Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Activity 5: Fact Sheet

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Post the newsprint sheet of questions where all participants will be able to see it.
  • Optional: Post the Unitarian Universalist Principles poster where all participants will be able to see it.

Description of Activity

Youth discuss a fact sheet on Taoism.

Tell participants you have a riddle for them. Read aloud the riddle at the bottom of Handout 1, Taoism Fact Sheet, and give participants time to think about it. Someone might get it right away, but usually only very little children solve this riddle immediately, so probably it will take some time or they will not be able to figure it out.

When the youth are ready to hear the answer or after they have guessed it, reread the riddle and tell them (or confirm) the answer. Ask why this riddle would be included in a workshop on Taoism. Welcome all responses. Read aloud the explanation following the riddle. Invite discussion by asking:

  • Would your life benefit from more Nothing? In what area or areas?
  • Is there any part of the riddle you disagree with or find discordant?

Distribute Handout 1, Taoism Fact Sheet, and Handout 2, Yin/Yang Symbol, and review them with the group. Ask:

  • Can you identify aspects of Taoism that engage with the basic human needs met by religion? For example:
    • Answers to big questions
    • A connection to something larger than ourselves
    • Knowing right from wrong
    • Giving one's life meaning and a sense of purpose
    • Creating a feeling of belonging
  • What beliefs do UUs and Taoists share?

Distribute Handout 3, The Seven UU Principles, or refer to the poster of the Principles. Ask:

  • If you believe every one of these principles, is Taoism a good fit for you? (Allow participants to answer.) Why or why not?
  • Do any of the principles here conflict with Taoism? Do you think any of them encourage living or thinking in ways that are not Taoist?
  • How does knowing about Taoism influence your Unitarian Universalist faith?

Acknowledge that in Taoism, as in all religions or philosophies, beliefs are not necessarily uniform from one participant to another. What they have discussed today are some of the most universal tenets of Taoism. However, some Taoists believe in different manifestations of gods and demons, and some Taoists used to believe it is possible to achieve immortality through alchemy. In China, many people's beliefs are a mixture of Taoism and Buddhism, with some Confucianism thrown in, too. Just as in other religions, much diversity exists among believers, so no individual's faith can be predicted simply by saying, "They are Taoist." Additionally, we know religion is not static-religions change and grow as human needs change.

Revisit the questions generated in the Opening. Point out the answers that have emerged so far during this workshop. Note the questions that remain unanswered, and tell the group that you will do your best to find answers before their next meeting.

If you will be engaging with a Taoist community (Alternate Activity 1), give participants any information they need.