Confucianism And Taoism Essay, Research Paper
Religion is religion, right? Not necessarily. There are people in this country who don t believe in Christianity yet still follow the basic teachings of living. Confucianism and Taoism are just two of those religions practiced in this country, alone. The differences between the two are wide. From the legends surrounding them, to the ethical systems involved, to the preaching styles of the two founders, Confucius and Lao-Tzu.
Confucius(Kung Fu-Tzu or Master Kung) was born in the year 551 BC, in the state of Lu. At the age of three his father died leaving him to basically raise himself. Through his early years, in menial jobs, he forged a bond with the common people. In his 20 s he began a string of unsuccessful positions in government. They didn t last very long because he was always in opposition with his superiors. After an equally ineffectual marriage he set himself up as a teacher. And as a teacher, the word spread, creating a following, which became his greatest achievement(Huston Smith, The World s Religions, pp. 154-155) . Lao-Tzu was born around 604 BC. His name, loosely translated has different meanings. Grand Old Master, Old Boy, and Old Fellow. A legend or real man, it is hard to say. One Taoist legend has it that he was named Li Erh and worked in the archives of the imperial court. Some of the legends surrounding Lao-Tzu are too fantastical to believed, such as, he was conceived by a shooting star, carried in his mothers womb for eighty-two years, and born already a wise old man with white hair (Huston Smith, The World s Religions, p. 196).
Confucius philosophy teaches that family is most important. Etiquette and propriety are the way to change things. He believed that what held society together was the Five Relationships, father/son, siblings, husband/wife, friends, ruler/subject. If propriety were well practiced within those relationships then all would go right with the world (Huston Smith, The World s Religions, pp. 172-180). Taoist philosophy teaches that the way to supreme awareness is inside of ourselves. Look deep and all the answers are there. If you live in harmony with nature there is nothing that will go wrong. Things are as they should be. Which is not to say that Lao-Tzu did not encourage morality. In the Taoists view, bad behavior is ignorant. To hurt someone out of malice is stupid. The ethics emerge from inside man (Huston Smith, The World s Religions, pp. 198-211).
Confucius need to reach the rulers of his country was strong. He was almost obsessed with trying to make them see. His goal was to become important in his country so that his philosophies would be taken seriously. For years he trudged the countryside, making himself known to rulers and common people alike(Huston Smith, The World s Religions, p. 155). Confucius wrote many books. There were 5 Canonical Classics: The Canon of History, The Canon of Poetry, the Canon of Changes, Book of Rites and the Book of Filial Piety. There was also the Book of Great Learning, which taught virtue, the Doctrine of Mean, which taught moderation, and the Analects, which are the sayings of Confucius. Lao-Tzu, on the other hand, didn t preach. He firmly believed and that s all that mattered. When he got tired of people not living in harmony with nature, he left to retire on a mountain. If it weren t for the gatekeeper who asked for him to write down his teachings all we would have from him is a legend(Huston Smith, The World s Religions, p. 197). His only book is the Tao Te Ching, The Way and it s Power.
Even though Confucianism and Taoism are hard to understand, the basic teachings we all grew up with are there. Jesus Christ told us that we must listen to God; Confucius said rituals are the way to true happiness; and Lao-Tzu believed that all the answers are found deep within ourselves.