Kongming

Why Daoism over Buddhism

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It seems to me that Daoism and Buddhism are the two traditions that many people feel an attraction to, and furthermore it is known that the two, especially in the Chinese sphere, interacted, cross-pollinated, and influenced each other in various ways. I am interested in both Daoism and Buddhism (namely Chan Buddhism and East Asian esoteric Buddhism, i.e. Tangmi, Shingon, etc.) and plan on continuing to study both throughout my life. That said, it seems to me that, especially at the levels of higher practice or if one were planning to someday receive ordination, there should be an area which one focuses on more and considers their primary "path" or tradition as it were.

 

What I'd like to know is, why do you follow Daoism over Buddhism, or if you aren't formally following one yet, why do you like Daoism better than Buddhism? Are there aspects of Daoism you feel are superior or practices that are more advanced than Buddhism (specifically neidan vs the various Buddhist practices for instance)? What aspects of emphases of Daoism do you think are sufficiently different from Buddhism that one should follow a Daoist path rather than a Buddhist one?

 

Note: I am not trying to get anyone to put either tradition down. However, if one becomes a Daoist, one likely would do so because they believe it is the path that will get them to where they want to go, that it is either superior or better suited for them. I'd like to investigate these areas more.

 

Please share whatever you'd like.

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Fair question. Let us try to have a discussion without bashing one system over the other.

 

I actually started reading Buddhist texts before reading the TTC. This was at a point in my life when I was searching for something to call myself. I had already given up on Christianity.

 

For whatever the reason, reading about Buddhism just didn't feel right for me. You know, if I was going to call myself something it had to be something that I felt comfortable with. Buddhism just felt too "religious" for me.

 

I had already been reading some of Nietzsche's works and Buddhism and Nietzsche just didn't mix in my mind.

 

But then I read my first translation of the TTC. That brought confusion to my mind but it also called me to read a different translation. Still confused, I picked up a Chuang Tzu translation and finally the TTC fell into place in my mind and I realized that this was what I was. That being a Philosophical Taoist.

 

Is Taoism better than Buddhism? For me it is. But, of course, there are many who feel that Buddhism is better for them than is Taoism. Individual needs dictate our path.

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Almost the same story, I came from an interest in philosophy...

 

I found the Tao Te Ching before reading Buddhist stuff and just thought it was too religious (and wordy). I plan to study Dogen someday but I'm having too much fun right now.

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Much the same here.

I came to Daoism via reading TTC but don't 'follow' Daoism' as a religion.

It would be pretty difficult to do that here as there are no Daoist groups to join.

Buddhism has always been an interest, mainly reading about it.

Have tried sitting Zazen on a retreat, that was rough and used to live between a Pure Land centre and a New Kadampa temple with lovely veggie cafe attached.

Hence it was easy to meet with Buddhists if only socially.

Like MH I'm not overly comfortable with the religious aspects of Buddhism.

The PL and New Kadampa people were really nice folks to visit with but one couldn't imagine living alongside them.

Those residential communities seem a bit 'intense' for my lazy personality.

Maybe a bit regimented with various rituals happening at fixed times each day, every day.

Since coming on TTB and hearing about the Daoist 'menu' I have decided that I'm probably in the 'philosophical' Daoist catchment area.

That said I wouldn't define myself as a Daoist if anyone asked my 'religion' (nobody ever has).

The odd time I've filled in official forms asking 'religion' I put ' Church of England' as everyone born in England, by right; is a member of that and along with all my classmates in school I was confirmed as a young teen.

Edited by GrandmasterP
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(Forgive me if i am quite mistaken in my usage of terms and teachings here because clarity on which teachings I was plucking from was not really a concern for me and much of my approach has been backwards.)

 

Buddhism has so many sects but Tibetain Buddhism stands it seems well apart from the others.

 

Main Buddhism feels at the outset less internally instructive and more moral and religious - this is true on its face.

 

Tibetian Buddhism is at once immensely internal and extraordinarily precise - like a great treasure of fine points and guidance in higher practice. Taoism has this feel as well but with rivers and streams and a less intense but no less hearty flavor.

