Comparing Confucianism And Taoism

The history of philosophy begins in a point in time called the Axial Age, between the 6th century BC and 2nd century AD. Many people were beginning to question the current beliefs of that time and led to the philosophies we know today. Questions related to the meaning of life and reality were being asked; people used philosophy as a way to get some answers. Philosophers from different regions were being heard, and they played a major impact on the belief system that many people currently have. China, India, and Greece were major regions in which these crucial philosophers resided in.

Two of the most important philosophies at that time were Confucianism and Taoism. Contrary to the popular belief that Taoism was founded by the famous man named Lao Tzu, it was not. However, Lao Tzu played a major role in the philosophy of Taoism. He was well known around China for his wisdom and was a Taoist philosopher; one day when he arrived at the Han Ku Pass, it is said that the guard asked him to write down his views before leaving China. It contained his views, but also the traditions of Taoism. This became known as the Tao Te Ching.

Other than the Confucian Analects’, Tao Te Ching is said to be the most classical text in China and has been published more than any other book, excluding the bible. Other than the Tao Te Ching, other books including Chuang-tzu, Huai-nan-tzu, and the Lieh-tzu served greatly in the teachings of Taoism. Another classical text, Zhuangzi, served as the most influential classical text, other than Tao Te Ching, for Taoism. Zhuangzi, also known as Chuang-tzu, was another well-known Taoists at the time. Worldly aspirations and society were both rejected by Lao-tzu and Zhuangzi.

Zhuangzi was Lao-tzu’s disciple, but Lao-tzu was recognized well after Zhuangzi. It is not know for how long Lao Tzu lived for, but it is said that he lived to be very old. In translations, his names literally means “Old Master. ” Lao Tzu is also known as Lao Tan or Laozi. This philosopher played a grand part in the civilization of China and its belief systems. Despite its popularity, Taoism has no true definition. Tao is translated as “the way” or “nature’s way. ” However, the Tao is beyond any discursive thought; words put limitations on what the Tao could mean, so it’s better to not limit it with a definition.

Due to this, there is no possibility of fully describing the Tao. As stated in the Tao Te Ching: “The Tao that can be told of is not an unvarying Tao. The names that can be named are not unvarying names. ” Simply put, the Tao is the source of the Universe. Although the Tao is the source of the Universe, it is not the creator. Even the gods were said to have come from the Tao. In chapter 4 of the Tao Te Ching, it states that despite the fact that all things originate from the Tao, it does not create them. For Taoists, it is one’s goal to live in unity with the Tao, which is the basic unity of the Universe.

When one gains an intellectual intuition of Tao and the unity of things within it, they lose their desire for gain and achievement. Once one loses these desires, they can attain a satisfying life. Taoism is a more individualistic philosophy compared to Confucianism. It deals with the pursuit for one’s own bliss and has little affiliation to society. There are many teachings in Taoism. Many forms of tradition were adopted and Taoists were very accommodating to new ideas. Social constructivism was vital to Taoism.

It is used as a tool to find out what reality is, even though reality is not definite. Some branches of Taoism including philosophical Taoism, religious Taoism, and libertarian Taoism. A myriad of teachings come from Taoism, but one of the most important is to live simply, and focus on the present rather than the past or future. A very well-known symbol for Taoism is the yin and yang. There is a constant transference between the yin and yang. We only have a concept of good if we know the concept of bad. Likewise, there would be no concept of beauty if we did not know what was considered ugly.

People following Taoism believed that what you do to your body affects your mind and your perception of reality. Granted that, Taoists are try to eat healthy, participate in spiritual practices, and drink herbal mixtures (elixirs) so that they can get more in touch with their mind. The most common spiritual practice Taoists participate in is meditation. Meditation lets one be in tune with their mind and helps the practitioner to just be. Emptiness is a big part of reality. With this intuition in mind, one is freed from desire and can participate in Wu Wei, action through inaction.

Active inaction is essential to Taoism because of its individualistic aspect. Taoists believe that it is better to stay out of conflict than to participate in it. Taoism is often spoken of as a stream that progresses endlessly. There is no use in struggling with the stream because even water wears away stone over time. My dad is a Buddhist and has been all his life; he is from Sri Lanka where the main religion is Buddhism. As a result, I have become very interested in his religion, and those that have some similarities.

Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism all tie to China’s ancient roots. Last year, I learned more about Taoism and got hooked. Reality and the different perspectives on it were all fascinating to me. This philosophy resonates with me the most because I have similar beliefs. I believe that the mind has a huge role on my perception of reality. I eat a vegan diet and try to meditate as much as I can. The teachings of Taoism make the most sense to me compared to other religions. In the future, I wish to read the Tao Te Ching to gain more insight on the philosophy.