When considering Daoism, the origin of things in context of a Daoist, or Taoist, is very important. In Daoism, the universe began as a universe egg. After many thousands of years, the egg split apart to form the heavens and the Earth. At this time, P’an ku was born as well and was trapped between the Heavens and the Earth. He chose to stay here in hopes that one day, the two parts would join together. For 18,000 years, P’an ku, who was the first being in Chinese creationism, grew 10 feet every day and when he died, his body turned into the parts of the universe such as the Sun, the moon, the wind, the mountains, the stars, etc. With his great strength, he chiseled through the chaos to create nature as we know it. People, in this belief, came from an indefinable gas.
In Daoism, the higher power is called Dao, which cannot be described as one image or God. Dao manifests deities that are represented by nature. In Daoism, there is not a specific God to pray to, but instead they pray through mediation, inner reflection and outward observation. Since Dao does not have human characteristics, it does not have gender. Dao’s purpose is to keep all things in life, especially Heavens and Earth, in balance. Ordinary people can become Gods in the thought process of a Taoist if they achieve order and harmony with nature.
Human nature is viewed as something that should be in alignment with nature. If human nature is not aligned then harmony and order cannot be obtained. In society, humans oppose the Taoist beliefs. Instead, people should react freely and spontaneously and without conditioning. Reflection and self examination are the only way to achieve balance.
The duality of good and evil is very important in this religion. The Ying and Yang represent the balance of good and evil as well as of the Earth and the Heavens. Evil is an idea constructed by man in the eyes of the daoist. Philosophically, good and evil only come from the natural order of a natural occurrence. Because Daoism stresses the importance of natural flow of the universe, good comes from following the natural order and evil comes from defying it.
Salvation and the Afterlife are interesting topics in Daoism. These topics are still up for debate amongst Taoists. Early daoists did not have a need for salvation or an afterlife because they were more interested in achieving immortality. Many daoists also believe because deities exist on the Sun, moon and other planets, that they can reach these areas through spiritual trances during life. Salvation is also viewed as the return to nature, which will complete the cyclic flow of nature, which is the harmonic flow of Daoism.
In Confucianism, the origin of the universe and the Earth are the same as the belief in Daoism, which cites Tao the Ultimate as the originator of everything. People, like in Daosim, come from an indefinable gas. All people that followed the original man come from their ancestors. In this sense, the two religions of this week are the same, but in most others ways, they conflict each other.
When discussing the theory of God in Confucianism, the idea of God does not exist. Confucianism is more of a philosophical and social movement than a religion. Confucianism sees yang as an energy that causes the flow of life and the yin as a passive form of the same thing. The combination of the yin and yang are what makes everything be what it is. Since there is no “God” in Confucianism, there is no discussion of its gender. Many confucianists believe ancestor worship to be very important for their spiritual well being.
Confucianism says that the role of the human is to better ourselves and the society through education and enlightenment. Self discipline, kindness, becoming a model citizen and to free ourselves from evil through morality and virtue are some of the ways to achieve enlightenment in this religion. Although discovering ourselves through self reflection is also a big part of Daoism, the idea of becoming a model citizen and moral part of society completely contradict the other idea. A harmonious life can only be had with a good government and good guidelines to keep people morally pure.
When thinking about the idea of good and evil, Confucianism states that all humans are inherently good. We can evade the evil through integration of compassion, benevolence, righteousness, respect and love. This will free people from evil and give them moral courage and the urge to be good.
In Confucianism, salvation is described as an idea that humans cannot grasp. Instead of worrying about salvation, Confucianism says we should focus on living a good and moral life. Because of the principle of ancestor worship, many Confucianists believe that to achieve eternal life is to become a role model that others remember after life on Earth is done. As far as the idea of going to Heaven after death, this does not exist in Confucianism.
- Introduction to Daoism | Asia for Educators | Columbia University. (n.d.). Introduction to Daoism | Asia for Educators | Columbia University. Retrieved October 29, 2014, from http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/special/china_1000bce_daoism.htm
- Patheos | Hosting the Conversation on Faith. (n.d.). Patheos | Hosting the Conversation on Faith. Retrieved October 29, 2014, from http://www.patheos.com/