 

As one transcends, main Buddism becomes clearer in its message and decreases in its religious nature but is understood for how poor the translation now pours into the heads of those hearing its message. Some of the most obvious teachings are so obvious that we realize we proceeded past them with the idea that we have inherent understanding of them. Such as the idea of "correct thinking" "correct action".

It takes many years to see the message of correct thinking and correct action etc. - this is enormous teaching - so big and so simple and so up front most of us simply cannot see it - but we do see much in it and so main Buddhism is still very compelling for many from the outset.

Edited by Spotless
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I think i understand both traditions quite well since i was raised by a Taoist/Confucian mother and a Buddhist father, and in our household we had equal access to the learning of both (well, in the main, ie). There's a lot of respect going in our family for both traditions. When my dad passed away recently, we had Buddhist monks come on the first day to conduct the relevant rites and prayers, and the Taoist priests then came on the second day to do their thing. It was really cool like that.

 

But personally im more inclined towards Buddhism. Its affinity, nothing more.

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All models are wrong but some are useful.

 

 

There are elements of truth in both Taoism and Buddhism but, in my experience/opinion, both also miss the mark because "the truth" cannot be expressed. The harder people try to "explain," the less the explanations resemble that which they seek to explain.

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Similarly to others it was reading the Tao Te Ching which first inspired me. I was a teenager at the time (so it was a long time ago) but I can remember the impact of some of the chapters. Back in those days I couldn't find any Taoist teachers at all, they may have existed but I couldn't find them. So I became interested in other things including Buddhism. I am not religious in the normal sense and I still avoid groups and so on as much as I can because I find most people want to be devotional and religious. But now having found a good (great) teacher I practice Tibetan Buddhism. The reason for this is a ) the personal connection and b ) I find I think naturally like a mahayana Buddhist.

 

One thing I really like about the history of these 'ways' in China is that although there was political interference (as there is everywhere) actually Buddhism was enriched by encountering Taoism and that there are schools of Taoism which have accommodated some Buddhism without losing its identity. Of course both are very broad traditions so its hard to generalise.

 

In the end I don't think you chose one or the other because one is 'better' as such ... unless you mean 'better for me' ... the various paths are often not easy and you need to choose one which inspires and uplifts you ... or put it more simply makes you feel good and feels right for you. Don't force the issue by trying to decide which is 'superior' or whatever because in the end these judgements are more or less meaningless. Look in your heart and see what moves you, which path makes you stronger in life and perhaps makes you a better person.

 

In the event of not choosing any one path, then deal with each on its own terms. Each is self consistent within itself. You can read across quite often but sometimes this is just a good way of getting very confused. Its quite possible to be a Taoist and a Buddhist provided you handle each with care and respect. If you are sincere sooner or later the way ahead will open up and you will know which way to go.

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This is what I think at the moment. What I am saying is of course just a reflection of my own current personal perspective. ;) There is belief and experience. From individual beliefs arises belief systems, which give us a reasonably stable perspective/world view. Our perspective greatly influences the processing of all information coming through our senses. Therefore even experience is heavily processed by our perspective, our world view. People need a reasonably stable world view to function in this world. Different cultures tend to have different predominant world views, and within those world views different specific systems of practices and views have arisen. Systems tend to change over time, or can completely fade away, as a result of changing circumstances and changing or clashing predominant world views. When one culture meets another culture, sometimes certain systems will pass from one culture to the other in one form or another, and possibly vice versa, but often that system or part of a system will be modified somewhat to fit better into the perspective/world view/traditions of the culture it is being introduced to. Another way to look at this is to say that change is a constant in this universe. ;)

If some practice or system or perspective seems to serve a purpose for a person, they will consider adopting it. The processing of how to integrate this new practice or system into their overall perspective may occur to a large extent at subconscious or unconscious levels however. Some beliefs may be dropped and some new beliefs may be formed. Some rationalizations may need to be created to try to prevent cognitive dissonances from occurring. This (in my view ;) ) is a normal and common occurrence when systems from one culture meet a new culture. The constant seems to be that for a system, or parts of a system, to make a transition from one culture to another, there will likely be change and 'reinterpretation'. It is a creative process. A system or set of practices or a new set of beliefs/perspectives or whatever is only as useful as its ability to fill one or more needs in a person. In that sense, (and from my own personal perspective ;) ), it all comes down to what a person feels best meets their particular world view, needs and wants. Even within certain entire systems there are many different variations and perspectives and traditions. All anyone can do in these modern times is do research and maybe try some different things, and see what seems to work or meet some of their needs/wants, or which at least provides some enrichment.

