What is the ultimate religion of mankind?*

Written by Lam Shang Chan


From the same piece of essay, one can generate two dissimilar impressions, which is instigated usually by one's attitude in perusing the text either carelessly or carefully.  The present essay should epitomize evidently the very case.

If this text were being read heedlessly, it would come across as utter absurdity and downright scaremongers.  However, if this were done attentively, every sentence would be perceived as being precious, refreshing and insightful. The author aspires sincerely to all politicians, economists, historians, religionists and philosophers; both from overseas and at home, to hold back their sentiment temporally, therefore, allowing themselves to sip through the whole text from beginning to end.  Then, one may asseverate it as "thought provoking"; hence it is neither inarticulate nor disconcerted, or it is certainly not pessimistic; but an imperative attempt to offer its service to the country, the people and mankind!

Religion was the ancient form of politics, and for considerable period societies relied upon it for their expansion and preservation. Although at today space age, in which we have reached a stage where comprehensive distinction between politics and religion has been drawn, the two are still interwoven in an unclear manner; “religion supplements where politics lacks; administrates when laws fail”.  It would be difficult for anyone to overturn this unremitting rule of its role and benefit on societies.

No matter how society has metamorphosed, or even at the blink of cessation, if once there were a sign of revival, its immediate association with religion would be spontaneous and mutual; the transformation of religious climates in China around the 1980's exemplifies such an episode.

Every single religion in the world started out initially with some forms of ancient beliefs and worships.  For the ancient humans, who were faced with those utterly incomprehensible daily occurrences, their irresolute responses were to relinquish and blinded worship; consequently, this had lead to the beginning of religious practices.  In an attempt to enrich the content of these stone-blind worships, relinquishments and rituals, some forms of coordination and doctrine were established, therefore, this led to the beginning of religion which subsequently lead to generations of its following and expansion.

Someone said, "religion was the spiritual opium for the masses" which was a subjective exasperation from a bygone age; however, this snap judgement on religions has evoked people in the acceptance of "humans procreate gods and all spiritual entities", rather than "God create humans".  This serves to ascertain the essence of Lao-Tzu's teaching in "Tao Te Ching", as the requisite path for the external existence of religions.

Calamities, joyfulness and miseries, lives and deaths, were like those irrepressible, unceasing, invisible and perplexing ligatures which led humans to believe that they must have been sustained and controlled by some forms of supernatural powers.  These untouchable and yet mystical awes were then being promulgated as gods and spiritual entities.  From there on, religion, gods and spiritual entities have formed that entanglement, which subsequently brought on the provenance of torments and onslaughts by politics.

Although "Tao Te Ching" is mankind earliest philosophical classic on "atheism", throughout the ages, how many rulers have ever used its teachings to enlighten people to break free from the rot of gods and spiritual entities?  Conversely, they weighted them down even more heavily onto the masses, thus to enslave them for inequitable exploitation. This, however, has uncovered the scared and eternal principle:  "Tao succours naturally" and "reform and open" as mankind's dedicated guidance on politics, economies, cultures and religions.

The rise and fall of the Taoist rulings were the thermometers of the Taoist religion.  In the Han[1] 1 and Tang 2dynasties, the so-called "The illustrious reigns of Man and Kin" and "The illustrious ruling of Ching-Koon", respectively, were the golden eras of the Taoist rulings and the Taoist religion.  Subsequently, the two both gravitated to their decline and obscurity, and from there onwards, the Taoist religion was forced to conceal behind the routine of religious rituals and ceremonies, thereby, to assure its preservation and continuance.  Mr. Lou Shun said that the Taoist religion is the root of the Chinese civilization; and this distinctive and yet far-reaching comment is not without its rationale.

Mr. Deng Xiao-Ping, was the first person after Lao-Tzu who had perceived the knowledge of "the world could not perceive"; and had implemented the action of "the world could not implement".  By centring on his "Open Door Policy" in reforms and developments; unprecedented and yet subtly, he routed round inches of thick ice of the wintry freeze, and brought forth the sunny spring of religions in China, thus signalling to every Taoist individual to rekindle their unfeigned spirits, and to cohere with the country and their people, in contributing diligently their efforts on economic expansions and developments.

With current prosperity of the twentieth-first century, in which religions are at the era of amelioration, the direction of reform could induce a pivotal impact on the world's economies, politics and cultures.  In welcoming the dawn of this momentous epoch, a summarized exposition of the Taoist religion here would serves to stimulate discussions, appraisals on the rationale behind this article, and therefore lead to the evaluation of whether Taoism is eligible to become the ultimate religion of mankind.

In ancestral and spiritual worships, the belief of "mindful of cessations and respectful to forebears" was shared by the common beginning of mankind, and the root could be traced from the imprints in the histories of the four ancient civilizations of the world.  Eventually, this form of belief has been preserved solely in the Chinese civilization, which in the process safeguarded the existence of the Chinese civilization through centuries of adversities.

