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Is Daoism and Taosim the same thing?

  1. May 15, 2003 #1
    In my history class, we were discussing the history of buddhism (summarizing is more like it). And I had a question about the reason why the Chinese (at the end of the Tang Dynasty) took up Buddhism. The Chinese where experiencing a lot of suffering because the totalitarian rule of the Tang Dynasty was hard on them. The emperors abused their power. They accused people of treason, killed hundereds of them.....I could go on, but let's stick to the point. Could the Chinese have converted to Buddhism because of the philosophy, since it spoke of how suffering is a way of life? Originally, when there wasn't suffering, Daosim was the main religion. So what are the psychological prospects that lead to the converting to Buddhism by the Chinese at the end of the Tang Dynasty?

    BTW, is Daoism and Taosim the same thing?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2003 #2
    Re: buddhism

    Yes, Daoism and Taoism are the same thing. There are at least six distinct ways of translating chinese into english.

    When Buddhist monks first came to china they were laughed at. The chinese did not have a begging culture like the Indians. Instead, they had monestaries where people could go and work for their keep. Also, the chinese had a long established belief in gradual enlightenment and derogatorilly referred to the Buddhist belief as "instant" enlightenment, inferring that like instant coffee it ain't the real thing.

    Nonetheless, the chinese culture is a thoroughly confusing mixture of religions. Rather than rejecting religions, they simply blend them into the melting pot eventually and did so with Buddhism within a hundred years. Eventually they conceeded the possibility that "instant" enlightenment is possible. They did not convert to Buddhism, but simply blended it in with everything else. The Shaolin faith you are interested in, for example, is a mixture of confucion, taoist, and buddhist ideas.
    Last edited: May 16, 2003
  4. May 16, 2003 #3
    Is Buddhism a religion? Taosim? Shaolin?
  5. May 16, 2003 #4
    Unlike most western religions, Asian ones are commonly both religions and philosophies. Often Taoist priests will minister to their congregations about their gods when they themselves are agnostic. Rather than one viewpoint being elevated over another as superior, humility and acceptance are stressed.

    Taoism, for example, is commonly divided into Philosophical, Religious, and Esoteric Taoism. Philosophical Taoists can be spiritual without believing in any kind of gods, Religious Taoists believe in gods, and Esoteric Taoists couldn't care less about the philosophy or religion but focus instead on just the practices. Asians commonly say whatever religion or philosophy or practice you adopt depends upon your personality more than anything else and that they really only have one religion/philosophy/practice/lifestyle.

    Buddhism is considered the intellectual branch, Confucionism is the social branch, and Taoism is the naturalistic one. Another aspect of this integration that relates to the Tang and other dynasties is its political influence. Each dynasty would adopt one particular religion/philosophy/practice/lifestyle as the basis of their political philosophy and use it to justify their actions, as their political stratagy, and as a basis for testing and training government officials.

    This may be what the teacher meant by the chinese converting to Buddhism, that the official religion was changed to Buddhism with the advent of a new administration. Taoism emerged from the shamanistic religions of the peasents and was first formulated as a formal philosophy during the waring states period when the peasents suffered the most. In other words, its formulation was a direct political response to the plight of the peasents. Likewise, Confucionism was a philosophy of a vanishingly small minority until the golden rule made its way to china from the west, at which point it was used to justify political agendas. The Taoists and Confucionists then fought like cats and dogs in the political arena for the next two thousand years and the Buddhists provided a kind of third party alternative.
  6. May 16, 2003 #5
    chinese buddism is different from the original buddism
    chinese buddism had include the chinese culture
  7. May 16, 2003 #6
    That is true for every kind of Buddhism...including possibly the original. Buddhism has proven remarkably adaptable to any philosophy and culture, but is the religion of a small minority where it originated. Today it is notably making inroads in the west where it being combined with the Jeudeo-christian traditions. I've never heard of it being combined with the Muslim faith, but I suppose its inevitable. :0)
  8. May 17, 2003 #7
    Re: buddhism

    Although I am lifting a quote from MG, I am addressing the following to Wuliheron...

    I see the 5 children of a Vietnamese family on a regular basis. They are Buddhists...but the Hindu kind, I think. They gave me a booklet "How to Become a Bodhisattva"...which speaks about the "Right View", the "Practice" and the "Conduct" of one wishing to become "a Buddha in this lifetime."

    When I ask the older ones about the primary CONCEPTS of Buddhism, I mostly get stories and rituals.

    What IS the ESSENCE of the philosophy/religion?

    Some have said that it's the ELIMINATION of suffering by irradicating DESIRE! If this is it, it's doomed to failure.

    And, back to MG's quote: when was there a time ANYWHERE when there "was no suffering"?

