Comparing the Three Major Religions: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism

Categories: BuddhismConfucianism

Buddhism, a major world religion, founded in northeastern India and based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who is known as the Buddha, or Enlightened One. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was born in 563 BC in Kapilavastu near the present Indian-Nepal border, the son of the ruler of a petty kingdom. The young prince was raised in sheltered luxury, until at the age of 29 he renounced earthly attachments and embarked on a quest for peace and enlightenment. At first he adopted a life of radical asceticism, but eventually he adopted a middle path between a life of indulgence and that of self-denial.

Having attained the enlightenment for which he had been searching, the Buddha began to preach, wandering from place to place, gathering a body of disciples, and organizing them into a monastic community known as the sangha. The Buddha left no written body of thought. His beliefs were codified by later followers. At the core of the buddha’s enlightenment was the realization of the Four Noble Truths: (1) Life is suffering.

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(2) All suffering is caused by ignorance of the nature of reality and the craving, attachment, and grasping that result. (3) Suffering can be ended by overcoming ignorance and attachment. (4) The path to the suppression of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path, which consists of right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation.

Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of life. Buddhist practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom.

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The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource for all those who wish to follow a path – a path which ultimately culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood. Soon after his Enlightenment the Buddha had a vision in which he saw the human race as a bed of lotus flowers. Some of the lotuses were still enmired in the mud, others were just emerging from it, and others again were on the point of blooming. In other words, all people had the ability to unfold their potential and some needed just a little help to do so. So the Buddha decided to teach, and all of the teachings of Buddhism may be seen as attempts to fulfil this vision – to help people grow towards Enlightenment. Buddhism sees life as a process of constant change, and its practices aim to take advantage of this fact. It means that one can change for the better. The decisive factor in changing oneself is the mind, and Buddhism has developed many methods for working on the mind. Most importantly, Buddhists practise meditation, which is a way of developing more positive states of mind that are characterised by calm, concentration, awareness, and emotions such as friendliness. Using the awareness developed in meditation it is possible to have a fuller understanding of oneself, other people, and of life itself.

Another major religion in China is Confucianism. In its early form (before the 3d century B.C.) Confucianism was primarily a system of ethical precepts for the proper management of society. It envisaged man as essentially a social creature who is bound to his fellows by jen, a term often rendered as humanity, or human-kind-ness. Jen is expressed through the five relationssovereign and subject, parent and child, elder and younger brother, husband and wife, and friend and friend. Of these, the filial relation is usually stressed. Confucianism, major system of thought in China, developed from the teachings of Confucius and his disciples, and concerned with good conduct, practical wisdom, and proper social relationships. Confucianism has influenced Chinese attitudes, life patterns, and social values. It also has provided the background for Chinese political theories and institutions. Although Confucianism became the official ideology of the Chinese state, it has never existed as an established religion with a church and priesthood. Chinese scholars honored Confucius as a great teacher and sage but did not worship him as a personal god. The temples built to Confucius were not places of Worship, but public edifices designed for annual ceremonies. The principles of Confucianism are contained in the nine ancient Chinese works handed down by Confucius and his followers. These writings can be divided into two groups: the Five Classics and the Four Books.

The Five Classics, which originated before the time of Confucius, consist of the I Ching (Book of Changes), a manual of divination; the Shu Ching (Book of History); the Shih Ching (Book of Poetry); the Li Chi (Book of Rites), a book on proper conduct; and the Ch’un Ch’iu (Spring and Autumn Annals), a historical account of feudal China. The Four Books, compilations of the sayings of Confucius and his disciple Mencius and of commentaries by their followers, are the Lun Y (Analects), the Ta Hseh (The Gre! at Learning), the Chung Yung (The Doctrine of the Mean), and the Mencius (Book of Mencius). The keynote of Confucian ethics is jen, a supreme virtue representing human qualities at their best. In human relations, jen is manifested in chung, or faithfulness to oneself and others, and shu, or altruism. Other important Confucian virtues include righteousness, propriety, integrity, and filial piety. Politically, Confucius advocated a paternalistic government in which the sovereign is benevolent and honorable and the subjects are respectful and obedient. For schooling Confucius upheld the theory that “in education, there is no class distinction.”