To say it more simply, people will adopt that which seems to serve their own purposes and needs at any given point in time, and they will make it their own. :)

All the best... :)


.

Edited by NotVoid

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judgmental or not judgmental - is something to look at about both...

I think Chuang Tzu deals with that quite well.

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Interesting replies so far. Many have commented on how they feel Daoism is less religious than Buddhism, and therefore I assume are "philosophical Daoists" rather than affiliated with any particular lineage or school (such as Zhengyi or Quanzhen.)

 

For those Daoists here who happen to associate with Quanzhen, Zhengyi, the Wuliupai, or other forms of what is called religious Daoism, or for those who practice neidan, what are your thoughts on the matter?

 

Now, I think both traditions are worthy of respect, but is interesting how historically they both influenced and benefited from each other, but also debated with each other and critiqued each other. There are many instances of Daoists converting to Buddhism or Buddhists converting to Daoism as well. What were the particular traits that lead to these conversions?

 

For example, among the neidan practitioners, I've heard the claim that Buddhists only can project "yin souls" and can only become ghosts, or if not that specifically something to the effect that neidan immortality practices are beyond Buddhist liberation. Buddhists on the other hand often claim that Daoists don't actually transcend samsara but only reach the higher states of samsara, namely the celestial/heavenly/godly modes of being, and therefore are ultimately not liberated. Perhaps it is the case that both are actually discussing the same thing but misunderstanding each other, or perhaps these critiques were solely of a political nature (say like receiving imperial patronage or donations.) Nonetheless, perhaps these areas should be explored.

 

Furthermore, I agree that perhaps finding a true master is most important and that Truth is ultimate non-sectarian and transcends particular religious traditions.

Edited by Kongming
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Taoism is where I was led. As a youth I was introduced to all available western religions and from this felt it was important that I walk my own way... years later and after putting together my own belief system I discovered taoism and found myself faced with a mirror image of my own beliefs... incredulous I began to study taoism cautiously until enough trust had been developed for me to accept that learning from this particular school was a direction in full resonance with my own path.

 

I found that these teachings take a lifetime to fully understand, and I imagine this is true for Buddhism as well. Can someone truly understand the true perspective of multiple ancient lineages well enough to comment on where they ultimately lead without surrendering one's self fully to training in that particular art?

 

Zhuangzi says there is no right or wrong, there is only what is right in front of us.

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All models are wrong but some are useful.

There are elements of truth in both Taoism and Buddhism but, in my experience/opinion, both also miss the mark because "the truth" cannot be expressed. The harder people try to "explain," the less the explanations resemble that which they seek to explain.

 

Many teachers wait quite patiently for the words to come so that they might explain what is so hard to impart.

 

Most models are correct for their field of influence and truth can be expressed there - hitting its mark in the commotion of budding awareness.

 

"truth" of a higher order - non-relative - abounds and is expressed in every breath even if that breath is formed in symbols upon a paper. The music of a higher voice rings clearly and effects every particle of being.

 

Their isn't really any bath water - it is actually all baby.

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Kongming, people say a lot of stuff, and they also even make up stuff to suit their own purposes. For example, 'this is better than that because of such and such' and whatever. Who said it? How do they really know? Is what they said based on verifiable facts, or is it really just conjecture? How can a person realistcally assess those sort of claims? There is always a degree of personal bias and personal perspective involved in any assessment of such things at any rate.

