Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Daoism. An ancient Chinese tradition of philosophy and religious belief,
Daoism first appeared more
than two thousand years ago. For centuries it was the most popular
religion in China; in the West its religious aspects are not as well
known as its practices, which include meditation and Feng Shui, and for
its most celebrated text, the Daodejing.
The central aim in Daoism
is to follow the 'Dao', a word which roughly translates as 'The Way'.
Daoists believe in following life in its natural flow, what they refer
to as an 'effortless action'. This transcendence can be linked to
Buddhism, the Indian religion that came to China in the 2nd century BC
and influenced Daoism - an exchange which went both ways. Daoism is
closely related to, but has also at times conflicted with, the religion
of the Chinese Imperial court, Confucianism.
The spirit world is
of great significance in Daoism, and its hierarchy and power often take
precedence over events and people in real life. But how did this ancient
and complex religion come to be so influential?