Daoism is both a philosophy (daojia) and religion (daojiao) which originates in China. The main tenet of Daoism is living in harmony with the “natural law” (ziran)- the natural order of all the manifestations in the Universe.
Over the evolution of about 5,000 years Daoism has grown to encompass a large repertoire of knowledge and practices including religious expression of core beliefs, medicine, astrology, divination, martial arts, meditations, calligraphy, and music.
Daoism is often related to the metaphorical hermit living on a mountain, but in fact, it is an integral part of the Chinese way of life. The core values of a Daoist include the concept of “wu wei” (non-action) which means: not interfering with the natural evolution of events. It implies accepting that our lives follow natural cycles of movement such as day to night, full to empty, heavy to light and so on; symbolized by the taiji (yin-yang).
There are many texts or scriptures used by religious Daoists, all are included in a larger body of work called the Daoist Canon (Daozang) which contains approximately 1400 entries. The most popular and well known are the Dao De Jing and the ZhuangZi.
The Daoist pantheon is vast and can vary from region to region due to Daoism’s influence by folk and local customs. However, the highest ranks are standard: The Three Pure Ones which represent the three highest levels of Heaven; The Jade Emporer, ruler Heaven and/or the Eastern direction (as source of all life); Tai Shang Lao Jun as the deified Lao Tzu, author of the Dao De Jing; and Zhang Dao Ling, creator of religious Daoism.