Taoism (also Daoism) is a principal philosophy and system of religion of China based on the teachings of Lao-Tzu in the 6th century BCE and on subsequent revelations. It advocates preserving and restoring the Tao in the body and the cosmos. The Tao is the Uncarved Block of existence. The Tao cannot be rationally explained. Any attempt to do so only explains something other than the Tao. All things arise from it, exist within it and return to it. All things in harmony with the Tao find their truest nature. In the Tao, all things find ultimate fulfillment. If we could only for a moment be in harmony with the Tao, we could be eternal as the Tao is eternal. The problem we have is that we do not normally live in harmony with the Tao. Instead of reacting naturally as the Tao leads, we insist on explaining, categorizing and controlling the world. This leads to insufficiency, pain and trouble. This artificiality and inflexibility is the cause of all personal and social trouble. We need to learn to drop artificiality and learn to live spontaneously and naturally in harmony with the Tao. We need to learn to be natural and in harmony with our surroundings as water conforms to its surroundings. Where much of Chinese religion favors elements seen as yang, male as active, Taoism focuses on qualities often seen as passive and female. Recall this in itself can be a dangerous categorization.
Thus Taoism is path of clearing the mind and its preconceptions. By natural meditative focus on the Tao, we find harmony, equanimity and fulfillment. The key guide to this is No-action (Wu-wei). It makes it possible to achieve all things without doing anything. This requires a neutral and natural meditative attitude. When we understand wu-wei, we learn to do things naturally as they need to be done, not when we think they should be done. Thus all things are done as required by the Tao. Philosophical Taoism is Tao-chia (Dao-jia). It is the introspective and philosophical approach based on the teachings of the Tao te Ching of Lao-tzu (Lao-zi). Popular or Religious Taoism Tao-chiao (Dao-jiao) uses many of the same concepts but melds them with traditional religious and magical beliefs from the past. These work in very different ways but are still referred to as Taoism. Zhuang-Zi (Chuang-Tzu) was the he most influential philosophical Taoist after Lao-Tzu. He wrote a book known by his name. His original name is actually Zhuang Zhou, but he is known as Master Zhuang. His book develops concepts of the Tao and wu-wei beyond those of the Tao te Ching along with teaching using witty stories, anecdotes and allegories.