Comparing Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism
Works Cited Not Included
The belief in some higher presence, other than our own, has existed since man can recollect. Religion was established from this belief, and it can survive and flourish because of this belief. In Chinese history, Taoism and Buddhism are two great philosophical and religious traditions along with Confucianism. Taoism, originated in China around the sixth century BCE and Buddhism, came to China from India around the second century of the Common Era, Together have shaped Chinese life and thought for nearly twenty-five hundred years. One dominant 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 belief. 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 (Watts, 1957).
According to those who believe in the 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 itself. The longer the person's life, the more saintly the person is presumed to have become. Eventually the hope is to become immortal, to achieve Tao, to have reached the deeper life. The desire for immortality sharply contrasts Buddhist values; the Buddhist appreciates impermanence above all else. The after life for a Taoist is to be in harmony with the universe, to have achieved Tao (Watts, 1957). To understand the relationship between life, and the Taoism concept of life and death, the origin of the word Tao must be understood. The Chinese character for Tao is a combination of two characters that represent the words head and foot. The character for foot represents the idea of a person's direction or path. The character for head represents the idea of conscious choice. The character for head also suggests a beginning, and foot, an ending. Thus the character for Tao also conveys the continuing course of the universe, the circle of heaven and earth. This is similar in Buddhism, where wheels and circle symbols are prevalent, representing continuity, and the cyclic nature of the world. Finally, the character for Tao represents the Taoist idea that the eternal...