 193

Chapter 12: Writing What Can’t Be Spoken: The Many Texts of Taoism 207

Part IV: Exploring Taoist Practices  225

Chapter 13: Remembering to Keep Forgetting 227

Chapter 14: Seeking the Path to Immortality 241

Chapter 15: Internal Cultivation through the Discipline of Alchemy 259

Chapter 16: Martial, Gymnastic, and Healing Arts: T’ai-chi and Ch’i-kung 277

Chapter 17: Cosmic Renewal and Other Rituals 291

Part V: The Part of Tens  305

Chapter 18: Ten Common Misconceptions about Taoism 307

Chapter 19: Ten Bits of Advice for Acquiring Taoist Wisdom 315

Chapter 20: Ten Places to See Taoist Stuff Happening Today 323

Part VI: Appendixes  331

Appendix A: Glossary 333

Appendix B: Resources 347

Appendix C: Pronunciation Guide 353

Index  357

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Author Information

Jonathan Herman, PhD, is the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where he teaches courses in Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Shinto, world religions, comparative mysticism, and critical theory in the study of religion. He has written extensively on various aspects of Taoism, Chinese religion, and modern religious issues.

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