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Taoism (also spelled Daoism) refers to a variety of related philosophical and religious traditions that have influenced Eastern Asia for more than two millennia. Lao-Tse is thought by many to be the founder of Taoism, and has become a diety in his own right. He was searching for a way that would avoid the constant feudal warfare and other conflicts that disrupted society during his lifetime. The result was his book: Tao-te-Ching (Daodejing). Others believe that he is a merely a mythical character. Taoists believe that the Tao must be experienced. It "refers to a power which envelops, surrounds and flows through all things, living and non-living. Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the compassion, moderation, and humility.
Taoism is a combination of philosophical and psychological ideas that developed into a religion following its adoption as a state religion in 440 AD. However state support for Taoism ended with the fall of the Chi'ng Dynasty in 1911. Unfortunateluy, much Taoist lore was destroyed or lost during the period of war that followed. Then after the Communist victory in 1949, religios freedom was greatly restricted. Taoism also notably influenced the Western world, particularly since the 19th century. Organized Taoism distinguishes its ritual activity from that of the folk religion, which some professional Taoists (Dàoshi) view as debased. The Tao regulates natural processes and encourages balance in the Universe. It also promotes the Harmony of Opposites (love/hate, light/dark).

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