Taoism and Buddhism are the two great philosophical and religious traditions that originated in China. Taoism began the sixth century BCE. Buddhism came to China from India around the second century of the Common Era. These two religions 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. Reincarnations, life after death, and beliefs are not standardized. Each religion has a different way of applying this concept to its beliefs. This paper will discuss the reincarnation concepts as they apply to Taoism and Buddhism, and then provide a comparison of both.
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. The source is not a god or a supreme being, as Taoism is not monotheistic. The focus is not to worship one god, but instead to come into harmony with Tao. 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. One can only achieve Tao if he rids himself of all desires. By shunning every earthly distraction, the Taoist is able to concentrate on the self. The longer the person's life, the more saintly the person is presumed to become. Eventually the hope is to become immortal, to achieve Tao, to reach the deeper life. This is the after life for a Taoist, to be in harmony with the universe, and to have achieved Tao. The origin of the word Tao can explain the... [continues]
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