Taoism and Buddhism

Essay by str7College, Undergraduate November 2004

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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 on life...