Daoism is one of the main ‘religions’ of China. [You will often see this is as ‘Tao’, ‘Taoism’ using the older Wade-Giles spelling of Chinese, Dao is the modern pinyin spelling]. Dào 道 means roughly the Way and the name reflects its chief principle, finding the correct path through life. However it is more dynamic than just a fixed path, it adapts and changes always seeking an equitable balance. All Chinese religions and philosophies have the ‘dao’ as an important concept not just Daoism, but it is in this philosophy that it takes central place. There are three main aspects of Daoism: philosophy; meditation and folk religion. The philosophy is best known in the West through the book of aphorisms called the ‘Dao De Jing’ (aka. Tao Te Ching) which can be very roughly translated as the ‘Virtuous Way’. The philosophy seeks to find a balance of a person with the world, and is more concerned with self contemplation than with relationships by contrast to Confucianism. The more substantial later work is the Zhuangzi ➚ (or Chuang Tzu) which contains many philosophical thoughts; paradoxes; jokes and riddles. It seeks the virtuous way that people should follow. Politics and purely logical thought are rejected as pointless as they do not lead to harmony and peace.
As Daoism incorporates the contemplative study of nature, it is from the Daoist strand of Chinese philosophy that scientific inquiry developed. Many Daoist scientists made important discoveries; some as alchemists seeking the elixir of Immortal Life who as a by product contributed to chemistry and physics. The Han Emperor Wudi’s quest for immortality stimulated the investigation of various legends concerning the Yellow Emperor.