“As China’s only indigenous religion, Taoism’s influence is found in everything from calligraphy and politics to medicine and poetry. In the sixth century, for example, Abbess Yin’s temple was home to Tao Hongjing, one of the founders of traditional Chinese medicine.
“For much of the past two millenniums, Taoism’s opposite has been Confucianism, the ideology of China’s ruling elite and the closest China has to a second homegrown religion. Where Confucianism emphasizes moderation, harmony and social structure, Taoism offers a refuge from society and the trap of material success.
“Some rulers have tried to govern according to Taoism’s principle of wuwei, or nonaction, but by and large it is not strongly political and today exhibits none of the nationalism found among, say, India’s Hindu fundamentalists….
“Li Jinkang, says the goal is to keep Taoism vital in an era when indigenous Chinese ideas are on the defensive. ‘Churches are everywhere. But traditional things are less so. So Chairman Zhu said: “What about our Taoism? Our Taoism is a really deep thing. If we don’t protect it, then what?”‘”
Excerpts from NYTimes.com.