Taoism And Buddhism Essay

2144 words - 9 pages

Taoism is one of the two great philosophical and religious traditions thatoriginated in China. The other religion native to China is Confucianism. BothTaoism and Confucianism began at about the same time, around the sixth centuryB.C.E. China's third great religion, Buddhism, came to China from India aroundthe second century of the common era. Together, these three faiths have shapedChinese life and thought for nearly twenty-five hundred years (Hartz 3).One dominate concept in Taoism and Buddhism is the belief in some form ofreincarnation. The idea that life does not end when one dies is an integral partof these religions and the culture of the Chinese people. Reincarnation, lifeafter death, beliefs are not standardized. Each religion has a different way ofapplying this concept to its beliefs. This paper will describe thereincarnation concepts as they apply to Taoism and Buddhism, and then provide acomparison of the two.The goal in Taoism is to achieve tao, to find the way. Tao is the ultimatereality, a presence that existed before the universe was formed and whichcontinues to guide the world and everything in it. Tao is sometimes identifiedas the Mother, or the source of all things. That source is not a god or asupreme being, as Taoism is not monotheistic. The focus is not to worship onegod, but instead on coming into harmony with tao (Hartz, 8).Tao is the essence of everything that is right, and complications existonly because people choose to complicate their own lives. Desire, ambition,fame, and selfishness are seen as hindrances to a harmonious life. It is onlywhen a person rids himself of all desires can tao be achieved. By shunningevery earthly distraction, the Taoist is able to concentrate on life itself. Thelonger 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 thedeeper life. This is the after life for a Taoist, to be in harmony with theuniverse, to have achieved tao (Head1, 65).To understand the relationship between life, and the Taoism concept of lifeand death, the origin of the word tao must be understood. The Chinese characterfor tao is a combination of two characters that represent the words head andfoot. The character for foot represents the idea of a person's direction orpath. The character for head represents the idea of conscious choice. Thecharacter for head also suggests a beginning, and foot, an ending. Thus thecharacter for tao also conveys the continuing course of the universe, the circleof heaven and earth. Finally, the character for tao represents the Taoist ideathat the eternal Tao is both moving and unmoving. The head in the charactermeans the beginning, the source of all things, or Tao itself, which never movesor changes; the foot is the movement on the path (Harts 9).Taoism upholds the belief in the survival of the spirit after death. "Tohave attained the human form must be always a source of joy. And then toundergo...

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