An ancient Chinese philosophy stemming from Lao-Tzu (the name means “old master”), a legendary figure thought to be the teacher of Confucius and author of the Tao-te Ching (“the book of the way and its power”), the basic text of Taoism. It is said to date from the 6th century BCE, but could be later.

The philosophy emphasises harmony with the whole of the universe, paying close attention to nature and going “with the grain” of it. This practice is called wu-wei (“not doing”, or “active inactivity”). A typical saying from the Tao-te Ching is “The world is ruled by letting things run their course, not by interfering”.

There is some organised Taoism (e.g. monastic orders), but its main power is in the way it has influenced Chinese thinking generally, Confucianism, Buddhism, and in modern times Western thinking.


The Chaplaincy to the University of Glamorgan provides the following information from its own researchers. Each page has been checked by the chaplaincy advisor from the relevant faith group. Within every major religion, there are differences of opinion between leaders, and between leaders and followers. We only aim to provide an overview.