Regarding taoism, historically, really there is not a whole lot of verifiable info available about the state of various forms of 'taoism' that may have existed prior to and around the time of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. It actually appears that what became known as taoism was really many different native practices and views of China which later were collected together and grouped under the broad banner of taoism. We know that most cultures had mixtures of religious or spiritual views and practices as well as philosophies, etc. Chinese taoists I have encountered do not seem to make clear distinctions between 'religious taoism' and 'philosophical taoism', neidan practice, etc. They seem to recognize that there are a broad range of practices and traditions and views which fall under the banner of taoism, with quite a varied history. Different taoist traditions seem to draw from and mix and match these various views and practices to varying degrees, or add their own new practices and views as well. To try to draw conclusions about taoism in general is therefore pretty tough considering that it actually involves many different traditions, views, and practices that really can be quite a bit different. Buddhism may have a clearer origin, but it also has evolved into various traditions and therefore would also be hard to pin down. You might be able to make some comparisons between a specific tradition in taoism and a specific tradition in buddhism, but trying to determine which is 'better' is a whole different kettle of fish. ;)


The bottom line is people tend to believe what they want to believe regardless of what they can actually verify or support with facts. All anyone can really do is take what seems useful to them, if they are so inclined. ;)

 

.

Edited by NotVoid
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Many teachers wait quite patiently for the words to come so that they might explain what is so hard to impart. Most models are correct for their field of influence and truth can be expressed there - hitting its mark in the commotion of budding awareness. "truth" of a higher order - non-relative - abounds and is expressed in every breath even if that breath is formed in symbols upon a paper. The music of a higher voice rings clearly and effects every particle of being. Their isn't really any bath water - it is actually all baby.

Yes.

 

Mountain - no mountain - mountain.

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correctly following either does not mean devoting yourself to either Daoism or Buddhism; you devout yourself to truth and spirit.

Dao is, in a sense, a "do it yourself" version of finding truth and the spirit, whereas Buddhism is an account of how *someone else* found truth and spirit and shared their findings.

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Many teachers wait quite patiently for the words to come so that they might explain what is so hard to impart. Most models are correct for their field of influence and truth can be expressed there - hitting its mark in the commotion of budding awareness. "truth" of a higher order - non-relative - abounds and is expressed in every breath even if that breath is formed in symbols upon a paper. The music of a higher voice rings clearly and effects every particle of being.

 

Their isn't really any bath water - it is actually all baby.

nice. I'm reminded how an old sensei of mine used to say 'Everything I've taught you is a lie, but a necessary one.' All his teachings were metaphors to be dropped once you reached a natural state.

Edited by thelerner
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nice. I'm reminded how an old sensei of mine used to say 'Everything I've taught you is a lie, but a necessary one.' All his teachings were metaphors to be dropped once you reached a natural state.

<touches tip of nose>

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I don't really subscribe fully to either system, though if I had to pick one I would pick Daoism.

 

I lived in a collective of Tibetan Buddhists for 1.5 years. I know the Tibetan sect is quite different than the rest of the Buddhist world, but the basic precepts are the same. I found that eventually the philosophical clashes became too much and I had to leave, because when it gets right down to it, religions are not very flexible. Buddhism when compared to the Abrahamnic faiths is quite liberal and forgiving, but it still has its egoic limitations. I met many monks and nuns during that time who understood this, but I also met a lot who were using Buddhism as a crutch for their deep denial in order to avoid dealing with their triggers, temptations and disappointments about life. I agree with what one poster said above about how the truth cannot be really expressed. Once you express it, you're entering semantic mind and that's where human rules and divisions come into play. You have to be careful that in the process of letting go and dissolving the 10,000 things, you aren't actually just creating another ego layer of performance. I've found, in my experience, that Buddhism (especially in the west) tends to create that problem more than Daoism does, because the practices can lead to pretenses if they are not conducted properly.

 

I think, on a deeper level, this is about freedom... breaking down all the window dressing and egoic drama that surrounds the core truth, and learning to abide there. I respected and was very interested in the Tibetan lineage's approach of Bodhisattvas, but ultimately it's just more mind, more maya. My perspective from this past year of intense inner work has been that realizing the core truth can actually be traumatic because it renders ego irrelevant... it's not easy to accept. A lot of armchair spiritualists want the feel-good reassurances that come with a lot of religious systems, but once they approach the epistemological leap that there is no subjective reality and no self perceiving it, and really embody that Emptiness, it's a step too far and they turn away. Abiding in the unknown and knowing that there is no such thing as security, it's all just happening here and now and there's no self in any of it, is too much for most people to handle. They need the 10,000 things because there is too much fear to look at the truth. I found that Buddhism is a great psychological systems, but most of the teachers I encountered didn't fully admit that even their system is just part of the 10,000 things and ultimately we have to get beyond it.

