Daoism (Taoism), the philosophy of naturalism, realism, and self-cultivation, is well known in China. It is essentially the oldest spiritual tradition of the Chinese culture, going back well before the time of Christianity, and is one of the oldest spiritual philosophies in the world.
The author of the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching), Lao Tzu, kept the Imperial Archives of the Court of Chou, in the province of Honan in the sixth century, B.C. Some historical records indicate that he had personally instructed Confucius and was an elderly contemporary, although others claim that he passed away before the birth of Confucius.
To students of Daoism, Zhuangzi's Butterfly Dream is perhaps the best parable and has been the topic of philosophical discussions for centuries.
Daoist (Taoist) immortals are considered "patron saints" of the Daoist belief. Images of them can be found in porcelain, wood, ivory and metal reproductions as well as in paintings. They were representative of typical individuals and represented wealth and poverty, old age and youth, male and female. The Chinese believed that average human beings could, through hard study, learn the secrets of nature and become immortal. These immortals were idolized and respected for their wisdom, humor, and moral lessons and became legends that almost everyone common person was intimently aware of.