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Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism

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Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism

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  • May 24, 2005
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In this paper I would like to compare and contrast 3 doctrines in the Chinese tradition. In Chinese history, Taoism and Buddhism are two great philosophical and religious traditions along with Confucianism. Taoism, originated in China around the sixth century B.C.E. and Buddhism, came to China from India around the second century of the Common Era. We can say that together they have shaped Chinese life and thought for nearly twenty-five hundred years.

Eastern society is an enigma to many Westerners. Its cultural and technical traditions vary so greatly from those of western thought. What influences shaped China, the largest eastern civilization? It is said that the basis of western thought stems from the ideas and principles set out by Socrates and Plato and their contemporaries. In a similar vein it can be said that Confucian and Taoist principles are the basis of eastern thinking. Blending with Buddhism these doctrines shaped Chinese culture and traditions along Chinese social and political life. It may not be so evident today, as technology shrinks our world, and western thought, carried on the back of commerce, invades the east, but Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism are the principle philosophies and belief systems that shaped ancient and dynastic China, both culturally and politically.

The original believers, most of whom where Chinese believed that there are three basic dimensions related to the living of life:

-The search for spirituality in the inner self and its relation to the world that is the province of Buddhism.

-The right relations with one's neighbor which is the province of Confucianism.

-The right relations with the cosmos which is the province of the Taoism.

These three belief systems are not mutually exclusive so that Taoism deals with one's relations with one's neighbor, and Buddhism deals with one relations with the world, but the approaches are different.

Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism became known as the Three...