 

Daoism works better for me because although it semanticizes the nature of the Dao, it places more emphasis on dissolution as opposed to doctrinal practices. It gives tools and strategies instead of lectures and proscriptions. it provides structures that dissolve structures; it provides methods so that you can eventually realize there are no methods; it's contextual but without context. Buddhism has been an excellent introduction to mind work, but the traditional lineages kind of suck me into form which, to me, beyond the practical value of leading people toward the truth, just creates more layers that need to be deconstructed. There's also some fear in Buddhism which is very subtle, which is... human birth is extremely rare, so you better take the opportunity or else. Sounds a lot like Christianity's view that you better do good in this life or you won't get into heaven. Also, the Tibetan notion that even in the most vulnerable state of death that you need to conduct yourself perfectly otherwise you will go through the suffering of rebirth, is a little difficult for me to buy into. I'm not totally sure that we have that much control. The nature of spirit and progressive rebirth may be more complicated than that.

 

Daoism starts with the premise that nothing needs to be done, and that nothing is wrong. That works for me.

Edited by Orion
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There is an interesting book on the topic Zen Buddhism and Taoism: “Zen is Taoism disguised as Buddhism. When twelve hundred years of Buddhist accretions are removed from Zen, it is revealed to be a direct evolution of the spirit and philosophy of Taoism. Indeed, the literature known as the Lao Tzu and the Chu Chuang Tzu begins a continuous tradition that can be followed through the Ch'an of China to the Zen of present-day Japan. The formative writings of early Taoism are essentially the teachings of Zen.”

 

Here is the link:

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Tao-Zen-Ray-Grigg/dp/0785811257

 

 

 

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The truth is that it does not matter what you pick because all that matters is the path you are actually walking on, and practicing on. All the "ism" is just conceptualization but the path to enlightenment is beyond conceptualization. Pick one and to go from there based on your affinity. Once you are on the path, to have found your Dharma gate, everything else would look the same because you are basically cultivating the same energy.

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Spotless, does that (end of post 16) translate to? :

 

there isn't really any illusion - it is actually all reality

Edited by 3bob

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Taoism is where I was led. As a youth I was introduced to all available western religions and from this felt it was important that I walk my own way... years later and after putting together my own belief system I discovered taoism and found myself faced with a mirror image of my own beliefs... incredulous I began to study taoism cautiously until enough trust had been developed for me to accept that learning from this particular school was a direction in full resonance with my own path.

 

And this is a mirror image of what happened to me. :) Except "beliefs" didn't even play into that. I discovered energies of the world -- empirically, not theoretically -- and was struggling to explain and name them. I still have a notebook from those times with diagrams, attempts at formulas, brief descriptions (opening-closing, inward bound-outward bound, the curved Nothing (zero) flattens into the straight One and One splits in Two and Two curves into Three, etc. -- that last bit, without ever having read Laozi, mind you), so discovering taoism was like regaining memory after having suffered from some existential amnesia.

 

To this day, I maintain it is the supreme ultimate science. Philosophy and religion of taoism are both Taoist Science 101 to me. Do I "believe?" Don't have to. No one has to believe that they are or aren't having a cup of coffee. I just happen to be so organized that I don't have to believe in yin-yang, qi, wuxing, bagua, ganying either. That sometimes they appear as philosophical ideas and sometimes as deities is a side effect. Taoism is the supreme ultimate science of the energies of the world. To be in this world and maintain ignorance of how it works is like having been imprisoned at an infinite library, with nothing whatsoever to do except read, and never having bothered to learn to read.

 

Most non-taoist modalities are this kind of illiteracy to me... their subscribers are in the same library, but they use books as bricks to build pyramids out of to entertain themselves somehow -- instead of learning to read them. Or they are busy discarding them, shredding them, throwing them in a furnace in search of the One True Book. Which they wouldn't know how to read even if it existed. Or they take a random book with a particularly fancy cover and designate it that. That is The. The is It. And then whack someone who has designated a different book on the head with This One, the The. And on and on...

 

:blush::D

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