    Personally, I don't think we're here to ESCAPE it. I think we're here to DEAL with it "gracefully".
  9. May 17, 2003 #8
    Re: Re: buddhism

    Virtually all Asian religions have been called more psychologies than religions by western standards, and Buddhism is no exception. Essentially Buddhism promotes a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity and meditation as a means of transcending the world of phenomena. That is, to Buddhists differentiated reality is actually illusory and the reality is unity. By accepting the unity of reality, we transcend the world of phenomena and suffering as we become one with God, the universe, or whatever.

    As for the success of the religion, Tibet is perhaps the best example. The Tibetans were renouned warriors for millennia who routinely conquered their neighbors. The entire country converted to Buddhism and is today renouned for being extremely peaceful. If that isn't a good example of ending suffering, I don't know what is.
  10. May 19, 2003 #9
    Re: Re: Re: buddhism

    Thank you for the above answer to my question.

    But a brief response to one point: If one takes away the sufferings of war...there's still plenty left. Mothers lose children. Loves are unrequited. People lose their jobs, their houses, their health.

    And, while suffering -- as with war -- can be referred to in the COLLECTIVE...remember that it is only EXPERIENCED by INDIVIDUALS...each in their own personal "drama" and each with the ability to make their CHOICES with regard to HANDLING what life throws their way.

    As I have said, I don't think "the game" is for us to "eliminate suffering by curtailing desire" -- which I believe is a Buddhist idea (but could be wrong) -- but to be the "highest self" we can be in the face of life challenges...including suffering.
  11. May 19, 2003 #10
    By eliminating desire, you don't eliminate love. Nirvana is reached when you are serene, calm, and want nothing of the world in a spiritual sense. People who reach Nirvana are not eliminating emotion.
  12. May 20, 2003 #11
    Re: Re: Re: Re: buddhism

    I would make a distinction between suffering and pain. Suffering is an emotional response which can be self-perpetuating and have no physical source, but pain is clearly caused by a physical source. Reducing pain is a noble goal among Buddhists, but reducing suffering as the source of pain is more noble yet.
  13. May 20, 2003 #12
    buddhism idea is eliminate everything, include the love
    they ideal is the world is always changing
    maybe today you love this think, tomorrow your become hate this think
    buddha say we should not cling anything
    then our mind will become empty
  14. May 20, 2003 #13
    even not cling to anything is cling to something. if you are thinking of nothing, it means that you also thinking about nothing.
  15. May 20, 2003 #14
    you never get the point
    you think there also got something because you cant not let go everthing
    you think nothing also a something
    you cant throw away this thinking is mean you cling this thinking , all is come from your mind
    this only a idea
    we dun know is it can reach
    Last edited: May 20, 2003
  16. May 21, 2003 #15
    what i mean is that even if you didn't think anything at all, you still thinking about nothing. your mind still not open yet. for me, it is better to enjoy everything that come out from your mind.
  17. May 21, 2003 #16

    Les Sleeth

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: buddhism

    All good points

    But here is where I believe a person has to be thorough in his/her investigation. Your's is pretty good philosophy, but I don't believe what the Buddha taught was philosophy.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will again point out that what the Buddha was doing, and what Buddhism is, may be two entirely different things. Let me give an example.

    Say we know the species who was to directly to evolve into the modern human, and the time is over a hundred thousand years ago. These man-beasts could crudely shape and use tools, solve elementary problems, speak words (but only to identify things), and cooperate in tribal endeavors.

    Suddenly a member of their tribe begins retreating to a cave for 3 or 4 hours each day. This goes on for years before the other tribal members become curious to know what he is doing in that cave. They all go there and find the man writing things on the wall. There are maps, strange hieroglyphic figures arranged in rows, symbols he is using for numbers, and so on.

    They are so interested he somehow lets them know that he will teach them what it has taken all those years for him to learn, which is to reason. To them it is magic that he can figure out things, and teach them to write and speak. He tells them it isn't magic really, but it will take years of dedicated practice to rise up from the state of consciousness they are in to what he's achieved. But if they will dedicate themselves, he will guide them.

    Okay. So the Buddha similarly retreated to realize something, not a philosophy, but an entirely new level of consciousness. It is not easy to understand what this consciousness realization is because we, like the proto-human, do not have the conscious skill needed to understand the phenomenon. So what we do instead is translate it "down" into what we are familiar with, which is philosophy/theology.

    Buddhism, and in my opinion all religion that's descended from an enlightened person, is just such a translating down. That 's why people take part of the methods of attaining enlightement (like the four noble truths) and convert them into morality, or rules for living, or rituals, or belief systems.

    But the four noble truths really were meant to help someone aspiring to enlightenment turn inward. The practice that leads to enlightenment is called samadhi and it is a practice where one turns one's attention inward, and merges one's mind with the breath. In that experience "conscious oneness" is attained or, as it is called in the West, "union." In that oneness experience one sees reality in a different way than one ever has. It is an entirely new sort of consciousness.

