Taoism Essay Research Paper It is always

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Taoism Essay, Research Paper It is always present in you. You can use it anyway you want. — Lao-tzu Taoism is one of the two great philosophical and religious traditions that originated in China. The other philosophy native to China is Confucianism. Both Taoism and Confucianism began at about the same time, around the sixth century B.C. China’s third great religion, Buddhism, came to China from India around the second century of the common era. Together, these three faiths have shaped Chinese life and thought for nearly twenty-five hundred years. One dominate 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. Although not

accepted by our beliefs, its understanding helps build strength in our own religion. Reincarnation, life after death, beliefs are not standardized between the religions. Each religion has a different way of applying this concept to its beliefs. Ignorance of these beliefs is a sign of weakness in the mind. To truly understand ones own religion, one must also understand those concepts of the other religions of the world. Hopefully this will be an enlightenment on the reincarnation concepts as they apply to Taoism and Buddhism. 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. That source is not a god or a supreme being as with Christians, for Taoism is not monotheistic. The focus is not to worship one god, but instead on coming 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. It is only when one rids himself of all desires can tao be achieved. By shunning every earthly distraction, the Taoist is able to concentrate on life itself. The longer the one’s life, the closer to tao one is presumed to have become. Eventually the hope is to become immortal, to achieve tao, to have reached the deeper life. This is the afterlife for a Taoist — to be in harmony

with the universe. To understand the relationship between life and the Taoism concept of life and death, the origin of the word tao must be understood. The Chinese character for tao is a combination of two characters that represent the words head and foot. The character for foot represents a person’s direction or path. The character for head represents a conscious choice. The character for head also suggests a beginning, and foot, an ending. Thus the character for tao also conveys the continuing course of the universe, the circle of heaven and earth. Finally, the character for tao represents the Taoist notion that the eternal Tao is both moving and unmoving. The head in the character means the beginning, the source of all things, or Tao itself, which never moves or changes; the

foot is the movement on the path. Taoism upholds the belief in the survival of the spirit after death. To have attained the human form must be always a source of joy for the Taoist. It is truly a reason to rejoice because despite whatever is lost, life always endures. Taoists believe birth is not a beginning and death is not an end. There is an existence without limit. There is continuity without a starting point. Applying reincarnation theory to Taoism is the belief that the soul never dies, a person’s soul is eternal. It is possible to see death in contrast to life; both are unreal and changing. One’s soul does not leave the world into the unknown, for it can never go away. Therefore there is no fear to come with death. In the writings of The Tao Te Ching, tao is described