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In the Chinese language the word tao means way indicating a way of thought or life There have been several such ways in Chinas long history including Confucianism and Buddhism In about the 6th century BC under the influence of the ideas credited to a man named Lao-tzu and the peoples exhauststion with the constant war-like state of China Taoism became the way Like Confucianism it has influenced every aspect of Chinese culture A lot could be said of the diverse tradition we call Taoism Taoism was understood and practiced in many ways each reflecting the historical social or personal situation of its believers While this diversity may confuse and puzzle the outside observer it accounts for the flexibility of Taoism in China Taoism was adaptable evolving to fill spiritual gaps created by the problems of life Taoism can also be called the other way for during its entire history it has coexisted alongside the Confucian tradition which served as the ethical and religious basis of the institutions and arrangements of the Chinese empire Taoism while not radically revolutionary offered a range of alternatives to the Confucian way of life and point of view These alternatives however were not mutually exclusive For the vast majority of Chinese there was no question of choosing between Confucianism and Taoism Except for a few Confucians and a few Taoists the Chinese man or woman practiced both -- either at different phases of life or as different sides of personality and taste Classical Taoist philosophy formulated by Lao-Tzu the Old Master 5th century BC the anonymous editor of the Daodejing Classic of the Way and its Power and Zhuangzi 3rd century BC was a reinterpretation and development of an ancient nameless tradition of nature worship and divination Laozi and Zhuangzi living at a time of social disorder and great religious skepticism developed the notion of the Dao Tao -- way or path as the origin of all creation and
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