Comparison and Contrasts of Buddhism and Taoism

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Comparison and Contrasts of Buddhism and Taoism

Around 2500 years ago, two major Eastern religions arose that attempted to discern the causes of human suffering and the steps needed to end it. These two, Buddhism and Taoism, originated from two very different places yet are incredibly similar. Siddhartha Gautama, an Indian prince who became the enlightened Buddha, is recognized as the founder of Buddhism; Taoism has no recognized founder but was instead developed by many great teachers, the most important being Lao-tse, a Chinese philosopher who is credited with the development of Taoism in the sixth century BC. A significant aspect of these two religions is the idea of a path to achieving a heaven-like state of being. These two religions differ in the path to achieving this state, yet the goal is the same. To Buddhists, to achieve their heaven-state, Nirvana, one must commit to a right set of morals and actions to exit the wheel of suffering. The Taoists, on the other hand, believe in a cosmic, harmonic state of being achieved through following The Tao, the path that is in general ineffable, but is basically brought about through non-interference and acceptance that suffering is a natural part of life. “The Four Noble Truths” by Gautama Buddha and “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff present the fundamental differences in the paths Buddhists and Taoists take to reach the ultimate goal of the heaven-like state of being. To understand the philosophies of these two religions, one must recognize the precursors to these two religions. Buddhism stems from Hinduism due to the similar ideas of karma and samsara. Samsara is from Buddha’s perspective the “wheel of suffering”, and karma is the force that drives it. Instead of the Confucian belief that earth was out of harmony with heaven, Taoists believe that heaven and earth are naturally harmonious. Buddhism and Taoism can, in a way, be seen as reactions to philosophies that were insufficient in dealing with human...
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