The Yellow Emperor3 who united all tribes in China, spread the belief of "mindful of cessation and respectful to forebears" all over China, and as a result, has congregated generations of descendants.  In the Chow Dynasty4, Lao-Tzu evaluated all Taoist thoughts and beliefs, and ameliorated and inscribed them into his classic "Tao Te Ching".  In the eighth year of Wing-Ping in the Eastern-Han5 period, ancient Buddhism spreaded to China from India.   In order to counteract this new threat to the Chinese civilization, Cheung Tao-Ling organized the so-called "The Taoist Sect of Five-Quota of Grain", and as a consequence, the name "Taoist religion" was popularised within the society in China.

Following the development and advancement of the society, eminent intellectuals in Taoism utilize the scientificity of "Tao Te Ching" to untie and cleanse the religion from superstitions, deceptions, menaces and follies, thereby offering the Taoist religion to the modern age to make significant contribution in the process of reunification of the country and stabilisation of the society.

Taoism through the ages has been the state religion of the Chinese civilization. For those Chinese who use animal scarifies or substitutes in religious ceremonies and practices to serve as signs of respect to their forebears, gods and spiritual entities, regardless of whether they have joined any Taoist organizations or not, are classified collectively as the Taoist.   However, it is also important to be aware of the believers' subject of worships, if ancestries worship was their initial element and from there led to the inclusion of other gods and spiritual entities, therefore, they would be included as part of the Taoist faith.  Moreover, for those, who have preserved their ancestral surname, and have not yet be ridded totally of their Chinese skin and hair, it would be a mammoth task for them to sever their tides totally from the Taoist religion.  For this reason, even if Taoism was to become the ultimate religion of mankind, the contingent of Taoist followers would keep increasing and expanding naturally and unceasingly.

The Chinese were the earliest people to utilize scientific wisdom to conceptualise the physical happenings and effects in the universe.  Lao-Tzu is the personification of one such person, and his classic "Tao Te Ching" epitomizes such proof.

Tao is the collective classification of all forms of energies that created the universe and everything within it.  Lao-Tzu applied detailed observations and thorough analyses, in perceiving the neutrality in Tao to its transposition to sociality in mankind; thereby proclaiming a thoroughgoing understanding on the relationship between nature and mankind, hence, the conceptual view between the Tao of nature and the Tao of mankind.  The word "Tao" in the title “Tao Te Ching” denotes the Tao of nature, which is the intrinsic law of the transformation of all natural energies and their manifestations, "Te" denotes the Tao of mankind, thereby, the inherent rule of human's society and development; "Ching" denotes these unremitting and eternal principles.  Therefore, Tao Te Ching is mankind's philosophical classic on general understanding and realization of the entire rules on all forms of natural energies transformation within the universe and their manifestations on the development of mankind's society.

The Taoist religion designated Lao-Tzu as the founder of Taoism, and opted for the world earliest and most exhaustive philosophical classic, Tao Te Ching, as the bible.  It adheres to the principle of "Tao succours naturally" as the exemplary guidance, and puts forth the principle of four scientific approaches: (i) be viable within science, (ii) be liveable in practice, (iii) be accountable to history, (iv) be accommodative to all, to appraise the activities and practices of all humans, thereby to verify and to prove their scientific values of its perpetual reusability.  Tao Te Ching, the humans' ocean of wisdom and the luminescence of peace and prosperity, is mankind's exclusive micro-encyclopaedia.

The Taoist religion welcomes public discussion and inspection of its doctrines, and persists fearlessly with the four scientific principles; with its worldwide, luminous, outstanding and everlasting canon:

(1) Humans procreate humans,

(2) Humans create societies,

(3) Humans procreate gods and all spiritual entities,

(4) Humans participate actively in society and serve to benefit the others, and be the benefit of own self.

These four scientific principles are valid universally, thus they are forever robust and always applicable and reusable; not only it surpasses the realm of politics with its “gargantuan and virtuous assimilation", but offering their service to the Chinese civilization diligently and honourably with the aim of "abiding to the Tao solely", hence inaugurating the everlasting peace and prosperity for all mankind.

The continuation of the Chinese civilization through years of adversities, could not detach from the belief of "mindful of cessations and respectful to forebears"!  Throughout the history, countless aggressors had made numerous attempts to invade and colonize China cunningly by uprooting and destroying this traditional belief of "mindful of cessations and respectful to forebears"!  Not only has the Chinese civilization persevered; it has enlarged further and in the process has become even more resilient.  Throughout the centuries the Taoists made great scarifies in defending their country and people through the darkest hours, thereby making illustrious and outstanding contributions to China.

Therefore, in establishing the world peace that utilizes the Chinese civilization as the supporting pillar, one must at the same instance concentrate on the promotion of the scientific Taoist religion.

For those Taoists who are sincere and diligent in progressing the scientific Taoist religion, since they are not only be the contributors to the Chinese culture but also offering their service to all mankind, they should be gathering in forces in the domain of the preservation of the Chinese civilization and the protection of world peace.

Since the worship of blood relatives (i.e. mindful of cessations and respectful to forebears), was once shared as the common belief in the beginning of mankind, and it could be traced in the histories of the four ancient civilizations. Therefore for all mankind to believe in "mindful of cessations and respectful to forebears" should not be perceived as beyond the boundary of possibility, but would be viewed as a manifestation of mankind's quest of their origin. Consequently, the resurgence of religions and the commonality of mankind would be an eventual actuality.

