Essay by Brandon A. DempsterUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, January 1996

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Taoism is one of the two great philosophical and religious traditions that originated in China.

The other religion native to China is Confucianism. Both Taoism and Confucianism began at

about the same time, around the sixth century B.C.E. China's third great religion, Buddhism,

came to China from India around the second century of the common era. Together, these three

faiths have shaped Chinese life and thought for nearly twenty-five hundred years (Hartz 3).

One dominate concept in Taoism and Buddhism is the belief in some form of reincarnation.

The idea that life does not end when one dies is an integral part of these religions and the culture

of the Chinese people. Reincarnation, life after death, beliefs are not standardized. Each

religion has a different way of applying this concept to its beliefs. This paper will describe the

reincarnation concepts as they apply to Taoism and Buddhism, and then provide a comparison of

the two.


The goal in Taoism is to achieve tao, to find the way. Tao is the ultimate reality, a presence

that existed before the universe was formed and which continues to guide the world and

everything in it. Tao is sometimes identified as the Mother, or the source of all things. That

source is not a god or a supreme being, as Taoism is not monotheistic. The focus is not to

worship one god, but instead on coming into harmony with tao (Hartz, 8).

Tao is the essence of everything that is right, and complications exist only because people

choose to complicate their own lives. Desire, ambition, fame, and selfishness are seen as


hindrances to a harmonious life. It is only when a person rids himself of all desires can tao be

achieved. By shunning every earthly distraction, the Taoist is able to concentrate...