    The experience is very fulfilling, and leads to deep contentment and bliss. So the teaching of the Buddha was specifically designed to encourage one to let go of being dependent on the external world for happiness, and instead turn inside and realize the Buddha's secret. Out of the context of striving for enlightenment, I don't think "ceasing desire" makes all that much sense.

    Similarly, Totoro's comment that if one is not thinking something then one is nonetheless thinking about nothing, is spoken from the mind of someone who doesn't know what it is like to experience an utterly still mind. In that experience, there is only consciousness. One is aware of everything, and no thoughts are necessary. But it is a mistake to think one can stop the mind with will power; when one merges and attains samadhi, that union is what makes the mind still (for awhile at least until our old habits come back . . . that's why one must practice every day).

    Of the religions that have descended from enlightened individuals, 99+% of it (IMHO) has been "externalized" into what people call "Buddhism" or "Christianity." But there is also that little fraction of people (historically you will find them in monasteries, the sangha, ashrams, etc.) who understood the "inner" part and pursued that instead. Because it is virtually impossible to learn the inner part without guidance from someone who's realized it, it has been that thin thread of samadhi/union devotees who have kept the experience alive through the centuries for other inner seekers.

    Regarding China, the same was true. The externalized religion of Buddhism made it there, but so did a solitary enlightened monk. The two strains developed separately, with the externalized aspect far outdistancing the inner part, as usual.
    Last edited: May 21, 2003
  18. May 21, 2003 #17
    My question is; do the practitioners themselves believe that this “conscious oneness” will be a given, following the death of their physical bodies, for eternity?
  19. May 21, 2003 #18

    Les Sleeth

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    Many come to believe it because they see it is possible to attain a certain conscious independence from externals. Very few people ever achieve the level of consicous oneness the Buddha did, but he at least indicated numerous times that samadhi was an "escape route" from death. Jesus too indicated this. If it takes full and complete realization to know that for certain, then I don't think most practitioners will attain such certainty; some say this is where faith in realized souls comes in.

    Yet the Budhha, I think, was very practical about it all. His view seemed to be . . . why worry about that, practice samadhi for the satisfaction it brings in this life.
  20. May 21, 2003 #19
    I hope this doesn't come off in a negative way...

    I like this, even though it kicks my standard response to an affirmative reply in the pants. That reply, given here to investigate the worthiness of, goes along the lines of;

    Look, if you truly believe you will be experiencing this state for eternity then, by comparison, the few short decades of existence you have right now are the punctuation that is worth remembering. Perhaps it is better to get out from under the bodhi tree and do as much as possible in this life while you have it, than it is to contemplate what may be yours for an eternity in any event…
  21. May 21, 2003 #20

    Les Sleeth

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    Re: I hope this doesn't come off in a negative way...

    Fortunately, the sort of work that went on under the Bodhi tree is not necessary for everyone to do. That's because it has been kept alive through the centuries, and passed from teacher to student. The tradition goes: as long as someone has a "lit candle" it can light others; from what I've learned in my investigations, starting from scratch, as the Buddha appears to have done, would be extraordinarily tough.

    I practice daily, usually before the sun comes up. It hasn't interfered in the slightest with participating in Earthly life. It just makes everything better, more enjoyable.
  22. May 21, 2003 #21
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: buddhism

    Although enlightenment is referred to in countless ways such as an "altered state of consciousness" it essentially involves what is called surrender or acceptance. Rather than being a state of mind we don't possess and have to acquire, it is a state of mind we already possess and need only surrender to or accept.

    This is, I believe, what Totoro was referring to. The Buddha and all the other famous people who have spoken about enlightenment have all agreed that no rational description of the state is possible. It is like trying to describe color to a blind man. As any Asian will tell you, the minute you think you understand enlightenment...you are wrong.

    In addition, Buddhism can be very much a philosophy. Philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom and Buddhism can easily be described as such. Once enlightened, it is no longer a philosophy for the individual because wisdom has already been achieved, but the pursuit or practice of Buddhism can most definitely be a philosophy.
  23. May 21, 2003 #22
    Some crazy-arse comments so far...

    Someone mentioned that "Western" and Asian religions are different, as though they are two lareg and distinct families of religions. This is silly. Over the ages, Europe has produced monotheistic and polytheistic religions, relgions with no deities but belief in nature spirits, religions with no deities but belief in ghosts and such, philosophies with no theistic concepts at all, and more. Asia has also produced all these things. (Hint: get over the romanticised notions of the advancement of Asia and the stangancy of Europe.)

