Taoism and Interreligious Dialogue about Mary


The term Taoism designates a school of philosophy, as well as one of the main religions of the Chinese. The development of philosophical thought and of religious faith is closely interwoven, and not always clearly distinguishable. At the center of the doctrine of both is the fundamental concept of Tao ("way").14

The doctrine of Taoism is also called Tao, but these are purely speculative and negative concepts (not to be, not to act as a basic concept); it contributes not little to the doctrine of this religion, which is considered erotic and paradoxical by the Chinese.15

Tao cannot be grasped and perceived by the senses. It is only possible to grasp it by intuition. To indicate it in this way, it is called by the name of Tao. Tao has no form and is empty (Tao-te-ching, 14/25); nonetheless it continually creates. It doesn't deteriorate; and from its impenetrability derive ten thousand beings. Due to this internal vacuum, everything comes into being and is continually produced (Tao-te-ching, 4/11).

This Tao manifests itself in human beings in the form of the virtues and as their innate nature. When one practices Tao and recovers the original virtue (considered the "essence of human reality"), one makes the things to be done diminish every day, until one arrives at Non-acting (Wu-Wei). Because of this negation of oneself, the Wu-Wei is identified with the functioning of the Tao itself.16

How to speak about Mary

In Taoism, the "Mother," as the first cause of all beings of the world, untiringly generates the infinite cycle of beginnings and ends. She is the motor and measure of all beings. Through her creative function, one can get to know the sons. And when one knows the sons, one knows the Mother. When one dialogs with Taoists, it is best to emphasize the flexibility and humility of the virtues of Mary rather than to talk of fortitude and perseverance. According to Tao-te-ching, "whatever is flexible and weak wins over what is hard and strong." (Tao-te-ching 28)

14 Cf. KIM Ok-hi, Educazione religiosa in famiglia nel periodo della persecuzione, in <Sa-Mok> 189 (1994), pp. 19-25.
15 Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione, vol. IX, roma 1997, p. 820.
16 Cf. KALTENMARK M., La filosofia cinese, Milano 1994, pp. 37-38.

– This presentation was made by Dr. Choi Kyong Sun. It is a partial and modified text of observations developed in her dissertation, "Inculturation della chiesa Cattolica e Pietà mariana in Corea," (Dissertation Marianum, Rome 2001).

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