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A Comparison Between Taoism and Christianity and

the Paths They Take to Reach Immortality

By: Emily Capaldi

PH 200

The basic structure of both Taoism and Christianity

are parallel because they work to attain the same goal.

It is apparent in both religions that by following a

pure path, and devoiding ones self of earthly ambitions,

wealth, and desires, one may reach the ultimate goal of

immortality. But the way in which one reaches this goal

is very different. Both religions believe in an entity

that has existed before the universe, is the creator of

all things, and loves and provides for all of creation.

The Taoist believes in Tao, which remains a ?formless?,

spiritual stare of mind. It rejects names and is

therefore ?nameless? and unable to be spoken.

Christians, however, believe in God, which takes on an

active human form and is spoken as ?the word? of God.

However, it is the differences between Tao and God that

present the most evident factors that separate Taoism

from Christianity. Unlike the Tao, God rules as a

supreme being, while the Tao is at one with all, and

does not master over anything. It is obvious that

immortality is the goal in both religions, but the

Taoist concept of immortality, and the way in which they

become immortal differs from the of the Christians.

Immortality, to the Taoist, is to achieve Tao, becoming

at one with the universe. Christian immortality is to

reach heaven, and walk along side God. Also, the Taoist

must follow an individual path, that comes from within.

While a Christian may reach heaven only by acts of

his/her own goodness in accordance with their

relationship with God.

Creation, in both Taoism and Christianity, is

stemmed from a source that always was and always will

be. Taoists base their beliefs around the Tao, and the

Christians believe in God. However, the essence of

these two separate ideas differ dramatically in many

other aspects. Unlike Tao, which claims to be

?formless?, God takes on an actual form, the image of

man. The very first sentence of John?s Gospel states,

?In the beginning was the one who was called the

word…? This statement confirms the existence of a

single being. Later in the text it is said that ?the

word became flesh and dwelt among us?, thus becoming

like a human. In contrast, the great Tao is ?infinite?;

it flows everywhere and is always present, yet it cannot

be seen or touched. It is ?empty like a bowl? and

?bottomless? yet its capacity cannot be exhausted. The

Tao?s own intangibility demonstrates the notion that it

is frameless and therefore is not constructed into any

shape or form.

While speech and understanding remain the basis for

following Christianity, the Tao cannot be spoken, and

therefore can never be fully explained in words.

According to the Gospel of John, in the Christian Bible,

God sent John down to earth to speak ?the word? and lead

the people to have faith. In order for Christians to

acquire an understanding of their faith, they must

receive some form of teaching or instruction.

Christians go to church to hear ?the word? that is

verbally preached to them through the words of a priest,

who acts as a servant to God. With this being

understood it can be concluded that without language, as

the basis for understanding, Christianity could not

exist. Taoism, on the other hand, emphasizes the fact

that it is unspoken and therefore can never be verbally

told or explained. Tao is described as being

?nameless?. It is exceeds beyond verbal communication

and comprehension. ?Words can be used to speak of it,

but they cannot be used to contain it.?

Both Tao and God love and take care of all of

creation. Every living thing depends on them for life.

But the Tao is not a supreme being as God is to the

Christians because Taoism is not monotheistic. The main

focus in Taoism is not the worship of one god, but

instead coming into harmony with Tao. Tao ?clothes and

feeds all things but does not claim to be master over

them.? Thus he says, ?the universe and I exist together,

and all things and I are one.? God, on the other hand,

stands above the universe as a higher being. He rules

by power, setting certain standards which Christians are

to live by and obey in order to reach salvation. The Ten

Commandments, also known as ?the law of man?, are a set

of rules, developed by God, that people are to abide by

in order to avoid wrongdoing.

Another element that separates the Tao from God is

the way in which they guide the world. It is through

Gods own actions that Christians are guided, whereas Tao

rules by not acting. God rewards those who lead a

virtuous life and punishes those who have sinned in

order to teach them the right way to live. Tao does not

dominate the world with force, ?it invariably takes no

action, and yet nothing is left undone?.

Whether a person chooses the path of the Taoist or

of a Christian they are ultimately aiming towards the

same goal of immortality. Both religions believe that

there is an existence without end, that a persons soul

is eternal and therefore never dies. In fact the soul,

in both Taoism and Christianity, migrates to another

life where it lives in harmony and bliss for all

eternity. But the Taoist idea of immortality greatly

differs from that in Christian beliefs. A Taoist wishes

to achieve Tao, to find the way, reaching a deeper life

where a persons soul becomes at one with the universe.

Christians believe that their soul will live forever in

peace, once they reach heaven, a much different state of

immortality than the Tao. Unlike Tao, Heaven is a

physical relocation of a persons soul. When a soul

reaches heaven it walks along side God, still existing

as a single being. Someone who achieves Tao however,

becomes at one with nature itself, uniting with all of

existence. As stated in the text ?Being one with nature

is to be at one with Tao.? Reaching Tao is not about a

specific re-location of the soul as it is with Heaven in

Christianity. Instead Tao is about reaching a new level

of consciousness which arises when the mind and body are

joined together and transcend into a deeper wisdom.

Similarly, in both Taoism and Christianity, one

must agree to follow and un-corruptive lifestyle. If

one is to reach either Tao or Heaven, they must avoid

all earthly temptations and desires that may lead to the

pollution of a virtuous style of life. Desires such as

ambition, fame, and selfishness are seen as distractions

to a harmonious life. It is only when one rids

his/herself of such desires that immortality can be

achieved. Despite these similar criteria for eternal

life, the way in which they follow these paths are

contrasting. A Christian follows a very strict set of

doctrines developed by God, and enforced by the church.

It is God itself that guides Christians, and shows them

?the way? to accomplish this goal of eternal life.

Without God acting as a leader, Christians would have no

concept of right from wrong. In the absence of God?s

direction they would not be able to ever reach heaven.

In Taoism, the way to achieve Tao is individual, it

comes from inside the believer. The meaning of Tao is

translated as ?the way?, but this way can never be

taught. Unlike God, who shows you ?the way?, Tao does

not define a path for the Taoist, it must come from

within. Taoism ?seeks naturalness?, following natures

principles in order to attain an enlightened and

empowered entrance into reality. The pursuit of these

types of standards will ensure a life of happiness and

tranquility which far surpasses anything that all of

humankind?s cleverness can devise.

It is apparent in both Taoism and Christianity that

only through proper living, by following a pure path,

can one achieve the ultimate goal of immortality. In

both religions it is possible to maintain a pure

lifestyle only when all desires and personal ambitions

are forsaken along the course of one?s life. However,

it is clear that the differences between the two

religions far outweigh the similarities. Tao and God,

the two main entities from each religion, are the

leading factors that divide Taoism and Christianity into

two very isolated sets of beliefs. It can be concluded

that the Taoist concept of the immortal afterlife and

the method in which a person reaches eternal life,

greatly differs from that of the Christian.

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