    Buddhism was started by a very rich chap named Prince Siddhartha. He grew up in a palace, a very comfy life, his every whim satisfied. He didn't step outside the palace until he was about 35 years old or something. When he got outside, it was a shock to him to see how the rest of the world lived. He sat under a tree for a few days thinking about it all. That tree is called the Bodhi tree, and is said to still be alive because people take cuttings and regrow it and such. Siddhartha eventually came to the conclusion that all the problems with humanity came about because people allowed themselves to be guided by base urges, by fear and anger and other basic things like that. Like Socrates, he had the idea that we could become "perfect" or "enlightened" beings by walking a path which would place us beyond such petty concerns as jealousy and fear. Ie. the idea is to be above those often destructive urges. Personally I think that's the core of Buddhism (instructions on how to improve the world by not being bastards, dressed in mumbo-jumbo for the masses), but there is also the belief in some forms that those who reach enlightenment become transcendent beings, and once at that stage you have the choice of moving on to some higher level of existence or coming back to teach others.

    At some point (I don't remember when), an Indian monk arrived in the court of some Chinese ruler. He did a demonstration, beat up a few people, and offered to teach his fighting techniques to some of the Chinese ruler's soldiers in return for being able to establish a temple for his beliefs there. The agreement was made, and the monk was given a forested hill near a small village, which the locals called (how imaginative!) "shaolin" meaning "forested (or wooded) hill". So the Indian guy started teaching people his ways. At some point the entire place was destroyed, every scrap of data lost. Later, some guy came there claiming to be one of the monks from the place and rebuilt the temple, started their philosophical and martial teachings again; but nobody really knows if he was one of them or just some guy making up his own crap. Because of this preiod, modern shaolin teachings may or may not have anything at all to do with the original shaolin monastery. But whether related to the originals or not, the shaolin chaps were at various times imperial bodyguards, outlaws, bandits, assassins, plain old studious monks, and other things, as the political and cultural climates changed. Note that it has been a VERY long time since the shaolin were required to be warriors. I have seen them demonstrating their nifty kung fo stuff, and it's basically all party tricks. They are very fit and agile and all, but it's party tricks. No doubt the uneducated locals are impressed.

  24. May 21, 2003 #23
    No doubt I'm that crazy-arse you are talking about. Sure, there are polytheistic nature worshipers in the west today, but these are uncharacteristic of modern western religions in general and to deny this is childish nonsense. Asian religions tend to be more broadly encompassing due to their holistic nature.

    As for the Buddha being a rich kid, that is probably myth, it makes for a better story. The Buddha was more likely to have been a peasent.

    Warriors sometimes would retire to the monestaries and teach their exercises for longevity as much as anything else. Tai Chi, for example, is rapidly gaining a worldwide following and is recommended by the AMA.
  25. May 21, 2003 #24

    Les Sleeth

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: buddhism

    I hate to disagree with you Wuli, and I wouldn't if I didn't think you were so wrong.

    If it is a state of mind we already possess, then what was the point of the Buddha's effort? You have confused "potential" or "original nature" with possession. According to the Buddha, the potential is there because our base nature is inalterable. No matter how far we stray mentally/psychologically, our original nature remains intact. Yes, surrender is part of returning to it, but it is the surrender one finds in the practice of samadhi. There, if one is successful at turning inward, one finds something energetic inside which seems immune to change. You can't fight it or alter it in the slightest way. But you can "merge" with it during samadhi practice if you can let go of your agendas, anxieties and ambitions, and acquiese to its "way."

    This is not a simple matter for those of us who've had to fight hard to maintain ourselves while growing up. The sort of openness and absolute surrender joining with our inner nature requires is exactly opposite of the "outer " survival techniques we've been taught from childhood.

    I have to disagree again about Totoro's meaning since he explicitly said (twice) that one cannot not think because one will still be thinking about nothing. I know for a fact that is incorrect. The solid stillness of samadhi requires no thoughts.

    Well, I said "Buddhism" is a philosophy, and maybe it is the pursuit of iintellectual wisdom. But you make a mistake if you think someone is going to attain enlightenment through philosophy. That is exactly the "translating down" I was referring to. Mentality is the realm where we already reside . . . enlightenment is a non-mental realm, and therefore cannot be reached by the mental manipulations of philosophy.

    The Buddha taught that one practices samadhi daily, and one lives by what it reveals. That's it, no philosophy needed. Buddhism, in contrast, can, as you say "definitely be a philosophy."
  26. May 21, 2003 #25
    Well, there's Hinduism, that's a good 13% of the world's religious belief right there. Islam, at 18%, a heck of a lot of them in Asia. Chinese disorganised religons around 2.5%. Buddhism is another 6%, but only if you refer to it as a religion rather than a secular philosophy. Basically it's crap. Very recently in European history, one massive monotheistic religon took over, wiped out all the others. Over roughly the same time, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and a few others swamped Asia and replaced other beliefs the same as happened elsewhere.

    Buddha's name was PRINCE Siddhartha. Not many poor kids are called "Prince Something".
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