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70 sign up for first Taoist cultural courseJamie Ee Wen Wei28 February 2010As a young boy, Foreign Minister George Yeo, who is a Roman Catholic, was fascinated by Taoist philosophy and found it helpful in moulding his attitude towards different aspects of life.So it was perhaps apt that he helped launch the first Taoist cultural course here yesterday at the Taoist College.About 70 students have enrolled for the one-year course. It covers areas such as Taoist philosophy, history, scriptures, rituals and liturgy, as well as Chinese calligraphy.More than half of those who have enrolled - a mix of students, professionals and retirees - are non-Taoists.The course is a major step forward for the college - the first in Singapore and the region - which has, up to now, offered only short-term courses.Set up in 2008, it is funded by the San Qing Gong Taoist Cultural Centre and jointly managed by the Taoist Federation here.Taoists make up 8.5 per cent of the population, according to the last census in 2000.Speaking to reporters at the event, Mr. Yeo said Taoist philosophy is an inseparable part of Chinese thought and culture, and can benefit even non-Taoists.‘There are two aspects to Taoism. There is Taoism as a religion,’ he said, noting the many temples here linked to it.‘But at a different level, there is also Taoist philosophy, which is something that can be embraced by everybody, not just those who believe in Taoist religion,’ he added.He said there is a need to go beyond knowing rituals, by getting a grasp of the philosophy behind the religion.‘It is good that in Chinese culture, we don’t just talk about rituals, because after a while, rituals become repetitive and may bore young people.‘What we need is something they feel will make them better and will help them in their lives,’ he said.The one-year course, starting on March 8, will have two semesters. Each of its five modules costs $100 per semester.
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