Taoism and Confucianism

Whatever the truth, Taoism and Confucianism have to be seen side-by-side as two distinct responses to the social, political and philosophical conditions of life two and a half millennia ago in China.Whereas Confucianism is greatly concerned with social relations, conduct and human society, Taoism has a much more individualistic and mystical character, greatly influenced by nature.
In Lao Tzu’s view things were said to create “unnatural” action (wei) by shaping desires (yu).The process of learning the names (ming) used in the doctrines helped one to make distinctions between good and evil, beautiful and ugly, high and low, and “being” (yu) and “non- being” (wu), thereby shaping desires.To abandon knowledge was to abandon names, distinctions, tastes, and desires.Thus spontaneous behavior (wu-wei) resulted ( Wing – Tsit Chan 136, 791).
Contemplating the remarkable natural world Lao Tzu felt that it was man and his activities, which constituted a blight on the otherwise perfect order of things.Thus he counseled people to turn away from the folly of human pursuits and to return to one’s natural wellspring (Wing – Tsit Chan 148, 141-142, 163, 169)
The five colors cause one's eyes to be blind.
The five tones cause one's ears to be deaf.
The five flavors cause one's plate to be spoiled.
Racing and hunting cause one's mind to be mad.
Goods that are hard to get injure one's activities.
For this reason the sage is concerned with the belly and not the eyes,
Therefore he rejects the one but accepts the other (Lao Tzu in Wing-Tsit Chan 145).
The central vehicle of achieving tranquillity was the Tao, a term which has been translated as “the way” or “the path” ( Wing-Tsit Chan 736).Te in this context refers to virtue and Ching refers to laws.Thus the Tao Te Ching could be translated as The Law (or Canon) of Virtue and it’s Way.The Tao was the central mystical term of the Lao- and the Taoists…

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