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Compare and Contrast Essay on Taoism vs. Buddhism

6 pages
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University of Richmond
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Taoism is a religion, which originated from China in the Han dynasty. Smith (n.d) articulates that the founder of the religion was a man named Lao Tzu. The author explains that the word Tao in Taoism means path or way. He adds that the religion is based on Confucianism, which emphasizes on the significance of social responsibility. Buddhism, on the other hand, is found in Hinduism and is based on the life experiences of a prince who created the religion in India called Buddha. According to the Princeton Buddhists Students Group (n.d), Buddhism comes from the word budhi, which means one who is truly awake. In Taoism and Buddhism, Lao Tzu and Buddha give their congregants the basics of their philosophies. Both religions have intricate beliefs regarding their mode of worship. Correspondingly, both of them they have a huge congregation. The paper discusses the differences and similarities between Buddhism and Taoism, whether a person can be a Taoist and Buddhist, and the examples of Taoism.

Similarities between Buddhism and Taoism

The first similarity between Buddhism and Taoism is that their congregation believes in life after death. As Mabelle (2011) affirms, both congregants rely on the notion that the life cycle does not have a beginning and an end. In essence, they recognize death and rebirth as an endless cycle.

The second difference between the two religions is that there is no gender bias. Buddhism vs. Taoism (n.d) indicates, both men and women are given equivalent right. It specifies that Buddha gives men and women equal rights in the creed of Buddhism while Taoists have no distinctions between men and women because they are a manifestation of the Tao.

The third similarity in both religions is that they have statues in their place of worship. Buddhism vs. Taoism (n.d) indicates that both use statues to meditate. Moreover, it notes that the statues used by both Buddhists and Taoists are a representation of the positive qualities of the founders of the religion.

Fourth, both religions do not believe in a higher being. Buddhism vs. Taoism (n.d)) notes that Buddhists do not believe in a pervasive, all-powerful, and sagacious creator just as Taoists do not believe in a personal God. Similarly, the site notes that Buddha himself refuted claims that a self-conscious and personal God created the universe.

Fifth, both religions advocate for animal rights. Diffen (n.d) indicates that in Buddhism believers are taught that animals have the same rights as humans. The author asserts that in the teachings of the religion, animals are bound in samsara, and they suffer just as humans. Similarly, in Taoism, there is no difference between animals and humans, and they are taught to treat them equally.

Sixth, both Buddhists and Taoists support same-sex relationships. Buddhism vs. Taoism (n.d) points out that Buddha accepts homosexuality into the Sanga while Taoists view homosexuality as an expression of the path. Furthermore, Buddhists believe that the concept is a natural phenomenon that does not differ from heterosexuality (Buddhism vs. Taoism, n.d).

Seventh, Buddhism vs. Taoism (n.d) indicates that in as much as the two religions have their understanding of existence, both of them have a compatibility with science in a way that some of their practices can be regarded as cognitive science.

Eighth, both religions view other religions as similar to them. Buddhism vs. Taoism (n.d) notes that while Buddhism is neutral against other religions, Taoism teaches that all religions are the same.

Difference between Taoism and Buddhism

In as much as both religions believe in reincarnation, they have different beliefs and explanations about rebirth. Taoist believers are certain that when an individual dies, the same does not happen to their soul. Instead, it shifts from their body and travels to another one where it will be reborn until it achieves Tao or the path (Mabelle, 2011). The document puts forward that Taoists believe that the soul has the ability to travel through space and time, and it becomes immortal when Tao is achieved. On the other hand, Buddhists believe that the wheel of rebirth completes when an individual has achieved Nirvana, the final state of the life cycle (Mabelle, 2011). Buddhism believers consider the birth cycle as one, which comprises of good and evil behavior that divides and wanders into three different stages that results in the transformation of souls into different forms. In the first stage, the ones who do not act according to the ways of Buddhism will go to hell. In the second stage, those who did something evil will transmigrate into animal form and their spirits will become more alike to human. In the third stage, the spirit does away with self-ego, lust, and it finally reaches Nirvana, which is the ultimate goal of Buddhism (Mabelle, 2011). Essentially, Buddhists believe that a persons action determines their stages of reincarnation.

The second difference between the two religions is their way of handling problems such as health. In Taoism, everything in the world happens in its natural order, and the way to handle these problems is to understand nature (Buddhism vs. Taoism n.d). They have the Tai Chi exercise, which they believe helps to heal illnesses. Buddhists, on the other hand, believe that illness and sickness are part of life and people should get used to them. Buddhists seek for medications such as herbal, which are extracted from plants.

The third difference is the way both Buddhists and Taoists view relationships and marriages. For instance, Buddhists believe that marriage is not a necessity in life. According to them, there is no special ceremony or ceremonial practices for getting married. More to the point, they believe that sexual interactions should only occur while in marriage Buddhism vs. Taoism (n.d). Moreover, they believe that in marriage, spouses should possess qualities such as faith, wisdom, generosity, and virtue. As well, they believe that children are important in a marriage. On the contrary, Taoists believe that a woman represents a yin and a man a yang Buddhism vs. Taoism (n.d). In that religion, marriage brings together a man and a woman. According to them, when a woman commits herself to a man, Tao is achieved. Furthermore, since they believe in balancing the harmony of nature, their religion requires that confrontations should be avoided.

Can you be Taoist and Buddhist?

Yes, a person can be a Taoist and Buddhist. The reason is that their similarities outweigh their differences. According to Buddhism vs. Taoism (n.d), some Taoists contend that Buddha was a student of Lao Tzu, the author of the Tao Te Ching, and the founder of philosophical Taoism. More so, the site indicates that a majority of Taoists respect and follow the teachings of Buddha. However, if one needs to practice both religions, then they will have to be Zen Buddhists. Ishii, Masuda, and Sargent (2017) avow that Zen teaches the practices of the path of enlightenment. Zen Buddhism originated from China. As the authors explain, when Buddhism was introduced in China, the country had already been exposed to Zen meditation. In essence, an individual can combine the philosophies of both religions to be Taoist and Buddhist.

Examples of Taoism

The first example of Taoism is Bruce Lees remarks on the way Taoism has influenced his acting. He affirms,

Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water. When you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. But water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend (Taoism, n.d).

The second example is the way Star Wars depict influences from Taoism in the teachings of Yoda. Taoism (n.d) provides another example in Star Wars which indicates, No, no, there is no why! Nothing more will I teach you today. Clear your mind of questions! The author explains that Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader resemble the representation of the yin-yang.


In summary, both Taoism and Buddhism teach people on the values of life. As seen above, it is apparent that both Taoism and Buddhism have similar goals and only differ in their beliefs, practices, and perspectives. Based on the essay, one might believe both religions are the same due to their similarities. Although a person can be a Taoist and a Buddhist at the same time, it is better for one to believe in one faith especially due to the difference in their belief of life after death. Overall, Taoism and Buddhism are both peaceful religions that enable their congregants have a peace of mind during and after worship.


Buddhism vs. Taoism (n.d). Retrieved from

Mabelle. (2011). Difference between Taoism and Buddhism. DifferenceBetween.Net. Retrieved


Ishii, S., Masuda, A., and Sargent, K. (2017). Zen and Zen Buddhism: An Overview. Retrieved

from file:///C:/Users/u/Downloads/9783319545936-c2.pdf

Taoism. (n.d). Retrieved from

Princeton Buddhists Students Group (n.d). Buddhism Religious Basics. Retrieved from

Smith, H. Taoism. Retrieved from

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