Taoism is not a religion, nor a philosophy. The Tao is the natural order of things. It is a force that flows through every living and sentient object, as well as through the entire universe. .
When the Tao is in balance it is possible to find perfect happiness. .
The primary religious figures in Taoism are Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, two scholars who dedicated their lives two balancing their inner spirits. .
More a mode of living than an actual theology, Taoism asks that each person focuses on the world around them in order to understand the inner harmonies of the universe. It is a kind of religious system heavily focused on meditation and contemplation. The Tao surrounds everyone and one must listen to find enlightenment. .
Taoism is a religio-philosophical tradition that has, along with Confucianism, has shaped Chinese life for more than 2,000 years. The Taoist heritage, with its emphasis on individual freedom and spontaneity, laissez-faire government and social primitivism, mystical experience, and techniques of self-transformation, represents in many ways the antithesis to Confucian concern with individual moral duties, community standards, and governmental responsibilities. .
Taoism encompasses both a Taoist philosophical tradition (Tao-chia) associated with the Tao-te Ching (Lao-tzu), Chuang-tzu, Lieh-tzu, and other texts, and a Taoist religious tradition (Tao-chiao) with organized doctrine, formalized cultic activity, and institutional leadership. These two forms of Taoist expression are clearly interrelated, though at many points in tension. Aspects of both philosophical and religious Taoism were appropriated in East Asian cultures influenced by China, especially Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. .
Taoism, while not radically subversive, offered a range of alternatives to the Confucian way of life and point of view. These alternatives, however, were not mutually exclusive. For the vast majority of Chinese, there was no question of choosing between Confucianism and Taoism.