An offshoot of Hinduism, Buddhism now has around 500 million followers globally, making it the fourth-largest religion in the world.
(Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, 2018; Religion Facts, 2018.) How do Taoism and Buddhism differ from each other?
This paper makes an attempt to identify the key similarities and differences between these two eastern religions, focusing on their central tenets and the overall impact on culture.
Taoism is a religion and philosophical tradition that originated in China around 550 B. and is based on the philosophical ideas of Lao Tzu.
Based on this doctrine, there is no permanent, unchanging self or soul in any living beings.
Anatta is one of the three marks of existence in Buddhism along with dukkha (suffering) and anicca (impermanence).(They Differ.com, 2018.) It’s a common misconception that both Taoism and Buddhism believe in life after death.While true for Taoism, Buddhists don’t share the belief that we continue to exist after death.According to Buddhists, belief in an eternal soul is a misconception of the human consciousness.There are some differences between the two main branches, Theravada and Mahayana but they both share the same idea called anatta which refers to the doctrine of non-self.In contrast, Taoists worship deities, even if Tao itself is not a god but rather the natural order of the universe that guides everything impersonally.The main goal of Taoists is to achieve balance in life and reach immortality through Tao.For them, the concept of sin doesn’t exist, people are equal, and all creatures should be respected.(Spiritual Ray, 2018.) While reincarnation plays a role in both religions, Buddhists want to break the cycle of reincarnation and Taoists believe that the soul is eternal and will eventually become one with Tao.It can only be attained by living morally, respecting all life forms, and letting go of one’s attachments to this world.Adherents to both religions use temples and shrines as a place of worship.