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Taoism and Christianity

Are they similar?

The policy of globalization might lead us to believe that there are fundamental similarities between Taoism and Christianity rather than notable differences. This is not the case, Taoism (and I have in mind Taoism described by Lao-tzu's in his Tao-te ching) has nothing to do with normative Christianity.

In Taoism, there are no ethical-moral norms that must be applied by followers absolutely. Also, the idea of ​​sin and implicitly, of salvation are missing. The Tao is not identical with the Christian's God and did not incarnate Itself as is the case with Jesus Christ.

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Those who read the New Testament may find something in common between some sayings of Jesus and Taoist ideas expressed in ancient books (especially Chuang-tzu and Lieh-tzu). It is the emphasis on the spontaneous, immediate experience of the event or, in other words, on the lack of deliberation, of intentionality.(1) This points to the Taoist nonaction (wu-wei).

However, the differences are also noticeable in this regard. In Taoism, following the Tao does not mean practicing something, following a certain path, imitating certain behaviors in relations with our fellow humans and a supreme being (God), considered exemplary deeds - the Taoist has no drawn path, no scheme of salvation, etc.

In Taoism, the Universe (wan-wu = the ten-thousand) is presented in constant change so that an absolute code of conduct is impossible to create. This explains why the practice of Taoism is not taught in schools, churches, monasteries, religious organizations etc.

Learning is a process of imitating the Master with whom the disciples live together, in close connection, perhaps even in his home, and whom they serve unconditionally in exchange for his teachings.

The teaching is born in every moment, like the fresh bread, it springs from the momentary conditions, and cannot be transmitted in a systematized form, over centuries. There is no tradition in this regard (except for a few books and ancient schools of thought).

In this context of substantial differences between Taoism and Christianity, the question arises whether Taoism is spiritual.

In general, Christian scholars and clergy adopt two attitudes regarding Taoism:

    - Taoism is a primitive form of Christianity;

    - Taoism is paganism, meaning it works with evil, satanic forces.

Taoism has no elements of Christianity, as we have already stated (in fact, more and more scholars studying Taoism emphasize this essential aspect).

Taoism does not work with forces, does not invoke forces etc. There is no liturgy in Taoism because there is no deity to be invoked. The practice of emptiness(2) does not employ occult powers, does not connect the disciple with occult entities etc.(3)

Is Taoism Spiritual?

So can we talk about spirituality in relation with Taoism?

This question cannot be answered directly because it is first necessary to define the concept of spirituality.

It is obvious that the religious spirituality is directly related to the idea of ​​union with a spiritual being, with God. As long as there is no such union in Taoism, Taoism is not spiritual in the sense that religion (Christianity) understands this term.

The question of the spirituality of Taoism remains debatable. For the moment, we limit ourselves to saying that Taoism and Christianity have no common elements and cannot engage in a productive dialogue for both. The beliefs and practices of the two differ markedly, as do the writings or sources of information about them. The mode of initiation also differs because in Taoism there are no institutional ways and systematized methods. Even the goals are different.

However, there are exceptions. Some Gnostic or non-canonical Christian writings have striking elements resembling Taoist thinking. For example, the idea of ​​uniting opposites, which we find in the Gospel of Thomas. This concept is precisely outlined in Tao-te ching (see also the yin-yang diagram).

But as long as writings such as the Gospel of Thomas are not officially accepted, we cannot speak of similarities between Christianity and Taoism.

Notes:
1. But these sayings are not interpreted by Christians in the sense we have pointed out. The idea of ​​spontaneous, unintentional act is almost completely missing in normative Christianity.

2. About the practice of emptiness see my course on Taoist meditation methods at https://www.taoapage.org/levelthree.html and the Tao Practice in the Day to Day Life.

3. I am referring, of course, to Lao-tzu-inspired Taoism, which we are writing about here. Because there are also many esoteric, alchemical schools, remedies and prescriptions for life prolonging, talismans, sexual practices, breathing exercises, etc. also covered by the term "taoism".

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Paper by Jhian
Picture source: https://www.facebook.com/pg/
ChristianTaoistCommunion/community/

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