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Based on William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience, what are the three...

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turkseighth | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 28, 2012 at 1:48 PM via web

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Based on William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience, what are the three main types of Taoism?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 4, 2012 at 9:24 AM (Answer #1)

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I was unable to find any references to Taoism in either the Table of Contents in The Varieties of Religious Experience or in the Index. However, below is an explanation of the three types of Taoism.

Since "Te," meaning power, can be interpreted in three different ways, three types of Taoism have emerged based on power.

One form is referred to as Popular Taoism. It believes that the Jade Emperor is the head deity. Due to the Popular Taoists' interpretation that power comes through magic, Popular Taoism has placed a very strong emphasis on mysticism, even putting into practice divination, sorcery, and alchemy.

The second form of Taoism is Esoteric Taoism. Esoteric Taoism believes that power comes through mystical elements, such as movement, matter, and mind, from which Tai Chi Chuan, Kung-Fu, and Taoist yoga were developed. This form of Taoism focuses on the inner man, working through the layers of "toil and worry" to find "pure consciousness and 'man as he was meant to be'" (Rev. Jose Lecuna, "Taoism").

The third form is Philosophical Taoism, which asserts that power is philosophical rather than magical or mystical. It instead defines the Te as the natural function of the universe through natural events, such as the flow of water. Hence, Philosophical Taoism teaches that people become powerful through intuitively understanding the universe.

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