How many people in the world are Taoists

DaoismMuch more than yin and yang

Wenzhou Liu plays a zither. This instrument has been around in China for 5,000 years, she says. And the zither was and is also played in Daoism: for example to communicate with immortals. These are women and men who are said to have lived a long time ago and are considered holy. It is said that the deep sounds of the zither convey messages between earth and heaven.

Wenzhuo Liu plays traditional Daoist music on a zither (Deutschlandradio / Christian Röther)

"Daoism is art, culture, music"

Wenzhou Liu is from China. Now she lives in Imsen, a small village in southern Lower Saxony, with fewer than 300 residents. There has recently been a Daoist center here - founded by Wezhou's husband Patrick Liu: "Daoism is art, culture, music - is basically a culture that fascinates me. And has always fascinated me."

Series "We are the others - small religions in Germany"
Christians, non-religious and non-religious, Muslims and Jews, Buddhists and Hindus live in Germany. And "other". This is how smaller religious communities are often referred to in statistics. But who is behind it? We met Druze and Jainas, visited a Taoist center and a Sikh temple, talked to Mandaeans, Yazidis and Bahá’i - and after a long search we even found someone who can orient his life towards Shintoism.

Patrick Liu grew up in Germany. As a teenager he began to be interested in martial arts and meditation: the Chinese Qigong. This is how he found Daoism:

"At that time I sat down and thought intensively: What is my goal in life? What do I want to achieve? I also had the chance to work at VW. I also had an apprenticeship position back then. But then I got it thrown away because I wanted to benefit humanity. That's why I made a plan. I thought about going to work now, buying a ticket and then just going to China with a backpack. "

Is that thereLaotse (Imago / Xinhua) oism a religion?
Taoism is often referred to as a world view or philosophy. But there are also goddesses and gods, temples and priests, nuns and monks. Daoism also knows sacred scriptures such as Daodejing. The aim of religious Daoism is enlightenment. Dao - or Tao - is mostly translated from Chinese as "way". Together with Confucianism and Buddhism, Daoism forms the "Three Teachings" of China. Often they are closely interwoven. As a folk religion, Daoism also shapes the everyday life of many Chinese.

Is Lao Tzu the founder of Daoism?
The Chinese philosopher Laotse is said to have been in the 6th century BC. Have lived. His name means "old master". Laotse is considered the founder of Taoism, but it is questionable whether he actually existed or whether it is a legendary figure. At the same time, Laotse is worshiped as a god in Daoism.

What is Taoism known for?
Individual elements of Daoism have become known around the world. These include the dualistic philosophical principles yin and yang, which are familiar to many people, especially in their symbolic representation as an intertwined black and white circle. Qi or Chi - a kind of life energy that is closely linked to Daoism - is now received worldwide. Meditation and martial arts inspired by Daoism are also practiced all over the world - above all Qigong. Since Daoism is also closely linked to traditional Chinese medicine, its traces can also be found in treatment methods such as acupuncture.

Laotse and the Daodejing

That was 15 years ago. Patrick Liu has returned as a Daoist priest. He learned from Dao masters in China and speaks almost only Mandarin with his wife. You came to Germany to bring Daoism closer to the people in this country. "In Germany, Daoism is better known through the Daodejing or Tao Te King of Laotse," says Patrick Liu. "So more in the philosophical area."

Laotse, the legendary Chinese philosopher, is considered the founder of Daoism. It has not been proven whether it really existed. But Laotse's teachings have achieved world fame - especially through Daodejing, the most important script of Daoism. The Daodejing is considered to be the most widely translated text in the world after the Bible. The book made Daoism well known in Germany as well.

"Philosophy is omnipresent"

Just like yin and yang - often depicted as an intertwined black and white circle. Yin and Yang are the dualistic principles of Daoism, two forces that complement each other. And yin and yang are also important terms in Chinese philosophy.

"Philosophy is omnipresent and people understand it too. But how it is practiced in China - that there are still temples and there are priests and there are monks and there are nuns who basically just do this thing their whole life", so Living Daoism as a religion - many people in Germany don't know that, says Patrick Liu.

And he wants to change that. In his Dao center he points to an artful Chinese lettering: "These four characters mean that the Daoist line runs from the origin to us here. In other words, that the transmission of the teaching has been passed on to me uninterrupted."

The Dao priest Patrick Liu (Deutschlandradio / Christian Röther)

"The Dao is everything"

How many people in Germany profess Daoism can hardly be quantified. Maybe 2,000. Worldwide there should be 60 to 70 million. But Daoism is difficult to define. It originated in China and is still the most widespread there. But it often mixes with Confucianism and Buddhism. Dao - or Tao - that means translated: the way. "The Dao is everything," explains Patrick Liu. "It includes everything. It is so big that nothing exists outside. But it is also so small that nothing exists within. So ubiquitous on all levels."

The offer in the Dao center in Imsen is correspondingly extensive. It is a seminar house, sports hall and temple at the same time. Patrick Liu offers religious education. It's about Daoist rituals or the highly complex world of gods with dozens of beings, some of whom are said to have been human once, like some Lao Tzu themselves. But there are also health exercises or martial arts in the Dao center.

Patrick Liu: "So, here is our training area, our large training hall. On the one hand we have the mat area. People can do their fall exercises there. Sandbag. Their normal training. We have Chinese kickboxing Sanda here. We have Here also kung fu courses, where we can practice very nicely in this area, the wood area. "

Calm the mind

This wooden floor used to be a dance hall. Because the Dao center is located in a former inn. Where the beer used to flow, the Qi should now flow - the energy and vitality of Daoism. All Daoist practices, from meditation to kickboxing, have a common purpose, explains Patrick Liu: "The main characteristic of Daoist practice is that you clear the body, calm the mind and get a quiet mind."

A clear mind - tea also plays an important role in this. They even grow it themselves in the courtyard of the Dao Center. And hold traditional Chinese tea ceremonies. Wenzhou Liu is not only the musician of the house, but also the tea master: "Tea is a very old and traditional drink. Many Taoist monks drink tea to purify their minds. And also to avoid falling asleep while meditating. It also stops Tea cultivation keeps the body fit. And tea has many vitamins. "

"A gateway to the world of immortals"

Daoist music is now playing on the stage of the old inn, where the DJ used to be. And there is also the largest shrine of this German Dao temple: the altar with ornate images of gods, figures and lettering. Patrick Liu tells about the inauguration:

"We have invited the god - or the deity, our patriarch, the immortal. And of course he is here too. We don't make this altar to look at, but it's like a gate into the world of immortals. And there you can using certain practices and rituals to maintain a communication that works with these immortals. And in the first ritual everyone saw very clearly after we had extinguished all the candles - we all wanted to leave: All of a sudden the candles go on again. And everyone was thrilled at once. "

Because the Dao has arrived - in a small village in Lower Saxony.