well.. thats a more difficult question to address than it may seem at first blush mainly because in the Asian traditions there isn't a seperation between the idea of religion and philosophy the way that it is understood in the Western hemisphere nations.
within the tradition of Tao there are three distinct flavors, so to speak, which tend to emphasize some different aspects of the teachings. broadly speaking they can be viewed in three categories the exoteric religious teachings with emphasis on the deities and places within the cosmos and so forth, esoteric teachings that place a greater emphasis on spiritual transformation or, as the teachings called it, spiritual alchemy. there are several extant schools of this flavor and of the exoteric religous flavor to be found in the world today. the third flavor is the intellectual approach which tends to focus on specific texts of the Taoist teachings whilst neglecting others. these schools tend to view the Tao as a philosophical question.
indeed, it is all of those and more and none. one thing which all the schools of Taoist thought agree upon is that, whatever it is, mental and linguistic formulations cannot capture or express it. it is always too big to grasp in any sort of formalized intellecutal manner it is something to be experienced in the here and now, a lot of the disagreement within the schools arises from the best methods for those transformations to occur. there are, of course, some practices which can be found in some of the alchemical texts which are, according to other schools, wrong and could be dangerous if done incorrectly.
there was a time in Chinese history.. well.. pre China and all but we'll call it that for sake of reference.. that kings and princes thought the Golden Pill described in the alchemical texts was a physical substance along with a great many would be Taoist alchmemists. as it turns out all they mostly found was heavy metal poisoning but the promise of immortality holds as much allure for beings today as it did then.
from a previous post on the forum:
The Tao (pronounced "Dow") is the Way, the Way behind all ways, the principle underlying all principles, the fact underlying all facts. Taoism, in its broadest sense, is the search for truth and reality. In a narrower sense, it is the original wisdom tradition of China, and may be rendered as "Wayfaring". In this manner of usage, the Way is classically defined in these terms:
"Humanity follows earth, earth follows heaven, heaven follows the Way, the Way follows Nature." In the final sense, therefore, Taoism, or Wayfaring, refers to the pursuit of natural laws.
These natural laws are reflected in the body (earth), the mind (heaven), and in the order of the universe (the Way of Nature). The practice of Taoism, therefore, takes place in the cultivation and refinement of the natural capacities of the human body-mind continuum and its relationship with the social milieu and the natural world.
According to classical thought, Taoism cannot be encompassed within just one framework of expression. As a result of this particular quality, many diverse modes of Taoist activity developed over the centuries. One of the most popular of these is the science of inner alchemy, which energizes the body and purifies the mind, thus producing transmutation in consciousness enhancing the individual experience of life.
The earliest known Taoist text seems to be the I ching, well known as one of the fundamental classics of Chinese thought. This text was well regarded by both Taoists and Confucians. The I ching was written during a time when divination was prominent
The Tao Te Ching is, without doubt, the most well known after the I ching. The Tao Te Ching is credited to Lao-tzu (Old Master) in roughly 600 B.C.E.
Other texts include Yin Convergence Classic, which is credited to the Yellow Emperor, an historical-mythological figure of ancient China, in roughly 2,500 B.C.E. Other texts include,Chuang-tzu, which is widely held to be one of the best literary works in history, Sun-Tzu a military strategy text, and Huai-nan-tzu.
In the Alchemical schools the teachings are found in a few important texts namely, The Triplex Unity, 400 Words on the Gold Pill, Pao-p’u-tzu and Leih-tzu.
what are both - ways to enlighten and show the way to an underlying truth to help mere mortals gain insight, allay existential fears and achieve wisdom beyond the mundane. Philosophy empahsises logic religion does not.
I believe that the Tao--the Way--is a way of life, a form of instruction on how one is to truly live. But I see all holy texts as providing this same instruction. I don't see any prophet as saying, "Worship me." Instead, they instruct: "Do as I do in order to attain Heaven/Nirvana/etc." But since walking the walk is so much more difficult, most religions' adherents would rather talk the talk, and, thus, build up dogma/tenets that are much simpler to follow.
If I'm not mistaken, before Christianity was called such, it was simply known as the Way; for me, that's very telling about its true purpose.