Buddhism and Taoism


In East Asia, Buddhism and Taoism are two of the most influential religions. They influenced each other in many ways while often competing for their influences. Taoism is a belief that contributed by early mythology, Taoist ethics and philosophy. In the East Asian view, Buddhism is seen as a kind of foreign relative of Taoism from India. The arrival of Buddhism in China promotes Taoism to renew itself, while adopting similar ideas raised by Buddhism. Furthermore, physical practice plays an important role in the path reaching the ultimate goals in these two religions. Both Taoism and Buddhism meditate to create mental stillness and enrich mindfulness, but Taoism focuses on the balance and harmonies between human mind and nature, meanwhile, Buddhism's goal is transcending the nature.
One of the main physical in Taoism is TaiChi, 'originally derived from Taoist exercises created by Chang San-Feng (1127-1279 CE)'. Tai Chi is a physical representation of Taoist ideals, 'the ungraspable made graspable through physical principles' (BBC) which reflects the motion of the Tao itself by showing different movements. Tai chi movements are all about internal energy flows. People concern about whether the energy is compressed and storing or is it expanded and releasing outward when they are doing the practice. For the Tai Chi practitioner, they practice to be stated as a state in which 'the underlying principles are so deeply ingrained that form itself becomes unimportant' (Reninger). Where the mind connected to nature, and leads everything, then the energy will manifest itself in a spontaneous way naturally. In similarity, Buddhist meditation helps with taking control of the mind so that it becomes peaceful and focused, but have less movements than TaiChi because rather than transition in energy between human and nature, Buddhist meditation requires more in entity of body and mind. When Buddha meditates at the first time, he sits under the Bodhi tree without moving, eating and all other unnecessary movements. So Buddhist meditate to separate themselves from their thoughts and feelings of physical world and become fully aware, which is considered as 'simply being not judging, not thinking, just being aware, at peace and living each moment as it unfolds'. (BBC)
Furthermore, Buddhism and Taoism have similar practice, but different movements and focuses because they have their own ultimate goals to reach. The Taoist called this ultimate goal ''''Tao, the way for absolute principle underlying the universe, combining within the nature order, while the Buddhist seek Nirvana, which is conceived as a state of eternal, enlightened consciousness beyond death and life. Both two religions believe there is an existence beyond physical body that can be achieved following the right path.
The path to Tao and Nirvana, including physical practices, which is one of the most crucial steps in fulfilling religious duty, are similar, yet different. Buddhism and Taoism both concern desire, selfishness, and fame as interferences to a harmonious life. The path toward enlightenment for the Buddhist was defined by Buddha in his Eightfold Path which is guided by Four Noble truths, which basically states that one can only achieve Nirvana if he rids himself of all desires. Meditation quietly is one of the way to forget and reduce all the unnecessary needs or willing, therefore people can realize the real nature and transcend it, then achieve the highest level in Buddhism, 'Rather it is a condition in which one enjoys the highest wisdom, vitality, good fortune, confidence, and other positive qualities, and in which one finds fulfillment in one's daily activities, and comes to understand one's purpose in being alive.' (Daisaku Ikeda) On the other hand, the path to Tao comes from within. No one can define a path for the Taoist. The word ''', Tao literally means Way, but in the original manuscripts of Taoism teaching no direct path or definition of Tao is explored, like what Verse 41 of the Tao states: 'The greatest form has no shape.' Taoist balances energy within the body and regulates and harmonizes their body and nature to reach a peace and less stressed mental conditions. Therefore, they can achieve the ultimate goal that 'being attuned to cycles of change; being consciously aware of our place within the web of Life; and acting in the world according to the principles of Wu Wei ' naturalness, ease and spontaneity' (Reninger), in another words not making a rigid division between body, nature and spirit.

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