After the death of Confucius in 479 BC, his teaching experienced a brief period of eclipse in the 3rd century BC, but during the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) the Confucian works were restored to favor, becoming the basis of later civil service examinations. Candidates were appointed to government positions based on their knowledge of classic literature. Confucianism thus secured a firm hold onChinese intellectual and political life. Following the fall of the Han dynasty, Confucianism was overshadowed by the rival philosophies of Daoism (Taoism) and Buddhism. With the restoration of peace and prosperity in the Tang (T’ang) dynasty (618-907), Confucianism returned as an orthodox state teaching. The intellectual activities of the Song dynasty (960-1279) gave rise to a system of Neo-Confucian thought based on a mixture of Buddhist and Daoist (Taoist) elements. During the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) scholars advocated a return to the earlier Confucianism of the Han period, when it was still unadulterated by Buddhist and Daoist ideas. Toward the end of the 19th century, Confucian scholars took an active interest in politics and formulated reform programs based on Confucian doctrine. However, the reform movements failed, and in the intellectual confusion that followed the Chinese revolution of 1911, Confucianism was branded as decadent and reactionary. With the collapse o f the monarchy and the traditional family structure, from which much of its strength and support was derived, Confucianism lost its hold on the nation.

Confucianism, with its practical social precepts, was often challenged by the supernatural religious systems of TAOISM and BUDDHISM and was eclipsed by them from the 3d to the 7th cent. A.D., but it revived under the T’ang dynasty (618-906). The Sung dynasty (960-1279) saw the development of neo-Confucianism, a metaphysical system that drew on the beliefs of Taoism and especially of ZEN BUDDHISM.

Another great religion that swirl through china is Taoism. The philosophical system stems largely from the Tao-te-ching, a text traditionally ascribed to Lao Tzu but probably written in the mid-3d century. B.C. The Tao, in the broadest sense, is the way the universe functions, the path [tao=path] taken by natural events. It is characterized by spontaneous creativity and by regular alternations of phenomena (such as day following night) that proceed without effort. Effortless action may be illustrated by the conduct of water, which unresistingly accepts the lowest level and yet wears away the hardest substance. Human beings, following the Tao, must abjure all striving. The ideal state of being, fully attainable only by mystical contemplation, is simplicity and freedom from desire, comparable to that of an infant or an uncarved block. Taoist political doctrines reflect this quietistic philosophy: the ruler’s duty is to impose a minimum of government, while protecting his people from experiencing material wants or strong passions. The social virtues expounded by Confucius were condemned as symptoms of excessive government and disregard of effortless action.

Second only to Lao Tzu as an exponent of philosophical Taoism was Chuang tzu, who wrote brilliant satirical essays. Taoist ideals greatly influenced Chinese literature, painting, and calligraphy. Later Taoism emphasized the techniques (Chin. te=power) for realizing the effects flowing from the Tao, especially long life and physical immortality. Quietistic in outlook, Taoists condemned as symptoms of excessive government the social virtues expounded by CONFUCIUS. Philosophical Taoism was later expounded in the brilliant satirical writings of Chuang-tze (c.369-c.286 B.C.). Later Taoism stressed the search for effects, such as immortality, supposed to flow from the Tao, and encouraged the study of ALCHEMY. By the 5th cent. A.D. Taoism had adopted many features of Mahayana BUDDHISM and offered a fully developed religious system for those who found the largely ethical system of CONFUCIANISM inadequate. In the 1950s, after the establishment of the Communist regime, Taoism was officially proscribed in China, and since the Cultural Revolution (1966-69) the religion has flourished mainly in Taiwan. Taoist ideas have enjoyed wide circulation in the West in the late 20th cent.

Overall this three religion had influenced China a great deal. Compare this religion to Christianity, it is too similar but yet different. Christianity is younger that Buddhism, Taoism or Confucianism. It is a real religion whereas the others are merely a philosophy. Christianity said that is the ultimate religion which I believed is not. Most of the teaching of that of Christianity are similar to those of the other three religion. I dont understand why Christiany claim that it is the best teaching while the teaching could be taken from Taoism or Buddhism. Most of the teaching of religions have the same basic effect. All of it focused on human nature. They are there to help improve people and teach them the right way of life. I dont think any religion are more superior than others. All have the silmilar effect. For example, the five Precept of Buddhism and the Ten commendment are very similar. Almost all of the five Precept are in the ten commendment. They over lap each other. Its main focus is to teach people how to live a proper life and not do all the things that are against morality. Religion are there for a good cause and people should not fight over to see which one is better or not. They should live happily to whatever they believe in. Religion is something everyone should be in to have that internal faith to live.

Bibliography

  1. http://www.britannica.com/
  2. http://encarta.msn.com/
  3. http://www.encyclopedia.com/
  4. http://www.infoplease.com/
  5. http://www.funkandwagnalls.com/

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Comparing the Three Major Religions: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. (2021, Sep 21). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/comparing-the-three-major-religions-buddhism-taoism-and-confucianism-essay

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