The resurgence of the Chinese civilization, the preservation of world peace and the avoidance of mankind's calamities and sufferings, would be predetermined by the promotions and implementations of Tao Te Ching and the scientific Taoist religion. Although we may be in anticipation of this coming moment, we should be working zestfully to urge this day to come even sooner.

Taoism was mankind's earliest religion, and it would also be mankind's ultimate religion, "Tao succours naturally" is the foundation stone of the throne; "mindful of cessations and respectful to forebears" is the rustproof metal within the throne and combined with "unceasing worships of the forebears by their offspring", are the fragrances and vibrancies of the Taoist religion which is forever expanding and outreaching.

In the society of China, under the guidance of 'open and reform', which has entered into the elevation period of development, hence every experience in control and management would need further investigations and refinement.  Therefore, every Taoist individual ought to base on the kernel of "for those who are virtuous, I treat them virtuously; and for those who are not virtuous, I would also treat them virtuously" to contribute towards the stability and prosperity of their country and the people, both sincerely and diligently and as for live and for death!

"China shall never be in a state of cataclysm!” a summary of one hundred of thirty-six years' experience from recognising 'the idea of colonialism' to counteract against 'the invasion of colonialism'; the Chinese should regard this summarized experience as the rule of thumb and no attempt should be made to step over this border line.  This has also served as a guideline for every Chinese individual to examine if he or she has any notion of the country and the people.  "Every Chinese individual" includes all leaders in the party and the country, plus every citizen of China and those who regard themselves as Chinese.  For the country, from top to bottom, and every overseas descendant of the Yellow Emperor, would need to be in a calm and patient way to recognise those devious "so-called foreigners" and " the claimed Chinese"!  Otherwise, this Chinese fortress of peace would crumble, and consequently, the affluence of the Chinese civilization, the prosperity, happiness and peacefulness of all mankind would evanesce with the eastern stream!

The insight of "Tao succours naturally" and the policy of "reform and open", are the indispensable lifeline of mankind's religions.  The lifeline of the Taoist religion is also the lifeline of the Chinese civilization; not only would it induce a cleansing effect on the greediness of the Chinese people, it would also reinforce the spirit of "with no venture to exploit, and thus nothing could not be achieved", and this would assure to animate the zephyr of an honourable and ethical inner self.

Actually, every religion could be the ultimate religion of the mankind; but the centre of the question is whether it could utilise the approaches of be accountable to history, be liveable with practice, be viable within science, be accommodative to all, to fathom the gods and all spiritual identities correctly and to establish a proper view on life and to coalesce and harmonize Deng Xiao Ping's conception on 'reform and open'.  From there, all religions would become the religion of "Tao succours naturally", hence they would be able to proclaim their arguments with righteousness and rationale.  All religion would be all of the same kind, coexist peacefully in an communicative and amiable manner, and be classified collectively as "Taoism", hence "living through ages together harmoniously without any disgruntlement to each other".

The Taoist religion must follow "those eminent individuals who learn about the Tao would practise it diligently".   Adhering the principle and teachings of Tao Te Ching, so as to utilize the benefit of having the right time, the right place, and the right people, flying high as free as a bird, and with its panoramic view, severing from politics and in allegiance with societies, by welcoming "the regal breeze from the east", to educate zealously the descendants of the Yellow Emperor.  They must also recognise wholeheartedly that "the name changes in dynasties" is a calamitous sign that "the country in parts for long would be in union, and in union for long would be in part again".   Once and for all to prevent history repeating itself, to select the word "China" as the two shores' "common name of the country” following the path of peaceful reunification, and to contribute allegiance and virtuously the countries epic undertaking.  "One country, two systems" is Mr. Deng's ingenious prognostication, and every generation of Chinese should not forget this great maestro!  His greatness would grow in time, and for “the man of the twentieth century” we would look no further than Lord Deng!

Tao Te Ching is the lord of all streams, and Taoism is the mankind's ultimate religion.  The two would persist eternally with heaven and earth, and shine luminously together with the sun and moon, and share commonly with all mankind.

The date of the 15th day of the second month on the Taoist calendar, the birthday of the outstanding and impeccable Lao-Tzu; would be transformed from an understated humming and into a roaring thunder, so as to become the future Christmas of all mankind, with joyful celebration for all, and jubilant singings in unison!  All mankind would be like "stepping in the wonderland, and enjoying the peaceful paradise!"


“If Tao and Te could be fostered within every roof in the country, calamity and misery would be ridded from the domain of mankind.”


6th January 2000, Hong Kong



The author and the translator would like to thank Gordon Chan, May Chan and Henry Chan for proof reading the text.

*  The original text was published in Chinese on 6th Jan 2000.

[1]1 Han Dynasty (221BC-AD220),2 Tang Dynasty (AD618-907)

3 The Yellow Emperor also known as Huang Di (~ 2700BC)  4 Chow Dynasty (1027-221BC) 5 Eastern Han (AD25-200)